30 October – 5 November: Motoring Milestones

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

120 years ago this week, Ransom E. Olds received his first patent for a “Motor Carriage” (“in which the motive power is produced by a gasolene-motor to produce a road vehicle which will meet most of the requirements for the ordinary uses on the road, without complicated gear or requiring engine of great power and to avoid all unnecessary weight”) [3 November 1897]…….90 years ago this week, MG made its official racing debut with Alberto Sanchez Cires driving a 14/28 to victory in a race at San Martin, Argentina [30

Ford Model A advertisement c 1928

Ford Model A advertisement c 1928

October 1927]……  For the first time since the Model T was introduced in 1908, the Ford Motor Company began production of a significantly redesigned automobile, the Model A [1 November 1927]. The vastly improved Model A had elegant Lincoln-like styling on a smaller scale, and was powered by a 3.2-litre (200.5 cubic-inch), four-cylinder engine that produced 40 hp. With prices starting at $460, nearly 5,000,000 Model A’s, in several body styles and a variety of colours, rolled onto America’s highways before production ended in 1932……. On the same day [1 November 1927} car manufacturer, Eddie Rickenbacker bought the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which he operated for nearly a decade and a half, overseeing many improvements to the facility. Once the Speedway operations were under control, Rickenbacker looked for additional opportunities for entrepreneurship, including in sales for the Cadillac division of General Motors, and for various aircraft manufacturers and airlines. After the 500-mile (800 km) race in 1941, Rickenbacker closed the Speedway due to World War II. In 1945, Rickenbacker sold the racetrack to Anton Hulman, Jr……… The first Marmon V-16 engine was tested [4 November 1927]….. On the following day [5 November 1927] Britain’s first set of automatic traffic lights came into operation at Princes Square, Wolverhampton. The modern traffic lights at this location have the traditional striped poles to commemorate this milestone. Princes Square was also the location of the United Kingdom’s first pedestrian safety barriers, which were erected in 1934……. 60 years ago this week, two months after a three-man Toyota team flew to Los Angeles to survey the U.S. market, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. was founded in California with Shotaro Kamiya as the first president [31

In 1958 Toyota sold its first car in the U.S.

In 1958 Toyota sold its first car in the U.S.

October 1957]. Toyota’s first American headquarters were located in an auto dealership in downtown Hollywood, California, and by the end of 1958, 287 Toyopet Crowns and one Land Cruiser had been sold. Over the next decade, Toyota quietly made progress into the Big Three-dominated U.S. car market, offering affordable, fuel-efficient vehicles like the Toyota Corolla as an alternative to the grand gas-guzzlers being produced in Detroit at the time. But the real watershed for Toyota and other Japanese automakers came during the 1970s, when, after enjoying three decades of domination, American automakers had lost their edge. On top of the severe quality issues that plagued domestic automobiles during the early 1970s, the Arab oil embargoes of 1973 and 1979 created a public demand for fuel-efficient vehicles that the Big Three were unprepared to meet. The public turned to imports in droves, and suddenly Japan’s modest but sturdy little compacts began popping up on highways all across America. The Big Three rushed to produce their own fuel-efficient compacts, but shoddily constructed models like the Chevy Vega and Ford Pinto could not compete with the overall quality of the Toyota Corollas and Honda Civics. Domestic automakers eventually bounced back during the 1980s, but Japanese automakers retained a large portion of the market. In 1997, the Toyota Camry became the best-selling car in America, surpassing even Honda’s popular Accord model……… The Mackinac Straits Bridge, between Michigan’s upper and lower peninsulas, opened to traffic [1 November 1957]. At 26,372-foot (8.038 km) the bridge (familiarly known as “Big Mac” and “Mighty Mac”) is the world’s 17th-longest main span and the longest suspension bridge between anchorages in the Western Hemisphere…….. 50 years ago this week, the first official Baja 100 off-road race started in Tijuana, Baja California [31 October 1957] The course length was 849 miles (1,366 km) and ended in La Paz, Baja California Sur with the overall winning time of 27 hours 38 minutes (27:38) set by Vic Wilson and Ted Mangels driving a Meyers Manx buggy….. Bobby Allison fended off Richard Petty by a car-length to win the Western North Carolina 500 at Asheville-Weaverville Speedway (North Carolina, US), closing out the season with a two-race win streak [5 November 1967]. Allison, who prevailed the week before at Rockingham, started from the pole and led 262 of the 500 laps — including the final seven — on the half-mile asphalt track. Petty, who led 95 laps, settled for second with David Pearson third as the final driver on the lead lap. Amazingly, only six of the 30 starters were running at the finish…….40 years ago this week, Reid Railton (82) designer of land speed record cars and the

Reid Railton

Reid Railton

Hudson-based 1933-1950 Railton sports car, died in California, US [3 November 1977]…….30 years ago this week, Nelson Piquet clinched the Formula 1 World Driving Championship when his only title rival, Nigel Mansell, was injured in a crash during practice for the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka [30 October 1987}. Mansell missed the final two races of the season because of his injuries…….. Sports car and Grand Prix driver, Adolf Brudes von Breslau (50) died [5 November 1987]. Brudes began his racing career on motorcycles before switching to cars, taking third place in the 1940 Coppa Brescia just before Italy’s entry into the Second World War. He started racing again after the war and took part in the 1952 German Grand Prix in a Veritas RS-BMW after which he competed in many varied production car events, mainly for Borgward……. 10 years ago this week, Unique Performance, a sort of Shelby endorsed car builder, was busted by Dallas Police for VIN washing [1 November 2007]. The company was suppose to build licensed replicas of cars, such as Eleanor, featured in ‘Gone in 60 Seconds’. The company was unable to provide the builds, which customers prepaid for, in a timely manner, which resulted in the raid…….. Over £1 million worth of veteran cars were sold at Bonham’s biggest ever ‘London to Brighton’ sale [2 November 2007]. A 1904 Talbot Type CT2K 9/11-bhp Twin-Cylinder Rear- Entrance Tonneau made a top price of £172,000 (estimate £120,000-140,000). Four other cars in the sale sold for more than £100,000: a 1903 Panhard et Levassor Type A 7-bhp Twin-Cylinder (£150,000); a 1902 Argyll 8-bhp Rear-Entrance Tonneau (£144,500); a 1904 James & Browne 9-bhp Twin-Cylinder Rear-Entrance Tonneau (£111,500); and an 1899 Marshall 5-bhp Two-Seater Phaeton (£102,700)…….. The late George Harrison’s legendary Aston Martin DB5 was sold at auction for an impressive $464,736, exceeding its original sales estimate of between $250,000 – $300,000 U.S [3 November 2007]……..the following day [4 November 2007] Boss, a robotic Chevrolet Tahoe from Carnegie Mellon University, won the annual $2 million prize in the driverless race sponsored by DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) at a deserted air force base near Victorville in San Bernardino County, California. Six of the 11 starting vehicles finished the 60-mile urban-area racecourse within the allocated 6 hours. Rules included obeying all traffic regulations while negotiating with other traffic and obstacles and merging in to traffic.

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