5-11 March: Motoring Milestones

Renault Zo

Discover the momentous motoring events that have taken place this week in history …….

120 years ago this week, the 140 mile (227 km) Marseille to Nice trial began. It was won the following day by Fernand Charron in a Panhard 6 hp [6 March 1898]…….110 years ago this week, in the US, Cincinnati’s mayor, Mark Breith stood before the city council and announced, “Women are not physically fit to operate automobiles.” [7 March 1908]…..100 years ago this week, Earl A Thompson applied for a United States patent for his synchromesh transmission [9 March 1918]……. 90 years ago this week, the Pontiac 5-passenger Sport Phaeton was introduced [8 March 1928]…… Gustave Adolphe Clément-Bayard (72), French entrepreneur who raced motor cars and manufactured bicycles, pneumatic tyres, motorcycles, automobiles, aeroplanes and airships, died [10 March 1928]. In 1894 he was a passenger in the winning vehicle in the world’s first competitive motor event. As a result of selling the manufacturing rights to the “Clément” car, he changed his name to Clément-Bayard five years after the successful launch of the Clément-Bayard automobile brand……. Tazio Nuvolari driving a Bugatti T35C won the Tripoli Grand Prix [11 March 1928]…… on the same

Louis Chiron

day [11 March 1928], Louis Chiron in a Bugatti T35C won the Saint Raphael Grand Prix at L’Estérel Plage, in France……. 60 years ago this week, Eugen Benz (84), elder son of Carl Benz and a partner in C. Benz Sohne, makers of the Benz Sohne (1906-1926), died [9 March 1958]……50 years ago this week, the first mini-roundabout in Britain came into operation in Peterborough [10 March 1968]……. 20 years ago this week, the Rolls-Royce Silver Seraph, produced from 1998 to 2002, was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show [5 March 1998]. The Silver Seraph replaced the Silver Spur, which ended production in 1997. All Seraphs were hand-built at the Rolls-Royce factory in Crewe, England, which stopped making Rolls-Royce models in 2002 but continued with Bentley. The car had a base price of £155,175 in the UK and $220,695 in the US. Renault launched the Zo concept car to celebrate the marque’s centenary. Inspired by motorcycle scramblers, the all-

Renault Zo

terrain vehicle had special 43 cm (17 inch) Michelin tyres designed to use the inner side for road driving and the outside for off road and terrain surfaces. Its three seats were all in a row, with the driver’s in the centre and slightly further forward than the others. The Z0 had no windscreen or roof, but instead an aperture directing the air over the passengers heads. Powered by a new 2-litre engine with direct fuel injection, it had a four-speed automatic ‘intelligent’ gearbox and a chassis with hydraulic pumps to enable the clearance height to change within a range 15-28 cm……. On the same day [5 March 1998], Ford and Mobil Corporation formed a strategic alliance to speed the development of breakthrough fuel and vehicle technologies…….Mika Hakkinen won the Australian Grand Prix in controversial circumstances after team-mate David Coulthard slowed to allow him through two laps from the end [8 March 1998]. Hakkinen led the race from pole position before he misheard a call to come into the pits, allegedly caused by a fan hacking into the teams pit to car radio. He lost the lead to Coulthard who then moved aside. In the uproar that followed it emerged the two drivers had an agreement, whoever made it to the first corner ahead should go on to win the race. The matter was investigated by the World Motorsport Council with the verdict that “any future act prejudicial to the interests of competition should be severely punished”. Team orders continued to cause controversy, and were eventually banned ahead of the 2003 season……. 10 years ago this week, a California lawmaker wanted certain sex offenders to use specialised license plates that would distinguish the driver as a registered sex offender [7 March 2008]. Sen. Abel Maldonado, R-Santa Maria, stated that Senate Bill 1163 would make the streets safer by helping the public better identify potentially dangerous sex offenders.”SB 1163 will make sure that we know when these violent offenders are places where they don’t belong,” Maldonado said. The measure would prohibit offenders accused of child sex crimes from operating a motor vehicle unless the car had a specialized license plate. Violators would face a misdemeanor charge. Opponents stated that the legislation makes good headlines but would do little to help reduce sex crimes.

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