Robert F 1950 Chrysler Windsor 4dr Sedan

Learning to drive, stick & automatic together.

In the Spring of 1965, I received my Learners Permit, which entitled me to drive, as long as I was accompanied by a licensed driver. The only licensed driver in my family household was my Grandmother, who owned a 1950 Chrysler Windsor 4 door sedan, with a 250 cubic inch, 116 horsepower, "Spitfire" valve-in-block, 6 cylinder engine. That was paired with a transmission, which had both a clutch and torque converter.

In the drivers seat, it looked just like a conventional "Three-on-The-Tree", manual, save for the script: "Safety Clutch", on the clutch pedal. The normal driving sequence, was to start the engine with the clutch pedal depressed, (IMPORTANT!) drop the shift lever to where 3rd normally would be, hold your foot on the brake, and let out the clutch. Yes, let out the clutch, while braking, and feel the drive train engage, just like dropping an automatic from Park or Neutral to drive.

Once engaged, the driver accelerated to 30 - 35 MPH, with the engine at about 3,000 RPM, lifted his foot from the accelerator, and hearing a loud click from the trans, stepped on the accelerator to find himself in the final (4th) gear. Normal driving conditions would make use of 3rd, & 4th gears. In the lever position where a manual 2nd normally was, there was 1st & 2nd gears, that would be used when starting up a steep hill, or pulling a heavy trailer. Using 1st & 2nd, and manually shifting down to "normal" forward, you would go from 2nd to 4th. Reverse was reverse normally would be in the standard "H" pattern. There was no position in the manual 1st gear position.

The reason the script "Safety Clutch" was on the pedal, and the driver was instructed to depress it, was that if the lever was left in either the forward or reverse ranges, and the clutch was not depressed, the engine would crank without the car moving, but when the engine came up to speed, the oil (10 weight motor oil) in the torque converter, would get to operating pressure, and the car would bolt forward, or backward depending on the gear selected! Not good!

I learned to let the clutch out gradually, when shifting, and the 1st time I used a manual, I had no difficulties.

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