Welcome to 365 Days of Motoring

An Everyday Journey Through Motoring History, Facts & Trivia

Belt up and enjoy this 365-day ride as you cruise past the most momentous motoring events in history. Packed with fascinating facts about races, motorists and the history of the mighty engine, this is a must-visit web site for any car enthusiast.

Chevrolet

Chevrolet


A chronological day-by-day history of Chevrolet.

Sunday 8th December 1861

155 years ago

Legendary American industrialist William Crapo Durant was born in New York. He established a carriage company in 1886 and joined the new but failing Buick Motor Car Co. in 1903, quickly reviving it. In 1908, he brought together several car manufacturers to form the General Motors Company. He lost control of the company two years later, but with Louis Chevrolet he founded the Chevrolet Motor Co., which acquired control of General Motors in 1915. During the Wall Street Crash Durant purchased along with the Rockefeller family and other financial giants, large quantities of stocks, to demonstrate to the public their confidence in the stock market. His effort proved costly and failed to stop the market slide. By 1936, the 75-year-old Durant was bankrupt

William C Durant

William C Durant

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Wednesday 25th December 1878

138 years ago

Louis Chevrolet, who, along with William C. Durant started the Chevrolet Motor Car Company in Detroit, Michigan, was born in Switzerland.

Louis Chevrolet

Louis Chevrolet

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Saturday 20th May 1905

112 years ago

The first races are stage at the Hippodrome in Morris Park, Bronx, New York, US. Louis Chevrolet made his racing debut, and won two of the three races in his 90 hp Fiat - the White steam-powered race car, 'Whistling Billy', driven by Webb Jay, made its debut and covered a mile in 53 seconds during an exhibition run.

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Sunday 21st May 1905

112 years ago

In the inaugural motor racing events on the 1.39 mile dirt Morris Park oval, New York. Louis Chevrolet drove a Fiat to the fastest time in a 1 mile time trial and also won a 3 lap "Free for All" event, while Charles Basle drove the Flying Dutchman I Mercedes to victory in the 5 mile race. In reality, the course was a horse track that had lost the support of the New York horse racing community who turned their attention to the newly completed Belmont Park race track. Previous to the opening of Belmont Park, the Belmont Stakes had been held at Morris Park. Repurposed as an auto racing facility, the track struggled financially until it was sold to developers and eventually closed entirely in 1910. The rabid newspaper campaign against track racing after the August 1905 accidents injuring top stars Barney Oldfield, Webb Jay and Earl Kiser came at a terrible time for the facility. In addition to the May opener, Morris Park hosted two additional significant 1905 auto race meets held in June and July. Pictured in the inset of the above image is Louis Chevrolet in Major Charles Miller's 90 horsepower Fiat. Talking to him is the long-time AAA official and the referee of the first Indianapolis 500 Art Pardington.

Morris Park, New York - 1905

Morris Park, New York - 1905

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Saturday 14th October 1905

112 years ago

Following the success of the 1904 Vanderbilt Cup Race, the second race was held. Competing against the five American cars, France, Germany, and Italy started 14 of their greatest cars and drivers including; Vincenzo Lancia, Louis Chevrolet and George Heath. French cars finished first and second place for the second consecutive year. Victor Hemery won in the Darracq, averaging 61.5 mph. The 1904 winner, George Heath, finished in second place by only 3 minutes and 42 seconds. The Locomobile driven by Joe Tracy finished third, averaging 56.9 mph, the first time an American car had ever been placed in an international competition.

Alva Belmont Vanderbilt and other spectators at the Vanderbilt cup race of Mineola (NY), 1905

Alva Belmont Vanderbilt and other spectators at the Vanderbilt cup race of Mineola (NY), 1905

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Friday 31st May 1907

110 years ago

The first motorised taxicab service in the United States started in New York City. Harry N. Allen, incensed after being charged five dollars ($126.98 in today's dollars) for a journey of 0.75 miles (1.21 km), decided "to start a [taxicab] service in New York and charge so-much per mile." He imported 65 gasoline-powered cars from France and began the New York Taxicab Company. The cabs were originally painted red and green, but Allen repainted them all yellow to be visible from a distance. By 1908 the company was running 700 taxicabs. Within a decade several more companies opened business and taxicabs began to proliferate. The fare was 50 cents a mile, a rate only affordable to the relatively wealthy. By the 1920s, automobile manufacturers like General Motors and the Ford Motor Company began operating fleets. The most successful manufacturer, however, was the Checker Cab Manufacturing Company. Founded by Morris Markin, Checker Cabs produced large yellow and black taxis that became the most common taxis in New York City. In 1937 Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia signed the Haas Act, which introduced official taxi licenses and the medallion system that remains in place today. The law limited the number of licenses to 16,900. The medallions are now worth hundreds of thousands of dollars with fleet medallions topping $600,000 in 2007. In 1967, New York City ordered all "medallion taxis" be painted yellow to help cut down on unofficial drivers and make official taxicabs more readily recognisable. By the mid-1980s and into the 1990s the demographic changes among cabbies began to accelerate as new waves of immigrants arrived in New York. According to the 2000 US Census, of the 62,000 cabbies in New York 82 per cent are foreign born: 23 per cent are from the Caribbean (the Dominican Republic and Haiti), and 30 per cent from South Asia, and Pakistan. In 1996, when Chevrolet stopped making the Caprice, the Ford Crown Victoria became the most widely used sedan for yellow cabs in New York. In addition, yellow cab operators also use the Honda Odyssey, Isuzu Oasis, Chevrolet Venture, Ford Freestar, and Toyota Sienna minivans which offer increased passenger room. The distinctive Checker cabs were, due to their durable construction, phased out slowly, the last one being retired in July 1999, being over 20 years in service and nearly one million miles on its odometer. Laws since 1996 require taxis be replaced every 6 years regardless of condition. In 2005, New York introduced incentives to replace its current yellow cabs with electric hybrid vehicles such as the Toyota Prius and Ford Escape Hybrid. As of February 2011, New York City had around 4,300 hybrid taxis, representing almost 33 per cent of New York's 13,237 taxis in service, the most in any city in North America. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has announced the Nissan design as the winner to replace the city's 13,000 yellow cabs, to be phased in over five years starting in 2013.

Harry Allen and French Darracq cabs, 1907

Harry Allen and French Darracq cabs, 1907

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Tuesday 8th December 1908

108 years ago

Four 80-acre tracts of land were purchased for $72,000 to build the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Indianapolis businessman Carl G. Fisher first envisioned building the speedway in 1905 after assisting friends racing in France and seeing that Europe held the upper hand in automobile design and craftsmanship. Fisher began thinking of a better means of testing cars before delivering them to consumers. At the time, racing was just getting started on horse tracks and public roads. Fisher noticed how dangerous and ill-suited the makeshift courses were for racing and testing. He also argued that spectators did not get their money's worth, as they were only able to get a brief glimpse of cars speeding down a linear road. Fisher proposed building a circular track 3 to 5 miles (5 to 8 km) long with smooth 100–150-foot-wide (30–45 m) surfaces. Such a track would give manufacturers a chance to test cars at sustained speeds and give drivers a chance to learn their limits. Fisher predicted speeds could reach up to 120 mph (190 km/h) on a 5-mile (8 km) course. He visited the Brooklands circuit outside London in 1907, and after viewing the banked layout, it solidified his determination to build the speedway. With dozens of car makers and suppliers in Indiana, Fisher proclaimed, "Indianapolis is going to be the world's greatest center of horseless carriage manufacturer, what could be more logical than building the world's greatest racetrack right here?" Fisher began looking around the Indianapolis area for a site to build his track; he rejected two potential sites before finding level farmland, Pressley Farm, totaling 328 acres (133 ha) about 5 miles (8 km) outside of Indianapolis. In December 1908, he convinced James A. Allison, Arthur Newby, and Frank W. Wheeler to join him in purchasing the property for $72,000. The group incorporated the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Company on March 20, 1909, with a capitalization of $250,000, with Fisher and James Allison in for $75,000 apiece and Frank Wheeler and Arthur Newby on board for $50,000 each.[7] Construction of the track started in March 1909. Fisher had to quickly downsize his planned 3-mile (5 km) oval with a 2-mile (3 km) road course to a 2.5-mile (4.0 km) oval to leave room for the grandstands. Reshaping of the land for the speedway took 500 laborers, 300 mules and a fleet of steam-powered machinery. The track surface consisted of graded and packed soil covered by 2 inches (5 cm) of gravel, 2 inches (5 cm) of limestone covered with taroid (a solution of tar and oil), 1–2 inches (3–5 cm) of crushed stone chips that were also drenched with taroid, and a final topping of crushed stone. Workers also constructed dozens of buildings, several bridges, grandstands with 12,000 seats, and an 8-foot (2.4 m) perimeter fence. A white-with-green-trim paint scheme was used throughout the property. The first event ever held at the speedway was a helium gas-filled balloon competition on Saturday, June 5, 1909, more than two months before the oval was completed.[9] The event drew a reported 40,000 people.[8] Nine balloons lifted off "racing" for trophies; a balloon by the name of Universal City won the race, landing 382 miles (615 km) away in Alabama after spending more than a day aloft.[7] The first motorsport event at the track consisted of seven motorcycle races, sanctioned by the Federation of American Motorcyclists (FAM), on August 14, 1909. This was originally planned as a two-day, 15-race program, but ended before the first day was completed due to concerns over suitability of the track surface for motorcycle use.[10] These early events were largely planned by one of the top names in early auto racing promotion, Ernest Moross, who earned fame for his bold and sometimes outlandish barnstorming events at fairgrounds tracks with racing star Barney Oldfield. On August 19, 1909, fifteen carmakers' teams arrived at the track for practice. The track surface again became a concern with drivers being covered in dirt, oil, and tar and with ruts and chuckholes beginning to form in the turns. Speedway workers oiled and rolled the track prior to the gates opening to the public. Fifteen to twenty thousand spectators showed up, paying at the most $1 for a ticket. Halfway through the first 250-mile (400 km) event, race leader Louis Chevrolet was temporarily blinded when a stone smashed his goggles. Wilfred Bourque, driving in a Knox, suffered a suspected rear-axle failure resulting in his car flipping end over end on the front stretch before crashing into a fence post. Both he and his mechanic, Harry Halcomb, died at the scene.[7] The first day of car racing resulted in four finishes and two land speed records, but concerns over safety led AAA officials to consider canceling the remaining events. Fisher promised the track would be repaired by the next day and convinced officials that the show should go on. The second day saw 20,000 spectators, no major incidents, and additional speed records broken. On the third day of racing, 35,000 spectators showed up to watch the grand finale 300-mile (480 km) race. At 175 miles (282 km) into the race, the right front tire blew on Charlie Merz's car. His car mowed down five fence posts and toppled dozens of spectators. Two spectators and his mechanic, Claude Kellum, were killed in the crash. Ten laps later, driver Bruce Keen struck a pothole and crashed into a bridge support. The race was then halted and the remaining drivers given engraved certificates instead of trophies. The race resulted in the AAA boycotting any future events at the speedway until significant improvements were made. Fisher and his partners began looking into the idea of paving the track with bricks or concrete. Paving in 1909 was still relatively new with only a few miles of public roads paved, leaving little knowledge of what would work best. Traction tests were conducted on bricks, proving they could hold up. Less than a month after the first car races, the repaving project began. Five Indiana manufacturers supplied 3.2 million 10-pound (4.5 kg) bricks to the track. Each was hand laid over a 2-inch (51 mm) cushion of sand, then leveled and the gaps filled with mortar. At the same time, a concrete wall 33 inches (840 mm) tall was constructed in front of the main grandstand and around all four corners to protect spectators. The final brick added to the track was made of gold and laid in a special ceremony by Governor Thomas R. Marshall. Before the work was completed, locals nicknamed the track the "Brickyard".[11] Today, 3 feet (0.91 m), or one yard, of original bricks remain at the start-finish line. In December 1909, eleven drivers and a few motorcyclists returned for speed trials. Drivers soon reached speeds of up to 112 mph (180 km/h) on the new surface. Racing returned in 1910, with a total of 66 automobile races held during three holiday weekends (Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day). Each weekend featured two or three races of 100 to 200 miles (160 to 320 km), with several shorter contests. Each race stood on its own and earned its own trophy. All races were sanctioned by the AAA (as were the Indianapolis 500 races through 1955). 1910 also saw the speedway host the National Aviation Meet, featuring Wilbur and Orville Wright and highlighted by Walter Brookins setting a world record by taking a plane up to 4,938 feet (1,505 m). A change in marketing focus led to only one race per year beginning in 1911. An estimated 80,000 spectators attended the first 500-mile (800 km) race on Memorial Day, May 30, 1911. Forty cars competed with Ray Harroun winning at an average speed of 74.602 miles per hour (120.060 km/h). While all the other drivers in the race had a riding mechanic in their car, Harroun decided to save weight and go faster by driving solo. So, to be able to see what was happening behind his No. 32 Marmon "Wasp", he installed a rear-view mirror. It was the first time such a device was used in an automobile.

