Discover the momentous motoring events that took place this week in history …….
160 years ago this week, Peugeot Freres registered its “lion with or without arrows” trademark, a logo widely used in later years on its automobiles [26 July 1858]….. 140 years ago this week, the Green Bay-Madison steam automobile race in Wisconsin, US concluded after six days elapsed time, but just 33 hours, 27 minutes of actual running time for an average of 6 mph. [24 July 1878] The winners were Frank A. Shomer and A. M. Farrand in the Oshkosh steamer. Six cars
were entered, but only two started. The Oshkosh was the only car to finish……..130 years ago this week, Scottish born and educated John Boyd Dunlop (cover image) applied to patent the pneumatic tyre as “an improvement in the tyres or wheels for bicycles, tricycles and other road tyres.” [23 July 1888] Although Robert William Thomson, among his various other inventions, had an earlier patent for “carriage wheels” with a pneumatic tyre (1845), there was little demand for it in his lifetime, and was forgotten. To improve his son’s bicycle, Dunlop reinvented the idea, and developed it into a commercially successful product. He formed a company in 1889, which became Dunlop Rubber Co in 1900. The first tyres were glued to the wheel rim……..American inventor Philip W. Pratt demonstrated the first electric automobile in Boston, a tricycle powered by six Electrical Accumulator Company cells [27 July 1888]. It weighed 90 pounds (41 kilograms). Pratt’s e-trike was built for him by Fred M. Kimball of, naturally, the Fred M. Kimball Company. The vehicle’s 10 lead-acid cells pushed about 20 volts to a 0.5-horsepower DC motor. The whole setup weighed about 300 pounds. The driver sat above the battery assemblage…..110 years ago this week, at 6.15 pm the German car, Protos, driven by Lt Koeppen crossed the Paris finishing line in the race from New York
via Alaska and Peking, sponsored by the New York Times, after traveling more than 18,000 miles in 170 days – 88 of which had been on the road and averaged over 150 miles a day (with a maximum of 400 in 24 hours) [26 July 1908]. But the declared winner was American Thomas ‘Flyer’ car after the Protos was penalized for traveling part of the way by train. When the Protos was delayed by repairs in America, it was shipped by rail to Seattle in order to sail with the ‘Flyer’ to Russia. On February 12th, 1908 six automobiles had lined up at the start of a 22,000-mile race to Paris. Along Broadway 250,000 people cheer them on as they head north: three French vehicles, De Dion, Sizaire-Naudin and Moto-Bloc; one German Protos; one Italian Zust; and the American entry, a Thomas Flyer. The route they plan to take is across the US via Chicago to San Francisco, from there by ship up to Alaska, across the Bering Straits (which it is hoped will still be frozen), through Siberia to Moscow, then St Petersburg, Berlin and finally Paris. The previous year there had been a race from Paris to Peking, won by Prince Scipio Borghese whose prize was a magnum of champagne, but this is the big one, sponsored by the New York Times and Le Monde. There were snowdrifts and seas of mud; the roads were dirt tracks, if there were roads at all. If there was a railroad track, they drove along it, straddling the rails and bumping from sleeper to sleeper on deflated tyres. By the time the Thomas Flyer reached San Francisco in the third week in March, its nearest competitor, the Zust, was 900 miles behind. The secret of the Flyer, capable of 60 mph and retailing at $4,000, was its team mechanic (and soon main driver) George Schuster, endlessly resourceful and determined. The Flyer was then shipped to Valdez in Alaska, where Schuster surveyed the route to Nome, in theory the beginning of the crossing to Eurasia. He reported to the organisers that it was quite impossible, so it was decided the vehicles should be shipped from Seattle to Japan. After problems over Russian visas, the Flyer ended up the last to leave, but was awarded a 15-day allowance for its time in Alaska, while the German Protos got a 15-day penalty for having been put on a train for part of the American leg. By the time Vladivostok was reached, all three French vehicles had withdrawn; by St Petersburg, and after endless frustrations and adventures, Lieutenant Hans Koeppen’s Protos just had the edge over the Flyer, while the Italians were 3,000 miles behind. The Protos reached Paris on July 26th while the Flyer was still in Berlin, but it finished on July 30th. The French had been grudging in the welcome they gave the Germans, but the Flyer’s arrival was greeted with huge enthusiasm, especially since the penalty and allowance made it the clear winner. The Italian Zust only reached Paris in September. The publicity value of the