Friday, 14 June 2019 09:58

In Reverse: An Industry in Constant Flux - A 1970s Perspective

Written by


The collision industry went through many changes during the 1970s.

Industry associations were stronger and industry communications were better than ever. Below are a few predictions made from the past about the future, some ponderings from leaders of their time and a taste of what changed and what remained the same.


Prognostications From Connecticut


In March 1970, an unnamed person from the Connecticut Department of Transportation addressed a group of collision industry executives as well as shop owners and predicted the following about the future:


  • By 1975, 25 percent of our workforce will be replaced by automation.
  • By 1980, the typical work week will be 35 hours.
  • By 1980, everyone will have access to instant communication.
  • By 1980, most of the population will be working from home rather than from an office.
  • By 2000, only ten percent of the population of the U.S. will work or need to work.
  • By 2020, Connecticut will be in what was then known as the North Atlantic Megalopolis—a 150-mile-wide stretch of real estate from Boston to Richmond, VA.
  • By 2020, there will be automated roads where one can get into a car and sleep, play cards, or watch television, while the car whisks its occupants to their destination.


The Natal Beginnings of Vehicle Autonomy


In 1972, the RCA Corporation worked on crash avoidance technology. An experimental system displayed by the company uses a radar unit that sends a continuous signal to the rear of the vehicle ahead. As the distance between the two cars closes, flashers and audible signals in the following car are triggered. The system could also be tied to the throttle and braking system. RCA estimates that this system will add anywhere from $50 to $100 per vehicle on mass-produced models and should be ready for all cars in ten years.


“We can no longer stand still,” said Paul Goldberg, Auto Body Association of America (ABAA) president. “We can no longer, in these times of rapid change, stand content with methods of shop operations designed for the 1930s. We can no longer keep our heads stuck in the sand. The 2020s are quickly moving toward us.”

Previous Page Continue reading »