Indianapolis 500 1911

Indianapolis 500 1911

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Saturday 19th June 1909

108 years ago

Louis Chevrolet won the Ira Cobe Trophy, which was possibly his only road course victory. Dubbed the "Vanderbilt of the West" by the press, the trophy was commissioned by Ira Cobe, president of Chicago Automobile Association. This event was more akin to an off-road contest by today's standards. It was held on a 23.27-mile course of rugged terrain charted in and around the area of Crown Point, Illinois. America's public roads were deplorable at the time, and what passed for roads were little more than pathways worn by trailblazers. The race was 17 circuits or nearly 396 miles. This rough, craggy terrain tortured the cars as attrition took a big toll. Louis Chevrolet’s, Buick stumbled across the finish line first with only three of four cylinders still functioning.

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Monday 26th September 1910

107 years ago

William C. Durant, carriage maker and entrepreneur, was the original patriarch of the corporate behemoth General Motors, but financial difficulties caused him to finally lose control of the company on this day. Determined to regain control of his brainchild, Durant joined forces with Louis Chevrolet to establish the Chevrolet Motor Company. Five years later, Durant and Chevrolet acquired control of GM and extended the massive umbrella of the General Motors Corporation, with Durant serving as president, but in another five years he would permanently lose control of his company.

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Saturday 12th November 1910

107 years ago

The American Grand Prize, a Grand Prix auto race, was held on closed public roads outside Savannah, Georgia. 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.

American Grand Prize trophy, when the race held was in Savannah, Georgia (1908, 1910 and 1911)

American Grand Prize trophy, when the race held was in Savannah, Georgia (1908, 1910 and 1911)

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Monday 31st July 1911

106 years ago

The Mason Motor Company was founded in Flint, Michigan, US by Arthur C Mason, Charles Byrne and Charles E Wetherald to produce engines for the new Chevrolet Classic Six.

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Monday 30th October 1911

106 years ago

The Little Motor Car Company was founded primarily by William H. Little and William C. Durant in Flint, Michigan (US). After the Panic of 1910–11 and lack of cash from overexpansion that led to General Motors's Board to oust Durant, Durant began forming other car companies including Chevrolet and Mason Motors. Durant purchased the failing Flint Wagon Works and used the assets to set up the Little Motor Car Company and Mason. The Little company was charged with building a small car to fill the void left by Buick Motor's discontinuing the Model 10 and compete with the Ford Motor Company.The first Little was two-seater, 20 hp four-cylinder released in 1911, and was considered a better auto than Chevrolet. Durant ordered another model, the Little Six, to be produced by the company. The company purchased engines from Sterling, another Durant company. In 1912, Durant set up Republic Motors to distribute and market both Little and Chevrolet autos. To help Republic, Durant had Littles rebadged as Chevrolets, which increased sales for the vehicle. In July 1912, Republic was incorporated and became the holding corporation for Little, Chevrolet, and Mason companies. Little also worked at Chevrolet and recommended that Chevrolet construction be moved to Flint to solve pricing issues with the first Chevrolet and keep quality high. The Little plant thus started to build Chevrolets in 1913. However, this made the Little somewhat a duplicate of Chevrolet with the less-marketable name. Chevrolet bought the Little Company at the end of 1913.

1913 Little Four Roadster

1913 Little Four Roadster

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Friday 3rd November 1911

106 years ago

Louis Chevrolet and ousted General Motors founder William C. Durant founded the Chevrolet Motor Car Company. Durant used the Chevrolet Motor Car Company to acquire a controlling stake in General Motors with a reverse merger occurring on May 2, 1918 and propelled himself back to the GM presidency. After Durant's second ouster in 1919, Alfred Sloan, with his maxim "a car for every purse and purpose," would pick the Chevrolet brand to become the volume leader in the General Motors family, selling mainstream vehicles to compete with Henry Ford's Model T in 1919 and overtaking the Model T as the best-selling car in the United States by 1929.

William C Durant

William C Durant

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Thursday 30th November 1911

105 years ago

William C. Durant and Louis Chevrolet announced plans to build a new automobile, the Chevrolet.

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Tuesday 2nd July 1912

105 years ago

William L. Mitchell, an important General Motors designer from the late 1930s to the late 1970s, who succeeded Harley Earl as Vice President for Styling in the late 1950s, was born. He is best identified with the Chevrolet Corvette and the Buick Riviera, although most agree his best accomplishment was the 1967 Cadillac Eldorado.

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Friday 9th August 1912

105 years ago

The Sterling Motor Company was incorporated by partners William C. Durant, J. Dallas Dort, Curtis R. Hatheway, Edwin R. Campbell, and Fred A. Aldrich. Sterling was a part of the corporate web created with the Chevrolet Motor Car Company.

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Saturday 1st November 1913

104 years ago

The Scrippe-Booth Cyclecar Company was organised in Detroit, US by Willaim E Scripps, George G Booth and James Scripps Booth. Scripps-Booth company produced vehicles intended for the luxury market. In 1916 they consolidated with the Sterling Motor Company to become the Scripps-Booth Corporation. By this time Scripps-Booth had been purchased by Chevrolet whose founder William C. Durant was also the founding president of Sterling Motor Company. General Motors discontinued the brand name in 1923.

1916 Scripps Booth V8-Powered Vitesse Speedster

1916 Scripps Booth V8-Powered Vitesse Speedster

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Wednesday 16th December 1914

102 years ago

The Chevrolet 490, designed by Alfred Sturt, was announced, as William C Durant’s first serious competitor of the Ford Model T- its model number noted the current price of the Ford car, Chevrolet 490 was an immediate success and established the brand as a big player. The name would not denote the price for long (in 1921, the average price was $820, but it stayed low enough to take a chunk out of the Model T market. The 490s were only offered with the Overhead Valve 2.8 L four cylinder, producing 26 hp (19 kW).

Chevrolet 490

Chevrolet 490

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Friday 1st January 1915

102 years ago

The Dort Motor Car Company was incorporated, with J Dallas Dort as President, David M Averill as Vice President, Fred A Aldrich as Secretary-Treasurer, John D Mansfield as General Manager, and Etinne Planche as Chief Engineer. Dort used Lycoming built engines to power their vehicles. Dort Motor Car traced its history back to its founding as the Flint Road Cart Company in 1884 by William Crapo Durant and Josiah Dallas Dort, who sold wagons, built by local suppliers for $8 apiece. In 1900, the company, which by now was making 50,000 wagons, carts, and carriages annually, changed its name to Durant-Dort Carriage Company. Dort was a Director and Vice President of Chevrolet in 1912; in 1913 Dort stepped down and by 1915 he and Durant cut their business ties. By 1917, Dort was offering four models: a closed sedan at $1,065, a convertible sedan at $815, a five-place open tourer at $695, and a Fleur-de-Lys roadster at $695. By contrast, Ford Model Ts were selling for $440 in 1915. Dort continued manufacturing cars until 1924, when the mounting price of development and distribution of the vehicles made it impossible to compete in the automotive markets of the 1920s. Josiah Dallas Dort’s death in 1923 sealed the fate of Dort Motors.

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Saturday 2nd January 1915

102 years ago

Chevrolet introduced its Four-Ninety at the New York Auto Show. At $550 with electric lights and starter, it competed with the Ford Model T, and when the price was lowered to $490, it became an iimmediate success and established the brand as a big player. The name would not denote the price for long (in 1921, the average price was $820), but it would stay low enough to take a chunk out of the Model T market. The Model T started at $495 at the time. Chevrolet was soon so profitable that Billy Durant began buying shares of GM stock with his Chevrolet stock. Electric horns were standard. And by 1921, standard equipment included a speedometer, and ammeter, dome lights (closed-body cars only), and headlight dimmers

Chevrolet 490 (1922)

Chevrolet 490 (1922)

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Thursday 29th April 1915

102 years ago

The $490 Chevrolet Model 490 was introduced. It was an immediate success and established the brand as a big player. The name would not denote the price for long (in 1921, the average price was $820), but it would stay low enough to take a chunk out of the Model T market. The Model T started at $495 at the time. Chevrolet was soon so profitable that Billy Durant began buying shares of GM stock with his Chevrolet stock. Electric horns were standard And by 1921, standard equipment included a speedometer, and ammeter, dome lights (closed-body cars only), and headlight dimmers. All 490s were only offered with the Overhead Valve 171-cubic-inch (2.8 L) four cylinder, producing 24 hp (18 kW). This would be Chevrolet's main engine until the "Stovebolt" straight six replaced it for 1929.

Chevrolet Model 490

Chevrolet Model 490

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Wednesday 14th July 1915

102 years ago

The Chevrolet Motor Company purchased the Mason Motor Company.

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Monday 13th September 1915

102 years ago

Durant incorporated Chevrolet Motor Co. of Delaware. The new corporation included the original Chevrolet Motor Company and became a holding company for auto companies Durant had put together after losing control of General Motors.

The first Chevrolet

The first Chevrolet "bowtie" logo, released in 1913.

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Thursday 23rd September 1915

102 years ago

William C Durant incorporated the Chevrolet Motor Company of Delaware as a holding company with the eventual goal of allowing the new firm to purchase a controlling interest in General Motors.

William Durant

William Durant

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Thursday 23rd December 1915

101 years ago

William C Durant, acting through Chevrolet Motor Company, announced his plans to purchase a controlling interest in General Motors.

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Monday 4th September 1916

101 years ago

The 2-mile Cincinnati (Ohio) Board Speedway opened with a 300-mile event featuring 29 cars piloted by the country's premier racing drivers including Howdy Wilcox, Dario Resta, Tommy Milton and Louis Chevrolet driving Dusenbergs, Stutzs and Frontenecs. Josef Christieans in a Sunbeam set the fast time in qualifying with a speed of 110 mph. The race was won by John Aitken in a Peugeot at 97.06 mph. Wilbur D'Alene finished second in a Duesenberg which was numbered '13' over the objections of many superstitious drivers who subsequently persuaded the AAA to permanently ban number '13'. Motorcyclists like "Cannonball Baker" also exceeded the 100mph plateau at the Cincinnati Speedway on a regular basis. Endurance runs where a popular use for the track; manufacturers needed to test their new designs and racetracks were the places to perform those tests. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway was built to be used as a testing facility by the multitude of manufacturers in Indiana, the 500 mile race grew out of this enterprise as a way to prove the results of all that testing. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway was constructed in 1909 and the first Indy 500 was in 1911, five years later the board tracks were becoming the rage due to ease of construction and the fact that they could be built with tremendously steep banking to assure high speeds that would wow the crowds into coming through the gates. The Cincinnati Speedway as banking reported to be over 30 degrees in the turns by many sources while and in some articles the banking is said to be 40 degrees at the top of the track. This explains the term "Daredevils of the Speedway" in describing the drivers and "riding mechanics" of the day. Being fabricated out of wood allowed the racing surface to incorporate "progressive banking" that gets steeper towards the top, this is the same metric that many NASCAR type tracks are applying, Las Vegas, Bristol, and Charlotte to name a few and allows a variance in speed that makes passing more frequent and the racing more exciting. Board tracks sprang up across the nation and provided entertainment for millions of spectators from coast to coast in places like Beverly Hills California, Daytona Beach Florida, Chicago and Altoona Pa. The track at Cincinnati was very similar to the track at Chicago in shape and size. The board tracks proved popular through the 1920s until the great depression came and the maintenance of these mammoth structures became impossible and the last of them were torn down. The Cincinnati Speedway was dismantled after the 1919 racing season, only a few years after construction, supposedly the wood was used to build parts of Camp Sherman near Chillicothe. The board tracks were very dangerous for the drivers and riding mechanics, of course there were no seatbelts and other safety features were decades away. The board track at Beverly Hills claimed the life of Gaston Chevrolet just a few months after his win at the famed Brickyard on Decoration Day, the same fate befell Joe Boyer just a few years later at Altoona Pa..

