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January 13, 2024

In 1938, California’s Brooks Walker Patented the 5th Wheel Device Known as ‘Park Car’

In the early 1930s, Brooks Walker created a new elaborate solution for parallel parking by developing a fifth wheel solely designated for parking. This auxiliary wheel is hidden in a vehicle’s trunk and pushed down to the ground by hydraulic pumps and gears when needed. With a simple crank on the dashboard, the wheel would be lowered to the ground and swing the car around for easier parking. After the car is in its parking place, another switch would lower the car back into its original position.

The patent for this idea was filed by Walker on March 21, 1932 and granted on December 6, 1938. The patent describes the intricacies of the fifth wheel within the vehicle and its function. Several years later, Walker decided to modify a Packard Cavalier in 1953 to showcase his prototype to the world. The Packard represented luxury and appealed to the upper class. It was possible that Walker wanted to use this car and demographic to demonstrate how easy the system is to use and how anyone can be comfortable using it. All the driver had to do was flip switches on the dashboard.

Walker went on to display his innovation at various auto shows throughout the years. However, his novel concept was not received as successfully as he hoped. High production costs and the lack of trunk space led to his idea being shot down. His forward-thinking parking solution was not implemented on a large scale. His vision of easier parking has been achieved by the self-parking cars today.


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