2-8 October: Motoring Milestones

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Momentous motoring events that took place during this week in history …..

100 years ago this week, Georg W Houk (51), an automobile wheel manufacturer who introduced Rudge-Whitworth detachable wire wheels in the US, died in Hollywood, California [6 October 1917]……… The first Fordson tractor went in sale in the US [8 October 1917].

Fordson Tractor c.1917

Fordson Tractor c.1917

It used a 20 hp (15 kW), inline four-cylinder engine. The engine 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……. 80 years ago this week, legendary blues singer Bessie Smith was buried near Philadelphia, US [4 October 1937]. Some 7,000 mourners attended her funeral. Smith had died a few days before when the old Packard she was driving hit a parked truck in Mississippi, between Clarksdale and Memphis. There is no record of Smith’s date of birth, but she was suspected to be about the age of 43……..The Renault Juvaquatre,a small family car, was showcased at the Paris Motor Show and put on sale the following year [7 October 1937]. Citroen premiered their 11CV van and launched diesel versions of the Type 32 truck (4-cylinder engine, 3,053 cm3, 55 bhp) and the Type 45 (6-cylinder engine, 4,580 cm3, 76 bhp). The 6-cylinder engine was used in Citroen’s heavy vehicle range until 1971. …..70 years ago this week, the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) formally established Formula One racing in Grand Prix competition for the first time [2 October 1947]. Technological leaps made during World War II had rendered pre-war racing rules obsolete, so the Formula One guidelines were established in order to encompass the new type of racing–faster and more furious than anything the racing world had ever seen. Formula One was initiated for cars of 1,500 cc supercharged and 4,500 cc unsupercharged, and the minimum race distance was reduced from 500 km to 300 km, a change that allowed the famous Monaco Grand Prix to be reintroduced into official Grand Prix racing. In 1950, Giuseppe “Nino” Farina, driving an Alfa Romeo 158, won the first Formula One World Championship at the Silverstone British Grand Prix, and racing’s most thrilling tradition was born…….. The British government proposed regular compulsory inspection of cars. MOTs however, were not introduced until 1960 and then only applicable to vehicles over 10 years of age [7 October 1947]……. 60 years ago this week, Vauxhall introduced its Cresta and Velox models [2 October 1957]. The cars had a flamboyant American design

Vauxhall Cresta advert

Vauxhall Cresta advert

with fins, a wrap-around windscreen, two-tone paint schemes (on the Cresta) and cascades of chrome. The 2,262-cc, 6-cylinder engine was shared by both, so the Cresta only stood out from the cheaper Velox by its higher levels of luxury and equipment inside…….. Bob Welborn, with relief help from Possum Jones, wion the Sweep­stakes 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Welborn’s convertible Chevrolet outran the 40-car field of sedans and convertibles. It was Welborn’s first NASCAR Grand National win [6 October 1957]……. 50 years ago this week, the Triumph TR5 was launched. In 1968, its basic price in the UK was £1,260 including taxes, with wire wheels being

Triumph TR5

Triumph TR5

another £38, overdrive £60 and a tonneau cover another £13 [3 October 1967]…….. Peugeot introduced the smallest diesel engine in the world at the Paris Motor Show, a 1,200-cc model fitted to its 204 estate [5 October 1967]…….The roadside breathalyser was used for the first time in the United Kingdom [8 October 1967]. The new measures were brought in by Transport Minister Barbara Castle as part of the Road Safety Act, with a drink-drive limit of 80 mg of alcohol in 100 ml of blood. Drivers faced a 12 month ban if they found to be over the limit. There was much opposition to its introduction with pubs stating it would put them out of business and motorists claiming it was an infringement of personal liberties. Traffic accidents dropped dramatically once it came into force…….40 years ago this week, fourth at the US Grand Prix at Watkins Glen was enough to secure Niki Lauda his second world championship in three years [2 October 1977], with James Hunt, who was champion in between Lauda’s triumphs, winning a wet race from Mario Andretti. While Hunt went all-out for victory, Lauda was content to stay off the pace and try for the one point he needed to clinch the title. Hunt built a 15-second lead until an oil leak two laps from the end allowed Andretti to cut that to three seconds by the finish, and had there been another lap he would almost certainly have passed him. Lauda’s win was slightly tarnished the kind of Ferrari infighting that led to him leaving the team at the end of the year. The day before Enzo watkins_glen_1977Ferrari had fired Lauda’s mechanic over the phone and so he was not in the pits to join in the success.The 1977 F1 season saw Jody Scheckter’s Wolf win first time out, Shadow took their only victory, and Gunnar Nilsson achieved the only win of a career ended by cancer. Renault entered grand prix racing with a turbocharged car which was initially not very successful. The German ATS team took over the Penske cars and the South African Grand Prix was the last race a BRM ever qualified to start. Lauda departed Ferrari even before the season ended, so did not complete the season, having already sealed the title thanks to his consistent form. Ferrari won its third consecutive Constructors’ title with new driver Carlos Reutemann having a solid season. The season was also marred by one of the most horrific accidents in Formula One history. During the South African GP on 5 March, TV cameras captured how Tom Pryce was unable to avoid 19-year-old race marshall Frederik Jansen van Vuuren. The latter was killed by the terrifying collision, his body was hurled into the air, and his fire extinguisher killed and nearly decapitated Pryce, whose car proceeded to the end of the straight where it collided with Jacques Laffite’s Ligier. There was further tragedy as Carlos Pace lost his life in an aviation accident only a couple of weeks after Pryce’s accident……..Ford Fairmont and Mercury Zephyr were introduced [8 October 1977]……. 30 years ago this week, Mike Dunn became the first man to record a top speed in excess of 280 mph in an NHRA Funny Car, when he ran 280.72 mph at Dallas, Texas, USA [2 October 1987] …….20 years ago this week, tt was reported that French authorities banned 20% of all cars from the streets of Paris for one day due to smog [4 October 1997]……. A jury in South Carolina ordered Chrysler Corporation to pay $262.5 million to the parents of a 6-year-old boy killed in a 1994 accident due to a defective rear latch [7 October 1997]. $250 million was for punitive damages…….10 years ago this week, the Toyota Aygo successfully defended its crown as the most economical car on the roads at the 2007 AA/ALD Automotive MPG Marathon [3 October 2007]. Driving an Aygo 1.0 litre, James Sutherland and Richard Hill from Peak Performance achieved an overall consumption figure of 78.39 mpg. The MPG Marathon, run by Fleet World magazine, involved completing 330 miles from Basingstoke to Torquay over different types of road. The results were judged on the consumption achieved, along with the percentage improvement obtained, in relation to the official consumption figure for each car…….British driver Martin Groves secured a hat-trick of British Hill Climb Championship titles when he won the first run-off at Shelsley Walsh in Worcestershire, regaining the outright hill-climb record in the process with a time of 22.81 seconds [7 October 2007].

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