Cincinnati Board Speedway - September 1916

Cincinnati Board Speedway - September 1916

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Friday 13th October 1916

101 years ago

General Motors Corporation was incorporated under Delaware law and acquired all stock of General Motors Company. neral Motors Corporation (GM), American corporation that was the world’s largest motor-vehicle manufacturer for much of the 20th and early 21st centuries. It operates manufacturing and assembly plants and distribution centres throughout the United States, Canada, and many other countries. Its major products include automobiles and trucks, automotive components, and engines. Its subsidiary General Motors Acceptance Corporation (GMAC), founded in 1919 to finance and insure the installment sales of GM products, entered the mortgage business in 1985 and expanded into commercial finance in 1999. GM’s headquarters are in Detroit, Michigan. Under the leadership of William C. Durant, the General Motors Company was founded in 1908 to consolidate several motorcar companies producing Buick, Oldsmobile, Cadillac, Oakland (later Pontiac), Ewing, Marquette, and other autos, as well as Reliance and Rapid trucks. GM introduced the electric self-starter commercially in its 1912 Cadillac, and this invention soon made the hand crank obsolete. GM remained based in Detroit and was reincorporated and named General Motors Corporation in 1916. The Chevrolet auto company and Delco Products joined GM in 1918, and the Fisher Body Company and Frigidaire joined in 1919 (the latter was sold in 1979). Durant was forced out of the company in 1920 and was succeeded by Alfred P. Sloan, Jr., who served as president (1923–37) and then as chairman of the board of directors (1937–56). Sloan reorganized GM from a sprawling, uncoordinated collection of business units into a single enterprise consisting of five main automotive divisions—Cadillac, Buick, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, and Chevrolet—the activities of which were coordinated by a central corporate office equipped with large advisory and financial staffs. The various operating divisions retained a substantial degree of autonomy within a framework of overall policy; this decentralized concept of management became a model for large-scale industrial enterprises in the United States. Sloan also greatly strengthened GM’s sales organization, pioneered annual style changes in car models, and introduced innovations in By 1929 General Motors had surpassed the Ford Motor Company to become the leading American passenger-car manufacturer. It added overseas operations, including Vauxhall of England in 1925, Adam Opel of Germany in 1929, and Holden of Australia in 1931. The Yellow Truck & Coach Manufacturing Co. (now GMC Truck & Coach Division), organized in 1925, was among the new American divisions and subsidiaries established. In 1931 GM became the world’s largest manufacturer of motor vehicles. By 1941 it was making 44 percent of all the cars in the United States and had become one of the largest industrial corporations in the world. General Motors grew along with the American economy in the 1950s and ’60s and continued to hold 40–45 percent of total U.S. automotive sales. It bought Electronic Data Systems Corporation, a large data-processing company, in 1984 and acquired the Hughes Aircraft Company, a maker of weapons systems and communications satellites, in 1986. Along with other U.S. automobile manufacturers, the company faced increasingly severe competition from Japanese automakers in the 1970s and ’80s, and in 1984 GM began a new automotive division, Saturn, that used highly automated plants to produce subcompact cars to compete with Japanese imports. While GM’s modernization efforts showed some success, heavy losses in the early 1990s forced the company to close many plants and reduce its workforce by tens of thousands. Like other American automakers, however, GM made a robust recovery by the middle of the decade and returned its focus to its automotive businesses. It sold Electronic Data Systems in 1996, and in 1997 it sold the defense units of its Hughes Electronics subsidiary to the Raytheon Company, thus leaving the computer-services and defense-aerospace fields in order to concentrate on its automotive businesses. General Motors became the sole owner of Saab Automobile AB in 2000. By the early 21st century GM had equity shares in a number of car companies, including Fiat, Isuzu, Fuji Heavy Industries (Subaru), and Suzuki. In 2004, however, it discontinued the Oldsmobile brand. Four years later GM was surpassed by Toyota Motor Corporation as the world’s largest automaker. In December 2008 Pres. George W. Bush announced an emergency financial rescue plan to aid the “Big Three” automakers—Chrysler LLC, General Motors, and Ford—to prevent the collapse of the country’s struggling auto industry. The plan made immediately available $13.4 billion in government loans from the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP), a $700 billion fund approved by Congress to aid the financial industry following the subprime mortgage crisis. The loans would allow the auto companies to continue operating through March 2009, by which time the plan required them to demonstrate “financial viability” or return the money within 30 days. An additional stipulation required the companies to undergo restructuring. The money was initially made available to General Motors and Chrysler; Ford claimed to possess adequate funds to continue operations and thus did not apply for government relief. As its financial troubles mounted—the company claimed to be some $173 billion in debt—GM filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in June 2009. It emerged from bankruptcy reorganization the following month. In 2010 the company officially discontinued both the Pontiac and Saturn brands and sold Saab. The downsizing left GM with four vehicle divisions: Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, and GMC. In November 2010 GM returned to the stock market with one of the largest IPOs in U.S. history. The following year GM regained its title as the largest automaker in the world.

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Saturday 2nd December 1916

100 years ago

The Uniontown (Pennsylvania) Board Speedway staged its first event, a 112.5 mile race was won by Louis Chevrolet driving a Frontenac. Hughie Hughes was sadly killed during the race. Motorsport was extremely dangerous in the days of the board tracks, but the inaugural race at Uniontown was an especially bloody event, even for the standards of the day. Two were killed (a driver and his riding mechanic) during practice a few days prior, and five (two spectators and three participants) died during the race.

Uniontown Speedway Board Track Line Up, 1919

Uniontown Speedway Board Track Line Up, 1919

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Monday 7th January 1918

99 years ago

The first Chevrolet trucks went on sale. Chevy introduced two four-cylinder trucks for the 1918 model year, both cowl chassis designs that were only outfitted with sheet metal on the front. The half ton Light Delivery cowl chassis was actually a Chevy Four Ninety car without its body, but with beefed-up rear springs. The truck was priced at $595. A one ton truck, called the Model T, for 'truck,' was priced at $1,125, again without a body. Although it was based on the FA-series car, the pickup was built on a truck frame and was both longer and stronger than the half ton truck. A 37 hp engine boosted the truck's power and load capacity, but a governor kept its top speed at 25 miles per hour.

1918 Chevrolet Four-Ninety Half-Ton Light Delivery

1918 Chevrolet Four-Ninety Half-Ton Light Delivery "Cowl Chassis"

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Thursday 2nd May 1918

99 years ago

The General Motors Corporation (GM) acquired the Chevrolet Motor Company of Delaware. The deal was effectively a merger engineered by William Durant. The original founder of GM, Durant had been forced out of the company by stockholders who had disapproved of Durant's increasingly reckless expansionist policies a few years earlier. Durant started Chevrolet with Swiss racer Louis Chevrolet and managed to make the company a successful competitor in the economy car market in a relatively short period of time. Still the owner of a considerable portion of GM stock, Durant began to purchase more stock in GM as his profits from Chevrolet allowed. In a final move to regain control of the company he founded, Durant offered GM stockholders five shares of Chevrolet stock for every one share of GM stock. Though GM stock prices were exorbitantly high, the market interest in Chevrolet made the five-for-one trade irresistible to GM shareholders. With the sale, Durant regained control of GM.

Chevrolet badge

Chevrolet badge

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Friday 8th November 1918

99 years ago

The McLaughlin Motor Company of Canada was absorbed by General Motors. In the year 1876, Robert McLaughlin realized that his carriage works in Eniskillen, Ontario must be moved to a more favorable location if it was to grow. So he decided to move 35 miles to the larger town of Oshawa. In Oshawa, Robert built a small 3 story building, where he produced his carriages. It was his reputation for quality which earned the confidence of his customers and made the McLaughlin Carriage Company the success it became. In 1880, Robert came up with an invention that was to revolutionize the carriage business. His invention was a new type of carriage gear. The gear is that part of a carriage between the body and the wheels: the springs, couplings, chassis, and the mechanism that permits the front wheels to turn and thus steer the vehicle. It was the introduction of the fifth wheel to the gear of his carriage, which made the name of McLaughlin known throughout the country as a safer and smoother riding carriage. The appeal of the gear to other carriage manufacturers was so great that they sent in orders for nearly 20,000. Once the name McLaughlin became known for quality, other carriage makers began buying the gear and soon competitors began purchasing complete carriages. During his three year apprenticeship in the upholstery shop, young Sam McLaughlin had received a salary of $3.00 a week from which his father had deducted $2.50 for room and board. When he turned 21 in 1892, Sam received all the money his father had deducted, as well as a bonus. He and his brother were then made partners in the business. In town was a building that had been used to build furniture. The furniture business had failed and the building was standing unused. In an unusual deal, the outgrown carriage works was traded in on the new building and production began in the new plant, in 1893. With a continuing growth in the sale of carriages, it was decided to open a branch office. In 1896, George McLaughlin was sent to Saint John, New Brunswick where he opened the first branch away from home. Later, similar branches were opened in Montreal, London, Winnipeg, Regina and Calgary. All was not to be a bed of roses, however. In 1899, the company suffered a serious loss when its Oshawa plant burned to the ground. There was no insurance on the building or contents and things looked very dark for the future of the business. As it turned out, things were not as bad as they seemed. Robert McLaughlin wanted to stay in Oshawa and with a loan of $50,000 from the city of Oshawa to be repaid "as convenient", he set about rebuilding. When the new plant was opened in the summer of 1900, the business continued to grow. R. Samuel McLaughlin Then along came a newfangled contraption called the automobile. Quick to see the opportunity, young Sam McLaughlin went to the United States to visit some friends he met at carriage conventions and to investigate the automobile business. Robert McLaughlin conferred with another member of the carriage trade in the states, William Durant, who had purchased the Buick Motor Car Company. A visit to the Buick plant in Flint saw Sam McLaughlin going over every detail of the operation for two and a half days. Final details of the financial arrangement could not be worked out and he left Flint without any plan to build the car in Oshawa. Despite this, he still felt that a car should be built in Canada, and with his brother George, worked out the details. An engineer, Arthur Milbrath was set up in a building set aside as an automobile plant. The plant was equipped with automatic lathes and machines by the dozen, used to produce cars. The cylinders, crankshaft, and pistons were ordered according to specifications, and the engine casting was to be produced in Oshawa. The body was designed by Robert McLaughlin. Everything was in readiness to produce the first one hundred cars when the engineer became seriously ill and the shop was idled. A hurried call to their old friend, Durant requesting the loan of an engineer brought the McLaughlins unexpected results. Durant himself arrived in Oshawa with two of his executives and a solution to the problem, which could not be resolved earlier in Flint. “It will work” agreed the McLaughlins, and within five minutes after consulting their father, the brothers signed a contract to build the Buick in Canada. Fifteen years was the length of the contract, during which time Durant was to supply Buick motors and McLaughlins would build the rest of the car, including the body. The one hundred cars on which they were working were scrapped, and in 1908, the McLaughlin Car Company produced one hundred and fifty four cars in various models. Meanwhile, Durant had been buying up companies making cars and automobile parts, and on Sept. 16, 1908 he organized a company and General Motors was born. Buick and Oldsmobile motor car companies joined GM in 1908. Durant added the Oakland and Cadillac cars in 1909. In 1911, Durant set up an independent company known as the Chevrolet Motor Car Company. It was his intention to build the Chevrolet in Toronto but changed his mind and offered the opportunity to Sam McLaughlin. The first McLaughlin built Chevrolet rolled off the line in December 1915. In 1918, the final decision was made to sell the McLaughlin business to General Motors. The contract to build Buicks would soon be up and it was not expected that as favorable a contract could be acquired again. Chevrolet in the States was now a part of GM and it would hardly be expected that GM would allow McLaughlin to continue making just one of their models. The only condition under which GM would buy the McLaughlin business was that George and Sam remain and run it. The McLaughlin Carriage Company was sold to a carriage works in Orillia, Ontario in 1915.

