2-8 September: Motoring Milestones

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

120 years ago this week, over a dozen motorcars, decorated with hydrangeas, streamers, lights, and Japanese lanterns, lined up to take part in America’s first parade of motor vehicles [7 September 1899]. A throng of spectators showed up in Newport, Rhode Island, to witness the event, arriving in cabs, private carriages, bicycles, and even by foot to witness the spectacle, attracted by the novelty and rumours surrounding the event. The nature of the car decorations had been shrouded in mystery prior to the parade, for each participant had wished to surprise and outdo the others……..110 years ago this week, the Krit Motor Car Company was organised in Detroit, Michigan, US by Claude S Briggs and W S Piggins to manufacture cars per designs of Kenneth Crittenden [3 September 1909]………100 years ago this week, Karl Schopper began building the first Roots supercharger, later to be installed in a Mercedes 10/30 chassis [2 September 1919]……..80 years ago this week, driving tests in Great Britain were suspended for the duration of World War Two [2 September 1939]. They resumed on 1 November 1946. During the war, examiners became Traffic Officers and supervised fuel rationing…….. The following day [3 September 1939] the first and only Yugoslavian Grand Prix was held at Kalemagdan Park in Belgrade. Won by Tazio Nuvolari, this race marked yet another victory for the great Italian champion, and was the last Grand Prix event before World War II. Nuvolari’s win was particularly stunning in light of the German domination of Grand Prix racing during the late 1930s, backed by massive funding from the Third Reich……..70 years ago this week, Allied military authorities relinquished control of the former Nazi regime’s assets, including the Volkswagen factory – marking the final transition back to everyday life [6 September 1949]. At the end of World War II, Germany’s Volkswagen factory was in shambles, along with much of Europe. The machines stood silent, the assembly lines lay still, and rubble littered the hallways. It was in this state that the British occupation forces took control of the Volkswagen factory and the town of Wolfsburg. The next four years were spent in an attempt to return to normal life, and the wheels of industry eventually began to turn in the old Volkswagen factory. With Heinrich Nordhoff as managing director and the German economy rejuvenated by currency reform, Volkswagen had become the largest car producer in Europe by 1949………60 years ago this week, Henry Ford II introduced his company’s newest model, the 80 hp, 30 mpg Ford Falcon, in the first nationwide closed-circuit television news conference in the United States [2 September 1959]. Dubbed “the small car with the big car feel,” the Falcon was an overnight success. Originally envisioned as a compact economy car, the Falcon name grew to

include everything from sporty convertibles to the Ranchero truck, though all Falcons essentially remained small, fuel-efficient cars. When the Mustang was introduced in 1964, Ford used the Falcon’s unitised chassis, as well as elements of the Falcon drive train, to “re-market” and “re-adapt” the Mustang. The Mustang was an immediate success, leaving the Falcon to exist in the shadow of its more powerful cousin. The Ford Falcon was discontinued in 1971……..Production of the new Ford 105E Anglia began at Dagenham, England [3 September 1959]. Its American-influenced styling included a sweeping nose line, and on deluxe versions, a full-width slanted chrome grille in between prominent “eye” headlamps. The new styling was matched by a new engine, something that the smaller Fords had been needing for some time—a 997 cc overhead valve (OHV), straight-4 with an oversquare cylinder bore, that became known by its “Kent” code name. Acceleration from rest was still sluggish (by the standards of today), but it was much improved from earlier cars. Also new for British Fords was a four-speed (manual) gearbox with synchromesh on the top three forward ratios: this was replaced by an all-synchromesh box in September 1962 (on 1198 cc powered cars)…….. The USAC Road Racing Championships were run at Meadowdale International Raceway in Carpenterville, Illinois, US [6 September 1959]. The main event was won by Augie Pabst in a Scarab Mk II-Chevrolet………50 years ago this week, Willy Mairesse, race-car driver for the Ferrari team, died in Ostend, Belgium, from an overdose of sleeping pills [2 September 1969]. His career had been a continuing

Austin 1800S

disappointment, with zero wins from 12 grand prix starts and only seven points. He left the Ferrari team in 1963 and was only 40 years old at the time of his death………The Austin 1800S was launched, a year after the the Morris 1800S [3 September 1969]……. On the same day [3 September 1969], the classic British heist movie The Italian Job is released in theaters in the United States. The film starred Michael Caine as Charlie Croker, the leader of a gang of goodhearted thieves determined to steal a 4-million-pound shipment of gold on its way from China to a bank in Turin, Italy. The real stars of the film were the three Mini Cooper getaway cars………Jackie Stewart took his sixth victory of the season at Monza and in so doing secured his first world championship with three races remaining [7 September 1969]……..30 years ago this week, Teo Fabi, driving a Porsche-March 89P, won the CART Red roof Inns 200 at the Mid-Ohio Speedway for the marque’s first Indy-Car victory [3 September 1989]…….20 years ago this week, Teo Fabi, driving a Porsche-March 89P, won the CART Red roof Inns 200 at the Mid-Ohio Speedway for the marque’s first Indy-Car victory [3 September 1999] …….10 years ago this week,  “Crashgate” took off, with the announcement from the FIA it was going to charge renault following claims by Nelson Piquet Junior that he had deliberately crashed his Renault at the previous year’s Singapore Grand Prix under team orders [4 September 2009]. The hearing was set for September 21 but by then Renault boss Flavio Briatore and engineer Pat Symonds had quit.

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