Autos: The Thunking Man's Car

A small car glided out of an American Motors plant in Kenosha, Wis., drove quietly into the night and braked to a stop in a farm field. There, where the air was clear and city noise was absent, the passengers alighted and began loudly slamming the car's doors. After each slam, the men placed stethoscopes against the car body and listened to the lingering vibrations. Half an hour later, everyone climbed back into the car and returned to the plant.

This midnight ride of American Motors engineers was a regular test in their effort to develop doors that slam with...

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