9-15 November: Motoring Milestones

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

120 years ago this week, the Automobile Club of Great Britain and Ireland sponsored an electric car endurance trial that began 3 days earlier ended [9 November 1900]. The 4 wheel drive Lohner-Porsche was among the entrants but it was won by a Louis-Kreiger car named ‘Powerful’. It achieved an impressive 59 miles at an average speed of 10mph……..110 years ago this week, the first Colby Motors car hit the streets of Iowa, US. Mason City entrepreneur, William Colby, founded the Colby Motor Company in 1910 [10 November 1910]. The five-passenger touring car performed to all expectations and was fast enough to earn a speeding ticket for its test driver. Competitive business put an end to the company in 1914. 900 cars were made, but only a few have survived. One is on display at the Kinney Pioneer Museum in Mason City…… The American Grand Prize, a Grand Prix auto race, was held on closed public roads outside Savannah, Georgia [12 November 1910]. The race began at 09:00, with cars leaving the start line at 30-second intervals. Victor Hémery, driving a Benz, led early. Arthur Chevrolet was second after lap 1, but would eventually be overtaken by the factory Benzes and Fiats before falling out of the race on lap 9. Felice Nazzaro took over second place and pushed hard to catch Hémery. After setting the lap record on lap 7, Nazzaro slid off the road into a ditch, bending his rear axle; he would retire a few laps later. Wagner assumed the lead, but he too would leave the road and strike a tree on lap 17. He resumed, but front axle damage later sent him into a cartwheel at speed, ending his race. Ralph De Palma, Bruce-Brown, and Hémery took over the first three positions, within two minutes of each other. On the penultimate lap, De Palma cracked a cylinder in the last of the Fiats. At the finish, Hémery crossed the line first due to the staggered start, and as in 1908 was forced to wait for the next car to cross the line. In the end, Bruce-Brown finished just 1.42 seconds faster than Hémery…….100 years ago this week, the prototype Duesenberg Model A, the first passenger car to bear the Duesenberg name, was introduced in unpainted form at the

Duesenberg Model A

Automobile Salon held at the Hotel Commodore in New York City [14 November 1920]. The Duesenberg Model A was the first automobile in series production to have hydraulic brakes and the first automobile in series production in the United States with a straight-eight engine (8.1 lire) Production was delayed by substantial changes to the design of the car, including a change in the engine valvetrain from horizontal overhead valves to an overhead camshaft; also during this time, the company had moved its headquarters and factory from New Jersey to Indiana. The Model A was manufactured in Indianapolis, Indiana, from 1921 to 1925 by the Duesenberg Automobiles and Motors Company and from 1925 to 1926 at the same factory by the restructured Duesenberg Motor Company…….90 years ago this week, the Marmon Sixteen debuted at the Chicago Auto Show [10 November 1930]. Howard Marmon had begun working on the world’s first V16 engine in 1927, but was unable to complete the production Sixteen until 1931. By that time, Cadillac had already introduced their V16, designed by ex-Marmon engineer Owen Nacker. Peerless, too, was developing a V16 with help from an ex-Marmon engineer, James Bohannon. The Marmon Sixteen was produced for three years. The engine displaced 8.0 litre (491 in³) and produced 200 hp (149 kW). It was an all-aluminium design with steel cylinder liners and a 45° bank angle……. The Veteran Car Club, the world’s first organisation dedicated to the preservation of antique automobiles, was founded by S C H ‘Sammy’ Davis, J A Master and J A Wylie [14 November 1930]…… The Moon Motor Company, based in St. Louis, Missouri, US, was placed into receivership [15 November 1930]. The company had a venerable reputation among the buying public, as it was known for fully assembled, easily affordable mid-level cars using high-quality parts. Often this meant the manufacturing process required more human intervention, leading to operating losses. The company was founded in 1905 by carriage maker Joseph W. Moon. Moon produced both cars and trucks. Moon Motor’s peak production year was 1925 when the company produced 10,271 vehicles…….80 years ago this week, the first Willys-built Jeep prototype (cover image) was presented to the United States Army for testing [13 November 1940]. In 1939, the U.S. Army asked America’s automobile manufacturers to submit designs for a simple and versatile military vehicle. With the U.S. declaration of war, mass production of the Willys-Overland Jeep began in 1941. By the war’s end in 1945, some 600,000 Jeeps had rolled off the assembly lines and onto the battlefields of Asia, Africa, and Europe. The efficient and sturdy four-wheel drive Jeep became a symbol of the American war effort–no obstacle could stop its advance. Somewhere along the line the vehicle acquired the name “Jeep,” likely evolving from the initials G.P. for “general purchase” vehicle, and the nickname stuck. In 1945, Willys-Overland introduced the first civilian Jeep vehicle, the CJ-2A–the forefather of today’s sport utility vehicles……… The Alvis car plant in Coventry, England was one of 21 factories destroyed during a Nazi air raid, although the overall productive capacity of the city’s automotive industry was not seriously affected [14 November 1940]……..70 years ago this week, Chairman of Citroen since 1935, Pierre Boulanger (65), died in a car accident [11 November 1950]…… Ernest J Sweetland (70), inventor of the Purolator oil filter manufactured by Motor Improvement Inc of Newark, New Jersey, US, died in San Francisco, California [15 November 1950]……60 years ago this week, the world’s first ‘Hover Scooter’ – a combination of a hovercraft and a scooter – was demonstrated on land and water in Long Ditton, Surrey, UK [9 November 1960]. It was little more than a seat and handlebars on top of a scarily loud fan. The spinning fan produced a six-inch cushion of air to keep the scooter just barely

Hover Scooter

off of the ground, allowing it to hover over land or water with ease….. on the same day [9 November 1960], the 4 millionth Volkswagen was produced……. Robert “Red” Byron (45), who won the first NASCAR sanctioned race and the inaugural NASCAR Strictly Stock (now Sprint Cup Series) championship, died of a heart attack in a Chicago hotel room [11 November 1960]. Along with Bob Flock, he is considered one of the best drivers of the era…….40 years ago this week, prospects of a Formula 1 breakaway competition faded with an announcement six leading constructors, including Ferrari, Alfa Romeo and Renault, had decided to compete in the official championship in 1981 [11 November 1980]. A dispute between FOCA and FISA had split manufacturers and sponsors, resulting in plans for a breakaway event. The teams committed only four days before the FIA deadline…….. Benny Parsons won the season finale at Ontario Motor Speed­way, California, US as Dale Earnhardt captured his first NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National title [15 November 1980]. Earnhardt rallied back from a lap deficit to finish fifth. His final margin of victory over Cale Yarborough, who finished third at Ontario, was 19 points…….30 years ago this week, SEAT produced its 8 millionth vehicle, coinciding with the company’s 37th anniversary of production [13 November 1990]……..20 years ago this week, William H. Frick (84), who helped build Briggs Cunnungham’s race cars, passed away [12 November 2000]…… Ford began redevelopment of the entire Ford Rouge Center to include a new vehicle assembly plant as the centerpiece of the US’s largest industrial redevelopment project [14 November 2000].

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