McLaughlin Motor Car Company

McLaughlin Motor Car Company

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Sunday 29th February 1920

97 years ago

The Beverly Hills Speedway - 1¼ mile boardway - opened. Jimmy Murphy was the star turn in a Dusenberg. The Speedway operated for four years and attracted many historically significant competitors including Ralph DePalma, Jimmy Murphy, and Tommy Milton. It was also the site of a racing accident that killed National Champion (posthumous) and Indianapolis 500 winner Gaston Chevrolet in 1920. Because of rapidly increasing real estate values, the Speedway became an uneconomical use of property. The track was torn down and the Association moved its racing operation a few miles away to Culver City, California in 1924.

Beverly Hills Speedway

Beverly Hills Speedway

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Monday 31st May 1920

97 years ago

Ralph DePalma led the Indianapolis 500 by 2 laps with 13 to go when his engine caught fire. Gaston Chevrolet, brother to Chevrolet company founder Louis, took the lead and won. DePalma finished 5th. Seven months later, Chevrolet was killed during a race at Beverly Hills, becoming the first winner of the '500' to die.

Gaston Chevrolet Monroe (Frontenac) #4, Winner 1920 Indianapolis 500

Gaston Chevrolet Monroe (Frontenac) #4, Winner 1920 Indianapolis 500

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Thursday 25th November 1920

96 years ago

Gaston Chevrolet, the younger brother of famous automobile designer and racer Louis Chevrolet, was killed during a race in Beverly Hills, California. He joined his brothers Louis and Andre in the establishment of a racing car design company: the Frontenac Motor Corporation. Frontenac replaced Louis' earlier racing car design company, the Chevrolet Motor Company, which he sold to William C. Durant in 1915. After some initial success, the Chevrolet brothers were faced with obsolete vehicles after World War I, and not enough financial resources to make them competitive again. However, in 1920, the new management at the Monroe Motors Company asked Louis to run his racing team. The Chevrolets moved their operations to Indianapolis, and rapidly made the Monroe racers ready for the 1920 Indy 500, the first to be held since 1914. During the 1920s, the Indy 500 was the most important racing event in America, and Gaston Chevrolet, driving a Chevrolet-adapted Monroe, won the first post-war competition with an average race speed of 86.63mph. The Chevrolet brothers did not have long to enjoy their success, however, because just a few months later Gaston was killed along with his riding mechanic Lyall Jolls during the Beverly Hills race.

Gaston Chevrolet

Gaston Chevrolet

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Friday 26th November 1920

96 years ago

Racer Eddie O’Donnell (33) died in Beverly Hills, California from injuries suffered the previous day when his Duesenberg collided with the Frontenac driven by Gaston Chevrolet. Chevrolet was killed as well as O'Donnell's mechanic Lyall Jolls, who died the next day. O'Donnell started his career as a riding mechanic for Duesenberg race car driver Eddie Rickenbacker. When Rickenbacker left the Duesenberg Team to join the Peugeot Team, O'Donnell took over as driver. O'Donnell served as Captain of the Duesenberg team. He was highly successful on the dirt tracks and Board Tracks around the United States, also having raced on the road circuits.

Eddie O’Donnell

Eddie O’Donnell

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Tuesday 5th April 1921

96 years ago

The Chevrolet Brothers Manufacturing Company was formed by Louis and Arthur Chevrolet to market their Frontenac high performance overhead-valve cylinder head conversion kits.

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Thursday 12th January 1922

95 years ago

The last Scripps-Booth was produced. The company was founded by artist and engineer James Scripps Booth (of the Scrippspublishing family), who also built the Bi-Autogo. Scripps-Booth company produced vehicles intended for the luxury market. In 1916 they consolidated with the Sterling Motor Company to become the Scripps-Booth Corporation.By this time Scripps-Booth had been purchased by Chevrolet whose founder William C. Durant was also the founding president of Sterling Motor Company. General Motors discontinued the brand name in 1923.

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Thursday 22nd February 1923

94 years ago

The 1,000,000th Chevrolet car rolled off the production line. Chevrolet began when William Durant hired Louis Chevrolet, a Swiss race-car driver and star of the Buick Racing Team, to design a new car. Durant hoped to challenge the success of the Ford Model T with an affordable, reliable car. Chevrolet wanted to design a finer sort of automobile, however. Their product, the Classic Six, was an elegant car with a large price tag. But Durant built two more models, sturdier and cheaper, and Chevy was on its way. Durant eventually made over a million dollars in profits on his Chevrolet marque, money that allowed him to reacquire a majority interest in General Motors (GM) stock. Durant eventually merged the two companies. Louis Chevrolet left the company before the merger, leaving only his name to benefit from the company's success.

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Monday 7th January 1924

93 years ago

The first General Motors vehicle manufactured outside the US and Canada, a Chevrolet utility truck, rolled off General Motors’ first European assembly plant, in Copenhagen, under the name General Motors International A/S. It built Chevrolets for sale in Scandinavian countries, the Baltics, Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungary and Russia.

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Wednesday 3rd June 1925

92 years ago

The 100,000th Chevrolet built at the former Samson factory in Janesville, Wisconsin, US, a Series M 1-ton Utility Express truck chassis, was produced.

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Tuesday 8th September 1925

92 years ago

The 2,000,000th Chevrolet was produced, a Superior Series K2-door Coach.

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Wednesday 18th November 1925

92 years ago

The Chevrolet 1929-31 ‘Eagle’ mascot was patented.

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Saturday 9th January 1926

91 years ago

The first Pontiac car, the "Chief of the Sixes," a 6-cylinder car, was launched at the New York Auto Show. The Chief sold 39,000 units within six months of its appearance at the show, hitting 76,742 at twelve months. The next year, it became the top-selling six in the U.S., ranking seventh in overall sales. By 1933, it had moved up to producing the least expensive cars available with straight eight engines. This was done by using many components from the 6-cylinder Chevrolet Master, such as the body, but installing a large chrome strip on the top and center of the front hood Pontiac called the "Silver Streak". In the late 1930s, Pontiac used a Buick "torpedo" body for one of its models, just prior to its being used by Chevrolet, earning some media attention for the marque. An unusual feature of the "torpedo"-bodied exhibition car was that, with push of a button, the front half of the body would open showing the engine and the car's front seat interior. In 1937, the eight-cylinder had a 122-inch (3,099 mm) wheelbase, while the six-cylinder had a 117-inch (2,972 mm) wheelbase. In 1940, Pontiac introduced the Torpedo as a production model. On 2 February 1942, a Pontiac was the last civilian automobile manufactured in the United States during World War II, as all automobile factories converted to military production

1926 Pontiac 'Chief of the Sixes' advertisement

1926 Pontiac 'Chief of the Sixes' advertisement

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Monday 31st May 1926

91 years ago

Twenty three year-old racing sensation Frank Lockhart won the Indianapolis 500 as a rookie in a Miller 122. He was the first winner born in the 20th century. Louis Chevrolet drove the Chrysler pace car for the start. The race was halted at lap 72, and officials waited for the track to dry out. The race was resumed over an hour later. Rain fell again, and the race was called at the 400 mile mark (160 laps). Rookie Frank Lockhart moved up from 20th to fifth by lap 5, having had passed 14 cars on that lap alone. He moved up to second on Lap 16. After the rain delay, Lockhart and Dave Lewis battled for the lead for about 20 laps, until Lewis dropped out. Lockhart stretched out a two-lap lead when the race was called, and he was declared the winner. It was the first rain-shortened race in "500" history, and Lockhart was the fourth rookie to win the race. Lockhart may have actually completed as many as 163 laps (407.5 miles), but official scoring results reverted to the completion of lap 160.

#15 Miller - 1926 Indianapolis 500 Winner

#15 Miller - 1926 Indianapolis 500 Winner

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Tuesday 5th October 1926

91 years ago

The Dort Motor Car Company was officially dissolved. The company was founded as a Flint Road Cart Company in 1884 by William C. Durant and Josiah Dallas There , who sold wagons from local businesses for US $ 8, - the piece. In 1900, the company, which produced 50,000 carriages at that time, was renamed Durant Dort Carriage Company . In 1912, Dort was director and vice president of Chevrolet , but in 1913 he left this post and in 1915 he also separated from Durant and the company was renamed Durant Motor Car Company . Chief engineer was Etienne Planche , who had built Louis Chevrolet's first automobile together. 1920 was the best year of the company, over 30,000 vehicles were built. In Canada the wagons were manufactured by William Gray under license and offered as Gray there . The Dort Motor Car Company built a total of more than 107,000 cars by 1924 and had to give up because the growing costs of development and marketing made it impossible to operate economically in the 1920s.

Dort Motor Car Company magazine advertisement 1915

Dort Motor Car Company magazine advertisement 1915

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Saturday 5th March 1927

90 years ago

The LaSalle was formally introduced and marketed by General Motors' Cadillac division from 1927 through 1940. Alfred P. Sloan developed the concept for LaSalle to fill pricing gaps he perceived in the General Motors product portfolio. As originally developed by Sloan, General Motors' market segmentation strategy placed each of the company's individual automobile marques into specific price points, called the General Motors Companion Make Program. The Chevrolet was designated as the entry level product. Next, (in ascending order), came the Pontiac, Oakland, Viking, Oldsmobile, Marquette, Buick, and ultimately, Cadillac. By the 1920s, certain General Motors products began to shift out of the plan as the products improved and engine advances were made. Under the companion marque stragegy, the gap between the Chevrolet and the Oakland would be filled by a new marque named Pontiac, a quality six-cylinder car designed to sell for the price of a four-cylinder. The wide gap between Oldsmobile and Buick would be filled by two companion marques: Oldsmobile was assigned the up-market V8 engine Viking and Buick was assigned the more compact six-cylinder Marquette. Cadillac, which had seen its base prices soar in the heady 1920s, was assigned the LaSalle as a companion marque to fill the gap that existed between it and Buick. Like Cadillac, the LaSalle brand name was based on that of a French explorer, René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle.

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Saturday 7th July 1928

89 years ago

The Chrysler Plymouth made their debut in 1928 at the Madison Square Garden, with Amelia Earhart (who had just become the first woman to make a solo flight across the Atlantic) behind the wheel. It was billed as 'A New Zenith of Low Priced Car-Luxury and Performance.' The name Plymouth was chosen as a symbol of 'the endurance and strength, the rugged honesty, enterprise and determination of achievement and freedom from old limitations of the Pilgrim band who were the first American colonists,' at Plymouth Rock, MA. It was Chrysler Corporation's first entry in the low-priced field, which at the time was already dominated by Chevrolet and Ford. Plymouths were actually priced slightly higher than their competition, with a base price of $670, but featured such expensive-car features as 4-wheel hydraulic brakes, full-pressure engine lubrication, aluminum alloy pistons and an independent hand brake that the competition did not. Plymouths were originally sold exclusively through Chrysler dealerships, offering a low-cost alternative to the upscale Chrysler-brand cars. The logo featured a rear view of the ship Mayflower which landed at Plymouth Rock in Plymouth, Massachusetts. However, the inspiration for the Plymouth brand name came from Plymouth binder twine, produced by the Plymouth Cordage Company, also of Plymouth. The name was chosen by Joe Frazer due to the popularity of the twine among farmers.

American aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart.

American aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart.

First Plymouth automobile - 1928

First Plymouth automobile - 1928

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Tuesday 17th July 1928

89 years ago

The Plymouth Division of the Chrysler Corporation was created.to compete in what was then described as the "low-priced" market segment dominated by Chevrolet and Ford. The Plymouth was the high-volume seller for the automaker until the late 1990s. The brand was withdrawn from the marketplace in 2001. The Plymouth models that were produced up to then were either discontinued or rebranded as Chrysler.

1928 Plymouth Coupe Advertisement

1928 Plymouth Coupe Advertisement

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Tuesday 25th June 1929

88 years ago

The 6,000,000th Chevrolet was produced.

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Wednesday 28th May 1930

87 years ago

The 7,000,000th Chevrolet was produced, a 1930 2-door Coach.

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Thursday 7th August 1930

87 years ago

The 2,000,000th 6-cylinder Chevrolet was produced.

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Tuesday 25th August 1931

86 years ago

The 8,000,000th Chevrolet was produced.

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Wednesday 8th August 1934

83 years ago

The 1,000,000th Plymouth, a DeLuxe 4-Door Sedan, was produced. Mrs Ethel Miller of Turlock, California, who had purchased the first Plymouth in 1928 and still owned it, drove her car to the Century of Progress Exposition in Chicago, where she exchanged it for the newer milestone car. The building of the One Millionth Plymouth in just six years of production had set an industry record. No company had ever built one million cars in as short a time period as had Plymouth. It had taken Henry Ford twelve years to build a million—and rival Chevrolet had taken nine years.

Walter P. Chrysler at the wheel of the One Millionth Plymouth - Lynch Road Assembly Plant, Detroit

Walter P. Chrysler at the wheel of the One Millionth Plymouth - Lynch Road Assembly Plant, Detroit

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Sunday 19th August 1934

83 years ago

The first All-American Soap Box Derby was held in Dayton, Ohio. The national winner was Robert Turner of Muncie, Illinois, who made his car from the wood of a saloon bar. In 1935 the race was moved from Dayton to Akron because of its central location and hilly terrain. An accident in 1935 captured the public's interest, and boosted the event's profile. A car went off the track and struck NBC's top commentator and sportscaster Graham McNamee while he was broadcasting live on the air. Despite a concussion and other injuries (which resulted in a two-week hospital stay), McNamee described the collision to his listeners and finished his broadcast. In 1936, Akron civic leaders recognized the need for a permanent track site for the youth racing classic and, through the efforts of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), Derby Downs became a reality. In 1946, the town of Mission, British Columbia acquired the rights to the Western Canada Soapbox Derby Championships and the Mission Regional Chamber of Commerce, previously named the Mission City & District Board of Trade, organized the event annually until 1973. During the All American Soapbox Derby's heyday in the 1950s and 1960s, when Chevrolet was a sponsor and famous TV and movie stars made guest appearances, as many as 70,000 people gathered in August to eat snow cones and cheer hundreds of youthful racer/builders (boys only in early years) ages 11–15 who were the champions of local races around the nation and from several foreign countries. In 1947, actor James Stewart was appearing in the Broadway play Harvey; in order to attend the event, he cancelled a weekend's worth of performances and refunds were issued to ticketholders. At its peak, the Derby was one of the top five sporting events in terms of attendance. Starting in 1993, the All-American Soap Box derby began the Rally World Championship. The Rally derby is a grand prix style of race in which each district, ten in all, sends back a number of champions based on number of racers and races in each district. Today there are broader categories that extend the age range to younger racers and permit adults to assist in construction. This is especially helpful for younger children who cannot use power tools, as well as to provide an outlet for adults.

All-American Soap Box Derby - Dayton, 1934

All-American Soap Box Derby - Dayton, 1934

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Tuesday 13th November 1934

83 years ago

The 10 millionth Chevrolet was produced, a 1935 Standard 4-door Sedan built in Flint, Michigan. The automobile was later presented to the Flint Police Department, Michigan, US.

1935 Chevrolet Standard EC 4-Door Sedan

1935 Chevrolet Standard EC 4-Door Sedan

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Tuesday 13th November 1934

83 years ago

The 10,000,000th Chevrolet was produced, a 1935 Standard 4-door sedan built in Flint, Michigan, US that would later be presented to the Flint Fire Department.

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Tuesday 25th December 1934

82 years ago

The 1935 Chevrolet 'Unicorn' mascot was patented by designer B. E. Lemm

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Saturday 18th July 1936

81 years ago

The first “Wienermobile”, an automobile shaped like a hot dog used to advertise Oscar Mayer products, created by Oscar’s nephew, Carl G. Mayer, rolled out of General Body Company’s factory in Chicago, Illinois, US. The cost of the promotional vehicle was 5000 dollars. Although gas rationing kept the Wienermobile off the road during World War II, in the 1950s Oscar Mayer and the Gerstenslager Company created several new vehicles using a Dodge chassis or a Willys Jeep chassis. One of these models is on display at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. These Wienermobiles were piloted by "Little Oscar" who would visit stores, schools, orphanages, and children's hospitals and participate in parades and festivals. In 1969, new Wienermobiles were built on a Chevrolet motor home chassis and featured Ford Thunderbird taillights. The 1969 vehicle was the first Wienermobile to travel outside the United States. In 1976 Plastic Products, Inc., built a fiberglass and styrofoam model, again on a Chevrolet motor home chassis. In 1988, Oscar Mayer launched its Hotdogger program, where recent college graduates were hired to drive the Wienermobile through various parts of the nation and abroad. Using a converted Chevrolet van chassis, Stevens Automotive Corporation and noted industrial designer Brooks Stevens built a fleet of six Wienermobiles for the new team of Hotdoggers. With the 1995 version, the Wienermobile grew in size to 27 feet long and 11 feet high. The 2004 version of the Wienermobile includes a voice-activated GPS navigation device, an audio center with a wireless microphone, a horn that plays the Wiener Jingle in 21 different genres from Cajun to Rap to Bossa Nova, according to American Eats, and sports fourth generation Pontiac Firebird taillights. Following mechanical problems with the Isuzu Elf, Oscar Mayer decided to adopt a larger chassis in order to accommodate an increase in size of the signature wiener running through the middle. While the Wienermobile was not as long as the 1995 version, it was considerably wider and taller. Craftsmen Industries went through numerous overhauls of the truck including a flipped axle and a leveling kit. This version held a record for numerous suspension problems, most leading to the chassis not being able to hold the large weight of the Oscar Mayer Wiener. In 2004, Oscar Mayer announced a contest whereby customers could win the right to use the Wienermobile for a day. Within a month, the contest had generated over 15,000 entries

An Oscar Mayer Wienermobile in Rochester, Minnesota in 2012

An Oscar Mayer Wienermobile in Rochester, Minnesota in 2012

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Thursday 11th January 1940

77 years ago

General Motors celebrated the production of its 25-millionth American-made car, a silver Chevrolet Master Deluxe four-door town sedan. That evening a celebratory banquet was hosted by Albert Sloan Jr and William S Knudsen, with a nostalgic appearance by corporation founder William C Durant.

Executives of General Motors and some of the 75 members of the final assembly line crew, pictured during a ceremony marking the completion of the 25 millionth car turned out by the company

Executives of General Motors and some of the 75 members of the final assembly line crew, pictured during a ceremony marking the completion of the 25 millionth car turned out by the company

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Friday 6th June 1941

76 years ago

Swiss-born American Louis Chevrolet, founder of the Chevrolet Motor Car Company in 1911 and later the Frontenac Motor Corporation which made racing parts for Ford’s Model T, died at the age of 62. In 1900, at the age of 21, Chevrolet left Switzerland moved to Canada, then New York. The things that he accomplished there started a chain of events that left a huge impression on the American automotive industry. Chevrolet established a reputation in the United States as a race car mechanic, and was soon driving them. On May 20, 1905, his passion for racing and performance led him to win his first road race on a cinder track in Morris Park, New York. With a new-found reputation in racing, Chevrolet met W.C. Durant in 1907. Durant was considered to be the “father" of General Motors and noticed Chevrolet's genius and eye for perfection. He put him to work designing Buick concept cars that led the Buick Racing Team to many victories. In 1911, Chevrolet and Durant founded the Chevrolet Motor Company. Even with little formal education, Chevrolet designed and built the first Chevrolet automobile. Durant believed that they would need to make their cars cheaper to compete with the automotive market. Chevrolet wanted his cars to be the most impressive on the road and wanted them only to be built for the rich, which led to his resignation in October 1913. With his talent for designing automobiles Chevrolet went back to his first love, racing. By 1917, he had built a new, advanced race car. With it, he again became a leader in the automotive racing industry. He completed his first laps at the Indianapolis race track in 1926, as the official pace car driver. During his career on the famous brick track, he won 10 races and 27 major races elsewhere, making him the most successful driver in his family. He formed the Frontenac Motor Corporation to build high-performance engine heads. However, the corporation was fated to go out of business.

Louis Chevrolet

Louis Chevrolet

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Friday 30th January 1942

75 years ago

The last pre-war automobiles produced by Chevrolet and DeSoto rolled off the assembly lines. Wartime restrictions had shut down the commercial automobile industry almost completely in the US, and car manufacturers were racing to retool their factories for production of military gear.

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Wednesday 3rd October 1945

72 years ago

The first post-World War II Chevrolet automobile was produced

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Tuesday 16th April 1946

71 years ago

Arthur Chevrolet, brother of Chevrolet namesake Louis Chevrolet, committed suicide at age 60 in Slidell, Louisiana, US. 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 endeavors 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.

Arthur Chevrolet,

Arthur Chevrolet,

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Wednesday 1st May 1946

71 years ago

The first post-World War II Chevrolet truck with chrome trim was produced, reflecting the easing of wartime restrictions.

