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22-28 October: Motoring Milestones

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

120 years ago this week, Ceirano & Cie, Societe per la Costruzione di Campioni per la Fabbricazione di Vetture Automobil was founded in Turin, Italy – located in a building by the parents of Vincenzo Lancia. This firm would evolve into Fiat SpA [23 October 1898]………110 years ago this week, the

Locomobile Old 16

Locomobile Old 16, driven by George Robertson, became the first American-made car to beat the European competition when it raced to victory in the fourth annual Vanderbilt Cup held in Long Island, New York [24 October 1908]. The Vanderbilt Cup, an early example of world-class motor racing in America, was created in 1904 to introduce Europe’s best automotive drivers and manufacturers to the U.S. George Heath won the first Vanderbilt Cup in a French-made Panhard , beginning a French domination of the event that would last until Old 16’s historic victory…….Albert C. Champion organised the Champion Ignition Company in Flint, Michigan, US which evolved into the AC Spark Plug Division of General Motors [26 October 1908]. He had previously founded the Champion Ignition Company in 1905, which still exists as Champion Spark Plugs of the Federal-Mogul Corporation…….The Rolls Royce 40/50 hp Balloon Car, known within the company as “The Cookie”, was delivered to the Hon Charles Rolls in Derby, England [28 October 1908]………..100 years ago this week, The Nesselsdorf Wagenbau automotive manufacturing company changed its name to Tatra [28 October 1918]. The company constructed its first automobile in 1897, a vehicle largely inspired by the design of an early Benz automobile. Based in the small Moravian town of Nesselsdorf in the Austro-Hungarian empire, Tatra began as Nesselsdorf Wagenbau, a carriage and railway company that entered automobile production after chief engineer Hugo von Roslerstamm learned of the exploits of Baron Theodor von Liebieg, an avid Austrian motorist who drove across Eastern Europe in a Benz automobile. The Baron himself took the Nesselsdorf Wagenbau’s first automobile, christened the President, on a test drive from Nesselsdorf to Vienna. He was impressed with the design and pushed von Roslerstamm and Nesselsdorf Wagenbau to enter racing. The company put its faith in the talented young engineer Hans Ledwinka, and under his leadership the Rennzweier and the Type A racers were produced, demonstrating modest racing success and encouraging the beginning of large-scale production of the Type S in 1909. The company continued to grow until 1914, when, with the outbreak of World War I, it shifted to railroad-car construction. On this day in 1918, just two weeks before the end of the war on the Western front, the Moravian town of Nesselsdorf in the old Austro-Hungarian empire became the city of Koprivnicka in the newly created country of Czechoslovakia, necessitating a name change for the Nesselsdorf Wagenbau. Soon after the war, Hans Ledwinka and the newly named Koprivnicka Wagenbau began construction of a new automobile under the marque Tatra. The Tatra name came from the Tatra High Mountains, some of the highest mountains in the Carpathian mountain range. Ledwinka settled on Tatra in 1919 after an

Tatra T11

experimental model with 4-wheel brakes passed a sleigh on a dangerously icy road, prompting the surprised sleigh riders to reportedly exclaim: “This is a car for the Tatras.” In 1923, the first official Tatra automobile, the Tatra T11, was completed, and Ledwinka’s hope for an affordable “people’s car” had come to fruition. The rugged and relatively small automobile gave many Czechoslovakians an opportunity to own an automobile for the first time, much as Ford’s Model T had in the United States. In 1934, Tatra achieved an automotive first with the introduction of the Tatra 77, an innovative model that holds the distinction of being the world’s first aerodynamically styled automobile powered by an air-cooled rear-mounted engine……..90 years ago this week, Tte Pep Auto Supply Company changed its corporate name to – Manny Moe & Jack [22 October 1928] The name was changed because of a policeman who worked near the store: Every time the officer stopped a car for not having an oil wick burning during nighttime hours, he would tell the driver, “Go see the boys at Pep” for a replacement.[3] In 1923 on a trip to California, Moe Strauss noticed that many successful West Coast businesses used their owners’ first names. One he liked in particular was a dress shop called “Minnie, Maude and Mabel’s”. As soon as Strauss returned to Philadelphia, the store’s name was officially changed to “The Pep Boys — Manny, Moe & Jack”. Pep Boys currently operates 803 stores and approximately 7,000 service bays in 35 states and Puerto Rico. Along with its full-service vehicle maintenance and repair capabilities, the company also serves the commercial auto parts delivery market. It is one of the leading sellers of replacement tires in the United States……….80 years ago this week, the Mercury was previewed for the press in Dearborn, Michigan, where it was announced that the new marque would be officially be called ‘Mercury’, not the ‘Ford-Mercury’ as originally suggested by Edsel Ford [23 October 1938]……..70 years ago this week, Nino Farina gave Ferrari their first victory when he won a

