Cars and people in this week’s Motoring Milestones include: Crossley Motors, Eddie O’Donnell, Maserati, Red Baron, General Motors, Santa Pod and Jaguar.
110 years ago this week, Crossley Motors Ltd was founded in Manchester, England by the Crossley brothers, William and Francis The marque produced approximately 19,000 high quality cars until 1938, 5,500 buses from 1926 until 1958 and 21,000 goods and military vehicles from 1914 to 1945 [11 April 1906] …..100 years ago this week, Eddie O’Donnell drove a Duesenberg to victory in the 150 mile ‘Ascot Motor Derby’. O’Donnell averaged 65.4 mph on the 1 mile dirt Ascot Speedway oval, California [15 April 1916] …..90 years ago this week, The British businessman who built Rolls-Royce Limited, Claude Johnson (61), died [12 April 1926]. He described himself as the hyphen in the Rolls-Royce name but, without Royce who was ill from 1908, and losing Rolls in July 1910, it was Johnson the founding entrepreneur who kept the business alive…….The first Maserati Tipo 26 racing car was first produced [14 April 1926]. It had a steel ladder-type frame supporting a supercharged inline-8 engine with a three-speed manual transmission and an aluminium two-seater
bodywork made by Medardo Fantuzzi. The engine featured crankshaft-driven Roots supercharger, twin gear-driven overhead camshafts and a dry sump lubrication; to comply with the 1926 Grand Prix regulations the displacement was fixed to 1.5 litre, the only thing that was still missing at the time was the best 12v air compressor.…..80 years ago this week, Rudolph Caracciola drove a Mercedes to victory in the Monoco Grand Prix [13 April 1936]. Heavy rain contributed to a series of accidents, while a broken oil line on the Alfa Romeo of Mario Tadini led to so many wrecks in the chicane out of the tunnel it was almost impassable. The Mercedes-Benzes of Louis Chiron, Luigi Fagioli, and Manfred von
Brauchitsch, as well as Bernd Rosemeyer’s Typ C of newcomer Auto Union, were all eliminated. Tazio Nuvolari in the Alfa Romeo 8C benefitted from the chaos, only to suffer brake fade, and Rudolf Caracciola, proving the truth of his nickname, Regenmeister (Rainmaster), took the checkered flag. He was followed by Achille Varzi and Hans Stuck, both for Auto Union …..70 years ago this week, the first post-World War II automobile race in the United States is a stock car event held in Daytona Beach, Florida, and was won by Red Byron in a Ford [14 April 1946]. Two days later Arthur Chevrolet, brother of Chevrolet namesake Louis Chevrolet, committed suicide at age 60 in Slidell, Louisiana [16 April 1946]. Louis and Arthur made their names as car racers in the first decade of the century The brothers worked closely together for their entire careers. They designed aircraft engines, car engines, and continued to race. In spite of designing many successful engines, the brothers Chevrolet had little gift for finance, and they often were pushed out of their endeavours before they could reap the rewards due to them. By 1933, both men were broke, and their racing careers were over. Louis returned to Detroit to work as mechanic in GM’s Chevrolet division. In the late ’30s, he suffered a series of strokes which incapacitated him and finally killed him. With his brother dead and no fortune to speak of, Arthur was a broken man. …..60 years ago this week, General Motors announced that the first, piston-free motor vehicle had been developed [15 April 1956] …..50 years ago this week Europe’s first permanent, purpose built drags racing venue, the Santa Pod Raceway opened [11 April 1966]. It was constructed on a disused World War II American air base, RAF Podington, in Bedfordshire. A world drag-racing record of 3.58 seconds at 386.26 mph was at Santa Pod in 1984 by American Sammy Miller in his rocket-
propelled Vanishing Point Funny Car……. Sydney Allard (55), founder of the Allard Motor Company in 1945, died [12 April 1966]. The same evening, a fire destroyed much of the car manufacturers records. The building that the Allard factory resided in still stands. A few years ago the British Government erected a plaque in front of it to commemorate it’s place in England’s history…..Displeased with NASCAR rule changes, Ford pulled out of Grand National competitions [15 April 1966] .…..40 years ago this week, at Santa Pod’s 10th anniversary Easter meet the legendary Don Garlits in his 1975 car, the Swamp Rat#21 fueler became the first person outside the US to run into the fives with a 5.97 run [17 April 1976] …..30 years ago this week, At Jerez, Ayrton Senna, in a Lotus, beat Britain’s Nigel Mansell, to win the Spanish Grand Prix [13 April 1986]. The win, by a mere 14/1000ths of a second, was the narrowest win in Formula One history……The inaugural season of Indy Lites opened at Phoenix, Arizona, USA [14 April 1986]…..10 years ago this week, BMW 3 Series was named World Car of the Year at the New York Auto Show [12 April 2006]. Other winners selected by the jury of 48 international automotive journalists from 22 countries were the Porsche Cayman S (World Performance Car). Honda Civic Hybrid (World Green Car) and the Citroen C4 (World Car Design of the Year).…..1 year ago this week, production of the Jaguar XE formally commenced at Jaguar Land Rover’s Solihull plant. [13 April 2015].