75 Years Ago (July 1939): Tooling Strikes; Sealed Headlamps Seen; New Ward’s Publication; ’40 Output Starts

From Ward’s Automotive Reports’ July 8, 1939, issue comes word that the “long-threatened UAW-CIO strikes in General Motors tool and die shops broke out this week, threatening to delay ’40-model introductions if the tie-ups continue for any length of time.”

Robust field stock of ’39s may mitigate any damage from a delayed new-model launch, Ward’s notes.

According to a 1939 report from the Automobile Manufacturers Assn., the auto industry consumes 90% of the gasoline refined in the U.S., 80% of the rubber manufactured, 69% of plate glass, 65% of upholstery leather and 53% of malleable iron.

On the other hand, it uses only 10.6% of U.S. aluminum and 9.2% of tin annually.

“Probably the outstanding novelty item to be featured by practically all car producers for 1940 will be hermetically sealed headlamps,” WAR says.

General Electric, Westinghouse and Tung-Sol will produce a portion of GM’s requirements and about 20% of Ford, Mercury and Lincoln-Zephyr requirements.

Meanwhile, Hall Lamp, GM’s Guide Div. and Electric Auto-Lite will manufacture a slightly different variation of the “sealed beam” lights for use in vehicles made by GM, Chrysler, Hudson, Packard and others.

The main advantages of the new lights are their fixed focus and sealed lens-reflector assembly that prevents dust and moisture infiltration.

“How the motoring public will respond to a $1.35 replacement charge necessitated by filament failure, where previously a new bulb could be fitted for 35- or 40-cents remains to be seen,” WAR observes.

In mid-July, Ward’s announces it is launching a new publication, Colors and Contours, “devoted solely to developments in the field of industrial design, particularly related to automobiles.”

Subscriptions will cost $25 annually and “Ward’s will appreciate comment on the sample copy, together with suggestions for subject matter in forthcoming monthly issues.”

The week-ended July 22, 1939, sees Packard lead the kickoff of ’40-model production with Nash soon to commence output.

Led by Plymouth, all Chrysler brands are expected to be in production by the end of August, as will Hudson and Studebaker. However, the ongoing tooling strikes will delay GM launches previously set to take place between mid-July and mid-August.