The year Cadillac gave drivers the electric chair


Some say the unusually cold, snowy winter weather in the Eastern United States is a symptom of climate change. Regardless of where you stand on the issue, one thing is certain: come winter, automobile seat warmers are as welcome in your car as a steaming cup of hot chocolate and a snuggly blanket while sitting next to a crackling fire. Thankfully, this automotive indulgence is by now commonplace. Still, you might wonder why it took so long to become standard equipment on cars.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2018/01/31/the-year-cadillac-gave-drivers-the-electric-chair


Living in Central Pennsylvania, I certainly appreciate heated seats, but what really gets me going these cold winter mornings is my heated steering wheel. Probably it’s because I hate driving with big thick gloves on which take away the feel of what’s going on. I first had this feature on my 2004 Porsche Cayenne, but like the initial GM offering of heated seats, Porsche determined the temperature at which the heating would start.


My late father owned a '48 Lincoln Continental convertible in the early 50’s. He told me that car had electric heaters under the front seat. So, who is correct?


@tbird_sandy According to Ford/Lincoln, the Standard Catalog of Fords lists the heater an option for the 1948 model, but doesn’t specify how the heat was distributed. Sorry we couldn’t find more detail.


Your dad was probably correct, but I suspect that it was heated with hot water from the radiator just like the under dash heater rather than electrical resistance wires like modern cars. My 1939 Packard 120 had both an under dash heater (with defroster) and an under seat heater under the front passenger seat. The underseat model had a flat box with radiator coils, and a fan above it to pull heat up. It helps to have fairly tall seats for this setup to work - it was a great option to have during the cold Montana winters.


Yes my 47 Cadillac Series 62 convertible has the fans and heating lines under the front bench seat. Hydraulic windows, seat and power convertible top seem advanced for that time following the fog of WWII.