race for the automobile industry was huge; at the same time it demonstrated to governments the inadequacy of the world’s road systems. Over a thousand photographs taken of the race survive. Its timing could not have been better, since 1908 was the year that Henry Ford introduced his Model T and General Motors was created out of the amalgamation of Buick, Oldsmobile and Pontiac (then Cadillac in 1909). The absence of a British vehicle indicated the weakness of the industry there, while the presence of three French entrants reflected their dominance. But the lead was soon to cross the Atlantic, though the Thomas firm collapsed in 1913……..80 years ago this week, British driver Richard Seaman drove a Mercedes-Benz 154 to victory at the German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring [24 July 1938]. Lengthy Nazi parading preceded the race that was witnessed by nearly 300,000 spectators. Seaman gave the Nazi salute on the podium and became one of the favourite drivers of the Third Reich…….70 years ago this week, Slick Davis became the first NASCAR driver to be fatally injured. The tragedy happened in an event at Greensboro, North Carolina (US) [25 July 1948]. Curtis Turner started on the pole and won the race. Billy Carden won another NASCAR Modified race held on the same day in Columbus, Georgia, US…….The 3 mile (4.85 km) track located at Blandford Camp,
Dorset (England), home of the Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers, staged its first motor car races [26 July 1948]. Although a success, this first meeting lost the organisers money. There was one spectacular accident of note, when P.K.Braid left the road, demolished a bus stop, hit a pine sapling and took off to land on the roof of Battalion Headquarters. However, Gordon Woods, who also went off at the same place, received severe head injuries and later died from his injuries. The second race meeting took place on Whit Monday, the 29th May 1950, and was filmed by the BBC. Unfortunately, there were further fatalities at other meetings that year, and the authorities withdrew approval for racing……..(Joel) Woolf Barnato (53), winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1928, 1929 and 1930 in his only three entries in the race, and Director of both Bentley Motors Ltd and Bentley Motors (1931) Ltd, died following a medical operation [27 July 1948]……..60 years ago this week, fan’s of rock & roll music were warned that tuning into music on the car radio could cost them more money [27 July 1958]. Researchers from the Esso oil company said the rhythm of rock & roll could cause the driver to be foot heavy on the pedal, making them waste fuel……40 years ago this week, Motability, a new scheme providing cars for disabled people was launched in Earl’s Court, London, with the handing over of ten specially modified cars [25 July 1978]. By the mid 1970s over 40% of households in the country
owned a car but disabled people claimed that they were missing out. Only those who could drive themselves received any government help with transport, usually in the form of a blue trike which was unable to take passengers. The Mobility Allowance – now called the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance – introduced by the Government in 1976 broke the mould in giving help regardless of ability to drive. It also signalled the Government’s commitment to giving disabled people choice in the form of a cash allowance, rather than imposing certain types of vehicles on them. The Mobility Allowance was a positive advance but it soon became clear that it was not large enough to buy and run even the smallest car. The then Secretary of State for Health and Social Services invited the late Lord Goodman and (now Lord) Jeffrey Sterling to consider how disabled people could use this allowance to affordably obtain a vehicle. Thus Motability was born in 1977 and, often for the first time, disabled people could afford a good quality car from any participating manufacturer, fully insured, serviced, and with breakdown assistance. Motability was set up as a charity so it could also raise funds and make grants, in order to provide customers with a complete mobility package even if their allowance would not cover the type of car and adaptations that they needed. Motability opened up new horizons for many disabled people. Things that were once difficult to do, such as getting to work, going shopping, doing volunteer work, visiting friends, getting to the doctor, going swimming, giving a family member a lift, or enjoying a driving holiday, became easier. For some, enhanced opportunities for further education and profitable full-time employment became a reality for the first time. On 25 July 1978 ten young people attended the first Motability Scheme vehicle handover at Earls