Register now to get rid of these ads!

Shaved Door Handles in the Fifties

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by jaz, Jan 2, 2011.

  1. jaz
    Joined: Dec 16, 2010
    Posts: 218

    from London, UK


    Just been out in my Mercury in Sunny UK - Glad to get out in her after weeks of snow and SALT on the roads - a beautiful dry day here and the drive reminded me how much I love the old thing.

    I am shaving the chrome on the car this year and whilst I appreciate that we can now open doors without handles thanks to good old remote key fobs, I was wandering if any of you guys know how they did it in the fifties? I asume they didn't have remote keyfobs back then - so did they just leave the windows open and open from inside or was there some other equipment?

    I look forward to be enlightened

    Happy New Year to you all

  2. flathead4d
    Joined: Oct 24, 2005
    Posts: 898


    Usually a hidden pull cable of some sort or a hidden push button operating a solenoid. some used solenoids from overdrive transmissions. I have the hidden push button on mine.
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2011
  3. caseyscustoms
    Joined: May 15, 2005
    Posts: 1,031

    from st.joe, MO

    old boys told me one time they just never latched the wing windows, so they could just reach inside and get to the handle.
  4. The Shocker
    Joined: Dec 30, 2004
    Posts: 3,538

    The Shocker

    I have done that on a few cars i have had.Some of the old ones (GM) have crank out wingvents ,so i would remove the little crank mechanism so it would free wheel .Here is how i have it done on my 50 truck with small cables .It doesnt have wing vents in the doors ,so i had to come up with another way ...

    Attached Files:

    • 002.JPG
      File size:
      73 KB
    • 004.JPG
      File size:
      82.6 KB
    • 003.JPG
      File size:
      56.1 KB

  5. 40StudeDude
    Joined: Sep 19, 2002
    Posts: 9,498


    Used a six volt starter pulls harder with 12 volts hooked to the latch...many used a pull cable thru the pillar to under the hood or to the outside of the door glass. Saw many guys use a cable and small ring and "hid" it by the vent window. Some simply left the wing window open.

    Same way with a shaved trunk and latch...some would run a cable to inside of the rear wheel well...or inside the gas filler if it had a lid...or to just under the rear bumper and if they didn't trust anyone to know where it was, a cable to the package tray, or to the bottom of the rear seat, on the inside kept people out.

  6. i saw a guy who had two tunneled antennas one was mounted on a dimmer switch ( the floor mounted type) that activated a solenoid to open the doors
  7. Lazer5000
    Joined: Dec 7, 2007
    Posts: 729


    I have been wondering about this also. I have not installed them yet, but my plan is this; After market "bear claw" latches (purchased here on the H.A.M.B. for $35) with and elongated lever for easier opening. Then I am going to build a cam lever for the back of the door lock cylinder with a short cable attaching the cylinder cam to the latch lever. I am planning on shaving everything but the lock (which is separate from the handle) on my car. This way when the proper key is turned in the cylinder the cam will pull the lever and open the door. It will be functional and secure.

    My only concern at this point is that I wont be able to get enough mechanical advantage and the key will break. But it's worth a try!
  8. jaz
    Joined: Dec 16, 2010
    Posts: 218

    from London, UK

    I reckon the key will definitely break! However, you could use the same method but to activate a solenoid as described by others

    I like the old skool idea with the cable pull through to the bonnet - probably run it right to the front or inside the wheel arch - nice and simple and can do it myself - fingers crossed - LOL
  9. chopt top kid
    Joined: Oct 13, 2009
    Posts: 959

    chopt top kid

    Yea, that's how most guy's did it. Take the latch off on the drivers side so you didn't lock yourself out. Sometimes someone got fancy and rigged up an old choke cable... Hid the knob under the fender and reached in through the wheelwell... After you got in you reached over and opened the pass. side... Using solenoids to open doors wuz something we read about in magazines...
  10. Hot Rods Ta Hell
    Joined: Apr 20, 2008
    Posts: 4,529

    Hot Rods Ta Hell

    Solenoids with micro switches hidden under the lower winshield stainless, etc. Lots of how-to's in old car magazines. Only problem with this, cable pulls and unlocked vent wings is that you'll always be wondering if some shady dude is watching how you get in your car. You'll still need a cable pull so you can get in if the battery goes dead.
    Why not just go with late model fob operated door locks from aftermarket or a wrecking yard? Springs in the jambs will pop the doors ajar
  11. chrisntx
    Joined: Jan 20, 2006
    Posts: 1,798

    from Texas .

