31 July – 6 August: Motoring Milestones

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Momentous motoring events that took place during this week in history …..

140 years ago this week, Nikolaus A Otto was issued German Patent #532 for his four-stroke engine[4 August 1877] ……  110 years ago this week, the Imperial Motor Car Company was founded in Jackson, Michigan, US by brothers Theodore A and George N Campbell, producing cars until 1916. [6 August 1907] …… 100 years ago this week, the Olds Motor Works became a Division of General Motors rather than a separate company owned by General Motors [1 August 1917]…….A special Chalmers Speedster driven by Joe Dawson and Joe Gardham at the Sheepshead Bay Speedway in New York City completed a 24-hour run that set 15 speed and endurance records for stock cars [2 August 1917]. The a board track was built on the  site of the defunct horse-racing track in Brooklyn……. 90 years ago this week, the Spanish Grand Prix (formally the IV Gran Premio de España), a Formula Libre motor race, was held at Circuito Lasarte, over 40 laps of a 17.315 km, for a total race distance of 692.600 km [31 July 1927]. The race was won by Robert Benoist driving a Delage……. Experimental signs to act as guides for London’s pedestrians were erected on the road crossings at Trafalgar Square and on the Oxford Street stretch between Marble Arch and Tottenham Court Road [4 August 1927]. The crossings were marked with white lines along the carriageway and the words ‘look left’ and ‘look right’……. 70 years ago this week, Ferdinand Porsche was released from a French prison. Porsche had been arrested as a suspected Nazi collaborator by United States and French occupation authorities in the aftermath of World War II and held in custody for two years [5 August 1947]. He would live to see his 75th birthday……. 60 years ago this week, the first Volkswagen Karmann-Ghia convertible was produced. Coachbuilder

Volkswagen Karmann-Ghia

Volkswagen Karmann-Ghia

Karmann came up with the idea of producing a new Beetle-based coupe [1 August 1957]. The new small Volkswagen had a wonderfully simple and adaptable floorpan, and the German specialist realised that it would be comparatively easy to built special bodies for it. Volkswagen, of course, jumped at the chance when it saw the pretty coupé body that Ghia designed for Karmann. It was a logical extension of the Volkswagen range, which was going from strength to strength throughout the 1950s – as Porsche had the more expensive end of the sports car market sewn-up with the 356, Volkswagen ensured that its Karmann-Ghia coupe and convertible would have more modest performance. The public certainly agree that the 1955 Karmann-Ghia was a very good thing, and this sleeker Beetle went on and sold well. However, it wasn’t as quick as its lovely looks promised, for its underpinnings and drivetrain were pure Beetle – and that meant less than sparkling performance. In 1958, Volkswagen and Karmann came up with a convertible version. Extra strengthening made the convertible heavier and therefore slower than the coupé, but that didn’t matter to those who admired this fresh-air fashion statement; America loved it, of course. The original 1192cc engine was increased in capacity in parallel with the Beetle up to 1584cc by 1974…….. The Argentine racing driver Juan Manual Fangio won the German Grand Prix at Nürburgring to clinch

Start of the 1957 German Grand Prix

Start of the 1957 German Grand Prix

his record-breaking fifth, and last, world title [4 August 1957]. The race was also the 24th and last Grand Prix win of his career, at the time a record. Unlike the other drivers Fangio started the race with the fuel tank of his Maserati half full. He drove carefully until the halfway stage at which point he refuelled. He came out of the pits with a deficit of 45 seconds to make up. The 46 year old proceeded to break the track record in lap after lap, eventually overhauling the race leaders to take the chequered flag……. 50 years ago this week, the second Blackwall Tunnel opened to traffic by Desmond Plummer, Leader of the Greater London Council (GLC) [2 August 1967]. It was wider and usable by vehicles up to 4.72 m (15.5 ft). During construction, transport minister Ernest Marples clarified that unlike the Dartford Tunnel, also then under construction, tolls would not be imposed as the tunnel was already an established route. At the time of opening, the strip lighting in the tunnel was commended as “a big improvement” on the standard provided in the original tunnel. In

