29th February – 6th March
120 years ago this week ….. Charles Brady King, an American engineer and entrepreneur (6th March 1896) test drove his first car in Detroit, Michigan, US in front of hundreds of spectators at speeds up to 7 mph, becoming the first man to drive a car in the Motor City. The car was powered by a Sintz engine. While driving up and down Woodward Avenue his Horseless Carriage broke down, spectators responded by telling him to “get a horse”. The following report appeared in the Detroit Journal the next day: “The first horseless carriage seen in this city was out on the streets last night. The apparatus seemed to work all right and it went at the rate of five or six miles an hour at an even rate of speed.” Following the car intently on a bicycle through the cold, snowy Detroit streets was a lanky, 32-year-old mechanical engineer who worked for the Edison Illuminating Co. His name was Henry Ford ….. 80 years ago this week, the Pau Grand Prix held at Pau, France (1st March 1936) was won by French driver Philippe Étancelin in his Maserati V8. Three cars entered by Scuderia Ferrari were due to race but were stopped at the French border by Benito Mussolini, stating that no Italian team should race in France until after the meeting of the League of Nations on the 10 March ….. 75 years ago this week, Ford built its first general purpose (G.P., or “jeep”) vehicle for U.S. military at Rouge Plant, Detroit, Michigan, US (1st March 1941) ….. 60 years ago this week, Ernst Loof (48) died in Bonn, Germany (3rd March 1956). A multiple motorcycle champion prior to the war, Loof also worked as a BMW engineer and built the special 328 coupe which Huschke von Hanstein and Walter
Baumer used to win the truncated 1940 Mille Miglia. After the war Loof established himself quite a reputation as designer of the Veritas cars and drove one of these BMW-engined machines in the 1953 German Grand Prix. He later developed a brain tumour and died after a long illness. Three days later (6 March 1956), the Renault Dauphine, designed mostly by Fernand Picard, was introduced at Le Palias de Chaillot in Paris, France. The rear-engined economy car was manufactured in a single body style – a three-box, four-door saloon – as the successor to the Renault 4CV; more than two million units were sold worldwide during its production run from 1956 until 1967. Along with such cars as the Volkswagen
Beetle, Morris Minor, Mini and Fiat 500, the Dauphine pioneered the modern European economy car. Renault marketed variants of the Dauphine, including a sport model, theGordini, a luxury version, the Ondine, the 1093 factory racing model, and the Caravelle/Floride, a Dauphine-based two-door coupé and two-door convertible …..
50 years ago this week, the M6 from the southern end of the Stafford bypass to the A462 just south of Cannock opened to traffic (2nd March 1966). This piece of new motorway was significant as it crossed the A5 meaning that London bound traffic now just had to negotiate the A5 between the M6 and the M1. On the same day Ford Motor Company celebrated the production of its 1 millionth Mustang, a
white convertible. The sporty, affordable vehicle was officially launched two years earlier, on April 17, 1964, at the World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows, New York. That same day, the new car debuted in Ford showrooms across America; almost immediately, buyers snapped up nearly 22,000 of them. More than 400,000 Mustangs were sold within that first year, greatly exceeding sales expectations ….. 30 years ago this week, a car accident in France resulted in Formula One team principal Frank Williams sustaining a spinal cord injury and becoming tetraplegic. (6th March 1986) While driving a Ford Sierra rental car from the Paul Ricard Circuit to Nice airport, Williams lost control of the car which then rolled over causing him to be pressed between his seat and the roof resulting in a spinal fracture between the 4th and 5th vertebra. He had not been wearing his seat belt at the time of the accident. Williams’ passenger and the team sponsorship manager Peter Windsor sustained only minor injuries. Since the accident, Williams has used a wheelchair ….. 25 years ago this week, the £200,000 Bentley Continental R debuted at the 1991 Geneva Motor Show to a standing ovation, upstaging the Mercedes W140 S-Class also launched there (5th March 1991). Customer response was enthusiastic, and the Sultan of Brunei purchased the red show car right off the Geneva stand. The Citroën ZX also made its official debut at the show ….. 20 years ago this week, Jaguar announced the launch of an all new sports car (5th March 1996), the XK8 (project X100). The XK8 was available in coupé or convertible body styles and with the
new 4.0-litre Jaguar AJ-V8 engine, electronically limited to a maximum of 155.4 mph (250.1 km/h) …..10 years ago this week, His Excellency Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak, CEO Mubadala Development Company and Victor Muller, CEO Spyker Cars, unveiled the Spyker D12 Peking-to-Paris at the 76th Salon International de l’Auto in Geneva (2nd March 2006). The world première of this Super Sports Utility Vehicle (SSUV) marked the introduction of a second product line for Spyker who are already known for producing the Spyker C8 Spyder, Laviolette and Double12 and C12 LaTurbie super sports cars. The Spyker D12 Peking-to-Paris was a four-wheel drive, four-door, four-seater luxury Super Sports Utility Vehicle with a spacious interior and a high performance W12 500 bhp engine. The following day (3rd March 2006) the M4 Toll was announced as part of a raft of measures to improve road transport in Wales. It was estimated that the road would cost £350m, and be financed by a Private finance initiative (PFI) with the Welsh Assembly. Construction was expected to begin by 2009, with the tolling using satellite tracking or radar-tag systems. Meanwhile a few days later (6th March 2006) the fastest speed over a quarter of a mile in Top Fuel Dragbike racing of 245.36 mph (394.87 km/h) was achieved by Larry “Spiderman” McBride (United States) at South Georgia Motorsports Park, Valdosta, Georgia, United States. Finally ….. 5 years ago this week, it was announced that Bristol Cars had gone into administration, with the immediate loss of 22 jobs (3rd March 2011).