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8-14 October: Motoring Milestones

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

110 years ago this week, the first 10 mile section of the 45 mile Long Island Motor Parkway (LIMP), also known as the Vanderbilt Parkway and Motor Parkway on Long Island, New York, opened to traffic [10 October 1908]. It was the first roadway designed for automobile use only. The road was privately built by William Kissam Vanderbilt II at a cost of $6 million with overpasses and bridges to remove intersections. It opened as a toll road and closed in 1938 when it was taken over by the state of New York in lieu of back taxes. Parts of the parkway survive today in sections of other roadways and as a bicycle

Barney Oldfield – “Golden Submarine”

trail in Queens……. 100 years ago this week, Barney Oldfield, driving the “Golden Submarine” for Will Pickens, raced in his last competitive event, an IMCA sanctioned race on the dirt track in Independence, Missouri, US [13 October 1918]…….90 years ago this week, Motor Traders stated that any Briton earning £440 or more per year could afford to buy and run a car [9 October 1928]……..The M-type (also known as the MG Midget) made its debut at the London Motor Show opened at Olympia [11 October 1928]. The M-Type was one of the first genuinely affordable sports to be offered by an established manufacturer, as opposed to modified versions of factory-built saloon cars and tourers. By offering a car with excellent road manners and an entertaining driving experience at a low price (the new MG cost less than double the cheapest version of the Minor on

MG Midget M-Type blueprints

which it was based) despite relatively low overall performance the M-type set the template for many of the MG products that were to follow, as well as many of the other famous British sports cars of the 20th century. The M-type was also the first MG to wear the Midget name that would be used on a succession of small sports cars until 1980. This 2-door sports car used an updated version of the four-cylinder bevel-gear driven overhead camshaft engine used in the 1928 Morris Minor and Wolseley 10 with a single SU carburettor giving 20 bhp (15 kW) at 4000 rpm. Drive was to the rear wheels through a three-speed non-synchromesh gearbox. The chassis was based on the one used in the 1928 Morris Minor with lowered suspension using half-elliptic springs and Hartford friction disk shock absorbers with rigid front and rear axles and bolt on wire wheels. The car had a wheelbase of 78 inches (1980 mm) and a track of 42 inches (1067 mm). 1930 brought a series of improvements to the car. The Morris rod brake system, with the handbrake working on the transmission, was replaced a cable system with cross shaft coupled to the handbrake and the transmission brake deleted. Engine output was increased to 27 bhp (20 kW) by improving the camshaft and a four-speed gearbox was offered as an option. The doors became front-hinged. A supercharged version could be ordered from 1932, raising the top speed to 80 mph (130 km/h). Early bodies were fabric-covered using a wood frame; this changed to all-metal in 1931. Most cars had bodies made by Carbodies of Coventry and fitted by MG in either open two-seat or closed two-door “Sportsmans” coupé versions, but some chassis were supplied to external coachbuilders such as Jarvis. The factory even made a van version as a service vehicle. The car could reach 65 mph (105 km/h) and return 40 miles per gallon. The open version cost £175 at launch, soon rising to £185, and the coupé cost £245. The 1932 supercharged car cost £250. The M-type had considerable sporting success, both privately and with official teams winning gold medals in the 1929 Land’s End Trial and class wins in the 1930 “Double Twelve” race at Brooklands. An entry was also made in the 1930 Le Mans 24 hour, but neither of the two cars finished……..Racer Fred Comer (35), who was born in Topeka Kansas in 1893, died from injuries sustained in a racing accident at Rockingham Park in New Hampshire, US [12 October 1928]. Like many drivers of his era, he was a board track racing specialist and made 43 AAA Championship Car starts on the board ovals with one win in 1926 on the Atlantic City track and one pole. He also made four starts in the Indianapolis 500 with a best finish of 4th place in 1926…….. 80 years ago this week, Edsel B Ford made a public announcement that full production of the new Mercury marque had begun at five United States plants [8 October 1938]………Morris Series E Saloon and BMW 335 3-litre were launched at the 1938 London Motor Show [13 October 1938].……70 years ago this week, the first Morris Minor car in Britain went on sale, costing £382 including taxes [12 October 1948]. Designed by Alec Issigonis. the Minor was certainly a ‘new generation’ of small car. Although not

