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Side curtains on early cars


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Among my collection of early photos there are darned few showing side curtains attached.   I recently acquired this neat photo of an early car (what is it?) with side curtains on.  Obviously, it must be ready for a drive in the winter months, judging by the bear-skin coat worn by the driver/owner.  I'm wondering if the side-curtains were home-made or purchased from an auto supply source as I don't believe many auto manufacturers of this era sold the with the cars.   Does anyone have any info on the car itself, or are there other early auto photos out there showing side-curtains in place?

Terry

Side curtsains on an early car.jpg

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I'm like you, Terry, interested in automotive history.

A side fact:  Some years ago I asked a much older friend,

who lived during that time, about his experiences.

He said that, with side curtains, you were already wet

by the time you got them installed!

 

The curtains in your picture are unusual, in that

the huge windowless panel creates a large blind spot.

Some early vehicles (such as C-body trucks) had

large blind spots, which evidently were acceptable then,

so even a factory-made set of curtains might be

configured like those.

 

 

1903 Woods Truck 8.jpg

Edited by John_S_in_Penna (see edit history)
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5 minutes ago, John_S_in_Penna said:

I'm like you, Terry, interested in automotive history.

A side fact:  Some years ago I asked a much older friend,

who lived during that time, about his experiences.

He said that, with side curtains, you were already wet

by the time you got them installed!

We tour a lot with our local MG club and there is a rather large contingent of "top down" folks who either don't bother (just driver faster) or wait until it's already pouring before they put the top up. 

We tried side curtains in our MGTC once while touring in upstate NY and they steamed up so bad we just parked and waited for the rain to stop ( conveniently we were at a winery).

 

Anxious to see some more period photos of cars with their side curtains on.  I may have a few more myself.

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I'd love to have a London to Brighton car, the ones made in the UK are  most fitting. Note the rear window on this Wolseley, that may be a first, from the November 2, 1901 issue of Country Life magazine.  Bob 

DSCF3458.JPG

DSCF3459.JPG

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This is a photo of my 1912 Maxwell taken about 10 years ago just after I bought it.  The previous owner had fitted side curtains and a roll up front screen, all copied from originals.  The side curtains only partially cover the sides.  Visibility is awful particularly through that front roll up screen. I have never driven it with the front screen and used the sides only once, the lack of visibility was dangerous .

f70847872.jpg

Edited by DavidMc (see edit history)
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I have side curtains on my Ford open runabout. We got caught in a real bad downpour on a tour in New Hampshire  one time and my wife insisted that I put on the side curtains.  By the time they were placed on the car, I was drenched right down to my shorts. At least my wife was happy.    John

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I have this one, appears to be original driver side curtain, given me recently by a friend who's father restored cars from the 20's 50-60 years ago. It is in excellent condition, would like to find it a good home, free to anyone who needs it and who will pay the ride. Just have the one. 

IMG_3828.JPG

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My Grand parents always used their 1917 Model T Ford until after our Thanksgiving weekend.  Second weekend in October.  They used to put a large rock in the oven of the cook stove for several days before they left for the farm.  Wrapped in a blanket it kept their three children warm in the back seat with the side curtains installed.  One hundred twenty miles from Winnipeg to the farm.

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We used the sidecurtains on our 1930 Packard Touring just the week before last during the AACA Vintage Tour in Kingston, Ontario. The downpours were relatively short but intense. Our windwings shielded us in the front seat as well. Our back seat passengers each day were quite dry and protected. Ultimately we removed the front and fear door curtains, leaving only the portions behind the rear doors, since the backseat passengers had their own rear windshield and wing windows. Friday looked great so we removed all curtains and left them in the trailer. You guessed it - a couple of miles from the hotel at the end of the day the skies opened up and our backseaters did get a bit damp - all part of the fun on a tour, but if it had been kids on a cross-country we would have had the curtains with us.

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You didnt quite specify the cut off date for early cars with side curtains in your post.  But there is nothing like driving a touring car in the winter!  Here is a 1919/20 Cole Aero 8 with side curtains on and out in the winter.  

JJColeCarwinter.jpg

 

 

and here is a 1916 Cole with Side Curtains installed.  It doesnt look like it is raining and there are other people in the car so wondering if it was to cut down on dust in the area that they are driving in.  

  224150725_1917w-sidecurtains.thumb.jpg.de431dce486c7a39b0340dd64bed9e19.jpg

Edited by kfle (see edit history)
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MochetVelo:  Those side curtains on the Metz look the same as the ones on my Maxwell except you have an extra piece to fill in the gap.  This tends to confirm that mine are a copy of the originals (but without the extra pieces) , as I was told.  I only used them once and never again, visibility is too restricted.  A raincoat is better.

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Not sure who built this car, my random guess is EMF but the chains go along nicely with the side curtains. Personally, I have been glad to have the side curtains with our 1915 Ford, you appreciate the relative comfort during a cold, sideways rainstorm.

chains and side curtains.jpg

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29 minutes ago, 4Hud said:

Not sure who built this car, my random guess is EMF but the chains go along nicely with the side curtains. Personally, I have been glad to have the side curtains with our 1915 Ford, you appreciate the relative comfort during a cold, sideways rainstorm.

chains and side curtains.jpg

 

I think this is the big Maxwell. 

