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Brooks Walker, or How to Park Comfortably with the Spare Wheel

BROOKS WALTER PARKING SYSTEM PHOTOS: LIFE / OLDCARSWEEKLY / PATENT OFFICE

Today parking attendants have evolved a lot. Far from trusting the everlasting gorilla, we now have screens and beeps of all kinds warning of a possible range. However, this was not always like that. Before a driver had to know perfectly the volumes of his car, managing them with directions and flyers that could well replace the gym session.

A problem that, in the case of the United States, suddenly appeared around the 20s. And it is that, even in a country where cities are thought based on mobility by car, parking problems began to appear in the most concentrated urban areas. Suddenly, the massive access to the car caused the streets to experience traffic jams and competition for where to park. The birth of the typical "You have left a place behind".

Thus, it was a matter of time before an inventor appeared with the definitive solution to complex steering wheel games when parking. His name was Brooks walter. This Californian registered the first patent of his "5th wheel to park" in 1932. And well, although it was improving until well into the 70s ... The truth is that never got the approval of the industry. A shame, because although it had problems, the truth is that it is a very horny invention.

PARKING A '29 SEDAN PACKARD WITH THE SPARE WHEEL

It has always been said that pleasures are not exclusive. That is why we are seduced by the lightness that Colin chapman He used to print his Lotus but… At the time, the big salons with North American motor wheels drive us crazy. Cars that aren't big just because. After all, the United States is the country of great expanses. The place where cities were thought of as residential developments where nothing makes sense if it is not through the car.

In short, a country with huge streets for giant vehicles. However, this was not the case in cities like San Francisco or New York. In them there are highly congested areas where parking a huge Packard the first time is only available to the most skilled. How to remedy this? Well, very simple, with a fifth wheel capable of turning the car on itself. Something that Brooks Walter demonstrated in the early 30s by mounting his patent on a 29 Packard Sedan.

Conveniently operated from the dashboard, this parking aid system releases a fifth wheel positioned transversely through a hydraulic cylinder. In contact with the ground, it raises the rear axle, making the car load its weight between the front wheels and itself. Once like this the wheel can turn one way or the other depending on the gear selected in the automatic transmission. "Reverse"To the side,"drive"Towards another". And ready.

THE PROBLEMS OF A GOOD IDEA

Seen in images, the truth is that Brooks Walter's invention seems most suggestive. You arrive with your six-meter saloon, put your nose in the parking space, take out the fifth wheel ... And now, the car turns, putting the rear where you want. Everything anticipated the success of the invention. But nevertheless no company showed interest in him during the 30s. And that our intrepid inventor improved the system with a second patent registered in 1938.

Far from giving up, Brooks Walter returned to the charge in 1952 mounting the system in a Cadillac with a selling price of just $ 175 at the time - about 1500 euros today. However, here the biggest problem of his invention appeared crudely: ate all the trunk space. Something that no company would accept for the manufacture of a series car.

Aware of this, in 1953 he managed to position the fifth wheel out of the cargo space. Specifically in the bumper of a Packard Cavalier.

With this practical and elegant solution, everything seemed settled at last. However, no one called Brooks Walter with the idea of ​​using his patent on any of the big Detroit brands. So what he continued to rehearse with a third patent in 1957, an Oldsmobile truck, a Ford and even a Saab. But nothing. The industry never considered that curious fifth wheel solution. Of course, diving through the network we have seen that an Egyptian has mounted the Brooks Walter system on an R5. A most unexpected tribute.

P.D. Of the at least 6 vehicles at the Brooks, Walter set up his parking system, only one is known to have been preserved. This is the Packard Cavalier. Currently in the hands of Jack Swaney -Pennsylvania-, who has restored the damage inflicted by a garage fire that occurred in 2012.

What do you think?

Miguel Sánchez

Written by Miguel Sánchez

Through the news from La Escudería, we will travel the winding roads of Maranello listening to the roar of the Italian V12; We will travel Route66 in search of the power of the great American engines; we will get lost in the narrow English lanes tracking the elegance of their sports cars; We will speed up the braking in the curves of the Monte Carlo Rally and we will even get dusty in a garage while rescuing lost jewels.

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