very fast (the side-valve Series MM could just about manage 62 mph), everyone who drove the new Morris quickly discovered that its sure-footedness and light, rack-and-pinion steering (another innovation for a small car) made it a delight to drive. Initially available as a two-door saloon and tourer (convertible), the range was subsequently expanded to include a four-door saloon in 1950, a wood-framed estate (the Traveller) from 1952 and panel van and pick-up truck variants from 1953.In total more than 1.3 million ‘Moggies’ were manufactured between 1948 and 1972……… on the same day [12 October 1948] midget racing great Johnny Ritter was fatally injured while changing a tire on his midget at the Medford Bowl in Massachusetts, US [12 October 1948]. Standing just 5 ft 1 in (1.55 m) tall and weighing 135 lb (61 kg), Ritter was “one of the best” board track drivers of his time, racking up an unequalled winning record………60 years ago this week, Ray Lemke opened the first independent Datsun dealership in the United States in San Diego, California, US [8 October 1958]…….The 5th Tokyo Motor Show was opened [10 October 1958]. Many innovative models were exhibited. A midget car, “Subaru 360” attracted much attention amid the people’s car boom. Noted for its small overall size,

Subaru 360

1,000 lb curb weight, monocoque construction, swing axle rear suspension, fiberglass roof panel, and rear-hinged doors, the inexpensive car was designed in response to the Japanese government’s light car or Kei car regulations and its proposal for a larger “national car,” both intended to help motorize the post WWII Japanese population. The 360’s overall size and engine capacity complied with Japan’s Kei car regulations. Nicknamed the “ladybug” in Japan, and ultimately superseded by R-2, the 360 was one of Japan’s most popular cars and was available in a single generation in two-door, station wagon, “convertible” (coupe with roll-back fabric roof) and sport model variants.10,000 were sold in the United States, imported by Malcolm Bricklin — advertised as “Cheap and Ugly.” The nameplate 360 derived from its tax-limited engine displacement: 356 cc engine. It had a top speed of 60 miles per hour. Consumer Reports recorded a 0-60 time of about 37 seconds and reported 25–35 miles per gallon,[7] despite Subaru’s claimed 66 mpg. When introduced in 1958, the 360’s engine produced 16 hp (12 kW). By the end of production, power had increased to 25 hp (19 kW) with a 36 hp (27 kW) twin-carbureted engine optionally available. Production reached 392,000 over its 12-year model run. Also popular were the 1.5-litre Toyota Crown prototype, equipped with the world’s smallest diesel engine, the Prince 1900 production model, and a unique car, “Mikasa Touring” equipped with a 600cc engine and torque converter. Japan’s first bus equipped with air suspension system, developed by Minsei Diesel Engineering, also drew much attention. This was the year Toyota, Nissan, and Fuji Precision Machinery started full-scale exports of the Crown, Datsun, and Skyline to the U.S. At the Australian Rally, famous as the world s roughest race, Datsun 1000 (Fuji) won the championship in its class. Crown also competed. Thus, Japanese cars were beginning to be known overseas. Visitors to the Motor Show included a few foreigners, another new feature at this Show……..50 years ago this week, Henry Jervis Mulliner (97), founder and namesake of the British coach building firm and the last surviving charter member of Royal Automobile Club, died in Bexhill-on-Sea, England [8 October 1968]……..the following day [9 October 1968] the 3 litre was relaunched in production form. Codenamed

Austin 3 litre AD061

ADO61, the car was intended to be BMC’s offering in the 3-litre executive class and was originally designed in the early 1960s, before the British Leyland era. Unlike the visually similar (but smaller) front-wheel drive ADO17 range, the 125 bhp 3-litre engine (a 7-bearing modification of the BMC C-Series with twin SU carburettors) drove the rear wheels through a conventional 4-speed gearbox. The car used Hydrolastic suspension with self-levelling hydraulic rams at the rear and was praised for its excellent ride and handling. Alec Issigonis, who designed the front-wheel drive cars, had no part in the 3-Litre, which he was reportedly keen to point out……..The first race staged at the two-mile (3.2 km) moderate-banked D-shaped Michigan Speedway in Irish Hills Michigan, US) was won by Ronnie Bucknum in the Weimberger Homes Special [13 October 1968]. The track is used primarily for NASCAR events. It is sometimes known as a “sister track” to Texas World Speedway, and was used as the basis of Auto Club Speedway. The track is owned by International Speedway Corporation (ISC). Michigan International Speedway is recognized as one of motorsports’ premier facilities because of its wide racing surface and high banking (by open-wheel standards; the 18-degree banking is modest by stock car standards). Michigan is the fastest track in NASCAR due to its wide, sweeping corners, long straightaways, and lack of a restrictor plate requirement; typical qualifying speeds are in excess of 200 mph (320 km/h) and corner entry speeds are anywhere from 215 to 220 mph (346 to 354 km/h) after the 2012 repaving of the track……..One of the most expensive cars ever built, the US Presidential 1969 Lincoln Convertible Executive, was delivered to the US Secret Service. [14 October 1968]. It was 21 ft 6 inches in length, with a 13 feet 4 inch wheelbase. Including 2 tons of armour plating, it weighed 5.35 tons. The estimated cost of research, development and manufacture was $500,000. Even if all four tyres were shot out, it could travel at 50 mph on inner rubber-edged steel discs…….40 years ago this week, American Mario Andretti became Formula One World Champion [8 October 1978]. He is one of only three drivers to win races in Formula One IndyCar, World Sportscar Championship and NASCAR (the others being Dan Gurney and Juan Pablo Montoya)…….30 years ago this week, Felix , the only twentieth-century engineer to have designed an internal-combustion engine which went into