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The '15 Studebaker touring car I used to have had side curtains when I bought it. They weren't made all that well, but they looked good on the car. And I loved driving it with them on. I think I didn't take them off for nearly two years one time.

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The side curtains were not only useful when driving in inclement or cold weather, most often they were useful when the car was standing still. Remember the car was not always stored in a garage when stopped. It was taken into town, to work, on a tour, or if no garage, left out year round. The side curtains were critical to keep out rain, snow, dust, critters, birds, insects you name it, even prying children or adults. Their likely weakest point was when used while driving, but my guess is owners bought them for all the other advantages.   

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14 hours ago, Brass is Best said:

I know I have seen a photo of a 1903 Ford / Cadillac with a giant lap blanket. It covered the front and rear seat and all 4 passengers. each passenger had a head hole and the blanket draped over everything else. But I cannot locate the photo.

You are not alone, I spent an hour last night looking for the same illustration, think it was in a period ad. Bob 

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10 hours ago, 1937hd45 said:

You are not alone, I spent an hour last night looking for the same illustration, think it was in a period ad. Bob 

 

I know I have seen some early Packard factory drivers with the same thing. I know in about a week I will stumble across the photo.

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Side curtains were common on open cars, they were furnished by the car or body manufacturer. Not sure if they were standard equipment or an extra cost option. Probably available aftermarket for popular cars, or you could get a set made by an auto upholstery or auto top shop.

They were used quite a bit in bad weather, but who goes out to take a picture of their car in bad weather? Surviving pictures would be taken on a clear day, when it was not raining or snowing, or were publicity or advertising.

Old people who rode in those cars when they were new, definitely remember the side curtains. But since the heyday of the open touring and roadster is now 100 years ago, not many are still around.

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On 8/22/2019 at 4:49 PM, John_S_in_Penna said:

I'm like you, Terry, interested in automotive history.

A side fact:  Some years ago I asked a much older friend,

who lived during that time, about his experiences.

He said that, with side curtains, you were already wet

by the time you got them installed!

 

The curtains in your picture are unusual, in that

the huge windowless panel creates a large blind spot.

Some early vehicles (such as C-body trucks) had

large blind spots, which evidently were acceptable then,

so even a factory-made set of curtains might be

configured like those.

 

 

1903 Woods Truck 8.jpg

This should be an electric car too

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I guess back then there wasn't so much concern about a "blind spot."   As long as you could see straight ahead and a little bit at the edges you'd be ok.  Much less traffic to contend with and obviously there wasn't an easy way to stick out your hand for a turn signal at all.   I've seen photos of cars being driven in winter with absolutely no protection for passengers except perhaps a lap robe and a bundle of clothing.  image.png.474a2db74435cb361f1cee890084c72f.png

Edited by Terry Bond (see edit history)
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3 hours ago, Terry Bond said:

obviously there wasn't an easy way to stick out your hand for a turn signal at all. 

In actual fact many/most side curtains had a flap just above the door edge just for this purpose. 

IMG_3828.thumb.JPG.c701d5d78620fc8daff756b103458acf.jpg

Edited by Guest (see edit history)
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This image was taken from a slide made in the 1970's of my '21 Chevy roadster pickup sporting it's curtains.Darn things are dangerous. Try getting your hand out in time to signal a turn. The curtains were made using the originals as patterns.The originals,like the car,were cut down from a touring.

Jim

Slides from carousels 1970's 011 (2).JPG

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This might be too new for your side curtain question but Dad bought this 1920 Overland Model 4 in 1966 with these side curtains.

Clearly the top was replaced at some point as evidence of the red trim (which dad hated).

1620757858_1920Overland-BlossumTourNiagaraFalls-onClubtrailertowdby51Nash-Copy(2).thumb.jpg.facbf167b5bb67d336eb20243f30c9b0.jpg 

I still have them but the plastic is so yellowed that I would not try driving with them on today.

The flaps were to provide access to the door handle which is only on the inside of the car.

Waaay to difficult to make a hand signal through that...

Edited by dei (see edit history)
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With our 1915 T Touring, they fogged up really fast with 4 heavy breathers

inside during a Florida rain storm.   Hard enough to see out even without the fogging!

With the 34 Phaeton, the wind wings with the rear view mirrors had to be folded

in to close the front suicide doors.  No view of what was behind us.

But as I always say, "It rained in the old days too!"

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Many of the early touring cars had side curtains with tags attached, indicating position on car.  I've had people say well, that's silly, you'd know where it goes.  My answer is be caught in a Louisiana rainstorm, and be asking your wife to hand you the "right front" curtain.  You'd soon appreciate having tags.

 

Pictured is an original tag, and I have sets of reproduced tags, 6 to a set, $20 a set postpaid.

 

Just thought I'd throw it in here since it's a side curtain discussion!

original tag.jpg

img002.jpg

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3 hours ago, trimacar said:

Many of the early touring cars had side curtains with tags attached, indicating position on car.  I've had people say well, that's silly, you'd know where it goes.  My answer is be caught in a Louisiana rainstorm, and be asking your wife to hand you the "right front" curtain.  You'd soon appreciate having tags.

 

Pictured is an original tag, and I have sets of reproduced tags, 6 to a set, $20 a set postpaid.

 

Just thought I'd throw it in here since it's a side curtain discussion!

original tag.jpg

img002.jpg

 

David made a set of these for me -

extremely handy, especially when a storm surprises you on the road with an early car-

ask me how I know...

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