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1-7 October: Motoring MIlestones

Discover the momentous motoring vents that tool place this week in history ……

110 years ago this week, the Ford Model T (cover image)was introduced to  the American public, and Ford’s affordable revolution had begun [1 October 1908]. Beginning in 1903, Henry Ford and his engineers struggled for five difficult years to produce a reliable, inexpensive car for the mass market. It wasn’t until the 20th attempt, christened the Model T after the 20th letter in the alphabet, that the fledgling Ford Motor Company hit pay dirt. Affectionately known as the “Tin Lizzie,” the Model T revolutionized the automotive industry by providing an affordable, reliable car

for the average American. Ford was able to keep the price down by retaining control of all raw materials, and by employing revolutionary mass production methods. When it was first introduced, the “Tin Lizzie” cost only $850 and seated two people, and by the time it was discontinued in 1927, nearly 15,000,000 Model Ts had been sold…….90 years ago this week, the Ford Motor Company announced its entry into the bus business [3 October 1928]……..The Checker Model K was introduced [4 October 1928]. This Checker was a radical departure from its predecessors, the G4 and G6, with its sleek styling, longer wheelbase, hydraulic brakes and a lengthy list of standard equipment that included oil filter, automatic windshield washer, fully illuminated instrument panel, heater and chrome bumpers, for just $2,500. The model K was an instant success. With nothing more than advertisement and promotion, 85 percent of the first year’s projected production was sold, with cash deposits, before a single model had even been displayed!……on the same day [4 October 1928] the Mercedes-Benz 18/80-hp Nürburg 460 model, the first Mercedes-Benz car with a straight 8-cylinder engine, was presented at the Paris Motor Show. Citroen presented the C4 and C6, the latter was the

George Simpson in his Austin 7 half way up Ben Nevis in 1928

marque’s first production model to be equipped with a 6-cylinder engine……..George Simpson drove up Ben Nevis (4,406 ft/1,334 m) in the Scottish Highlands in an Austin Seven in a record time of 7 hours 23 minutes – the descent took 1 hour 55 minutes [6 October 1928]. The owner-driver, then in his early twenties, and entirely unconnected with the motor trade, had decided to make the sporting attempt more or less on the spur of the moment………80 years ago this week, production commenced of the new 4-cylinder, 1,172-cc E93A Ford Prefect [3 October 1938]. The two-door saloon cost £145. Maximum speeds in the gears were 20 mph and 38 mph in first and second respectively, while a flying quarter-mile at Brooklands track in Surrey was completed at 65.69 mph. The original Ford Prefect was a slight reworking of the previous year’s 7Y, the first Ford car designed outside of Detroit, Michigan. It was designed specifically for the British market. It had a 1,172 cc (71.5 cu in) side-valve engine with thermocirculation radiator (no pump) and the ability to be started by a crank handle, should the battery not have sufficient power to turn the starter motor, running from the six-Volt charging system. The windscreen wipers were powered by the vacuum ported from the engine intake manifold — as the car laboured uphill the wipers would slow to a standstill due to the intake manifold vacuum dropping to near nil, only to start working again as the top was reached and the intake vacuum increased. The windscreen opened forward pivoting on hinges on the top edge; two flaps either side of the scuttle also let air into the car. The car has a durable four-cylinder motor. The most common body styles were two- and four-door saloons, but pre-war a few tourers and drophead coupés were made. Post-war, only four-door saloons were available on the home market, but two-door models were made for export. 41,486 were made up to 1941 and a further 158,007 between 1945 and 1948……..The Mercury marque was launched by Edsel Ford, son of Henry Ford as market entry-level luxury slotted between Ford-branded regular models and Lincoln-branded luxury vehicles [6 October 1938] Over 100 different model and names were considered before “Mercury” was finally selected. The 1939 Mercury Eight began production in 1938, with a 2.9 litre 95 hp flathead V8 engine. Over 65,800 were sold the first year, at a price of $916…….70 years ago this week, the Royal Automobile Club International Grand Prix was staged at Silverstone Airfield in Northamptonshire. Although commonly cited as the first British Grand Prix of the

