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17-23 September: Motoring Milestones

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

110 years ago this week, the Italian Zust arrived in Paris, 49 days after the victorious Thomas Flyer (cover image) as the third and last of the 6 starters to complete the New York to Paris Race [17 September 1908]…….George E Daniels became the first President of General Motors [22 September 1908]……..80 years ago this week, Lower Austria switched from driving

on the left hand side to the right hand side of the road [19 September 1938]…….The Carl F. W. Borgward Automobil- und Motorenwerke factory opened in Sebaldsbrück near Bremen, Germany [23 September 1938]. At that time, 22,000 people were working in the company. Production of Borgward was mostly military vehicles and trucks until the end of World War II………70 years ago this week, the first race meeting took place at the Goodwood race circuit, West Sussex, England organised by the Junior Car Club and sanctioned by the Duke of Richmond and Gordon [18 September 1948]. The winner of the first race was P. de F. C. Pycroft, in his 2,664 c.c. Pycroft-Jaguar, at 66.42 m.p.h. Stirling Moss won the 500cc race (later to become Formula 3), followed by Eric Brandon and “Curly” Dryden, all in Coopers. The race lasted only three laps but he won by 25.8 seconds. Dudley Folland, in a single-seater MG K3, took the Madgwick Cup for Formula 2 .The highlight was the five-lap race for another new category; Formula One. Reg Parnell’s latest model Maserati 4CLT/48 was pressed hard by Bob Gerard’s pre-war ERA but Parnell won by four-tenths of a second, even though Gerard set the fastest lap, leaving with the outright lap record at 1’42.8″, 83.39mph. A total of 10,478 paid at the gates, 1,000 club members also entered and an estimated 3,000 sneaked in. Goodwood became famous for its Glover Trophy non-championship Formula One race, Goodwood Nine Hours sports car endurance races run in 1952, 1953 and 1955, and the Tourist Trophy sports car race, run between 1958 and 1964. The cars that raced in those events can be seen recreating (in shorter form) the endurance races at the Goodwood Revival each year in the Sussex Trophy and the Royal Club Tourist Trophy (RAC TT)………in the week ending 18 September 1948, produced 2,705 vehicles made up of 2,127 cars and 578 trucks and vans. 2,066 went for export,

Austin A40 Farina

with the remaining 639 for the home UK market…….60 years ago this week, the Austin A40 Farina was unveiled at the Austin works [18 September 1958]. A 948-cc, A-series engine propelled the Mk 1, the very last true Austin. It returned an average of 45 mpg, did 0 to 60 in 35.6 seconds and could reach 73 mph, though a more realistic cruising speed was in the mid fifties…….Yorkshireman Peter Whitehead (43), who became the first privateer after convincing Enzo Ferrari to allow him to buy a Formula 1 car in 1949, died [21 September 1958]. In ten starts he climbed on the podium once, leading the French Grand prix in 1950 before gearbox problems relegated him to third. In 1958 while competing in the Tour de France Automobile, his 3.4-litre Jaguar, driven by his half-brother Graham, plunged off a bridge at Lasalle, near Nimes. Peter was killed……..50 years ago this week, the GT6 MkII was launched. The Triumph GT6 was originally designed as a four-cylinder GT counterpart to the Spitfire [23 September 1968]. But when the first

Triumph GT6 MkII

prototypes started running, and Triumph engineers realised that the coupe was somewhat slower than the roadster, they came up with the obvious solution of fitting the straight-six engine as used in the 2000 and Vitesse. What Triumph ended up creating was an effective rival to the recently-launched MGB GT – very smart indeed considering it was based on the lower-market Spitfire. But it was an achingly stylish car, with the added appeal of an E-type-style bonnet bulge, and it looked worth every penny. The GT6 soon earned a reputation for being great in a straight line, but not so good in corners. The Mk1’s swing-axle rear suspension ensured that lift-off oversteer was a very real problem as the wheels tucked under – and even today, it’s only partially cured by the fitment of modern tyres. Improved rear suspension made the 1969 Mk2 a much better car.The Mk3 GT6 was launched in 1970, and received the same visual changes as the Spitfire Mk4. They managed to turn a stylish car into a desirable one – not easy when you consider it was based on an eight-year old car. That all-important bonnet bulge remained, but the cleaner profile and more aggressive Kamm tail were really masterful styling tweaks.There was no significant change to the 2.0-litre straight-six, but like with the Spitfire, it appeared the power had dropped because of the change to DIN quoted power. The rear axle was changed to the cheaper Spitfire system for 1973 – a sure sign that the cost accountants were now running Triumph…….30 years ago this week, Michael Waltrip bypassed Tommy Ellis with 12 laps left and led the rest of his first Nationwide Series victory, prevailing in the Grand National 200 at Dover International Speedway, Delaware, US [17 September 1988]. Waltrip, who drove a car owned by his brother Darrell, won in just his third start in the series. He led 37 of the 200 laps at the Monster Mile and pulled away to a .685-second triumph over Ellis. Morgan Shepherd finished third…….20 years ago this week, the US Postal Service awarded a $206.4 million contract to Ford for 10,000 alternative fuel delivery vehicles to replace aging postal vehicles used for daily delivery to city and business customers [18 September 1998]…… 10 years ago week, Chrysler LLC disclosed that it had lost $400 million so far this year just hours after it unveiled prototypes of 3 new electric cars [23 September 2008]…….on the same day, NASCAR announced a new random drug-testing policy. Also, all drivers, officials, and over-the-wall crew members would be tested in the preseason.

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