Momentous motoring events that took place during this week in history …….
120 years ago this week, Henry Sturmey completed a 929 mile trip from John O’Groats to Land’s End in his Coventry Daimler, to become the first person to cross Great Britain from end-to-end by automobile [19 October 1897]…….The Pittsburgh Motor Vehicle Company was organised by Louis Semple Clark along with his brothers John S and James K, his father Charles, mutual friend William Morgan to build the Pittsburgh. In 1900 the firm would relocate to Ardmore, Pennsylvania, as the Autocar Company [21 October 1897]…… 100 years ago this week, production began in Dearborn, Michigan of the Fordson, the world’s first mass-produced tractor [17 October 1917]. The tractor used a 20 hp (15 kW),
inline four-cylinder engine, which was similar to the Ford Model T engine in many respects. Like many engines of its day, it was multifuel-capable; it was usually tuned for gasoline or kerosene, but alcohol could also be burned. It took thirty hours and forty minutes to convert the raw materials into the 4,000 parts used for the tractor assembly. At this time, the Fordson sold for US $750; each cost $567.14 to manufacture (including labor, materials and overhead), leaving a profit of $182.86…….Conover T Silver completed plans for the Silver Apperson four-passenger speedster, a stillborn car that would later materialise as the Kissel Gold Bug Speedster. [20 October 1917]…… 90 years ago this week, Australian adventurer Francis Birtles, driving a 14-bhp Bean, left London and eventually arrived in Sydney on 15 July the following year – the first overland trip from England to Australia by car [19 October 1927]……. 70 years ago this week, the name “Landrover” was officially approved by Rovers Board of Directors [16 October 1947]. The first Land Rover made its debut in 1948. It was designed with brilliant simplicity for extraordinary ability and unrivalled strength and durability. In fact, six decades on it is estimated that two-thirds of all these incredible vehicles are still at work – many of them in some of the
most extreme conditions and inhospitable places on earth. The original 1948 Land Rover was ingeniously designed and engineered for extreme capability and strength. With extremely robust construction and characteristics such as short front and rear overhangs, it drove off the production line ready to take on some of the world’s toughest terrain. Today these qualities are as significant a part of what makes a Land Rover vehicle unique as they were 60 years ago. The Land Rover was the product of continuous evolution and refinement throughout the 1950s and 1960s with improved stability and a tighter turning circle. It was a period in which Land Rover took the lead in the emerging market for four-wheel drive vehicles. As a tough, reliable mobility platform, countless organisations came to depend on Land Rover vehicles to get personnel and equipment into the most challenging situations…and then safely out again. From organisations such as Born Free Foundation to The Royal Geographical Society and Biosphere Expeditions – we enter the second decade of the 21st century with them still relying on Land Rover In keeping with the forward-thinking philosophy that founded Land Rover, a radical, entirely new product was introduced in 1970 and created its very own vehicle category. This overnight sensation was the original Range Rover. It had all the capability of a Land Rover with the comfort and performance of an on-road car. This culture of innovation has developed ever since with both Land Rover and Range Rover vehicles: new models, more refinement, more innovative technology, more efficiency and fewer emissions. And it continues with initiatives such as e_Terrain Technologies (which improves the environmental performance of vehicles by reducing CO2 emissions), Sustainable Manufacturing and CO2 Offsetting. Land Rover will remain at the forefront of advanced design – the new small Range Rover is a testament to the vision that takes the company forward and keeps it at the cutting edge of technology and engineering……. Baroness Hélène van Zuylen van Nijevelt van de Haar née de Rothschild (84), the French socialite who entered the 1898 Paris–Amsterdam–Paris Trail using the pseudonym Snail, thus becoming the first woman to compete in an international motor race, died [17 October 1947]……. Eddie Hulse,
driving Regg Schlemmer’s Mercury powered roadster, set a new Southern California Timing Association Class C speed record of 136.05 mph on the El Mirage dry lake [19 October 1947]…….. The Renault 4CV was released at the Paris Motor Show, signalling new energy in small car design [22 October 1947] In its 14-year production run, more than one million 4CVs were built, which significantly assisted the French working class in getting mobilised. Developed in secret in occupied France during the war, which might explain why it ended up being rear-engined and looking the way it did. But it could be argued that Renault improved on its German counterpart by offering four-doors and a little more interior room. The 4CV was one of the first really big-selling post war cars to be launched in 1946. It was powered by an 18bhp 760cc four-cylinder engine, featured all-independent suspension and very chic styling. More power – albeit from a smaller 747cc engine – arrived in 1950, and the gradual advancements continued until 1961. Most intriguing was the R1063 Sport, with 42bhp, which was very much the proto-Renault 8 Gordini. Eventually the 4CV was developed into the even more successful Dauphine……. 