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Monday 7th April 1947

70 years ago

Henry Ford (83), the man who revolutionised modern transport with his mass produced Model T- died by candlelight during a power-cut caused by floods in Detroit, US. Most of his personal estate, valued at $205 million, was left to the Ford Foundation. While working as an engineer for the Edison Illuminating Company in Detroit, Henry Ford (1863-1947) built his first gasoline-powered horseless carriage, the Quadricycle, in the shed behind his home. In 1903, he established the Ford Motor Company, and five years later the company rolled out the first Model T. In order to meet overwhelming demand for the revolutionary vehicle, Ford introduced revolutionary new mass-production methods, including large production plants, the use of standardized, interchangeable parts and, in 1913, the world’s first moving assembly line for cars. Enormously influential in the industrial world, Ford was also outspoken in the political realm. Ford drew controversy for his pacifist stance during the early years of World War I and earned widespread criticism for his anti-Semitic views and writings. HENRY FORD: EARLY LIFE & ENGINEERING CAREER Born in 1863, Henry Ford was the first surviving son of William and Mary Ford, who owned a prosperous farm in Dearborn, Michigan. At 16, he left home for the nearby city of Detroit, where he found apprentice work as a machinist. He returned to Dearborn and work on the family farm after three years, but continued to operate and service steam engines and work occasional stints in Detroit factories. In 1888, he married Clara Bryant, who had grown up on a nearby farm. In the first several years of their marriage, Ford supported himself and his new wife by running a sawmill. In 1891, he returned with Clara to Detroit, where he was hired as an engineer for the Edison Illuminating Company. Rising quickly through the ranks, he was promoted to chief engineer two years later. Around the same time, Clara gave birth to the couple’s only son, Edsel Bryant Ford. On call 24 hours a day for his job at Edison, Ford spent his irregular hours on his efforts to build a gasoline-powered horseless carriage, or automobile. In 1896, he completed what he called the “Quadricycle,” which consisted of a light metal frame fitted with four bicycle wheels and powered by a two-cylinder, four-horsepower gasoline engine. HENRY FORD: BIRTH OF FORD MOTOR COMPANY AND THE MODEL T Determined to improve upon his prototype, Ford sold the Quadricycle in order to continue building other vehicles. He received backing from various investors over the next seven years, some of whom formed the Detroit Automobile Company (later the Henry Ford Company) in 1899. His partners, eager to put a passenger car on the market, grew frustrated with Ford’s constant need to improve, and Ford left his namesake company in 1902. (After his departure, it was reorganized as the Cadillac Motor Car Company.) The following year, Ford established the Ford Motor Company. A month after the Ford Motor Company was established, the first Ford car—the two-cylinder, eight-horsepower Model A—was assembled at a plant on Mack Avenue in Detroit. At the time, only a few cars were assembled per day, and groups of two or three workers built them by hand from parts that were ordered from other companies. Ford was dedicated to the production of an efficient and reliable automobile that would be affordable for everyone; the result was the Model T, which made its debut in October 1908. HENRY FORD: PRODUCTION & LABOR INNOVATIONS The “Tin Lizzie,” as the Model T was known, was an immediate success, and Ford soon had more orders than the company could satisfy. As a result, he put into practice techniques of mass production that would revolutionize American industry, including the use of large production plants; standardized, interchangeable parts; and the moving assembly line. Mass production significantly cut down on the time required to produce an automobile, which allowed costs to stay low. In 1914, Ford also increased the daily wage for an eight-hour day for his workers to $5 (up from $2.34 for nine hours), setting a standard for the industry. Even as production went up, demand for the Tin Lizzie remained high, and by 1918, half of all cars in America were Model Ts. In 1919, Ford named his son Edsel as president of Ford Motor Company, but he retained full control of the company’s operations. After a court battle with his stockholders, led by brothers Horace and John Dodge, Henry Ford bought out all minority stockholders by 1920. In 1927, Ford moved production to a massive industrial complex he had built along the banks of the River Rouge in Dearborn, Michigan. The plant included a glass factory, steel mill, assembly line and all other necessary components of automotive production. That same year, Ford ceased production of the Model T, and introduced the new Model A, which featured better horsepower and brakes, among other improvements. By that time, the company had produced some 15 million Model Ts, and Ford Motor Company was the largest automotive manufacturer in the world. Ford opened plants and operations throughout the world. HENRY FORD: LATER CAREER & CONTROVERSIAL VIEWS The Model A proved to be a relative disappointment, and was outsold by both Chevrolet (made by General Motors) and Plymouth (made by Chrysler); it was discontinued in 1931. In 1932, Ford introduced the first V-8 engine, but by 1936 the company had dropped to number three in sales in the automotive industry. Despite his progressive policies regarding the minimum wage, Ford waged a long battle against unionization of labor, refusing to come to terms with the United Automobile Workers (UAW) even after his competitors did so. In 1937, Ford security staff clashed with UAW organizers in the so-called “Battle of the Overpass,” at the Rouge plant, after which the National Labor Relations Board ordered Ford to stop interfering with union organization. Ford Motor Company signed its first contract with UAW in 1941, but not before Henry Ford considered shutting down the company to avoid it. Ford’s political views earned him widespread criticism over the years, beginning with his campaign against U.S. involvement in World War I. He made a failed bid for a U.S. Senate seat in 1918, narrowly losing in a campaign marked by personal attacks from his opponent. In the Dearborn Independent, a local newspaper he bought in 1918, Ford published a number of anti-Semitic writings that were collected and published as a four volume set called The International Jew. Though he later renounced the writings and sold the paper, he expressed admiration for Adolf Hitler and Germany, and in 1938 accepted the Grand Cross of the German Eagle, the Nazi regime’s highest medal for a foreigner.

Henry Ford in 1919

Henry Ford in 1919

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Thursday 13th November 1947

70 years ago

The 20 millionth Chevrolet was produced.

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Tuesday 27th April 1948

69 years ago

William Signius "Big Bill" Knudsen (67), a leading automobile industry executive and a General in the U.S. Army, died. Working first for the Ford Motor Company and later for General Motors, Knudsen became an expert on mass production and a skilled manager. Knudsen was president of the Chevrolet Division of General Motors from 1924 to 1937, and was president of General Motors from 1937[5] to 1940.

William S. Knudsen

William S. Knudsen

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Sunday 2nd October 1949

68 years ago

The seventh race of the inaugural NASCAR Strictly Stock season was held at Heidelberg Raceway, near Pittsburgh (US). Al Bonnell won the pole.In the first Strictly Stock event in Charlotte in June, Lee Petty entered a bulky Buick Roadmaster. The enormous automobile was fast on the straights, but it wobbled like a tank through the turns. Just past the halfway point, petty rolled the Buick a number of times. After dismounting the mangled mass of metal, the North Carolina speedster vowed never to drive a heavy vehicle in competition again. In the 100-mile event at Heidelberg Speedway, Petty driving his number 42 lightweight Plymouth, was five full laps ahead of his nearest competitor. "We figured the lighter car would get through the turns better," said Petty. "It would also be easier on the suspension parts.We knew we could win one with the Plymouth." The big triumph at Heidelberg was the largest winning margin of any NASCAR Strictly Stock race in 1949. Dick Linder's Kaiser finished second, but was in no position to challenge the fleet Petty. Bill Rexford finished third, Sam Rice's Chevrolet was fourth with relief driver Glenn Dunnanway at the helm. Fifth place went to Sara Christian, the first time a female driver has cracked the top five in a premier NASCAR event. She was 10 laps off the pace in her 1949 Ford. Al Bonnell, a driver of open wheel fame, qualified for the pole with a speed of 61.475 mph. However, Bonnell's Olds was the first car out of the race, and we placed at the end of the 23 car field in the final rundown. Bonnell then relieved Don Rogalla and carried his Ford to 10th and the finish. Petty averaged 57.458 mph.

Al Bonnell

Al Bonnell

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Saturday 12th November 1949

68 years ago

The first Volkswagen Type 2, later named the Transporter, rolled off the assembly line. Only two models were offered: the Kombi (with two side windows and middle and rear seats that were easily removable by one person), and the Commercial. The Microbus was added in May 1950, joined by the Deluxe Microbus in June 1951. In all 9,541 Type 2s were produced in their first year of production. An ambulance model was added in December 1951 which repositioned the fuel tank in front of the transaxle, put the spare tire behind the front seat, and added a "tailgate"-style rear door.These features became standard on the Type 2 from 1955 to 1967. 11,805 Type 2s were built in the 1951 model year.These were joined by a single-cab pickup in August 1952, and it changed the least of the Type 2s until all were heavily modified in 1968. Unlike other rear engine Volkswagens, which evolved constantly over time but never saw the introduction of all-new models, the Transporter not only evolved, but was completely revised periodically with variations retrospectively referred to as versions "T1" to "T5" (a nomenclature only invented after the introduction of the front-drive T4 which replaced the T25). However, only generations T1 to T3 (or T25 as it is still called in Ireland and Great Britain) can be seen as directly related to the Beetle (see below for details)[citation needed]. The Type 2, along with the 1947 Citroën H Van, are among the first 'forward control' vans in which the driver was placed above the front roadwheels. They started a trend in Europe, where the 1952 GM Bedford CA, 1958 RAF-977, 1959 Renault Estafette, 1960 BMC Morris J4, and 1960 Commer FC also used the concept. In the United States, the Corvair-based Chevrolet Corvan cargo van and Greenbrier passenger van went so far as to copy the Type 2's rear-engine layout, using the Corvair's horizontally opposed, air-cooled engine for power. Except for the Greenbrier and various 1950s–70s Fiat minivans, the Type 2 remained unique in being rear-engined. This was a disadvantage for the early "barndoor" Panel Vans, which could not easily be loaded from the rear because the engine cover intruded on interior space, but generally advantageous in traction and interior noise. Like the Beetle, the van has received numerous nicknames worldwide, including the "microbus", "minibus", and, because of its popularity during the counterculture movement of the 1960s, Hippie van/wagon, and still remains iconic for many hippies today. Brazil contained the last factory in the world that produced the T2. Production in Brazil ceased on December 31, 2013, due to the introduction of more stringent safety regulations in the country. This marks the end of an era with the rear-engine Volkswagens manufactured (after the 2002 termination of its T3 successor in South Africa), which originated in 1935 with their Type 1 prototypes.

Volkswagen Type 2

Volkswagen Type 2

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Friday 16th December 1949

67 years ago

The first Saab automobile, the '92' was produced. The design was very aerodynamic for its time, with a drag coefficient (cx or cw)) of 0.30. The entire body was stamped out of one piece of sheet metal and then cut to accommodate doors and windows. Full-scale production started December 12, 1949, based on the prototype Ursaab. All of them were of the Deluxe version. A standard version was advertised, but nobody was interested in buying it so no standard versions were produced. The engine was a transversely mounted, water-cooled two-cylinder, two-stroke 764 cc, 25 hp (19 kW) thermosiphon engine based on a DKW design, giving a top speed of 105 kilometres per hour (65 mph). The transmission had three gears, the first unsynchronised. In order to overcome the problems of oil starvation during overrun (engine braking) for the two-stroke engine, a freewheel device was fitted. The suspension was by torsion bars. All early Saab 92s were painted in a dark green colour similar to British racing green. According to some sources,[who?] Saab had a surplus of green paint from wartime production of airplanes. Saab's rally history already started two weeks after the 92 was released, when Saab's head engineer Rolf Mellde entered the Swedish Rally and came second in his class. Only 700 1950 models were made. In 1951, the German VDO instruments were replaced by American Stewart-Warner components. In 1952 Greta Molander won the 'Coupe des Dames' of the Monte Carlo Rally in a 92, tuned to 35 hp (26 kW). In 1953, the 92B arrived with a much larger rear window and larger luggage space (with an opening lid). It was now available in grey, blue-grey, black and green. In 1954 the Saab 92 got the new Solex 32BI carburetor and a new ignition coil giving 28 hp (21 kW). The US headlights were replaced with Hella units. Another novelty was that a textile roof (semi-cab or cabrio coach) was offered as an option. The colour maroon was also introduced this year. In 1955, it acquired an electric fuel pump and square tail lights installed in the rear fenders. The colours were grey, maroon and a new color, moss green. The English aviation test pilot 'Bob' Moore, who had helped to develop the Saab Tunnan (J29) jet aircraft, brought a 1955 Saab 92B back to England, when he returned, later to become the first managing director of Saab GB Ltd. This was reputedly the first-ever Saab car imported to the UK. The Saab 93 was introduced in December 1955, but both the 92B and 93 were produced at the same time, for a while. The last 92 was assembled in late 1956–early 1957. Two new colours, grey-green and beige, were available. A total of 20,128 Saab 92s were made. The Saab 92 appears on a Swedish postage stamp. When General Motors in 2008 made a list of their top ten cars, the Saab 92 came in first followed by the Pontiac GTO (1964), the Chevrolet Corvette (1953), the EV1 (1996), the Opel Olympia (1936), the LaSalle (1927), the Chevrolet Bel Air (1955), the Cadillac V16 (1930), the Cadillac Model 30 (1910) and the Cadillac (1912) Spyker Cars, the Dutch maker of supercars, bought Saab in February 2010 from General Motors Co. In May 2010, Spyker's CEO Victor Muller stated the firm was planning a new small car, tear-drop shaped and inspired by the Saab 92 model.

