The “parking assist” feature on modern cars might seem like a recent innovation, but it appears self-parking cars have been around since the early 1930s.
You heard that right—the 1930s.
Here is a news reel featuring a California inventor’s ingenious spin on the term “fifth wheel" demonstrating his creation on a four-door Packard—believed to be a 1933 Packard.
Judging from the video—the car’s spare tire lowers from its rear mount and raises the rear wheels, allowing the tail to swivel left and right, making it a snap to parallel park or maneuver in tight spaces.
As the narrator says, “why the fifth wheel never caught on we’ll never know. It certainly wasn’t for a lack of trying.”
However, he’s not quite right. Packard continued to offer this parking assist feature into the early 1950s.