Discover the momentous motoring events that took place this week in history …….
130 years ago this week, Curtis P. Brady was issued the first permit to drive an automobile through Central Park in New York City [27 November 1889]. Mr. Brady had to pledge to New York’s finest that he would not frighten the horses in the park……..90 years ago this week, Leonard C Baldwin (31), Standard Oil Company of New Jersey sales engineer who had been involved in the production of the Hispano-Suiza and Bugatti aero engines during World War I, was killed in an automotive accident [26 November 1929]……….Enzo Ferrari founded the Scuderia Ferrari [1 December 1929]. Alfa Romeo had temporarily withdrawn from racing in 1925 and the Scuderiaís main task was to assist his wealthy Alfa Romeo customers with their racing efforts by providing delivery, mechanical support and any other services that they would require. Along his ‘stable’ of amateur drivers he signed Giuseppe Campari and, an even greater coup, Tazio Nuvolari. Scuderia Ferrari caused a sensation with their 50 strong full and part-time driver line-up. It was the largest team ever put together by one individual and of the 22 participations Enzo’s team won eight, aside generally good results……..80 years ago this week, the ‘Sunshine Special’, a highly modified Lincoln used by United States Presidents Franklin D Roosevelt and
Harry S Truman, was leased to the government by the Ford Motor Company [1 December 1939]. It was a 1939 twelve-cylinder engine, four-door convertible originally built by Lincoln and was specifically modified for the President by a speciality coach builder, Brunn & Company, Inc. in Buffalo, New York, at a cost of $4,950 (the original cost of the car was $8,348.74). Initially called “Old 99,” in reference to a number on its first license plate, it was later nicknamed the “Sunshine Special” (the exact origin of the nickname is unknown, but it was most likely first used in a photo caption)  as a reference to its retractable roof, and was famously enjoyed by the president, who had its roof brought down during public gatherings. At other times, the car was used as traditional presidential transportation. This was in spite of a previous assassination attempt against Roosevelt as he was riding in a Buick convertible, prior to the creation of the Sunshine Special……..70 years ago this week, Cadillac’s one-millionth car was produced, a 1950 Coupe de Ville [25 November 1949]……….NASCAR announced that the victory dinner to honor divisional champions would take place in Daytona Beach on Feb. 1, 1950. [28 November 1949]. Red Byron was honored as the inaugural NASCAR Strictly Stock champion, while Fonty Flock was crowned the champion of the Modified division……..Julius P. Heil (73) died near Milwaukee, Wisconsin, US [30 November 1949]. Heil had been President of Heil Company, manufacturers of truck and trailer tanks, from 1906 through 1946 and then the Company Chairman for the next three years. He also served a term as Governor of Wisconsin starting in 1939………..40 years ago this week, Derek ‘Red Robbo’ Robinson (cover image), senior shop steward and convenor at British Leyland’s Longbridge plant, was dismissed [27 November 1979]. According to the then British Leyland (BL) chairman Michael Edwardes, Red Robbo ‘had kept Longbridge in ferment and upheaval for 30 months [and] 523 disputes, with the loss of 62,000 cars and 113,000 engines, worth £200 million’……….30 years ago this week, Ford acquired Jaguar Cars for $2.5 billion [1 December 1989]. Under Ford’s ownership Jaguar expanded its range of products with the launch of the S-Type in 1999 and X-type in 2001. After Land Rover’s May 2000 purchase by Ford, it became closely associated with Jaguar. In many countries they shared a common sales and distribution network (including shared dealerships), and some models shared components, although the only shared production facility was Halewood Body & Assembly, for the X-Type and the Freelander 2. However operationally the two companies were effectively integrated under a common management structure within Ford’s PAG. On 11 June 2007, Ford announced that it planned to sell Jaguar, along with Land Rover and retained the services of Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and HSBC to advise it on the deal. The sale was initially expected to be announced by September 2007, but was delayed until March 2008. Private equity firms such as Alchemy Partners of the UK, TPG Capital, Ripplewood