31 October – 6 November: Motoring Milestones

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Cars, people and events in this week’s Motoring Milestones include: zebra crossings, Alfa Romeo, Turin Motor Show, and the M5…. read and enjoy!

120 years ago this week, the first motor insurance policy was issued by the General Accident Company in England [2 November 1896]. The annual premium was 30 shillings (£1.50) and the terms excluded damage caused by frightened horses…..100 years ago this week, Henry Ford’s only son, Edsel Bryant, married Eleanor Lowthian Clay in Detroit, Michigan. She was a niece of Joseph L. Hudson, namesake of the Hudson motor car [1 November 1916]…. 90 years ago this week, the Buick 1927 ‘Goddess’ mascot was patented by designer William Schnell [5 November 1926]…… 65 years ago this week, Britain’s first zebra crossing was introduced in Slough, Berkshire in order to reduce casualties at pedestrian road crossings [31 October 1951]. Metal studs had been the road markings for TRL_Road_Transport_Research_Laboratory_Zebra_Crossing_1948crossings up until then, but, although pedestrians could see them clearly, the motorist couldn’t. Others things were tried but nothing had the visual impact of the broad white and black stripes across the road at a zebra crossing. In its first year of use road deaths fell by more than 10 per cent, but by 1960 more than 500 people had died on zebra crossings in the UK in a 6-month period, prompting the development and introduction of the signal-controlled panda crossing in 1962…… 60 years ago this week, John Davenport Siddeley (87), Lord Kenilworth, Chairman of the Armstrong-Siddeley Motors Ltd., died in Jersey, Channel Islands [3 November 1956]…… 50 years ago this week, the Maserati Ghibli, a two-door, two-seater coupe debuted at the Turin Motor Show [3 November 1966]. The V8-powered Ghibli was the most popular Maserati vehicle since the automaker withdrew from racing in the 1950s, and it outsold its two biggest rivals, the Ferrari Daytona and the Lamborghini Miura. The Ghibli’s steel body, renowned for its low, shark-shaped nose, was designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro. Giugiaro, who today works for ItalDesign, worked at coachbuilder Ghia when he designed the Ghibli. The car was powered by a front-placed quad-cam 370hp V8 engine. It had a 0-60 mph acceleration time of 6.8 seconds, had a top speed of 154 mph and could be operated by either a five-speed manual or three-speed automatic transmission. Maserati fitted the car with two fuel tanks, which could be filled via flaps on either side of the roof pillars. The car also featured pop-up headlamps, leather sport seats and alloy wheels…… 30 years ago this week, the destitute Alfa Romeo company approved its takeover by fellow Italian automobile manufacturer Fiat,

1938 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Spider

1938 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Spider

shortly after rejecting a takeover bid by the Ford Motor Company [6 November 1986]. Alfa Romeo was founded by Nicola Romeo in 1908, and during the 1920s and 1930s produced elegant luxury racing cars like the RL, the 6C 1500, and the 8C 2900 B. Alfa Romeo saw its peak business years during the 1950s and 1960s, when Alfa Romeo chairman Giuseppe Luraghi oversaw a company shift toward more functional and affordable cars. The Giuletta, the Spider, and the Giulia series received enthusiastic responses from consumers, and Alfa Romeo flourished. However, during the 1970s, the company fell out of touch with a changing market, and, like many other automobile companies, failed to meet the demands of recession-era consumers who preferred fuel efficiency and reliability to luxury and design. By the mid-1980s, Alfa Romeo was bankrupt, and Fiat took over the company, assigning it to a new unit called Alfa Lancia Spa, which opened for business in 1997…. The Henry Ford Museum’s ‘The Automobile in American Life’ opened [6 November 1986]…… 15 years ago this week, Douglas Hele (81), leading British motorcycle designer died. He was involved in the design and development of

Doug Hele

Doug Hele

many famous British motorcycles for companies such as Norton and Triumph [2 November 2001]. Towards the end of his career he worked as a development engineer on the Norton rotary engined bikes……5 years ago this week, a massive crash on the M5 near Taunton was blamed on fog, possibly made worse by bonfire night smoke. Seven people died and 51 injured when a huge fireball engulfed the scene [4 November 2011]……1 year ago today, Shaun Davis (42) was jailed for 28 months after filming himself driving his Nissan GTR at 192mph on a Northamptonshire road [6 November 2015].

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