23-29 October: Motoring Milestones

1928-Ford-Tudor-Sedan

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

100 years ago this week, Dodge began full-scale truck production [25 October 1917]. The first civilian Dodge Brothers’ Commercial was the famous Screenside introduced in 1917 as a 1918 model. The Screenside was built on a beefed up 114-

The first civilian Dodge Brothers' Commercial was the famous Screenside introduced in 1917 as a 1918 model

The first civilian Dodge Brothers’ Commercial was the famous Screenside introduced in 1917 as a 1918 model

inch wheelbase automobile chassis. It was rated for a maximum payload of 1,000 lbs. (half-ton) and used the auto’s 212 cubic inch, 35 horsepower, four cylinder engine and the auto’s three speed transmission. Approximately six months after launching the Screenside the half-ton was added to the commercial car line. Think of the panel as an enclosed screenside with double rear cargo doors. These two models were the only trucks the original Dodge Brothers Company built between 1918 and 1928. They were upgraded to a 3/4-ton payload rating (1,500 lbs.) in 1923 and their wheelbases were lengthened to 116-inches in 1924……. The Briggs-Detroiter Company was liquidated after 6 years of production [26 October 1917]…….90 years ago this week, Edward Joseph Dunn (61), President of the Eclipse Machine Company and an advocate of the Bendix drive for electric starting devices, died [23 October 1927]…… Production of the new Ford Model A, successor to the Model T, began at the Rouge assembly plant in Dearborn, Michigan, US [27 October 1927]. Prices for the Model A ranged from

Ford Model A production line

Ford Model A production line

US$385 for a roadster to US$1400 for the top-of-the-line Town Car. The engine was a water-cooled L-head inline 4-cylinder with a displacement of 201 cu in (3.3 l). This engine provided 40 hp (30 kW; 41 PS). Top speed was around 65 mph (105 km/h). The Model A had a 103.5 in (2,630 mm) wheelbase with a final drive ratio of 3.77:1. The transmission was a conventional 3-speed sliding gear manual unsynchronised unit with a single speed reverse. The Model A had 4-wheel mechanical drum brakes……. Figures released by the government’s Road Fund administrators showed that for the first time cars were ‘Kings of the Road’ in Britain [28 October 1927]. In the calendar year 1926, motor vehicle licences had numbered 1,779,000 and horse-drawn just 127,248. The gross revenue from these came to £19,032,000. Compared with the previous year, the revenue was up 10.4 per cent and the number of motor vehicles up 11.8 per cent. Horse-drawn vehicles, by contrast, were down 17.1 per cent…….80 years ago this week, Juan Manuel Fangio made his racing debut [24 October 1937]…… The 1938 Cadillac Series 90 was introduced featuring a totally redesigned 135-degree V16 [27 October 1937]……. 60 years ago this week, the short-lived Edsel sponsorship of TV’s Wagon Train began [23 October 1957]…… Buck Baker wrapped up his second straight NASCAR Grand National champion­ship campaign by wheeling his Chevrolet to a win in the 250-lap season finale at Central Carolina Fairground in Greensboro, North Carolina, US [27 October 1957]. Baker beat Marvin Panch by 760 points in the title hunt with his 10th win of the ­season……. 40 years ago this week, James Hunt’s 10th (and final) Grand Prix win at Japan’s Fuji circuit was overshadowed by a heavy accident after Ronnie

James Hunt

James Hunt

Peterson is collected by a young and over-eager Jacques Villeneuve [23 October 1977]. It was on lap six though that tragedy struck. Further down the field, Gilles Villeneuve was catching Ronnie Peterson in the Tyrrell as he tried to further impress Ferrari. Heading in to turn one, at the end of the long main straight, Villeneuve outbraked himself and ran in to the back of Peterson at high speed. The Ferrari was launched off the back of the Tyrrell and cartwheeled through the catch fencing and over the barrier. Miraculously, Villeneuve walked away from the horrifying crash unharmed, but two other men weren’t so lucky. Having cut to the wreckage, television pictures showed the gruesome sight of a marshal and a photographer who had been hit by the Ferrari. Both were killed, and several spectators injured. They had been standing in a restricted area, but the death toll could have been much higher as the marshal was actually clearing spectators from the area at the time of the accident. After the race concluded, both Hunt and runner-up Carlos Reutemann left the circuit immediately to catch a flight home, leaving third place Patrick Depailler and his engineer on the podium. Rules changed shortly thereafter making the podium celebration mandatory. This was (at the time) the last Japanese Grand Prix due to traveling and financial issues, and safety concerns with the Fuji circuit. The race would return in 1987, held at the better spectated and safer Suzuka Circuit…… British-South African business executive Michael Edwardes was appointed chairman of British Leyland as the successor to Richard Dobson [25 October 1977]……..

