11-17 June: Motoring Milestones

120 years ago this week, the first regular motorised mail service in Great Britain began between Inveraray and Ardrishaig, Argyllshire, Scotland, using Coventry-built Daimlers [17 June 1898]……. 110 years ago this week, the single bore Rotherhithe Tunnel (1,481 m) under the River Thames in East London (UK), connecting Limehouse in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets north of the

1928 24 Hours of Le Mans 24 winners Woolf Barnato and Bernard Rubin

river to Rotherhithe in the London Borough of Southwark south of the river, designated the A101, was formally opened by George Prince of Wales (later King George V), and Richard Robinson, Chairman of the London County Council [12 June 1908]. Designed by Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice, the Engineer to the London County Council the  work took place between 1904 and 1908. In the construction stage an intrepid reporter from the Daily News went into the tunnel to see its construction, here is part of his article. “By exercising a little care you step into a lift, an Iron cage open at each end, on the floor of which are a pair of rails to take a skip. A little bell rings somewhere, and you cling to a rod overhead as the lift tumbles down a dark hole at an ever-Increasing speed. It seems hours, but it is really only a few seconds, and you step out of the lift into a new world, a world full of more eerie men with clay wigs, pale faced, and almost naked, for the temperature lies in the neighbourhood of the eighties, and the work is very hard indeed. Tram lines, baulks of timber, puddles of water, and bags of cement, all these have to be carefully negotiated, and you at last reach the shield that cuts its way through the soil at the rate of about five feet per day. Presently you become painfully aware of the closeness of the atmosphere, and understand better than ever the economy in clothing exercised by the workmen, who rush about like ants in a nest, some pushing the skips, loaded and empty, others trimming, yet more wrestling with a huge segment of cast iron that is to be immured in its cell of concrete and be buried in the walls of the tunnel for perhaps thousands of years.”…….100 years ago this week, the first production Hanson Six was completed at the Atlanta, Georgia, US factory of the Hanson Motor Company [15 June 1918]……. 90 years ago this week, the first Plymouth automobile (see cover image) came off the production line [11 June 1928]. By the time the year was out, 58,000 Plymouths had been shipped. Demand became so great that a new Plymouth plant was begun on 40 acres of Detroit real estate in October, 1928, to be completed in record time, ready for occupancy in 1929……..Leon Duray drove his Miller 91 Packard Cable Special to a world close-coursed speed record, recording an astonishing top speed of 148.173mph, at the Packard Proving Ground in Utica, Michigan [14 June 1928]. Two weeks earlier, Duray had posted a record lap of 124mph at the Indy 500, a record that stood for 10 years until the track was banked. From a mere 91 cubic inches or 1500cc, the Miller’s supercharged engine produced 230hp while weighing in at a svelte 290 pounds. The front-wheel-drive Miller Special never won an Indy 500, but its 1928-1929 results there prompted track officials to ban supercharged engines from the contest for over a decade. The 91 was engineer Harry Miller’s crowning achievement. Today, one of Miller’s masterpieces sits in the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian. After the 91s were forced out of Indy, owner Leon Duray took his two Miller cars to Europe and proceeded to set international speed records for cars of similar engine displacement. He drove the 91 at 143mph over one kilometer and 139mph over five kilometers. Ettore Bugatti was so impressed with both the Miller’s front-wheel drive and its engine design that he bought the cars form Duray in order to study them. Bugatti’s later engines borrowed heavily from Miller’s innovations to the designs of the combustion-chamber, port, valve, and head. Miller built only 11 of his front-wheel-drive superchargers, and today they are prized antiques. The two cars that Bugatti purchased were discovered, dusty but intact, by a Danish diplomat in a Bugatti warehouse in France in 1954. Auto historian Griffith Borgeson bought the two cars in 1959 and had them shipped to his home in Los Angeles, the city in which the cars had been built. One of those cars sits in the museum at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Harry Miller was, simply put, a legendary genius in the history of American racing. The technology he pioneered with his Miller 91s is still in use today. Miller went bankrupt in 1929 and all of his assets, including his drawings and designs, were sold at auction. One of his associates, Fred Offenhauser, struggled to purchase enough of the drawings and patent rights to carry on what Miller started. From 1922 to 1965, Miller and Offenhauser engines won all but six Indy 500s……… A monument honouring racer Louis Zborowski was dedicated at Le Mans, France [16 June 1928]…….The same Bentley 41/2 that had crashed in 1927 won the Le Mans 24 hours with Woolf Barnato and Bernard

