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As a Cambridge real estate agent, the city squares of Cambridge, Somerville and Medford and the town centers of Arlington, Watertown and Belmont, Massachusetts are my home turf. And as a lifelong New Englander who’s lived within twenty miles of Boston most of my life, I can introduce you to other nearby towns as we search for your new home. If you’re planning to sell your home in Cambridge, MA or nearby you’ll find plenty of info about the home selling process here too. Questions? Send me an email or call me at 617-504-1737.

Were Cars Smaller Then?

The question – Were cars smaller then?  – reminds me, of course, of the question Were people shorter then? that people ask when they’re in houses with low ceilings or looking at antique bedsteads that seems diminutive when compared to today’s super sized beds.

We passed this nifty, early Somerville garage on the tour of Powderhouse Park and Ball Square a couple of weeks ago.  It’s a truly wonderful garage – brightly painted, with what look to be stained glass windows on the side.  I just love the old moss covered roof.

But what caught our eye is the addition to the front of the garage (which unfortunately is missing its original doors).  Clearly somebody retrofitted this garage to fit a bigger – or more specifically – a longer car into the garage.  Someone on the tour suggested that was because early cars were shorter than the cars that followed.

Unusual old garage in Somerville MA

Unusual old garage in Somerville MA

So how about it?  Were cars much shorter 75 to 100 years ago?  I’m not thinking of comparing them to some of our modern day behemoths like SUVs, but were they really much smaller than our Hondas, VWs or Toyotas? 

I poked around a bit online and couldn’t find the measurements for the earliest Model-Ts etc.  It does seem to me that the cars that followed the Model T got pretty big fairly early on.  Some of those vintage autos seemed like they were fairly spacious.

If you know anything about how cars grew over the years or how long the earliest models and the ones that followed were I would love to hear from you.

And as to whether or not our ancestors were much shorter than we are?  Not so much as it turns out. The Plimoth Plantation website addresses this myth. It seems that there’s about an inch and a half difference between average heights of modern Americans and the early colonists.  Evidence suggests that Americans reached current height averages by the time of the Revolution.  Short beds and low ceilings must have been the style of the times.

There’s an antique auto show in Lincoln in a couple of weeks – watch for details here – and I think I’ll bring my tape measure.

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