Nino Farina

minor event at Lake Garda, Italy in a Type 125 [24 October 1948]………The greatest-ever British Motor Show opened at Earls Court, with no less than 32 British car manufacturers exhibiting their wares [27 October 1948]. It was to be a spectacle the like of which would never be witnessed again. Almost every British manufacturer’s stand included at least one brand new model. These included the Morris Minor from the Nuffield Organisation, the Morris Oxford/Wolseley 4/50 and Morris Six/Wolseley 6/80 ranges, a new Hillman Minx, Austin’s A70 Hampshire, Vauxhall’s Velox and Wyvern, the Singer SM1500 and the Sunbeam-Talbot 80 and 90. Perhaps the star of the show was the incredible fast and beautiful Jaguar XK120, priced at just £998 (£1,298 with tax).

The name was based on top speed that made it the fastest production car in the world. To convince the sceptics who refused to believe what was being claimed for the XK120, Jaguar took over a closed section of dual carriageway at Jabbeke in Belgium where, in front of the assembled press, a standard XK120 proceeded to clock 126 mph. With the windscreen removed 133 mph was achieved. Orders came flooding in and Jaguar quickly realised that the couple of hundred originally intended could not possibly meet demand. The waiting lists were lengthened still further after the XK’s racing debut at Silverstone in a Production Sports Car race. The factory loaned three to well known drivers, Peter Walker, Leslie Johnson and Prince Bira of Siam. Bira was unlucky enough to have a puncture, but the others finished first and second. Aston Martin presented their “2-litre Sports” at the London show. It attracted little attention and only 16 examples of this £2,331 car were built. The 2-Litre Sports produced from 1948 to 1950, was the first product of the company under new director, David Brown, and is retrospectively known as the DB1. The show also gave the everyday motorist the opportunity to first chance to see a real, live Standard Vanguard and Jowett Javelin, thus far almost exclusively reserved for export. There were the Bristol 401 sports saloons, and the US-influenced Austin A90 Atlantic…….60 years ago this week,

FMR Tg500

new models of bubble cars from Germany were the hit at the opening of the British Motor Show [22 October 1958]. In FMR’s four-wheel Tg500 (£654, including tax), the driver sat alone in front, with one or two passengers behind. It did 52 mpg, and was so stable that it reportedly could not be overturned. The Italian-designed Isetta bubble car came in several models, from a two-seater 300-cc built in Brighton, Sussex (£350) to a four-seater 600-cc (£676) made in Germany……..Stuart Lewis-Evans (28) died from injuries received after crashing heavily at the dusty Ain-Diab circuit during the season-ending Moroccan Grand Prix [25 October 1958]. His Vanwall’s engine seized and sent him lurching into barriers at high speed, and his car burst into flames. He was airlifted back to the UK, but died in hospital of his burns six days after the accident…….on the following day [26 October 1958], Junior Johnson edged Fireball Roberts by a whisker to win the NASCAR Grand National season finale at Atlanta’s Lakewood Speed­way (Georgia, US). Lee Petty captured the championship by 644 points over Buck Baker………40 years ago this week, the US Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) banned methylcyclopentadienyl manganese tricarbonyl (MMT) as an octane booster in unleaded fuel [27 October 1978]……..30 years ago this week, Jaguar XJ220 made its public debut as a concept car at the Birmingham Motor Show, England [22 October 1988]. JaguarSport created a purpose built factory at Bloxham, near Oxford for a limited production run of 350 cars. It went into production in 1990, costing £350,000 and becoming the world’s fastest production car with a top speed of 220 mph. The first new Aston Martin for 18 years, the Virage was also revealed. Other vehicles introduced at the show included the MG Maestro Turbo and Middlebridge Scimitar…….20 years ago this week, the 3200GT

Maserati 3200GT

was officially introduced at the Paris Motor Show. Its name honoured the Maserati 3500 GT, the Trident’s first series production grand tourer [26 October 1998]. Sold mainly in Europe, the 3200 GT was powered by the twin-turbo, 32-valve, dual overhead cam 3.2-litre V8 engine featured in the Quattroporte Evoluzione, set up to develop 370 PS (272 kW; 365 hp) against the Quattroporte’s 335 PS—115 PS (85 kW; 113 hp) per litre. This manual transmission version was produced until 2002. The tail-lights consisted of LEDs arranged in the shape of boomerang. The outer layer of the ‘boomerang’ provided the brake light, with the inner layer providing the directional indicator. Deliveries started in March 1999……

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