modern era, it did not have official Grande Épreuve status [2 October 1948]. Italian Luigi Villoresi, in a Maserati 4CLT/48 won the 239 mile race run over a ‘figure 8’ 3.67 mile circuit of runways and perimeter track, at an average 72.28 mph. The race meeting marked the opening of the Silverstone Circuit, although at the time the site was only on a one-year loan to the RAC from the Air Ministry, having been a bomber station during World War II……..on the same day [2 October 1948] law student Cameron Argetsinger’s vision of bringing European style competition to the place where he spent his summer vacations became a reality. Under the guidance of Argetsinger and the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA), the village of Watkins Glen, located in the scenic New York Finger Lakes region, hosted its first automobile races along a challenging course that encompassed asphalt, cement, and dirt roads. It was the first post-World War II road race in the United States, and Frank Griswold, driving a 2.9 liter prewar Alfa Romeo, won both events offered, a 26.4-mile Junior Prix, and the 52.8-mile Grand Prix. Cameron Argetsinger competed as well, driving a MG-TC, but proved to be a better racing organizer than actual participant. The Watkins Glen Grand Prix went on to have a prestigious as a racing venue, hosting a variety of premium racing events through the years…….50 years ago this week, the 1969 AMC models were introduced, including the last cars to bear the historic Rambler name [1 October 1968]……..Peugeot displayed the 504 at the Paris Motor Show, which would be elected Car of the Year in 1969 [3 October 1968]. The show also witnessed the introduction of the Ferrari Daytona (correctly named the 365 GTB/4), a Gran Turismo automobile produced from 1968 to 1973. The Daytona name commemorated Ferrari’s triple success in the February 1967 24 Hours of Daytona with the 330P4. While it was initially used as a pre-production internal denomination, Ferrari still insists that this was never the model’s official name and as such should not be used when referring to the car in any true manner……..British drivers Jackie Stewart, Graham Hill and John Surtees came first, second and third respectively, in the US Grand Prix at Watkins Glen, New York [6 October 1968]……40 years ago this week, Carlos Reutemann won the US Grand Prix, the fourth and final win in his last season before leaving

1968 United States Grand Prix Watkins Glen

Ferrari, while championship leader Mario Andretti, driving the JPS team’s second car after an accident in practice, retired when his engine blew [1 October 1978]………Groundbreaking ceremonies were held for the DeLorean Motor Car Company factory in Dunmurry, Northern Ireland [2 October 1978]……The prototype 230 hp 3-litre diesel Mercedes C 11/3 attained 203.3 mph – at the time the highest recorded speed for a diesel engined vehicle – during tests on the Nardo Circuit in southern Italy [5 October 1978]. Six months earlier the Mercedes averaged 195.398 mph for 12 hours, so covering a record a record 2399.76 miles…….. On the same day [5 October 1978] the 5-door, 5-seat Citroen Visa, with a choice of two engines was unveiled at the Paris Motor Show. The Special and Club had a 652 cm3 air-cooled flat twin engine developing 36 bhp DIN at 5,500 rpm, a 4 bhp rating and a maximum speed of 78 mph, while the Super had a Peugeot engine, 1,124 cm3, liquid-cooled 4-cylinder in-line developing 57 bhp DIN at 6,250 rpm, a 5 bhp rating and a maximum speed of 90 mph. Like the LN in 1976, the Visa was a result of the partnership between Citroën and Peugeot……….30 years ago this week, Sir , Greek-British designer of the Morris Minor and the Mini,

Alec Issigonis

knighted in 1969, died at his home in Edgbaston, Birmingham aged 81 [1 October 1988]…….the following day [2 October 1988] John Force became the first NHRA Funny Car driver to run the 1/4-mile in less than 4.8 seconds when he clipped off a 4.787 second pass at the Texas Motorplex in Ennis, Texas. ……..Alain Prost secured a crucial victory at the Spanish Grand Prix, his second win in eight days [2 October 1988], to gain five-point lead over McLaren team-mate and rival Ayrton Senna, who managed fourth after problems with his fuel consumption computer. Post-race, March complained its driver Ivan Capelli had been blocked for 30 laps by the “adolescent driving tactics” of Riccardo Patrese in a Williams, but stewards dismissed the protest……..Chrysler Corporation and Fiat SpA formed a joint venture to market the Alfa Romeo in the United States [6 October 1988]……. 20 years ago this week, Olivier Gendebien died at the age of 74 [2 October 1998]. After serving with the British army in WWII he took up Rallying. He was hired by Enzo Ferrari to race his sports cars, something he did very well. He won Le Mans four times, Sebring three times and the Targa Florio three times. He also raced in 15 Grand Prix……..Mike McLaughlin made the most of his fuel mileage over the final green-flag stretch, winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series’ All Pro Bumper to Bumper 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, North Carolina, US [3 October 1998]. McLaughlin, who led 26 of the 200 laps, finished 24.074 seconds ahead of distant runner-up Matt Kenseth. Dale Earnhardt Jr., who went on to win the series championship that year, led a race-high 93 laps but settled for third.


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