Holdings (which hired former Ford Europe executive Sir Nick Scheele to head its bid), Cerberus Capital Management and One Equity Partners (owned by JP Morgan Chase and managed by former Ford executive Jacques Nasser) of the US, Tata Motors of India and a consortium comprising Mahindra and Mahindra (an automobile manufacturer from India) and Apollo Management all initially expressed interest in purchasing the marques from the Ford Motor Company. Before the sale was announced, Anthony Bamford, chairman of British excavator manufacturer JCB had expressed interest in purchasing the company in August 2006, but backed out upon learning that the sale would also involve Land Rover, which he did not wish to buy. On Christmas Eve of 2007, Mahindra and Mahindra backed out of the race for both brands, citing complexities in the deal. On 1 January 2008, Ford formally declared that Tata was the preferred bidder. Tata Motors also received endorsements from the Transport And General Worker’s Union (TGWU)-Amicus combine as well as from Ford. According to the rules of the auction process, this announcement would not automatically disqualify any other potential suitor. However, Ford (as well as representatives of Unite) would now be able to enter into detailed discussions with Tata concerning issues ranging from labour concerns (job security and pensions), technology (IT systems and engine production) and intellectual property, as well as the final sale price. Ford would also open its books for a more comprehensive due diligence by Tata. On 18 March 2008, Reuters reported that American bankers Citigroup and JP Morgan would finance the deal with a USD 3 billion loan. On 26 March 2008, Ford announced that it had agreed to sell its Jaguar and Land Rover operations to Tata Motors of India, and that they expected to complete the sale by the end of the second quarter of 2008. Included in the deal were the rights to three other British brands, Jaguar’s own Daimler, as well as two dormant brands Lanchester and Rover. On 2 June 2008, the sale to Tata was completed at a cost of £1.7 billion. On 18 January 2008, Tata Motors, a part of the Tata Group, established Jaguar Land Rover Limited as a British-registered and wholly owned subsidiary. The company was to be used as a holding company for the acquisition of the two businesses from Ford – Jaguar Cars Limited and Land Rover. That acquisition was completed on 2 June 2008. On 1 January 2013, the group, which had been operating as two separate companies (Jaguar Cars Limited and Land Rover), although on an integrated basis, underwent a fundamental restructuring. The parent company was renamed to Jaguar Land Rover Automotive PLC, Jaguar Cars Limited was renamed to Jaguar Land Rover Limited and the assets (excluding certain Chinese interests) of Land Rover were transferred to it. The consequence was that Jaguar Land Rover Limited became responsible in the UK for the design, manufacture and marketing of both Jaguar and Land Rover products………10 years ago this week, media outlets reported that a rare
unrestored 1937 Bugatti Type 57S Atalante Coupe had been found in the garage of a British doctor [28 November 2009]. A month later, on February 7, the car sold at a Paris auction for some $4.4 million. The black two-seater, one of just 17 57S Atalante Coupes ever made by Bugatti, had been owned by English orthopedic surgeon Harold Carr since 1955. Carr, who died in 2007, reportedly had kept the rare vehicle parked in his garage since the early 1960s and hadn’t driven it in five decades. The car was built in May 1937 and originally owned by Francis Richard Henry Penn Curzon, the 5th Earl Howe. Curzon was also the first president of the British Racing Drivers’ Club and a winner of the 24 Hour Le Mans race. When it was built, the 57S Atalante Coupe was capable of reaching speeds of more than 120 miles per hour at a time when the average car couldn’t do more than 50 miles per hour. It was also notable for its low-slung frame and V-shaped radiator and featured pig-skin upholstery. At the time of the auction, Carr’s car was said to be in good condition and had 26,284 miles on its odometer…………Felipe Massa returned to the track four months after a potentially fatal incident when he was hit by a spring at the Hungarian Grand Prix [29 November 2009]. He competed in a karting event in Brazil, alongside Michael Schumacher who attracted more than a passing interest from journalists as rumours of a comeback gained pace.