    I remember seeing a cable pull but it was mounted on the panel under the drivers side rear side window.
    Kinda like this picture but a lot shorter cable, mounted out of the way in back.
    This pic on the drivers door looks like it would be annoying
  12. jaz
    Joined: Dec 16, 2010
    Posts: 218

    from London, UK

    Love the idea of a choke cable mounted to the wheel well - thats why I love the HAMB - good ideas from good people
  13. fms427
    Joined: Nov 17, 2006
    Posts: 865


    Electric door were around then - using good old starter solenoids and hidden switches. But I was cheap, and frenched in bumper bolts that actuated the latch - sort of a poor man's Lincoln pushbutton - on my 53 Ford convertible.

    Living in Pa. at the time, I had issues with the draconic state inspection because it "didn't have handles to pull on in the event of an accident" (admittedly a good idea), but soon got a job at a service station that was an inspection station - and the issue went away !!:D
  14. The Shocker
    Joined: Dec 30, 2004
    Posts: 3,538

    The Shocker

    Thats why the door panel goes over it ,so its not annoying :rolleyes:.I ran mine under the hood for two reasons.

    First ,its a straighter line to the handle (less chance of binding and smoother operation)

    Second ,i can lock the hood with a keyed lock and then it doesnt matter if someone sees me open the door this way ,they cant get the hood open to do it ...
  15. Vegas_Cleaver
    Joined: Jan 21, 2007
    Posts: 213


    i need to check but i read an article in an old 50's rod and custom and the guy i think had a 53/54 mercury with the mercury man symbol in the c pillar. he shaved the doors and installed the starter cylinder and made the symbol a not so hidden switch.
  16. BigBlockMopar
    Joined: Feb 4, 2006
    Posts: 1,360


    Below was the only way I could get my car titled overhere without having to hack up my doors and reinstall doorhandles again...
    (The DMV-guidelines just say the doors have to be able to be opened in a 'normal fashion')

    Guess this mod was enough...


  17. big creep
    Joined: Feb 5, 2008
    Posts: 2,945

    big creep

    hahahahahahahahahaha! thats funny, and they said that was fine?

  18. Cymro
    Joined: Jul 1, 2008
    Posts: 749


    |I remember a how to article in a 1970's Hot Car, the car owner having hidden reed switches(magnetic switches) in the tail lights or door mirrors to operate the lock solenoids. Again not too safe, and possibly none too reliable.
  19. This is a MUST! My buddy has a late model truck with shaved handles(I hate 'em! I'd never do it to my own car) and have had to use the cable several times. It is a bitch to pull the cable; I always think it will break before the door opens.
  20. jaz
    Joined: Dec 16, 2010
    Posts: 218

    from London, UK

    I guess things where much simpler in the fifties - before all the busy bodies started moaning on about saftey this and safety that!

    My biggest surprise is that in UK you still don't have to install seat belts in an old car

    It is an interesting point about being able to open doors in a normal fashion - I will check to see if this is the case in the UK come MOT time!!

    Obviously, No one in authority is a hot rodder!
  21. 26 roadster
    Joined: Apr 21, 2008
    Posts: 2,019

    26 roadster

    I used water proof starter buttons in the rockers, so I could open them with my toe. The dead battery issue was covered by a remote cable on the truck(where the battery was). Used door lock solenoids on bear claw latches.(don't use on stock friction latches)

Share This Page

Register now to get rid of these ads!


Copyright © 1995-2021 The Jalopy Journal: Steal our stuff, we'll kick your teeth in. Terms of Service. Privacy Policy.

Atomic Industry
Forum software by XenForo™ ©2010-2014 XenForo Ltd.