Cars, people and events in this week’s Motoring Milestones include: Aston Martin, John Watson, Targa Florio, Formula One, Damon Hill and Vauxhall….
120 years ago this week, the first horseless carriage show was held at London’s Imperial Institute [7 May 1896]…..110 years ago this week, the inaugural running of the Targa Florio began [6 May 1906]. It was an open-road endurance race held in the mountains of Sicily near Palermo. Founded by wealthy Sicilian wine producer Vincenzo
Florio, the race was held at Madonie and run over three laps of the 92.47-mile circuit, totalling 277.41 miles. The entry list was badly affected by a dock strike in Genoa, and the race was won by the Italian driver Alessandro Cagno in an Itala, averaging just over 29 mph….. 90 years ago this week, Renato Balestrero, driving an OM 665, won the Coppa Vinci held at Messina in Italy [2 May 1926]….. On the same day the second Tripoli Grand Prix held on a circuit just outside Tripoli was won by François Eysermann in a Bugatti T35 [2 May 1926] …..70 years ago this week, John Watson MBE, British racing driver who
competed in Formula One over 12 years (1973-83 & 1985), winning five races, was born. He is also a journalist and ex-sportscar racer [4 May 1946]….. 60 years ago this week, driving a Vanwall, Stirling Moss won the VII BRDC International Trophy run over 60 laps of the Silverstone circuit, at an average speed of 100.47 mph [5 May 1956]….. Henry Ford II resigned as chair of the Ford Foundation [8 May 1956]. The Ford Foundation had been created in 1936 as a legal device with which the Ford family could escape then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “soak the rich” taxes. The foundation received a 95 percent equity on all non-voting Ford stock, while the family retained a five percent equity of all voting common stock. Without the restructuring, the Ford family would have had to pay over $321 million in federal inheritance taxes. To pay, the family would have had to sell so much of their stock that they would have lost control over the company. In 1955, Henry Ford II took the Ford Motor Company public. The issue of public ownership came about as the result of the Ford Foundation’s tremendous wealth…..50 years ago this week, Fiat sign a contract with the Soviet government to build a car factory in the Soviet Union [5 May 1966]….. 40 years ago this week, the Spanish Grand Prix was held at Jarama [2 May 1976]. Austrian Ferrari driver Niki Lauda driving a Ferrari 312T2 was initially declared the winner extending his Drivers’ Championship lead to 23 points. After crossing the line first James Hunt had his McLaren M23 disqualified in post-race scruitineering. Swedish driver Gunnar Nilsson took his Lotus 77 to second place with Carlos Reutemann finishing third in his Brabham BT44B. McLaren appealed the disqualification and in July the appeal was upheld and Hunt re-instated as winner of the Spanish Grand Prix….. 30 years ago this week, Henri Toivonen (29) died during the seventh kilometre of the 18th stage of the Tour de Corse, Corte–Taverna, when his Lancia went off the side of the road at a tight left corner with no guardrail [2 May 1986]. The car plunged down a ravine and landed on its roof. The aluminium fuel tank underneath the driver’s seat was ruptured by the trees and exploded. The explosion happened within seconds of the crash, and Toivonen and his co-driver, Sergio Cresto would not have time to get out had they still been alive……20 years ago this week, Williams driver, Damon Hill set the fastest lap at the San Marino Grand Prix on his way to the win in a time of 1:35:26 [5 May 1996]. Michael Schumacher in his Ferrari was second, 16.4 seconds back, after starting from the Pole. Gerhard Berger in his Benetton was third from his seventh starting position.….10 years ago this week, Aston Martin unveiled the new DBS which would be driven by James Bond in the next 007 film Casino Royale. In true Bond style, specific details of the new DBS remained top secret. [4 May 2006] ……The following day Fiat 500 was announced [5 May 2006]. Redesigned by Roberto Giolito it was in essence a modern copy of Dante Giacosa’s 1957 original rear-engined Fiat
500 or ‘Nuova 50’. Within 3 weeks of the 500’s launch (2007), the entire year’s production of 58,000 had sold out. The millionth Fiat 500 rolled off the production line on 19 November 2012……The European Grand Prix at Nürburgring was won by Michael Schumacher driving a Ferrari 248 F1 [7 May 2006]. On the same day Vauxhall announced the loss of 900 jobs from Ellesmere Port’s 3,000 staff [7 May 2006].