Court in London and received the keys to their new vehicles from then Chairman Lord Goodman. Julie Newport, disabled by polio, was one of the ten to receive her keys and commented: “I think it’s marvellous,” saying the Scheme gave disabled people the freedom and independence they really wanted. Also present were Rt Hon Lord Morris, Rt Hon Lord Jenkin, Allan Beard and Jeffrey Sterling, the present Chairman of Motability. In 2003, Motability celebrated its 25th anniversary with a garden at the Chelsea Flower Show. The garden included a Motability car, an adapted Renault Clio, to symbolise disabled people gaining access to the remotest parts of the countryside. In October 2006, the Scheme hit the two million vehicles mark and Jeffrey Sterling commented: “Family life revolves around the disabled person so if you make someone mobile you don’t help two million, it’s more like six to eight million.” The late Lord Goodman described the establishment of Motability in 1977 as “the most successful achievement of my career and the most fortunate thought that ever came into my head”……..The spectacular Group 5 Zakspeed Capri was introduced to the world at the support race for the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim [29 July 1978]
– half way through that year’s DRM championship.The car retained very little of the Capri, the roof and pillars as well as some parts of the rear end. The body mainly consisted of aluminium profiles and 80 metres of aluminium tubing. The turbocharged Cosworth engine puts out approximately 530 PS (390 kW) at 9200 rpm with 1.4 bar charge; 1.6 bars were available for short periods for an extra 70 PS (51 kW). It was dressed in black and the red/yellow colours of Zakspeed’s main sponsors Mampe Halb und Halb. The blue oval also featured prominently. Despite only one day’s testing, the car was fastest of all around the Hockenhem circuit in the hands of Hans Heyer. As if to underline the potential of the car, Heyer took pole position by 4 seconds from the championship leading BMW 320 of Harald Ertl. In the race the car lead briefly but only completed 5 laps, succumbing to an engine faliure right in front of the Zakspeed/Ford hospitality box! Heyer is quoted as saying, “This is a beautiful car. With 50% of the weight at either end it handles really good. Itís six seconds faster than our Escort per lap! Everywhere you are going at least 30km/h faster into the corners.” In the rest of the 1978 season, Heyer took 3 more poles and a first victory for the Capri at the Nurburgring in October……..30 years ago this week, the 1,000,000th Vauxhall Cavalier was sold. Sold primarily in the UK by Vauxhall from 1975 to 1995, it was based on an succession of Opel designs throughout its production life, during which it was built in three incarnations [23 July 1988]. The first generation of Cavalier, launched in 1975 and produced until 1981, was based on the existing Opel Ascona with a few minor visual differences. The second generation of Cavalier, launched in 1981 and produced until 1988, was launched simultaneously with the identical new generation of Opel Ascona, which was sold across the world in various guises on the General Motors “J-car”.The third and final generation of Cavalier, launched in 1988 and produced until 1995, was based on the first generation of Opel Vectra with the same production span…….At the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim, Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost started on the front row covered and finished 1st and 2nd, respectively [24 July 1988]. Senna 13.6 seconds ahead of Prost at the line. It was the sixth 1-2 of the year for McLaren. The two Ferraris’ of Berger and Alboreto started and finished 3rd and 4th as well. Ivan Capelli with no clutch for the last 30 laps came from 7th to finish 5th in his March and Thierry Boutsen was 6th in his Benetton after starting 9th. Alessando Nannini set fastest lap but some sort of problem put him well down the order to have him finish 18th after starting 6th. Bernd Schneider earned his first Grand Prix finish in 12th in his home race which turned out to be the highest finish of the season for the Zakspeed team…….20 years ago this week, photocard driving licences were introduced in the United Kingdom, replacing the paper ones [23 July 1998]. Driver registration was introduced in 1903 with the Motor Car Act. Holders of the sulphur-yellow coloured document were entitled to “drive a motor car or motor cycle”.The wording changed in 1930 after which holders were allowed to “drive or steer a motor car or to drive a motor cycle”. It was not clear why a motor cycle would not need to be steered. Shortly afterwards, the document cover changed to a dark red colour: holders were for a period entitled to drive a vehicle of “any class or description”. Subsequent changes saw the document list precisely those vehicle types for which holders were licensed. Competency tests were introduced in 1934 by the Motor Vehicles Regulations 1935; they were suspended in 1939 for seven years due to the Second World War and in 1956 for one year due to the Suez Crisis. The only person in the United Kingdom who is not required to have a driving licence in order to drive is The Queen. She also does not require number plates on any vehicles which are personally owned by herself or her closest family members. Until 1973, driving licences (and tax discs) were issued by local authorities, and had to be renewed every three years. In 1971, the decision was taken to computerise the licensing system to enable it to be linked to the Police National Computer, as well as extending the life of the licence up to the driver’s 70th birthday, and extendable at intervals thereafter, subject to the driver’s fitness to drive. Until this day driving licences outside Northern Ireland did not have photographs. Anyone who holds a licence issued before this date may retain their photo-less licence until expiry (normally one’s seventieth birthday) or until they change address, whichever comes sooner. The new plastic photocard driving licences have to be renewed every ten years, for a fee. Until 2015 the licence consisted of both the photocard and a paper counterpart which detailed the individual’s driving entitlements and convictions (“endorsements”). The counterpart was abolished on 8 June 2015 and the information formerly recorded on it is now available online via the View Driving Licence service. Licences issued to residents of England, Northern Ireland and Scotland appear only in English, whilst those issued to residents of Wales appear in both English and Welsh. Each licence holder in England, Scotland and Wales has a unique driver number, which is 16 characters long. The characters are constructed in the following way: 1–5: The first five characters of the surname (padded with 9s if fewer than 5 characters) 6: The decade digit from the year of birth (e.g. for 1987 it would be 8) 7–8: The month of birth (7th character incremented by 5 if driver is female i.e. 51–62 instead of 01–12) 9–10: The date within the month of birth 11: The year digit from the year of birth (e.g. for 1987 it would be 7) 12–13: The first two initials of the first names, padded with a 9 if no middle name 14: Arbitrary digit – usually 9, but decremented to differentiate drivers with the first 13 characters in common 15–16: Two computer check digits. 17–18: Appended, two digits representing the licence issue, which increases by 1 for each licence issued. Each Northern Ireland licence holder has a unique driver number which is 8 characters long. The characters are not constructed in any particular pattern…….South Korea’s government opened the bidding for the Kia Motors Corporation, founded in 1944, which went bankrupt with debs totally nearly $10 billion, during an economic crisis that gripped much of Asia [24 July 1998]. The name of the company was derived from the Chinese characters “ki” (meaning “to arise” or “to come out of”) and “a” (which stood for Asia). Hyundai won the auction that October, having offered the highest bid; Daewoo was the runner-up. As a subsidiary of Hyundai, Kia made improvements in its cars’ quality as well as their reliability, including the introduction of a new warranty program in 2001. It also began concentrating intently on the European market, building a sleek new $109 million design center in Frankfurt, Germany, in early 2008….. On the same day [24 July 1998], an agreement between the shareholders of Lamborghini and Audi was signed in London for the complete take-over of the Company…….The U.S. 500, the most prestigious race in the Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) series turned to tragedy when a wheel from Adrian Fernandez’s car flew into the grandstands during a crash on lap 175 of the 250 lap race, killing three fans and wounding six others at Michigan Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan [26 JUly 1998]……on the same day [26 July 1998], a mixed-up grid resulted from a wet/dry qualifying session, with Giancarlo Fisichella taking his first pole position at the Austrian Grand Prix at the A1-Ring. Mika Häkkinen won the race. Coulthard was a lap down on lap 2 having been involved in two collisions but finished 2nd just behind his teammate……10 years ago this week, Vauxhall revealed its replacement to the Vectra at the British Motor Show [23 July 2008]. The vehicle is known as the Vauxhall Insignia in the United Kingdom, and as the Buick Regal in China and North America. It was launched in Australia and New Zealand under the Holden marque in 2015……..