13-19 November: Motoring Milestones

Discover the momentous motoring events that took place during this week in history …….

110 years ago this week, the Napier Motor Car Company of America, located in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts was dissolved [18 November 1907]. The firm was reorganised in 1909 but production of the American Napier ended in 1912……. 90 years ago this week, the Holland Tunnel between New York City and Jersey City was officially opened

Holland Tunnel opening day

Holland Tunnel opening day

when President Calvin Coolidge telegraphed a signal from the presidential yacht Mayflower, anchored in the Potomac River [13 November 1927]. Within an hour, over 20,000 people had walked the 9,250-foot (1.75-mile) distance between New York and New Jersey under the Hudson River, and the next day the tunnel opened for automobile service. The double-tube underwater tunnel, the first of its kind in the US, was built to accommodate nearly 2,000 vehicles per hour. Chief engineer Clifford Milburn Holland resolved the problem of ventilation by creating a highly advanced system that changed the air over 30 times an hour at the rate of over 3 million cubic feet per minute……. Race car designer Harry A. Miller was issued a United States patent for his front wheel drive mechanism [15 November 1927]…….the following day [17 November 1927] The Leyland Titan double deck bus was introduced in Britain.

Leyland Titan c. 1927

Leyland Titan c. 1927

Its low chassis set a significant trend in bus design that lasted for forty years. Among its outstanding features was its 6.8-litre six-cylinder overhead-camshaft petrol engine, in unit with a four-speed sliding-mesh gearbox with straight-line drive to an underslung worm rear axle whose differential was offset to reduce gangway floor height on the lower deck. Vacuum-servo brakes were standard on all four wheels and a sharp drop in its rear frame gave a low platform entry. It was the first lowbridge double-deck bus body and as a result of the offset upper-deck gangway with four-abreast seating to the nearside the Titan could carry 48 or more seated passengers, all within a 25 ft long , 13 feet 1 inch high body……. 80 years ago this week, Ferdinand Porsche was issued a United States patent for his torsion-bar suspension [16 November 1937].Most of the credit for the wide acceptance of torsion bars in Europe goes to Dr. Ferdinand Porsche who made it standard on most of his cars, beginning with the 1933 Volkswagen prototypes. By 1954, 21 makes of European cars were equipped with torsion bars. By contrast, in America, only Chrysler went the torsion bar route on its large-sized cars. Despite its excellent ride qualities, high cost has limited its acceptance in this country…….George Eyston in the enormous 7-ton 73 litre twin Rolls Royce

Thunderbolt land speed record car - George Eyston

Thunderbolt land speed record car – George Eyston

eroengined Thunderbolt, established a new world land speed record of 312 mph (502 km/h) on the Bonneveille Salts Flats in Utah, US [19 November 1937]……70 years ago this week, the 20 millionth Chevrolet was produced [13 November 1947]……. 60 years ago this week, Carroll Shelby, best known by many for his Shelby Cobras and his modified Mustangs, drove John Edgar’s Maserati 450S to victory in an SCCA National race at Riverside, California, USA [17 November 1957]…… 50 years ago this week, Mario Andretti won the USAC Championship race at Phoenix, Arizona, US [19 November 1967]…….30 years ago this week, at the Mahwah plant in New Jersey (US), workers completed the 100-millionth Ford to be built in America: a 1978 Ford Fairmont four-door sedan [15 November 1977]. The Fairmont series was introduced at the beginning of the 1978 model year, to replace the discontinued Ford Maverick. Several Fairmont models were available in the first year of the series, and the available power ran from a 140 cubic-inch, four-cylinder engine to a 302 cubic-inch V-8. The most popular Ford Fairmont was the Sporty Coupe, which was introduced midway through the 1978 model year, and featured styling reminiscent of the Thunderbird. The vehicle was two inches longer than the other Fairmont models, and featured quad headlights and a unique roof design featuring a decorative wrap-over. In the 1979 model year, the Fairmont Sporty Coupe became the Fairmont Futura Sport, and, by 1980, was available as a four-door sedan in addition to the original two-door coupe. By 1981, the Fairmont Futura series was more of a high-trim automobile than its original manifestation as a sporty vehicle, and a Futura station wagon became available. At the end of the 1983 model year, the entire Fairmont line was discontinued……. Gerhard Berger led home Michele Alboreto for a Ferarri 1-2 finish in the Australian Grand Prix on the streets of Adelaide [15 November 1987]. 1987 was the first time in the history of the Australian Grand Prix (dating back to the first race in 1928) that no Australian driver was on the grid. As it turned out, no Australian driver would compete in an Australian Grand Prix until David Brabham drove for the Brabham team (founded in 1962 by his father, triple World Champion Jack Brabham) in the 1990 Australian Grand Prix……. A 1931 Bugatti Royale Kellner Coupe was sold for $8.7 million at a much-hyped Christie’s sale

1931 Bugatti Royale Kellner Coupe

1931 Bugatti Royale Kellner Coupe

at the Royal Albert Hall in London, to an anonymous bidder [17 November 1977]……. the following day [18 November 1987] a special edition 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO hardtop was sold for $1,600,000 at an automobile auction in Italy, setting a new public auction record. Enzo Ferrari first introduced the GTO in 1954, and public demand for the series was so great that Ferrari was motivated to build its first assembly line. The 250 series, the most popular of which were the Testa Rossa and the GT Spyder, made Ferrari a legend. The 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO was a limited edition variant on the 1962 GTO. The engine featured a 12-cylinder engine with a maximum power output of 290bhp at 7,400rpm. The 1963 GTO variant featured larger tires and the hardtop design, and was significant because of its release during the 250 GTO’s last major year of production……. London dealer, Nicholas Harley paid £5.5 million for a 1931 Bugatti Type 41 Royale Sports Coupe at an auction held by Christies at the Royal Albert Hall, London [19 November 1987].The Bugatti Royale was an incredible display of wealth. Built more like a train than a car, the Royale had a 12.7-litre straight-eight and weighed 3,175 kilograms. Designed to be the most luxurious car ever, even royalty struggled to cough up the asking price for the Bugatti and of the six built, only three were sold……. 20 years ago this week, Larry Shinoda (67) died of a heart attack at his home in Novi, Michigan, US [13

Larry Shinoda

Larry Shinoda

November 1997]. Shinoda is best known for designing the bodies on the ’63 Stingray and ’70 Mustang Boss 302, he also designed the 1956 Indy 500 winning John Zink Special and Jim Hall’s Chaparral 2C & 2D…….The iconic Ligier name disappeared from Formula One when Alain Prost bought the team from Flavio Briatore and re-branded it under his own name [16 November 1997]. But after four seasons of more downs than ups, the money ran out at the start of the 2002 season and Prost was out of business, leaving debts of around $30 million……. 10 years ago this week, Toyota Motor Sales (TMS) U.S.A, Inc., unveiled the second-generation Sequoia full-size sport utility vehicle at a press conference at the 2007 Los Angeles Auto Show [14 November 2007]……. San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie M. Dumanis, the Regional Auto Theft Task Force (RATT), and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) announced an undercover operation resulting in the break up of an extensive and highly organized auto theft ring in the South Bay [16 November 2007]. The auto theft ring bust was the largest in San Diego County and possibly in the state of California.

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