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Sunday 21st May 1950

67 years ago

The very first multiple first lap pile-up in the World Championship took place at the Monaco Grand Prix. Waves crashing over the harbour front caught out Farina who skidded, stalled, and helplessly took out eight other cars. Juan Manuel Fangio picked his way through the wreckage to win the race by two miles! The victory was the first of the 24-Grand Prix victories in his illustrious Formula One career. Born in 1911, near Balacarce, Argentina, Fangio started his professional career as a mechanic. At age 23, he drove his first race in a converted Ford taxi that fell apart during the event. Fangio struggled early on in his career as a racer, but his passion for the sport led him to continue racing while he supported himself as a mechanic. Just before World War II, Fangio began racing a Chevrolet stock car. He won the Gran Premio Internacional del Norte, a race from Buenos Aires to Peru and back. Winning the 6,000-mile race brought Fangio instant notoriety in his home country. At 36, Juan Manuel Fangio was considered too old to race. Undeterred, he began a career as a Formula 1 driver. In 1949, his first full season, he won six times in 10 races. The next year he was invited to drive for the prestigious Alpha Romeo team. He finished second in the World Driver's Championship. The next year he won it. Fangio then bounced between the Maserati, Mercedes-Benz, and Ferrari teams en route to establishing himself as the world's best driver. He became a national hero in his adopted Italy as well as at home in Argentina. He won four World Driver's Championships in the 1950s, but his fine results do not do justice to his extraordinary talent. In 1957, the 46-year-old Fangio returned to the Maserati team. Maserati's equipment was nearly obsolete at the time, and Fangio raced with a considerable handicap. Fellow racer Phil Hill evaluated Fangio's racing ability: "With most drivers, you figure 25 percent driver, 75 percent car. With the old man, you know it's 40 percent driver, 60 percent car, so he's already got us beat with that something extra that's inside of him." The German Grand Prix that year was apt testament to Fangio's genius. Racing against the tighter Ferraris in his weak-kneed Maserati, Fangio decided not to take a full load of fuel in his car. His plan was to build a huge lead on his competitors with a lighter car, and then to pit to take on more fuel. The other cars would run the race without stopping. Fangio was 28 seconds ahead when he pitted, and 28 behind when he came out of the pits. He passed leader Mike Hawthorn on the final lap, and won the race by four seconds. Juan Manuel Fangio is often considered the most talented driver to ever race. One wonders what his career would have been like had he had the opportunity to race early in his life.

1950 Monaco Grand Prix - 'the flood'

1950 Monaco Grand Prix - 'the flood'

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Tuesday 5th June 1951

66 years ago

Gordon M. Buehrig was issued a U.S. patent for his "vehicle top with removable panels," an invention that would eventually appear as a "T-top" on the 1968 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. Buehrig was a member of America's first generation of automobile stylists. As a boy he had always dreamed of designing cars, so at the age of 17 he took a summer job with the Yellow Cab Company in Chicago in order to be around the greatest variety of cars possible. He held the job until the company discovered he was under-aged. Before he left Chicago, Buehrig called Clarence Wexelburg, designer for the custom body-building C.P. Kimball Company, and asked him how he should go about becoming a car designer. Wexelburg directed him to take classes in drafting, wood and metal shop, and art. Buehrig pursued all three at Bradley Polytechnic before leaving for Detroit in search of an apprenticeship, which he found at Packard. His inexperience limited him to unexciting work as a body panel designer; but it was at Packard that he made valuable connections in the design industry and where he first discovered Le Corbusier's book, Toward a New Architecture, a text that would influence Buehrig's own aesthetic sense for the rest of his life. In 1928, Buehrig was the fourth man hired by Harley Earl for General Motors' (GM) new Art and Colour Section, the first GM department dedicated solely to design concerns. Buehrig stayed there just long enough to share Earl's frustration with the Fisher Body Department's execution of the art department's designs. Of the 1929 Buick, dubbed the "pregnant Buick," Buehrig objected, "Harley Earl's original design was a masterpiece, but Art and Colour was new and he couldn't swing a lot of weight." Leaving GM's fledgling art department may have been a mistake for Buehrig, as Earl would rapidly establish the department into the industry's first design dynasty. But just as likely, Buehrig's inventiveness would have been harnessed by Earl, and while Buehrig would have become rich, he might never have achieved the boldness of his later designs. Buehrig, just 24, left GM to become chief body designer at Stutz before moving on to the even more prestigious role of chief designer at Duesenberg. At the age of 25, he began designing America's most high-profile car bodies. His crowning achievement came in 1936 with the Cord 810. Heavily influenced by Le Corbusier's designs, the 810 had disappearing headlights, a hidden gas cap, and venetian blind louvers that accentuated the car's lean, "coffin-nosed" hood. It was an affordable future car. In 1951, the Museum of Modern Art picked the Cord 810 as one of eight automobile selected worldwide to be exhibited as pieces of art. Curator Arthur Drexel wrote Buehrig that in the museum's view, the 810 was "the outstanding American contribution to automobile design." Buehrig quietly changed the way cars look today. Ironically, his former employer Harley Earl would follow Buehrig's work closely, often incorporating his innovations into GM's designs. It was Buehrig who first erased the running board from the American car... and Earl who first got the credit.

1968 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

1968 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

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Thursday 27th March 1952

65 years ago

Kiichiro Toyoda (57) Japanese industrialist and founder of the Toyota Motor Corporation died. He was the son of famed inventor and entrepreneur Sakichi Toyoda, and the driving force behind establishment of Toyota Motor Corporation. As a young man he studied engineering at the University of Tokyo, then traveled to England, where he worked at Platt Brothers and Company, a leading manufacturer of textile machinery. He later came to the United States, where he studied American manufacturing techniques. After returning to Japan he worked at his father's loom-making business, Toyoda Industries Corporation, where he engineered improvements to the looms' high-draft spinning frames, and patented a carding machine. He began his research into automotives by dismantling and reassembling an imported motorcycle, and briefly considered the feasibility of a charcoal-powered engine. After his father's death, he convinced Toyoda Industries' new president, his adoptive brother Risaburo Toyoda, to fund research into auto-making. Kiichiro Toyoda purchased a new Chevrolet and brought in several of Japan's top engineers to disassemble and reassemble it. By 1934 Toyoda and his team had designed and built their first gasoline-powered engine, and convinced stockholders to fully fund his new division. In 1935 Toyoda built the prototype for its first car, combining Japanese components with Ford and Chevy parts under a Chrysler body to construct what they called Model A1. According to legend, Kiichiro Toyoda drove the prototype to his father's gravesite, to show what he had accomplished.Toyoda vehicles were manufactured beginning in July 1935, and in 1936 the spelling of the nameplate was altered from Toyoda to Toyota, as Toyoda himself believed the new name was easier to pronounce (the family name, when presented in English, remains Toyoda). The auto division was quickly successful and was spun off as a separate business, the Toyota Motor Corporation, in 1937, with Toyoda as Vice President. He became president in 1941, but in 1950, with the business near bankruptcy in Japan's post-war recession, Toyota Motor Corp announced massive layoffs and its workers went on strike. To settle the strike, Toyoda and other top executives tendered their resignations, and Toyoda died two years later.

Kiichiro Toyoda

Kiichiro Toyoda

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Monday 2nd June 1952

65 years ago

A plaster model of the original Chevrolet Corvette was completed.

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Thursday 12th June 1952

65 years ago

Maurice Olley, Chevrolet's chief engineer, completed his chassis, code-named ‘Opel’, which would eventually become the chassis for the 1953 Corvette. The Opel project had been initiated after Harley Earls' General Motors (GM) Design Division created models and drawings for a new GM sports car. Later in 1952, a prototype GM fibrglass car accidentally rolled during testing. The car's fibreglass roof remained structurally intact, and GM engineers for the first time considered building an all-fibreglass body for one of their cars. As project Opel moved forward, the new sports car took shape as a rear-engine, all-fibreglass sports car, the first in America. In July of 1952, the Corvette got its name from an extensive search through an English dictionary, which found that a corvette was a small-sized, speedy warship of the Royal Navy. Strong consideration was also given to the name Corvair. In January of 1953, the Corvette was exhibited as a dream car at the Motorama Car Show in New York City. The first Corvette, a white convertible with red interior, drove off the assembly line on June 30, 1953. That year, the car was produced in limited numbers, but full-scale production began the following year after Ford released its T-Bird at the New York Auto Show in February. The small-car competition from Ford prompted Chevrolet officials to continue Corvette production in spite of misgivings. By 1954, the Corvette was a failure, with some 3,500 cars sold and another 1,200 left unsold by year's end. Chevy engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov, initially brought on to develop the Corvette's performance, urged his superiors not to admit defeat on the project; instead, he sought to create a separate department to oversee development of the car. From this point forward, Arkus-Duntov took turning the Corvette into a legitimate sports car as a personal challenge. He overhauled the engine and drive-shaft. Over the next two years, minor adjustments were made to the car's body and styling. By 1955, the Corvette, equipped with new suspension and a 195 hp engine, was tested in disguise at the Pike's Peak Hill Climb, where it shattered the stock-car record with Arkus-Duntov behind the wheel. In February of 1956, Arkus-Duntov drove a modified Corvette V-8 to a two-way stock-car record of 150 mph at the Daytona Raceway. While the Corvette would not surpass the T-Bird in sales during the 1950s, it would fulfil its initial expectation to become the first American sports car.

The completed Corvette prototype, designated EX122, photographed in the GM Styling Auditorium on January 10, 1953

The completed Corvette prototype, designated EX122, photographed in the GM Styling Auditorium on January 10, 1953

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Saturday 26th July 1952

65 years ago

Hubert K Dalton (86), one of the designers of the original Chevrolet car in 1911 and later a manufacturer of automotive tools, died in Honolulu, Hawaii.

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Tuesday 6th January 1953

64 years ago

Earl S MacPherson was issued with a US patent for his vehicle wheel suspension system. He was the chief engineer of the Chevrolet Cadet project, a compact car intended to sell for less than $1,000. MacPherson developed a strut-type suspension for the Cadet, partly inspired by Fiat designs patented by Guido Fornaca in the 1920s (although the Cadet did not use a true MacPherson strut design) and a patent by Frank M. Smith of Stout Motor Car Corporation. After the Cadet was cancelled in May 1947, MacPherson left GM, joining the Ford Motor Company later that year. One of his first projects was to adapt his strut suspension design for the 1949 Ford Vedette, for Ford's French subsidiary. This became the first car to use the true MacPherson strut suspension. Ford's Poissy plant got off to a slow start with the Vedette, however, and the Fords Zephyr and Consul which captured the headlines at the 1950 London Motor Show have also been claimed as the first cars to appear "in mass production" with MacPherson struts.

Earl S MacPherson

Earl S MacPherson

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Monday 12th January 1953

64 years ago

Just days before the launch of the Corvette the General Motors management team informed the styling team that the front emblem and the horn button containing the likeness of the American flag had to be replaced, after discovering it was illegal in the US to have stars and stripes in an automobile emblem. When the first Corvette was shown to the press at the Motorama in New York City, the front emblems and horn button contained a black-and-white chequered flag and a red Chevrolet bow tie and fleur-de-lis.

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Friday 16th January 1953

64 years ago

The Chevrolet Corvette and Pontiac Parisienne show cars were introduced to the press at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City.