Blackwall Tunnel

Blackwall Tunnel

contrast with the Victorian northbound tunnel, the eastern tunnel had no sharp bends, and emergency telephones were provided. Its distinctive ventilation towers were designed in 1964 by GLC architect Terry Farrell. In the late 1960s, proposals were made to connect the tunnel with a free-flow, grade-separated motorway system as part of the London Ringways project. Aside from the construction of the A102(M) Blackwall Tunnel approach roads, opened in 1973, these plans were abandoned. The entrance gateway to the northbound tunnel was Grade II listed in 1973, while the ventilation towers were listed in 2000. In April 1986, the tunnel became part of the UK trunk road network. It was detrunked and control handed to TfL in September 1999……. The German Grand Prix held over 15 laps of Nürburgring was won by Brabham driver Denny Hulme after he started from second position [6 August 1967]. His teammate Jack Brabham finished second and Ferrari driver Chris Amon came in third. Jim Clark (Lotus-Cosworth 49) took the lead at the start while Graham Hill (who had crashed in practice and was down in 13th on the grid) was pushed onto some grass and spun, restarting at the back of the field. Clark stayed ahead of Hulme and Dan Gurney (Eagle-Weslake TG1) for the first three laps but on the fourth he slowed dramatically, his suspension having buckled. He was out. Almost immediately Gurney took the lead from Hulme while Brabham was third after Bruce McLaren (Eagle-Weslake TG1) went out with a split oil pipe. Jacky Ickx (Matra-Cosworth MS7) continued to impress by running fifth on the road behind Stewart. The Scotsman overtook Brabham but then retired with a transmission problem and so Ickx moved to fourth, although Amon soon closed up and overtook the cheeky F2 driver. On the 12th lap the Belgian retired when his front suspension collapsed. On the next lap Gurney suffered a driveshaft failure and Hulme took the lead to win from Brabham and Amon……. 40 years ago this week, Benny Parsons held off Richard Petty by 0.45 seconds to win the Coca-Cola 500 at Pocono Raceway (Pennsylvania, US), his seventh career victory in NASCAR’s top series [31 July 1977]. Parsons started fourth and led 118 of the 200 laps. Petty’s runner-up finish moved him into the points lead past Cale Yarborough, who wound up sixth. Pole-starter Darrell Waltrip took third…….. Patricia Montgomery was named Cadillac’s Director of Public Relations, the first woman to hold such a position in any General Motors Division [1 August 1957]……. 30 years ago this week, Michael Andretti won the Marlboro 500 at the Michigan International Speedway with an average speed of 171.490mph – the fastest race in Indy car history. Andretti broke the record previously set by Bobby Rahal at 170.722 mph [2 August 1987]Incidentally, one of the drivers that Andretti sped past on that day was his father and fellow driver, Mario Andretti…….. Chrysler Corporation purchased the American Motors Corporation from Renault,

Ford Puma

Ford Puma

recreating ii as the Jeep-Eagle Division of Chrysler [5 August 1987]……..20 years ago this week, Ford introduced its new small coupe, the Puma, in the UK. The cost for a new Puma in the UK from a dealer was between £12,280 and £22,945 depending on the accessories, styling, and model chosen [1 August 1997]……. History was made in the Trans-Am series when Tommy Kendall drove his Mustang to victory at Watkins Glen, New York. This was his ninth straight SCCA Trans-Am win, breaking Mark Donohue’s record [3 August 1997]…….. 10 years ago this week, Citibank opened China’s first drive-through automated teller machine (ATM) at the Upper East Side Central Plaza in Beijing [1 August 2007]. Like those of drive-through restaurants and drive-in movies, the origins of drive-through banking can be traced to the United States. Some sources say that Hillcrest State Bank opened the first drive-through bank in Dallas, Texas, in 1938; others claim the honour belongs to the Exchange National Bank of Chicago in 1946. The trend reached its height in the post-World War II boom era of the late 1950s. Today, nearly all major banks in the United States offer some type of drive-through option, from regular teller service to 24-hour ATMs….. On the same day [1 August 2007] Stockholm congestion tax came into use on a permanent basis after a successful seven month trial period. The City Centre is within the congestion tax zone. All the entrances and exits of this area have unmanned control points operating with automatic number plate recognition. Vehicles entering or exiting the congestion tax affected area, with a few exceptions, paid 10–20 SEK (1.09–2.18 EUR, 1.49–2.98 USD) depending on the time of day between 06:30 and 18:29. The maximum tax amount per vehicle per day was 60 SEK (6.53 EUR, 8.94 USD). The congestion tax was raised in January 2016, the first increase of the tax since it was introduced permanently. The highest increase took place at the two highest rush hour periods, 7:30 to 8:29, and 16:00 to 17:29, from SEK 20 to SEK 35. There is no charge on Saturdays, Sundays, public holidays or the day before public holidays, nor during nights (18:30 – 06:29), nor during the month of July. The objective was to steer the traffic towards other times of the day and public transport, and in this way reduce congestion in the Inner City area. Also the maximum amount levied was raised to SEK 105 per day and vehicle. Payment is made by various means within 14 days after passing one of the control points. Failure to pay the tax within the allotted time results in a reminder bill being sent with an added 500 SEK fee. If the tax along with the reminder fee is still unpaid within 30 days after the reminder bill was sent, the case will be forwarded to the Swedish Enforcement Administration, which adds an additional fee of at least 600 SEK, and the vehicle owner will be noted in the Enforcement Register unless payment is made……. Bentley presented

Bentley Continental GT Speed

Bentley Continental GT Speed

the all new 600bhp Continental GT Speed inspired by the legendary ‘Speed’ models of the 1920s [2 August 2007. The Continental GT Speed was the most powerful production Bentley ever and the first to top 200mph (322km/h). The exterior style of the new Continental GT and GT Speed models were defined by a wider, lower air intake and more upright radiator grille that also provide increased airflow to the more powerful GT Speed. Its 600bhp (610PS) W12 engine developed 15 percent more torque and nine percent more power than the standard Continental GT, while engine efficiency was optimised by the use of lower friction, lighter-weight components and a new engine management system. The resultant performance was exceptional, with a top speed of 202mph (326km/h), a zero to 60mph….. Fernando Alonso was relegated from pole to sixth on the grid after stewards declare he deliberately impeded Lewis Hamilton in qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix [4 August 2007]. McLaren forfeited all points won from the race for the constructors’ championship.

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