26 September – 2 October: Motoring Milestones

Cars, people and events in this week’s Motoring Milestones include: Ford Cortina Mark IV, Metallica, Mercury Cougar, Chevrolet Camaro, Formula One, and Volkswagen.

115 years ago this week, compulsory car registration for all vehicles capable of driving over 18mph (29 km/h) took effect throughout France [30 September 1901]. According to the decree, “Each motor vehicle shall bear on a metal plate and in legible writing the name and address of its owner, also the distinctive number used in the application for authorization. This plate shall be placed at the left-hand side of the vehicle – it shall never be hidden.” Early city roads were often chaotic, dirty and noisy, Nine years after France began its registration policy, dividing lines appeared, followed by traffic signs, traffic lights, and one-way streets……110 years ago this week, C.S. Rolls won the second Tourist Trophy on the Isle of Man in a Rolls-Royce. He covered 259 kilometers in 4:06 hours at 63.5 km/h [27 September 1906]…..80 years ago this week, at the Paris Motor Show, Citroën presented its first diesel-powered light utility vehicles: the

Citroën Type 850
Citroën Type 850

(500 kg diesel), the 850DI (850 kg diesel) and the 23DI (1,500 kg diesel). The vehicles had a 7 bhp rating and were equipped with a high-turbulence, indirect-injection (1.767 L) engine with 4 cylinders developing 40 bhp at 3,650 rpm [1 October 1936]……50 years ago this week, the Chevrolet Camaro “pony car” made its first public appearance. It was introduced as a 1967 model year and was designed as a competing model to the Ford Mustang [26 September 1966] ….. Mercury Cougar was introduced as “America’s first luxury/sports car at a popular price” [30 September 1966]. Motor Trend named Cougar the 1967 Car of the Year….. The American Grand Prix won by Jim Clark in a Lotus 43 powered by the BRM H-16 – the only 16- cylinder car to win a Grand Prix – at an average speed of 114.94mph [2 October 1966] …..40 years ago this week, the Ford Cortina Mark IV was launched [29 September 1976]. It had a more conventional design than its predecessor, which was largely 6630048901_3e85946753appreciated by fleet buyers. This series spawned the first Ghia top-of-the-range model, which replaced the 2000E….. The Bristol Britannia was introduced as the successor to the Bristol 603 [1 October 1976]…… 30 years ago this week, Clifford Lee Burton, bass guitarist of heavy metal band Metallica, died in a road accident at the age of 24 [27 September 1986]. It was reported that the band’s tour bus ran over a patch of black ice, skidded off the road, and flipped onto the grass in Ljungby in rural southern Sweden. Burton was thrown through the window of the bus, which then fell on top of him…… Andy McVann (21) of indie group, The Farm died when he lost control of his car during a high speed police chase [1 October 1986]…… The Citroen AX was launched at the Paris Motor Show [2 October 1986]. The version on display – a three-door front-wheel drive model with a drag coefficient of 0.31 – was equipped with an all-new power unit and gearbox assembly……25 years ago this week, Nigel Mansell won the Spanish Grand Prix despite twisting his ankle days before the event playing football [29 September 1991]. It was the first race to be held at the Circuit de Catalunya outside Barcelona and is still widely regarded to be the best. At the start he fell back to fourth in damp conditions

 Circuit de Catalunya
Circuit de Catalunya

but quickly moved back up the field as the circuit dried and cars pitted for slick tyres. Mansell kept his car on the track as others made mistakes and he eventually came out on top in battles with Ayrton Senna and Gerhard Berger. “When Ayrton spun I was not sure which way he was going to come back, so momentarily I didn’t know which way to go – fortunately I picked the right side,” he said. “With Gerhard it was probably a little bit tougher because we both dived into the corner very deep, we both lost our traction and we were very close.” …..20 years ago this week, the driving theory test pass mark in the UK was raised from 26/35 to 30/35 [1 October 1996]……15 years ago this week, Mika Hakkinen‘s last win before he retired came in front of 170,000 spectators at the US Grand Prix [30 September 2001]. “This was one grand prix I wanted in my record book,” he said. “A wonderful win. It’s incredible and I’m very happy.” Hakkinen’s day started badly when his McLaren was demoted from second to fourth on the grid after exiting the pit lane under a red light, but after early domination by the Ferraris, a slick pit-stop strategy enabled him to go on to take the chequered flag. Coming three weeks after the 9/11 attacks, it was an emotional day. Michael Schumacher, who drove with a Stars and Stripes emblem on his helmet, had seriously been considering retirement from F1 because of the emotional trauma he found himself in after the attacks. It was also the final race as a full-time TV commentator for Murray Walker. At the end he was presented with a rare gift: an original brick from the Indianapolis track (‘The Brickyard’)……5 years ago this week, Cuba legalised the sale and purchase of automobiles for all citizens [28 September 2011]. Before this date only cars that were in Cuba before the 1959 revolution could be freely bought and sold, which is why there are so many US-made vintage 1950s cars on the streets……1 years ago this week, Switzerland temporarily banned the sale of Volkswagen (VW) diesel-engine models which could have devices capable of tricking emission tests [26 September 2015].

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