Felix Wankel

production, passed away at the age of 86 in Lindau, Germany, where he did much of his research and where Wankel Research and Development is still located [9 October 1988]. During World War II, Wankel developed seals and rotary valves for German air force aircraft and navy torpedoes, for BMW and Daimler-Benz. After the war, in 1945, he was imprisoned by France for some months, his laboratory was closed by French occupation troops, his work was confiscated, and he was prohibited from doing more work. However, by 1951, he got funding from the Goetze AG company to furnish the new Technical Development Center in his private house in Lindau on Lake Constance. He began development of the engine at NSU Motorenwerke AG, leading to the first running prototype on 1 February 1957.Unlike modern Wankel engines, this version had both the rotor and housing rotating. It developed 21 horsepower. His engine design was first licensed by Curtiss-Wright in New Jersey, United States. On 19 January 1960 the rotary engine was presented for the first time to specialists and the press in a meeting of the German Engineers’ Union at the Deutsches Museum in Munich. In the same year, with the KKM 250, the first practical rotary engine was presented in a converted NSU Prinz. At this time the “Wankel engine” became synonymous with the rotary engine, whereas previously it was called the “Motor nach System NSU/Wankel”. At the 1963 IAA, the NSU company presented the NSU Wankel-Spider, the first consumer vehicle, which went into production in 1964. Great attention was received by the NSU in August 1967 for the very modern NSU Ro 80, which had a 115-horsepower engine with two rotors. It was the first German car selected as “Car of the Year” in 1968. In Japan, the manufacturer Mazda solved the engine’s chatter marks problem. The engine has been successfully used by Mazda in several generations of their RX-series of coupés and sedans, including the Mazda Cosmo, R100, the RX-7 and more recently the RX-8. Mercedes-Benz completed it’s C111 experimental model in 1969 with 3-rotor Wankel engine. In 1970 next model which had a 4-rotor Wankel engine could reach top speed 290 km/h but reached never serial production. Wankel became a success in business by securing license agreements around the world. By 1958 Wankel and partners had founded the “Wankel GmbH” company, providing Wankel with a share of the profits for marketing the engine. Among the licensees were Daimler-Benz since 1961, General Motors since 1970, Toyota since 1971. Royalties for the Wankel GmbH for licensure were 40%, later 36%. In 1971 Wankel sold his share of the license royalties for 50 million Deutschmarks to the English conglomerate Lonrho. The following year he got his Technical Development Center back from the Fraunhofer Society. From 1986 the Felix Wankel Institute cooperated with Daimler Benz AG. Daimler Benz provided the operating costs in return for the research rights. He sold the Institute to Daimler Benz for 100 million Marks……..Eddie Hill at Baytown, Texas, US achieved the lowest elapsed time – 4.936 seconds – recorded by a piston-engined dragster from a standing start for 440 yards [9 October 1988]……….20 years ago this week, the Petit Le Mans (French for little Le Mans), a sports car endurance race held annually at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia, USA was first run as part of the IMSA season. [10 October 1998] From 1998 until 2013, Petit Le Mans covered a maximum of 1,000 miles (1,600 km) (which is approximately 394 laps) or a maximum of 10 hours, whichever came first; only once, in the rain-stopped 2009 race, had the leading team failed to complete 1,000 miles (1,600 km). Since 2014, the duration is 10 hours, without distance limitations.In addition to the overall race, teams of two or three drivers per car compete for class victories in different categories, divided into Le Mans prototypes and grand tourers. Class winners of this event receive an automatic invitation to the following year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, however in 2012 this was removed from the regulations. Rinaldo Capello holds the record of most race wins, having won in 2000, 2002, 2006, 2007 and 2008…….10 years ago this week, Luc Costermans of Belgium set a new world speed record for blind drivers with the speed of 192 mph [11 October 2008]. Costermans drove a borrowed Lamborghini Gallardo on a long, straight stretch of airstrip near Marseilles, France. Cosermans had a carload of sophisticated navigational equipment as well as a human co-pilot, who gave directions from the Lamborghini’s passenger seat accompanying him during the event

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