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Old 02-07-2005, 11:37 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: NoWA
Posts: 57,686
Whatever happened to curb feelers

When I was a kid, it seemed like most cars had curb feelers. For those who don't remember, these were springy whips that angled down from the front wheel well. (I suppose there were some cars that had them at the rear as well.) The idea was that when the feeler grated on the curb (a very annoying sound) the car was close enough to it. I suppose they were supposed to keep people from driving their cars up onto the pavement by alerting them to its proximity.

The '66 MGB that I got from mom after high school didn't have them. Dad's Toyotas in the '70s didn't have them either. They seem to have been confined to American Iron. I'm guessing that the smaller cars of the '70s-on were easy enough to park that they didn't need 'sensors' to detect the curb.

I never really thought about these things, except when I was a kid and would twang them as I walked home from school. Today I saw a photo of a 1955 Alfa Romeo 1900, and noticed the feeler. When did these things disappear, and why? Does anyone still sell them? Aside from people restoring classic American cars, who else would use them?
Old 02-07-2005, 12:32 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 13,183
I still see them from time to time, either on restored automobiles or as accessories on newer cars. I'm going to guess that they are probably still available as an aftermarket item through such companies as JC Whitney.
Old 02-07-2005, 12:34 PM
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Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: San Francisco area
Posts: 16,104
IME, they were an "inner city" thing, found primarily on land yachts. I'm guessing you can still walk into a place like Warshawski's and find the things amid the fuzzy dice and horns that play "La Cucaracha"
Old 02-07-2005, 02:29 PM
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Meatspace
Posts: 5,680
I have a theory about why curb-feelers aren't around anymore -- feel free to refute it. I think as automatic mirrors became standard, the need for curb-feelers decreased. If you need to know how close you are to curb, simply push a button/lever to angle your right side-view mirror down far enough to see.

Of course, I could be way off base here as I didn't even know what curb-feelers were until three years ago.
Old 02-07-2005, 02:46 PM
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Concord, Ca.
Posts: 893
I think they curb feelers these days by either a hefty fine or jail time.

On the real hand, I just acquired an '86' Caddy that has curb feelers, for which I'm thankful. It has pretty good tires, and I don't want to be scraping rubber off them whenever I park.
Old 02-07-2005, 02:48 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Southeast Michigan, USA
Posts: 10,348
I don't remember seeing curb feelers "everywhere," but I'm on older Gen-X'er...

When I do see them, I think for for the fuzzy dice crowd (as said), or for stupid people that can't parallel part without a crutch. Although, to be fair, my car does have automatic dipping mirrors (it's an old-person car), but my current rental doesn't do it and I have parked to far from the curb. I think that's getting to know a car, though.
Old 02-07-2005, 03:26 PM
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Join Date: May 2001
Location: England
Posts: 56,735
I've never even heard of them, but I suspect their absence is not unrelated to the rise in expectations of driver competence; there was a time when you didn't even need to pass a driving test, you just jumped in the thing and careened away to wreak vehicular hijinks and havoc, nowadays, there's this sort of ethic that, if you have a tendency to drive up on the kerbs all the time, you shouldn't be in charge of a vehicle.
Old 02-07-2005, 04:51 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2000
Posts: 7,788
A possible factor might be that whitewalls became less popular. When a lot of cars had wide-banded whitewalls, a lot of people probably didn't want to scuff them rubbing against curbs.

I DO remember a lot of "land yachts" with them.
Old 02-07-2005, 05:01 PM
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Sydney, Australia
Posts: 9,193
Things were different in my part of the world - I don't remember seeing these things at all until the mid to late 1980s. They seemed to be a fad that came and went in a couple of years. You don't see them now. I think there was an "I obviously don't know how to drive" stigma about them.
Chat to the Australian and New Zealand Dopers at G'Dope ('merkins and sundry furriners more than welcome). "Check them out" - Cecil Adams

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