2-8 April: Motoring Milestones

Discover the momentous motoring events that have taken place this week in history …….

120 years ago this week, thirteen days after selling its first car, the Winton Motor Carriage Company became an international marque, selling a car to John Moodie of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada [6 April 1898]. The international sale was a testament to Alexander Winton’s pioneering enthusiasm for car advertising. The Scotch-born Winton had undertaken the industry’s first “publicity stunt” a year earlier when he and one of his mechanics had driven a 2-cylinder Winton Motor Carriage 800 miles from Cleveland, Ohio to New York City. Winton managed to gain enough attention for a small article in Horseless Age, the leading motor-car journal of the day. Over the next few years, Winton launched an advertising campaign that included regular print ads in Scientific American and the Saturday Evening Post. In 1899, Winton undertook his second publicity-oriented motorized trek to New York City, this time achieving his goal of reaching a broad audience of potential car buyers. In addition to the estimated 1,000,000 people who saw Winton drive into the city, the Cleveland Plain Dealer ran a series of articles covering the journey. In an early history of the automobile industry, J.R. Doolittle described the event as “the first real effort at intelligent publicity with which the new industry has been favored.” Winton’s efforts were reflected in his sales. Where most of the early car companies sold to local rich folk, Winton’s sales were not centered in Cleveland……. 110 years ago this week, Byron J. Carter (44), American automotive pioneer, a founding partner of the Jackson Automobile Company, and founder of the Cartercar Company, died [6 April 1908]………A White steam racer driven by Walter C White won the Fort George Hill Climb in New York City, defeating over

White steam racer

80 other cars [8 April 1908]. He completed the climb in 32 1/5 seconds, averaging of 40.2 miles an hour. Attendance totals for the 1908 contest ranged anywhere from fifteen to thirty thousand. “The hill presented an animated appearance,” wrote an industry reporter. “All the competing cars were parked in the streets at its base, together with several hundred pleasure vehicles, while that many more afforded grandstands at the summit. The hill on both sides of the street was lined with spectators three or four deep…Near the top of the hill, in sight of the finish line, was a natural amphitheater which held several thousand people, and which resembled the bleachers at a league ball game in mid-summer.The 1908 climb was the largest event of its type ever to be held. In addition to the racecars and industry demos, thousands of car owners showed up with their own vehicles. According to one estimate at least 1,200 automobiles were parked in the vicinity of Fort George. With a selling value of more than $5,000,000 this would have been the largest assemblage of vehicles to date…….. 90 years ago this week, the Howard Motor Internation Corporation of New York City began production of the Howard Silver Horn, but production was very limited during its two year existence [5 April 1928]……..Henry and Clara Ford, travelling as ‘Mr & Mrs Robinson’, arrived in Southampton to inspect Ford’s British operations, meeting the King and Queen and business and political leaders [6 April 1928]. Henry Ford appointed Sir Percival Perry to relaunch Ford Britain. The proposed Dagenham plant would be the centre of manufacture for Europe, serving assembly plants in Manchester, Cork, Paris, Berlin, Antwerp, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Trieste, Stockholm, Helsinki, Rotterdam and Istanbul……. 70 years ago this week, Clemente Biondetti drove a 2-litre Ferrari to victory in the revived Giro di Sicilia, in Italy [4 April 1938]……..The police force in the UK recommended that all bicycles should be fitted with rear lights [7 April 1938]……. 60 years ago this week, the Glover Trophy, run to Formula One rules over 42 laps of the Goodwood Circuit, was won by British driver Mike Hawthorn in a Ferrari Dino 246 [6 April 1958]…….Oldsmobile produced its 4 millionth car with Hydra-Matic transmission [8 April 1958]…… 50 years ago this week, Ford Motor Company introduced the all-new Continental Mark III as part of deliberate strategy to build the prestige and owner loyalty of its luxury Lincoln brand [5 April 1968]. The Mark III was a sensational success with 7,770 sales in 1968, then tripling in 1969 for a two-year total of almost 31,000 new Mark IIIs……

Lincoln Continental Mark III

the following day [6 April 1968] The Ford Motor Company “Wide World of Ford” exhibit opened for six months at HemisFair in San antonio, Texas……The wee Scot, Jim Clark OBE (32), from Kilmany, Fife – one of the greatest grand prix racers of all time, died in a tragic accident during a Formula 2 race in Hockenheim, Germany [7 April 1968]. Clark, widely regarded as the most naturally gifted Formula One racer of all time, competed his entire career on behalf of Colin Chapman’s Team Lotus. He won two World Championships, in 1963 and in 1965. Clark’s 1965 season is undoubtedly the sport’s greatest individual achievement. At the time of his death, he had won more Grand Prix races (25) and achieved more Grand Prix pole positions (33) than any other driver……. 40 years ago this week, the USA Grand Prix West at Long Beach (the East version was held later in the season at Watkins Glen) was won by Carlos Reutemann who took the lead at the halfway mark from Ferrari team-mate Gilles Villeneuve, when he crashed, and won by 11 seconds [2 April 1978]. Mario Andretti finished second to maintain a share of the Championship lead with Reutemann. It was Ferrari’s weekend as they dominated practice, qualifying and one of their cars led every lap of the race……..30 years ago this week, the opening race of the season, the Brazilian Grand Prix, was mired in controversy from the off when Nelson Piquet publicly insulted Ayrton Senna, Nigel Mansell and their wives and families in the pre-race build-up [3 April 1988]. Senna qualified on pole but his car became jammed in first gear on the parade lap; he switched to his reserve car, started from the pit lane, and battled back into second position before being black flagged for changing cars. Alain Prost went on to win the race……..Tracy Chapman released the single “Fast Car” from her self-titled first album Tracy Chapman [5 April 1988]. The album went multi-platinum largely on the strength of the enormous popularity of “Fast Car.” In “Fast Car” Chapman follows in the tradition of American balladeers, singing the praises of the freedom afforded by the open road. “You’ve got a fast car. Is it fast enough so we can fly away? We got to make a decision. Leave tonight or live and die this way. I remember when we were driving, driving in your car, speeds so fast I felt like I was drunk… I had a feeling that I belonged. I had a feeling I could be someone.”…… 20 years ago this week, McLaren announced the signing of a 13-year-old karting whiz kid, Lewis Hamilton [3 April 1998]. Ron Dennis said Hamilton had the ability to go all the way to the top and made him a member of the team’s prestigious driver support programme. “We did not expect this so soon,” Hamilton’s father said. “When McLaren first spoke to us our reaction was one of disbelief. What McLaren is giving us is a complete package, making sure Lewis’s education stays on the right track and he keeps his feet on the ground. It is almost as if the motor-racing side is a bonus. But Lewis will have to produce the results they are looking for.”……..Ford, Daimler-Benz and Ballard signed an agreement to develop fuel-cell technology for future vehicles [7 April 1998]….. On the same day [7 April 1998] Cozy Powell (50) of Rainbow, Whitesnake and Black Sabbath died after crashing his Saab 9000 on the M4 whilst driving in excess of 100 mph……. 10 years ago this week, the standard driving UK test charge rose 16.5% to £56.50, with the theory test increasing 5.3% to £30 [5 April 2008].

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