Cars, people and events in this week’s Motoring Milestones include: Cadillac, Porsche, Jaguar, Henry Leland, and the diesel land speed record.
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115 years ago this week, the Cadillac Company, named after eighteenth century French explorer Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, founder of the city of Detroit, was established [22 August 1901]. Henry Leland, a former mechanic
and precision machinist, founded the company that would come to be known as the maker of America’s luxury car. The Cadillac reached its height of popularity during the 1950s. The Cadillac Debutante, which debuted at the Waldorf-Astoria, was based on the play The Solid Gold Cadillac. Cadillac sales decreased during the 1970s as the American car market experienced an influx of smaller imports, but luxury car sales, Cadillac included, have rebounded in recent years…..The 50 mile (80 km) Piombino-Grosseto road race in Italy was won by Felice Nazzaro in a FIAT 12 hp [24 August 1901]….. 50 years ago this week, Jaguar’s Browns Lane plant produced the first XJ16, now christened the Jaguar 420 [23 August 1966]. Autocar magazine was the first to get their hands on a Jaguar 420 in March 1967. GKV 67D was a manual overdrive car fitted with the optional Marles Varamatic power steering and the magazine was impressed with what they found. It commented: ‘The ideal cruising speed seems to be just over 100mph… Engine silence is impressive in the lower speed ranges… Directional stability is very good indeed and cross winds have little effect; the car runs dead straight, calling for minimum steering correction, right up to maximum speed.’ The magazine concluded by saying: ‘Eagerly awaited since its announcement, the 420 in every way lives up to high expectations. It has an extraordinary dual character in that it can at one moment provide stately, luxurious travel for an elderly party, and behave like a high performance sports car the next.’…..The first British Drag Racing Championship began [28 August 1966]. This meeting saw the use of handicapped starts for the first time and in the dragster division final Tony Gane hung on to a 2.1 second advantage in his 500cc Rudge engined Wicked Lady, to beat Les Turners blown 1500cc dragster. One of Tonys crew members was a teenager by the name of Dennis Priddle. In the Dragster divisions Allan Herridge took his Cadillac powered rail to a new B class speed record of 129.37. Tony Densham set a new Class E E.T. record of 12.672 in ‘The Worden’ and J. Fisher set a new F class speed record of 96.58mph in his BMC powered machine. D. Farrell set a new B class Competition Altered E.T. record of 12.980 seconds. In the Sports & GT section G. Tyack took his Cobra to a new E.T. record of 12.750 in the C class….. Lothar Motschenbacher won the USRRC race at Mid Ohio in Lexington, Ohio, US, driving the McLaren-Olds owned by actor Dan Blocker 28 Augsut 1966]…..30 years ago this week, Darrell Waltrip became the first racing car driver to earn $7 million, making him the best-paid driver in NASCAR history [23 August 1986]…… Bob Glidden made the first NHRA Pro Stock 7.3 second quarter mile pass at Indianapolis, Indiana, US [28 August 1986]. His exact time was 7.377 seconds…..The first Formula 3000 Birmingham Superprix race was held [25 August 1986]. The circuit was drenched by
torrential downpours from the tail end of Hurricane Charley. Being laid out on public roads the circuit was bumpy, and the cars were thrown around badly. Pierluigi Martini and Luis Pérez-Sala qualified on the front row, followed by Andrew Gilbert Scott. The championship leader Ivan Capelli span early on, in his March 86B Cosworth powered car. Because of long delays, the first race was run at a shorter distance. At every corner there seemed to be someone crashing. The race was red flagged when Andrew Gilbert Scott was experiencing handling problems after an earlier spin. When he exited the Bristol Street Motors Bend on the 21st lap, he lost it and crashed into Alain Ferté’s stationary car, blocking part of the track, with Sala still fighting for the win from a fast catching up Martini. Luis Pérez-Sala was given the win, and Pierluigi Martini given second, with Michel Ferté taking third. The top six drivers were awarded half points as the race was red-flagged on the 24th lap, just before the halfway point of the 51 lap race….. 25 years ago this week, Michael Schumacher made his Formula One debut at Spa in a Jordan, where he qualified an impressive 7th only to retire right at the start of the race [25 August 1991]. By the next race, however, he appeared driving for Benetton……20 years ago this week, the first Ford Escort produced in Nashik (India) rolled off the line, the result of a joint venture between Ford and Mahindra [26 August 1996]…..15 years ago this week, Bridgestone/Firestone agreed to pay $7.5 million to the family of Marisa Rodriguez, who was paralyzed in a Ford Explorer crash in 2000. Ford settled before the trial for $6 million [24 August 2001]…… Ken Tyrrell, British
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motor-racing driver and founder of the Tyrrell Formula One constructor, died at the age of 77 [25 August 2001]…… A Ferrari 410 Sport manufactured in 1955 was sold at auction in the US for £2.14 million [26 August 2001]. It was the ultimate high-speed machine — the biggest, baddest, meanest sports racer ever built. Only two were ever made, and they were among the most powerful sports racing cars built in the 1950s, with 4.9 litre engines of nearly 400 hp. During their heyday, the 410s were virtually unbeatable…… The Porsche 911 GT3, a higher-performance Porsche 911, named after the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) GT3 European Championship it was designed to compete in, went on sale in the UK at £79,540 [26 August 2001]…… Red-faced council bosses apologised to a motorist after contractors winched his legally parked car off the ground to paint double yellow lines under it – and then issued him with a parking fine [28 August 2001]. Philip Peters, from Queen’s Park in West London, initially thought he had been the victim of a practical joke when he returned to find a £30 penalty ticket on his Peugeot 406. Mr Peters, who had parked his car in the same spot outside his shop for 20 years, refused to pay the £30 penalty. Westminster council revoked the fine and apologised for the mistake…..10 years ago this week, after being re-fitted with 750 brake horsepower (560 kW) ‘LSR’ versions of the JCB444 engines, the JCB Dieselmax car broke the official FIA diesel engine land speed record, attaining a speed of 328.767 mph (529 km/h) on the Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah, US [21 August 2006]. The following day the JCB Dieselmax car broke its own record, achieving a speed of 350.092 mph (563.418 km/h) over a distance
of 1 mile. Before attaining these speeds, the Dieselmax was pushed from behind, by a JCB Fastrac, until it hit 30 miles per hour (48 km/h) where it engaged first gear….. The Turkish Grand Prix marked the first race victory, and also the first pole position, for Felipe Massa, who drove for the Ferrari team [27 August 2006]. Fernando Alonso finished the race in second position and Massa’s teammate Michael Schumacher occupied the final position on the podium. The race was also the first Grand Prix for future quadruple world champion Sebastian Vettel, who was assigned a Friday test driver role for the BMW Sauber team…..One year ago this week, French rugby player, racing driver and later a Formula One team owner, Guy Ligier, died at the age of 85 [23 August 2015].
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