1928 24 Hours of Le Mans 24 winners Woolf Barnato and Bernard Rubin

Rubin at the wheel [17 June 1928]. Sometime before the end of the race the car cracked its chassis, causing the entire contents of the radiator to drain away – with temperatures off the clock, Barnato nursed the car over the line. One more lap and it’s unlikely he’d have made it……70 years ago this week, double yellow lines were used for the first time to restrict parking on British roads [16 June 1948]. The first ever road markings that were seen in the UK were in 1918 and the first ever was the famous white line. During the 1920s the rise of painted lines on UK roads grew dramatically but it was not until 1926 that official guidelines of where and how white lines on roads should be used, were introduced. The official word, on what white lines should be used for was carried out by the First Ministry of Transport in 1926. During the next decade the 30s white lines were used as “stop” lines, at junctions and the traffic flow was controlled by police or traffic lights at these intersections on the road network. By 1944 the UK had Cats Eyes for nearly ten years and white lines had more strings to their bows. They were now being used to keep traffic in correct lane. It was also used at this time to help motorists to define the boundary of the carriageway they were travelling on and those entrances to side roads and lay-bys. By 1959 the UK Government had decided that double white lines were to be used to control overtaking. Even more road markings were introduced in the 60s with the yellow box junction, these appeared across the UK at busy road junctions to ease the flow of traffic. In 2002 the yellow line system was adapted for the new millennium. Every road marking in the UK provides information and guidance for the road-user. These markings are painted in a similar style, which means that road-users will easily recognise them when approaching a stretch of road that has markings on it…….60 years ago this week, the 39 millionth Chevrolet car was built, a 1958 Corvette [11 June 1958]……The Belgian Grand Prix was held at Spa-Francorchamps over 24 laps of the 14 kilometre circuit for a race distance of 339 kilometres [15 June 1958].The race was won by British driver Tony Brooks in a Vanwall. It was Brooks first solo Grand Prix victory after his car won the 1957 British Grand Prix in a shared driver with Stirling Moss. Brooks finished 20 seconds ahead of fellow Briton Mike Hawthorn driving a Ferrari 246 F1. Brooks’ Vanwall team mate Stuart Lewis-Evans finished third in a career-best finish, the first of just two podium finishes to his short Grand Prix career. The race also marked the first World Championship race start (and finish) by a woman, Maria Teresa de Filippis driving her privately entered Maserati 250F. She finished tenth and last, two laps behind Brooks’ Vanwall……50 years ago this week, perhaps one of the most popular and recognisable post-war British limousines, the Daimler DS420, was officially launched [11 June 1968]. No royal wedding or state procession would be complete without a long line of these stately cars quietly wafting along. Production of the DS420 lasted until 1992 and many of the 4116 examples were exported to embassies, foreign royal households and business users. The DS420 was originally constructed on a modified Jaguar 420G floorpan and featured the same 4.2 litre, twin cam six cylinder engine. All models had automatic gearboxes, independent suspension and thankfully power steering. Although most DS420s were built as closed limousines a handful of open landaulettes were also built to special order…….Donnie Allison roared to his first triumph in NASCAR’s premier series, finishing two laps ahead of his brother Bobby at North Carolina Motor Speedway in Rockingham (US) [16 June 1968]. Donnie Allison took command of the Carolina 500 when Darel Dieringer retired with engine failure, leading the final 129 laps. James Hylton finished third, six laps off the pace. Richard Brickhouse, making his first Cup start, took fourth, an amazing 30 laps down…… 40 years ago this week, Didier Pironi and Jean-Pierre Jaussaud drove an Alpine-Renault to victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans [11 June 1978]….. Lee Iacocca was fired as President of the Ford Motor Company by Chairman Henry Ford II [13 June 1978]……. 30 years ago this week,  Rusty Wallace started second and held off Terry Labonte to score the last victory in NASCAR’s top series at Riverside

Honda FCX Clarity

(California) International Raceway’s 2.62-mile road course [12 June 1988]. Wallace, a 2013 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee, led 43 of 95 laps and was .34 seconds ahead of Labonte at the finish. Pole-starter Ricky Rudd was third. The race also marked the last of two career Cup starts — both at Riverside — for current team owner Rick Hendrick, who finished 15th as the first driver one lap down…….20 years ago this week, Jan Lammers (Holland), Johnny Dumfries, and Andy Wallace (both UK) in a Jaguar XJR-9LM covered a record breaking 5331.998 km. (3313.150 miles.) (aver. speed 222.166 km./h. 138.047 m.p.h.), in winning the Le Mans 24-hour race [12 June 1998]……10 years ago this week, zero emission, hydrogen fuel cell cars rolled off line for first time [16 June 2008]. The FCX Clarity – Honda’s advanced hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicle – came off the line at the world’s first dedicated fuel cell vehicle manufacturing facility in Japan. After 19 years of development, the arrival of this ‘real world’ fuel cell car marked the beginning of a new era of cleaner motoring.

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