60 years ago this week, Jack Smith edged Lee Petty to win the 100-mile NASCAR Grand National event at North Wilkesboro Speedway [20 October 1957].…… 50 years ago this week, for the first time since 1948, this year saw an increase in the normal daily admission charge to the London Motor Show at Earls Court, which was raised from 5 shillings to 7 shillings and 6 pence [18 October 1967]. Cars introduced at the show included: the Aston Martin DBS, Triumph
Herald 13/60, NSU Ro 80 and Simca 1100. A Jensen convertible (based on an Austin 1100 Countryman) was also shown, but never made it to series production……. The first Tyne Road Tunnel (1 mile in length), connecting the town of Jarrow on the south bank of the River Tyne with North Shields and Howdon on the northern end, was opened by Queen Elizabeth II [19 October 1967]. Having been proposed in 1937, it was approved in 1943. In 1947 the first bore was drilled to carry pedestrian traffic only. It opened to traffic in 1968 on completion of the northern link roads……. 40 years ago this week, Hanns Martin Schleyer, a Daimler-Benz executive and head of the West German employers’ association, was found dead in Alsace, France [18 October 1977]. He had been kidnapped in Cologne by the Red Army Faction (RAF) during a September 5 assault in which his driver and three police were killed. The Red Army Faction was a group of ultra-left
revolutionaries who terrorized Germany for three decades, assassinating at least 30 corporate, military, and government leaders in an effort to topple capitalism in their homeland. Six weeks after the kidnapping of Schleyer, Palestinian terrorists, who had close ties with the RAF, hijacked a Lufthansa airliner to Somalia, and demanded the release of 11 imprisoned RAF members. On October 17, after the pilot was killed, a German special forces team stormed the plane, releasing the captives and killing the hijackers. The RAF’s imprisoned leaders responded by committing suicide in their jail cell in Stammheim, and Schleyer’s murder was ordered…….Gerald C. Meyers was elected Chairman of American Motors. At the time, Meyers was 49 years old and became the youngest top executive in the automobile industry bringing a wealth of manufacturing experience. [20 October 1977] “The company was looking for a lot more than a steady hand on the tiller — it was looking for a saviour” but Meyers disagreed and argued that the company could survive and remain a factor in the automobile industry by abandoning its policy of head-on competition and instead focusing on and revamping its four-wheel-drive vehicles, a market segment left untended by the large automakers, and by acquiring advanced technology. For fiscal 1977, AMC’s profits more than doubled compared to the previous year to a record $83.9 million on sales of $3.1 billion. The smallest U.S. automaker saw its car sales increase 37%, while they dropped 21% for the industry as a whole. Meyers described AMC strategy as a “three-legged stool” of small cars, Jeeps, and steady government and military contracts. By 1979, the automaker’s management team headed by Meyers, … “sharply cut back its money-losing car operations … The perennially ailing baby of the auto industry suddenly looks healthy, and its new management team has a clear design for the future.”……. 30 years ago this week, the Ford Motor Company acquired a majority equity in AC Cars Ltd. [21 October 1987]…… Canadian Garry Sowerby and American Tim Cahill completed the first trans-Americas automobile journey, driving from Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, in a total elapsed time of 23 days, 22 hours, and 43 minutes [22 October 1987]. The pair drove the 14,739-mile distance in a 1988 GMC Sierra K3500 four-wheel-drive pickup truck powered by a 6.2-litre V8 Detroit diesel engine. The vehicle and team were surface-freighted from Cartagena, Colombia, to Balboa, Panama, so as to bypass the dangerous Darien Gap of Colombia and Panama……. 20 years ago this week, Cory McClenathan became the first person in NHRA history to register a 320 mph top speed at the end of a 1/4-mile run. His exact speed was 321.77 mph at Ennis, Texas [19 October 1997]…… It was reported that the US Energy Department and the Arthur D. Little management consultancy company had developed a new fuel system for cars that was based on fuel-cell technology first developed by NASA [21 October 1997]. Electricity was produced by extracting hydrogen from petrol and combining it with oxygen……..10 years ago this week, South African reggae star, Lucky Dube (43) was shot dead by car thieves when he was dropping his teenage son and daughter off in a Johannesburg suburb [18 October 2007]. Police said Dube’s son and daughter were already out of the car when three shots were fired through the car window, witnesses said the wounded singer tried to drive away, but lost control of his car and hit a tree.