Tony Hulman

Tony Hulman

Tony Hulman passed away in Indianapolis, Indiana after 32 years of presiding over the Indianapolis Motor Speedway [27 October 1977]. Hulman purchased the dilapidated Indianapolis Motor Speedway from a group led by World War I flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker immediately after World War II. Influenced by three-time Indy 500 winner Wilbur Shaw (who became the track’s president in the early years of the Hulman regime), Hulman made numerous improvements to the track in time for the race to be held in 1946. Following Shaw’s death in a plane crash on October 30, 1954, Hulman stepped into his soon-to-be-familiar role as the “face” of the Speedway. He followed the tradition of launching the Indianapolis 500 with the command, “Gentlemen, start your engines!” Into the 1970s, despite the fact he’d given the command so many times before, he would always practice it extensively beforehand, and on race day, he would invariably pull a card containing the famous words: “GENNNNNTLEMENNNNN, STARRRRRT YOURRRRRR ENNNNNNNGINES!” from the pocket of his suit as he stepped to the microphone. Luke Walton, who with Wilbur Shaw had founded the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network, was for many years a sportscaster and worked annually with Hulman (and later with Mrs. Hulman) to ensure each word was delivered with the proper emphasis. His family took on the responsibility of preserving his vision and the heritage of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Hulman’s wife, Mary Fendrich Hulman, became chairman of the board…….A trend common to the new models exhibited 22nd Tokyo Motor Show that opened [28 October 1977] was fuel efficiency. Every manufacturer had made an effort to improve fuel economy by reducing vehicle weight and wind resistance. To cite an example, the Daihatsu Charade achieved a fuel economy of 20 km per 1 litre. Diesel cars that debuted as “fuel economy cars” were the Nissan Cedric 220DE, the Toyota Crown DE, and the Isuzu Florian DE, which drew attention from non-Japanese people…….20 years ago this week, Bobby Hamilton drove past Ricky Craven with

Bobby Hamilton- 1997

Bobby Hamilton- 1997

16 laps to go, landing his second triumph in NASCAR’s premier series by winning the ACDelco 400 at North Carolina Motor Speedway in Rockingham (S) [27 October 1997]. Hamilton, who drove the Petty Enterprises No. 43, finished .941 seconds ahead of runner-up Dale Jarrett while Craven settled for third place. Jeff Gordon finished fourth while Dick Trickle took fifth on his 56th birthday……. Screenwriter Paul Jerrico (82) was killed in a car accident [28 October 1997]. In the 1950s, he was blacklisted by the McCarthyites. He was the producer of the award-winning movie Salt of the Earth…….10 years ago this week, Sussex Police Force’s revealed its latest new recruit – a £35,000, 148 mph Lotus Exige

Lotus Exige - Sussex Police car

Lotus Exige – Sussex Police car

S. Dressed in full police uniform and with a set of flashing lights on the roof, it was Britain’s fastest police car and could reach 60 mph in only 4.1 seconds. The Exige was used at motoring events to encourage young people to drive responsibly and safely [23 October 2007]…….on the same day [23 October 2007] Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., announced the launch of the Nissan GT-R. The 480PS twin-turbo GT-R featured a newly developed Premium Midship package, including the world’s first independent transaxle 4WD developed independently by Nissan. GT-R. Under the hood, GT-R featured an all-new 3.8-litre twin turbo V6 “VR38” engine, with plasma-sprayed bores and a special twin-turbo exhaust manifold system. A secondary air management system enabled the newly designed powerplant to provide approximately 40kg/m of torque during ordinary low-rev driving, which provided an optimum air-fuel ratio for around-town efficiently and helped the GT-R meet ultra-low emission vehicle (U-LEV) standards in Japan. GT-R’s new engine produced 480PS (353kW) at 6400rpm and maximum torque of 60kg/m (588Nm) from 3200 to 5200rpm……. A judge in Los Angeles ruled that Britney Spears was no longer facing hit-and-run charges after she compensated the other car’s driver [26 October 2007]. But the singer would still face a charge of driving without a valid licence. She allegedly crashed into a parked car in North Hollywood in full view of photographers, before leaving the scene on 6 August.

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