Cars, people and events in this week’s Motoring Milestones include: Middlesbrough Transporter Bridge, Vanderbilt Cup, Duesenberg Model J, Johnny Kidd and the Pirates, James Hunt and Missy Elliott.
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150 years ago this week, in the first use of a steam car to garner national attention, brothers Henry and James House transported a party of men in their House steam car from Bridgeport, Connecticut, to Stratford, Connecticut, US [6 October 1866]. With the assistance of his brother James, inventor Henry House had constructed the House Steamer, one of America’s first steam cars, earlier in the year. After testing their invention in and around Bridgeport for several months, the brothers approved the first official journey for the House steam car with this six-mile trip to Stratford to watch a vessel launching……120 years ago this week, the II Grand Prix de l’A.C.F Paris–Marseille–Paris, the first competitive ‘city to city’ motor race, where the first car to across the line was the winner, finished. Prior motor race events employed a variety of classification systems to select the winner [3 October 1896]. The race run in 10 stages from Paris via Auxerre; Dijon; Lyon; Avignon; Marseille; Avignon; Lyon; Dijon; Sens and return to Paris, was won by Emile Mayade who completed the ten day, 1060 miles (1,710 km), event over unsurfaced roads in 67 hours, driving a Panhard et Levassor……110 years ago this week, the third Vanderbilt Cup Race was held, considered the most competitive in the series, featured 17 cars from France, USA, Germany and Italy [6 October 1906]. The field included several of best European drivers including; Vincenzo Lancia, Camille Jenatzy, Felice Nazzaro and Louis Wagner. The 10 laps of the 29.1 course made it the longest Vanderbilt Cup ever held on Long Island. The race attracted a huge crowd estimated at 150,000 to 200,000. The victory of driver Louis Wagner and his riding mechanic Louis Vivet was the third consecutive win for France. Wagner called the race “certainly the most nerve-wrenching contest in motoring history,” and later wrote a magazine article about the horror of racing through roads crowded with people. The finish of the race was marked by the use of a checkered flag for the first time…… 105 years ago this week, Prince Arthur of Connaught opened the Middlesbrough Transporter Bridge across the River Tees, connecting Middlesbrough to Port Clarence on the north bank [7 October 1911]. It carries a travelling ‘car’ or ‘gondola’ suspended from the bridge, across the river in 90 seconds. The car can carry 200 people, 9 cars or 6 cars and one minibus…… 90 years ago this week, Duesenberg was incorporated into the Auburn-Cord company [6 October 1926]. Two years later, Cord introduced the Duesenberg Model J to the American public. It was of typical Duesenberg design, but on a grander scale. No other
automobile of the time could approach the sheer power of the Model J. The engine displaced 6.55 litres (420 cubic inches) and sported twin overhead camshafts that operated four valves per cylinders, all adding up to an impressive 165hp. And in elegance it was incomparable – the chassis was huge and the bodies were custom-built by the leading coach builders of the day. At a price tag beginning around $17,000, the Model J was a true luxury car, and movie stars and millionaires soon vied for ownership of “Duesies.” But Cord’s Duesenberg line could not survive the difficulties of the Depression, and it folded along with the rest of Auburn-Cord in 1937. Yet, for a short time, Cord had accomplished his dream of grandeur, and the Duesenberg Model J is still widely regarded as one of the finest automobiles ever manufactured…… The 1.5 litre, 22 bhp Citroen B14 was launched at the Paris Motor Show [7 October 1926]. Equipped with a 3-speed gearbox, it had a maximum speed of 55 mph. A mass-market car with luxury equipment (such as a modern, fully completely equipped dashboard with indirect lighting), the B14 becomes known as “The Indefatigable” and proved to be one of the great motoring success stories of the years between the wars. It was available as a saloon, an open commercial tourer, a 2-seat or 4-seat convertible, a 2-door, 4-seat “coach”, a six-window limousine and a 7-seat family vehicle……70 years ago this week, American automobile racer, Barney Oldfield (68), the first man to drive a car at 60 miles per hour (96 km/h) on an oval, died [4 October 1976]…… 50 years ago this week, Johnny Kidd, front man for the British rock and roll band Johnny Kidd and the
Pirates (1960 UK No.1 single ‘Shakin’ All Over’) died aged 30 in a motor car accident on the A58, Bury New Road, Breightmet, near Radcliffe, Lancashire [7 October 1966]. The car in which he was travelling as a passenger collided head-on with one driven by Peter Metcalfe. Metcalfe’s 17-year-old girlfriend, Helen Read, also died in the accident. Pirates’ bassist Nick Simper, who later became an original member of Deep Purple, was also in the car with Kidd but he suffered only some cuts and a broken arm……40 years ago this week, James Hunt cut Niki Lauda’s lead in the drivers’ championship to eight points with two races remaining with victory in front of 85,000 at the Canadian Grand Prix [3 October 1986]. He was pursued all the way by Patrick Depailler, eventually winning by 100 yards. Both drivers needed medical treatment after finishing, Hunt because he drove into a barrier on his victory lap, Depailler because of burns to his back caused by leaking fuel in his Tyrrell. “The left eye, she is completely closed,” he said of his final laps. “Fortunately the pain, she keep me awake.” He collapsed as he climbed out of his car and had to be rushed to hospital. Lauda, meanwhile, finished back in eighth and out of the points……30 years ago this week, the Jaguar XJ (XJ40) was officially unveiled. It was an all-new redesign of the XJ to replace the Series III, although the two model ranges were sold concurrently until
the Series III was discontinued in 1992 [8 October 1986]. The XJ40 used the Jaguar independent rear suspension arrangement, and featured a number of technological enhancements (such as electronic instrumentation). In a government survey the XJ6 earned the title of “Safest Car in Britain” in 1993. The XJ40 was discontinued in 1994 and was superseded by the X300 platform XJ……20 years ago this week, Coupes dominated the first day of the 1996 Paris Motor Show when Kylie Minogue kicked the day off releasing the new Ford SportsKa [3 October 1996]. Peugeot released the 307 CC concept car – a genuine coupe and cabriolet with seating for four adults – and Citroen unveiled the Pluriel, a car which could be transformed quickly into five different body styles…. Dagenham’s ten-millionth car, which was also Ford’s 250-millionth worldwide, a Fiesta, was driven off the line at Dagenham in east London by retired boxing champion and local resident Frank Bruno [8 October 1996]……15 years ago this week, a man wrecked a $300,000 sports car owned by hip-hop star Missy Elliott after losing control of the 550 hp vehicle and crashed into a traffic sign and a tree. Joseph Johnson had taken the Lamborghini Diablo away from the garage where it was stored without permission for a late night spin. He was later sentenced to three years in jail and ordered to pay $170,000 for the car and $1,975 for repairs at the site of the accident [9 October 2001]……10 years ago this week, Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey took to the stage. at the Hanover Exhibition Centre F as part of the celebrations to mark the 60th anniversary of the Volkswagen Bus [6 October 2006].
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