7-13 October: Motoring Milestones

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

120 years ago this week, the first regular petrol motor-bus service in Great Britain began in London, England [9 October 1909]. The Motor Traction Company, like so many other companies of the era, they considered and experimented with steam buses as an alternative to the then ubiquitous horse-drawn bus (and tram). The company was formed as the London Steam Omnibus Co Ltd, but rapidly metamorphosed into one interested in operating motor-buses, as no suitable steam buses were available. A prototype Daimler petrol bus was built in Bristol by Brazil, Holborough & Straker, thought to have been designed by Sydney Straker, of Straker-Squires fame. As per the photo, the 26-seat white-painted body was of the horse-bus type, with wooden, spoked wheels, with steel rims. Two vehicles were built and both vehicles and routes approved by the Metropolitan Police Public Carriage Department. They started a service between Kensington Gate and Victoria Station, some 3 miles. Sadly, the patronage was poor, the service ceasing in December 1900. It is not known why, in itself, this service was unsuccessful for, by 1903, the Met had approved applications for 61 mechanically-propelled buses to ply the London streets. It took until 1905 for London General (LGOC) to buy its first motor-buses; from Straker-Squire!……. On the same day [9 October 1909], the Alabama (US) Legislature approved an act requiring automobile owners to register with their county probate judge……110 years ago this week, members of various European automobile clubs signed an agreement creating the International Travelling Pass system. Cars were identified by oval tags, generally black on white, noting the country of origin and providing a minimum guarantee for public safety on the road [11 October 1909]. The vehicles had to be equipped with a strong steering mechanism, and warning systems, namely, a horn, two lights, one at the front and one at the back. The International Travelling Pass ended the problem of tourists having to take a driving test or register their vehicle on entering a new country………100 years ago this week, the legendary Hispano-

Hispano-Suiza H6

Suiza H6 luxury car was introduced at the Paris Motor Show [9 October 1919]. The H6 engine featured a 6.5 litre all aluminium straight-six engine inspired by designer Marc Birkigt’s work on aircraft engines. One of the most notable features of the H6 was its brakes. They were light-alloy drums on all four wheels with power-assist, the first in the industry, driven with a special shaft from the transmission. When the car was decelerating, its own momentum drove the brake servo to provide additional power. This technology was later licensed to other manufacturers, including arch-rival Rolls-Royce……..90 years ago this week, the Packard “Adonis” mascot, otherwise known as “Dauphne at the Well” or “sliding boy”, was patented by designer Edward McCarten, who based his work on a 1927 French sculptor Emil Antoine [8 October 1929]……..First running of the BRDC 500-mile race at Brooklands [12 October 1929]. It was won by Jack Barclay & Frank Clement driving a Bentley at an average speed of 107.32 mph……..70 years ago this week, the British military government placed the trusteeship of the Volkswagen factory in German hands [8 October 1949]. Acting on the orders of the British military government, Major Ivan Hirst ensured that civilian production of Volkswagen saloons could be started in December 1945, a move akin to the British founding the factory a second time. Initially aimed mainly at the occupational forces, Volkswagen cars built in Wolfsburg soon attracted interest among private customers and people abroad……The first Borgward Hansa 1500 was produced by the Bremen based auto-manufacturer Carl F. W. Borgward GmbH [13 October 1979]. It is often seen as the first all new model launched by the German auto industry after the war. Introduced nearly four years before the better remembered ’Ponton Mercedes’ the Hansa featured the then revolutionary ponton, three-box design that subsequently became mainstream in Germany and across much of Europe. The similar Hansa 1800 was introduced in 1952. The Hansa was replaced by the Borgward Isabella in 1954…….60 years ago this week, the first phone call between a car and airplane took place [9 October 1959]……..50 years ago this week, the Mini Clubman (cover image) and 1275GT were launched. The  Mini Clubman was intended to replace the up market Riley and Wolseley versions, whilst the 1275GT, was heavily criticized as the replacement for the popular 998 cc Mini Cooper (the 1,275 cc Mini Cooper S continued alongside the 1275GT for two years until 1971)…….. Bruce McLaren won and Denny Hulme finished second, both driving McLaren M8B-Chevrolets, in the Laguna Seca, California, USA, Can-Am race [12 October 1969]. It was the seventh 1-2 finish by Team McLaren during the season……40 years ago this week, the final section of the Canada to Mexico freeway, Interstate 5, was dedicated near Stockton, California [12 October 1979]. Representatives of the two neighboring nations attended the dedication to commemorate the first contiguous freeway connecting the North American countries.It travels through the states of California, Oregon, and Washington, serving the largest cities on the U.S. West Coast, including Seattle, Portland, Sacramento, Los Angeles, and San Diego. The highway’s southern terminus is the Mexican border and its northern terminus is the Canada–US border; it is currently the only continuous Interstate highway to touch the U.S. borders with both Canada and Mexico. Upon crossing the Mexican border at its southern terminus, Interstate 5 continues to Tijuana, Baja California as Mexico Federal Highway 1. Upon crossing the Canada–US border at its northern terminus, it continues to Vancouver as British Columbia Highway 99. Interstate 5 was originally created in 1956 as part of the Interstate Highway System, but was predated by several auto trails and highways built in the early 20th century. The Pacific Highway auto trail was built in the 1910s and 1920s by the states of California, Oregon, and Washington, and was later incorporated into U.S. Route 99 (US 99) in 1926. Interstate 5 largely follows the route of US 99, with the exception of a portion in the Central Valley of California. The freeway was built in segments between 1956 and 1979, including expressway sections of US 99 that were built earlier to bypass various towns along the route…….10 years ago this week, the first British made Honda Jazz car has rolled off the production line after the Swindon factory had been shut down for four months [7 October 2009]. Production had been switched from Japan in a move the manufacturer hoped would end a troubled year for the factory……..

 

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