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The History of The Car Horn

The relationship between horns and cars goes back many decades.  In fact, it goes back to the beginning of self-propelled vehicles.

Automobile horn design has now gotten to the digital era with some car horns being almost powerful speakers that electronic circuitry powers. However, along with those high-tech designs, the old vibrating diaphragm car horn still exists. The reason for that is not complex; it just works and is a great example of staying with a new technology that does things right. A horn mounted on the car was a little more efficient than somebody walking in front of the car blowing a horn–which really happened, and we’ll touch on that!

Car Horn
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How Car Horns Came Around:

Car horns did not begin in the United States. They date back to the mid-1800s in Britain where steam powered carriages were beginning to be used. For wildlife and pedestrian safety, a law that stated “…self-propelled vehicles on public roads must be preceded by a man on foot waving a red flag and blowing a horn” was passed. This type of automotive signaling lasted, but only for a decade or so.

Horns Got Famous:

In the early 1900s, when automobiles began to appear in our country, the vehicle-mounted bulb horn became a car’s attention-grabbing feature. A simple squeeze on the bulb and everyone around you knew your vehicle was near. By 1910, however, some drivers needed a super powerful warning contraption, one that animals and people could hear at least an eighth of a mile away. Manufacturers responded with several kinds of chimes, whistles, sirens and horns.

The Klaxon Horn:

By the 1920s, the Klaxon horn had appeared. A Klaxon horn, whose name was received from the Greek word klaxo, that means “to shriek,” created its sound through a vibrating metal diaphragm, powered by electricity. This is what Three Rivers, a car dealer in Pittsburgh, PA, told us. The most famous Klaxon horn is the “Aoogha” horn on the Model A and Model T Fords of the 1920’s and 1930’s.  They were loud, making them effective!

Since the 1930s, car manufacturers have played around with the Klaxon-type diaphragm and sound chamber to make sounds. The goal has been to create horns that one can tolerate hearing but still able to penetrate traffic noise’s low-frequency rumble.  For example, up until the mid-1960’s many U.S car horns were tuned to the E-flat or C musical notes. Nowadays, because vehicles are better soundproofed, they are more frequently tuned to more-penetrating notes of A-sharp and F-sharp.

As you know, drivers use horns to warn others of danger, or they use them just because they are angry with other drivers. If you are trying to find a vehicle without a horn, then we can tell you that you will not have much luck. However, as we have indicated above, horns are useful, and trust us about them being a fantastic automotive advancement! We hope you have enjoyed reading about their history!

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