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30 August – 5 September: Motoring Milestones

Discover the most momentous motoring events that took place this week in history…….

100 years ago this week, the Lancia Lambda was introduced [1 September 1921]. It was the first car to feature a load-bearing unitary body, (but without a stressed roof) and it also pioneered the use of an independent suspension (the front sliding pillar with coil springs). Vincenzo Lancia even invented a shock absorber for the car and it had excellent four wheel brakes. Approximately 11,200 Lambdas were produced until it was discontinued in 1931……. The retail price of new Ford Model T automobiles dropped to $355, its all-time lowest value [2 September 1921]……. The first Italian Grand Prix, held at the 10.7 mile (17.3 km) circuit near Brescia, was won by Jules Giux in a 3 litre Ballot [4 September 1921]……90 years ago this week, the first night trial floodlighting of London’s important buildings caused traffic chaos as sightseers poured into the capital [1 September 1931]……80 years ago this week, the 1942 DeSotos were introduced, featuring hidden ‘Airfoil’ headlights [1 September 1941]…….70 years ago this week, James E. Lynch, the stunt driver, died in Texarkana, Arkansas (US), at age 50 [31 August 1951]. He was founder of the “Jimmie Lynch Daredevils” stunt drivers show…….60 years ago this week, the first Volkswagen 1500 Type-3 – cover image-  was produced. Introduced at the 1961 Frankfurt Motor Show, Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung (IAA), the Type 3 was marketed as the Volkswagen 1500 and later the Volkswagen 1600, in three body styles: two-door Notchback, Fastback and station wagon, the latter marketed as the ‘Variant’ in most markets, and ‘Squareback’ in the United States [1 September 1961]. The Type 3 diversified Volkswagen’s product range beyond the existing models – the Type 1 (Beetle), Type 14 Karmann Ghia, Type 2 (Bus) – while retaining their engineering principles, notably the air-cooled engine, all round torsion bar suspension, and the rear-engine, rear-wheel drive layout…….50 years ago this week, the MG 1300 was withdrawn from the UK market [31 August 1971]……. At the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, only 0.61 seconds separated the race winner, Peter Gethin from the fifth placed driver [5 September 1971]. This race is often referred to as the fastest Formula One race of all time, with a record average speed of 150.754 mph, a record that was not broken until 32 years later at the 2003 Italian Grand Prix at Monza. None of the 6 points-scoring drivers had ever previously won a Grand Prix…….40 years ago this week, a frantic battle in the closing stages of the Dutch Grand Prix saw Alain Prost emerge victorious ahead of Nelson Piquet and Alan Jones. Jones tried to pass Prost on numerous occasions but his efforts took a toll on his tyres, allowing Piquet to get past and secure second [30 August 1981]……. Garages in the United Kingdom began selling petrol by the litre instead of by the gallon [1 September 1981]…….30 years ago this week, Harry Gant (51) won the Heinz Southern 500 in Darlington, South Carolina, to extend his record as the oldest winner of a NASCAR race [1 September 1991]……. Route 35 Theater in Hazlit, the last drive-in in New Jersey, US closed [4 September 1991]. Opened in June 1956, its first movie was The Searchers starring John Wayne and Magnificent Roughnecks starring Jack Carson. Built on a former watermelon farm it was originally destined for a shopping center but instead a drive-in was built to provide an all-inclusive night for both the parents and children….. Lee Iococca announced he would retire as Chairman of the Chrysler Corporation at the end of the year [5 September 1991]……20 years ago this week, the car number plate system in the UK was completely revised. Each registration index consisted of seven characters with a defined format (eg FL51 XSD) [1 September 2001]. From left to right, the characters consist of a two-letter area code and a two-digit age identifier, which changes twice a year. In the first half of the year the last two digits of the year are used and in the second half of the year a ‘5’ takes the place of the first of the two digits. The remaining characters comprise three random letters…….. Michael Schumacher broke Alain Prost’s record of race wins to become the most successful race winner in the history of Formula One [2 September 2001]. Schumacher took the lead after half a lap and went on to win from David Coulthard and Giancarlo Fisichella. Despite his record breaking victory, the race will be remembered for a massive accident involving Luciano Burti and Eddie Irvine in the fast left-hander before Blanchimont, Burti’s Prost losing its front wing and smashing into the tyre wall at speeds approaching 150mph…..10 years ago this week, UK racing and stunt driver Jamie Morrow performed 280 donuts non-stop at the Silverstone race circuit in Northamptonshire, behind the wheel of a Westfield Sport 1600 [4 September 2011]. Morrow burned rubber and spun circles for more than 17 minutes in front of a 5,000-strong crowd at the Trax Ultimate Performance Car Event, eclipsing the previous record of 161 donuts set by fellow British stunt driver Terry Grant just months earlier in February 2011.

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