Pontiac Parisienne Show Car - 1953

Pontiac Parisienne Show Car - 1953

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Saturday 17th January 1953

64 years ago

The prototype Chevrolet Corvette “Dream Car” was introduced at General Motors’ (GM) Motorama auto show at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. The Corvette, named for a fast type of naval warship, would eventually become an iconic American muscle car and remains in production today. In the early 1950s, Harley Earl (1893-1969), the influential head designer for GM, then the world’s largest automaker, became interested in developing a two-seat sports car. At the time, European automakers dominated the sports car market. Following the debut of the Corvette prototype at the Motorama show in January 1953, the first production Corvette was completed at a Flint, Michigan, plant on June 30, 1953. The car featured an all-fiberglass body, a white exterior and red interior, a relatively unremarkable 150-horsepower engine and a starting price tag of around $3,500 (not including taxes or an optional AM radio and heater). In an effort to give the Corvette an air of exclusivity, GM initially marketed the car to invitation-only VIP customers. This plan met with less-than-desirable results, as only a portion of the 300 Corvettes built that first year were sold. GM dropped the VIP policy the following year; however, Corvette sales continued to disappoint. In 1954, GM built around 3,600 of the 10,000 Corvettes it had planned, with almost a third of those cars remaining unsold by the start of 1955. There was talk within GM of discontinuing the Corvette; however, GM rival Ford launched the sporty two-seat Thunderbird convertible in 1955 and the car quickly became a hit. GM didn’t want to discontinue the Corvette and look like a failure next to its Big Three competitor, so the car remained in production and performance enhancements were made. That same year, a Belgian-born, Russian-raised designer named Zora Arkus-Duntov became head engineer for Corvette and put the car on a course that would transform it into a legend. Duntov had applied to work at GM after seeing the Corvette prototype at the 1953 Motorama show. According to The New York Times: “Once hired, he pushed through the decision to turn the Corvette into a high-performance sports car with a succession of more powerful engines. Chevrolet offered a 195-horsepower engine on the 1955 Corvette, a 240-horsepower engine on the 1956 Corvette and a 283-horsepower engine on the 1957 model.” During the second half of the 1950s, Corvettes began setting speed records on the racing circuit. The car also got a publicity boost when it was featured on the TV show “Route 66,” which launched in 1960 and followed the story of two young men driving around America in a Corvette, looking for adventure. In 1977, the 500,000th Corvette was built. Two years later, according to the Times, yearly Corvette production peaked at 53,807. In 1992, the 1-milllionth Corvette came off the assembly line in Bowling Green, Kentucky; the 1.5-millionth Corvette followed in 2009.

Chevrolet Corvette (1954)

Chevrolet Corvette (1954)

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Friday 26th June 1953

64 years ago

The last Henry J was produced. The Henry J was an American automobile built by the Kaiser-Frazer Corporation and named after its chairman, Henry J. Kaiser. Kaiser wanted to expand his car line with an inexpensive car for the average man, hoping to recreate the success of the Model T Ford. The car was marketed from 1951 to 1954. For awhile, the Henry J was quite popular, and nearly 82,000 were sold for the 1951 model year. But that evidently satisfied demand, for sales went down sharply in1952. One reason was price. At $1363, even the four-cylinder model was only $200 cheaper than a full-size six-cylinder Chevrolet -- and far more basic. The Henry J Six offered "DeLuxe" trim starting at $1499, but it was only ­slightly less stark. A mild facelift gave 1952-54 models a smart new full-width grille, taillights moved from the body to the fins, and nicer interiors. An interim '52 measure designed to use up leftover stock was the Vagabond -- a '51 wearing "continental" outside spare tire, identifying script, and a hood ornament of black plastic and chrome. After this, Henry Js were called Corsair or Corsair DeLuxe, priced around $1400 for the four, $1560 with the six. But nothing seemed to work, so the Henry J departed in 1954. An estimated 1100 were sold that year, all of which were reserialed '53 leftovers. Some 30,000 were built altogether. Left still-born were plans for a hardtop, wagon, four-door sedan, and even a convertible. Many felt the original approach was wrong. Lacking glove- boxes, trunklids, and other expected features, the '51s were simply too plain for most buyers. As Joe Frazer later commented: "I would have brought it out dressed up." And indeed, that's what Sears did with its short-lived Allstate derivative. Then, too, the market wasn't quite ready for compacts (though it soon would be), and K-F was looking increasingly terminal, which surely kept some buyers away. In all, this was a classic case of too little, too soon. Like Hudson's equally ill-starred Jet, the Henry J was the wrong car at the wrong time.

1951 Henry J

1951 Henry J

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Tuesday 30th June 1953

64 years ago

Assembly-line worker Tony Kleiber had the honour of driving the first production Corvette off the assembly line at Chevrolet Plant Number 35, near Flint, Michigan. The Corvette costing $3,000 was the first ‘dream car’ to become a production model and the first series-production car with a fibreglass body. Harley J. Earl, the man behind the Corvette, got his start in his father’s business, Earl Automobile Works, designing custom auto bodies for Hollywood movie stars such as Fatty Arbuckle. In 1927, General Motors hired Earl to redesign the LaSalle, the mid-range option the company had introduced between the Buick and the Cadillac. Earl’s revamped LaSalle sold some 50,000 units by the end of 1929, before the Great Depression permanently slowed sales and it was discontinued in 1940. By that time, Earl had earned more attention for designing the Buick “Y Job,” recognized as the industry’s first “concept” car. Its relatively long, low body came equipped with innovations such as disappearing headlamps, electric windows and air-cooled brake drums over the wheels like those on an airplane.After scoring another hit with the 1950 Buick LeSabre, Earl headed into the 1950s–a boom decade for car manufacturers–at the top of his game. In January 1953, he introduced his latest “dream car,” the Corvette, as part of GM’s traveling Motorama display at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. The sleek Corvette, the first all-fiberglass-bodied American sports car, was an instant hit. It went into production the following June in Flint; 300 models were built that year. All 1953 Corvettes were white convertibles with red interiors and black canvas tops. Underneath its sleek exterior, however, the Corvette was outfitted with parts standard to other GM automobiles, including a “Blue Flame” six-cylinder engine, two-speed Powerglide automatic transmission and the drum brakes from Chevrolet’s regular car line. The Corvette’s performance as a sports car was disappointing relative to its European competitors, and early sales were unimpressive. GM kept refining the design, however, and the addition of its first V-8 engine in 1955 greatly improved the car’s performance. By 1961, the Corvette had cemented its reputation as America’s favorite sports car. Today, it continues to rank among the world’s elite sports cars in acceleration time, top speed and overall muscle.

First Chevrolet Corvette - 1953

First Chevrolet Corvette - 1953

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Tuesday 29th September 1953

64 years ago

The automotive press got their hands on the Chevrolet Corvette for test and review, as the Corvette was officially released. Eight Corvettes were made available to the press at the Milford Proving Grounds, Michigan, US.

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Monday 28th December 1953

63 years ago

After an initial run of 300 cars in Flint, Michigan, production of the Chevrolet Corvette was shifted to the plant in St Louis, Missouri, US.

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Monday 28th December 1953

63 years ago

The 30,000,000th Chevrolet was produced, a 1954 Bel Air convertible.

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Thursday 21st January 1954

63 years ago

The 1954 Motorama opened in the grand ballroom of New York City's Waldorf Astoria, the crowd of 26,000 couldn't get enough of the three dream cars. It had been a year since General Motors had unveiled a sensational new sports car -- Chevrolet's fiberglass-bodied Corvette concept. For the 1954 Motorama, GM's Styling Section had created not one but several unique Corvette dream cars: a convertible coupe, the Corvair fastback coupe and the Nomad station wagon. As it did at the Motoramas before and to come, GM -- eyeing a line of Corvettes -- turned up the glitz to showcase what the future held for car buyers. A 27-piece orchestra and 12-voice chorus performed a musical backdrop during six daily shows. The giant crowds were entertained by fashion models, a Broadway cast and wide-screen movies. TV and radio host Arthur Godfrey and his friends made a nationwide primetime telecast from the show. An experimental gas turbine car -- the XP-21 Firebird -- was a highlight of the 1954 show, the latest quest by GM engineers, stylists and researchers to offer the public a glimpse of the future. But the Chevrolets drew the crowds. Nearly 2 million people would experience those cars when the GM Motorama visited New York, Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago that year. The Motoramas came to define the 1950s and spawned other famous Chevrolet nameplates, such as the Impala and El Camino. In the words of GM President Harlow Curtice, the Motoramas were "far more than a product display." Michael Marsden, an expert on the automobile and American culture and a professor at St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wis., said: "The GM Motorama captured America's postwar optimism. It was a time in history when people were truly excited about the future of the automobile. GM set the pace." The dream cars of the Motorama era represent the golden age of GM styling under longtime design chief Harley Earl and his protege, Bill Mitchell. "They were futuristic -- almost space-age before the space race -- and allowed us to view the car in new ways," Marsden said. "Every model year was different. It's hard to rekindle that now." In his 1983 book, Harley Earl and the Dream Machine, Stephen Bayley said Earl drew on his longtime friendship with Hollywood director Cecil B. DeMille to create Motoramas that "mixed dream cars with production lines in a miasma of glittering form." Earl described the Motorama as a dynamic economy that carried the standard of living of American people to the highest level ever enjoyed by human beings."You will never know what the industrial products of the future are going to be like ... but the secret is to keep trying to find out," Earl once said. All three of the 1954 Chevrolet dream cars were recognizable for their Corvette features -- the front grille and fascia -- but each was given unique styling elements to set it apart. Each car also had side windows that rolled up and down.The Corvair and the convertible coupe had the same wheelbase and overall length as the original 1953 Corvette. The Nomad wagon had a longer wheelbase and was approximately two feet longer. The convertible coupe -- closest in styling to the production model -- was painted a muted yellow. Its removable fiberglass hard top gave the sports car "all-weather utility," GM boasted in the Motorama brochure.The hard top feature appeared on production models as an aftermarket accessory starting in 1955 and become an option with the 1956 model year. The Nomad, designed by Carl Renner, combined the sleek styling of a sports car with the versatility of a station wagon. Built with a glass fiber-reinforced plastic body, it was a two-door with space for six passengers.The Nomad also had an electrically operated rear window that automatically retracted into the tailgate when unlocked. It could also be remotely controlled by a button on the dashboard.The Nomad was the most lauded of the three 1954 Corvette dream cars. While GM stylists had openly explored Corvette variants, "nobody would expect to see a wagon version of the Corvette," Chevy stylist Clare MacKichan recalled in the 1973 book Corvette: America's Star-Spangled Sports Car by Karl E. Ludvigsen. "We thought this would be a good double-cross." On the second day of the 1954 Motorama, Earl phoned from New York to tell MacKichan that he wanted a production version of the Nomad. GM produced 22,898 Nomads from 1955 through 1957. The nameplate also appeared on concepts in the late 1990s and 2000s. The Corvair dream car was an experimental two-passenger fastback. It was built with a fiberglass body and was touted by GM as a new aerodynamic design for the closed sports car class.The streamlined roofline swept back into the jet exhaust-type rear opening.It was shown in ruby-red at the New York Motorama in January but was repainted in a lighter hue for the Los Angeles show in March. Sluggish sales of the 1954 Corvette deterred GM management from moving forward with the fastback coupe. In an interview with writer Robert O'Brien, Ed Cole, then Chevy's chief engineer, recalled GM's early dilemma with the Corvette lineup: "We really didn't know what we wanted. We had no real feeling for the market. Was Corvette for the boulevard driver, or the sports-car tiger? We weren't quite sure. But we loved that car. We weren't going to let it go." The Corvair fastback coupe was the only one of the trio of 1954 designs not to make it to production in some form. But the nameplate was recycled later for the infamous 1960 Corvair rear-engined compact car. Like the latter Corvair, the Motorama came to an end in the early 1960s when costs increased and other marketing opportunities arose. GM, which had become the industry's style leader, also realized it was giving away too many ideas to rivals."In my 43 years at GM Design, I have never known a time that was more exciting, more creative, and more productive than the Motorama years," the late Chuck Jordan, GM's former design chief, had written in the foreword to the 2006 book GM's Motorama by David W. Temple."One fact was certain -- our Motorama experience had taught us the importance of creativity and the value of advanced design as we charged ahead."

1954 Motorama

1954 Motorama

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Saturday 20th February 1954

63 years ago

The legendary Ford Thunderbird was launched at the Detroit Auto Show and went on sale in October as a 1955 model. The first production car came off the line on September 9, 1954, and went on sale on October 22, 1954 as a 1955 model, and sold briskly; 3,500 orders were placed in the first ten days of sale. While only 10,000 were planned, 16,155 were sold in 1955. As standard, the 1955 Ford Thunderbird included a removable fiberglass top; a fabric convertible top was an option, although commonly specified. The engine was a 292 Y-block V8, which got 18MPG. The car had fender skirts. The exhaust pipes exited through twin bumper guards, which are bolted to the rear bumper. Created to act as a retort to the Chevrolet Corvette, it was also the first mass-produced edition of all the Ford Thunderbird models. A total of 53,166 units were produced for the three model years 1955-1957. It was produced with a Fordomatic automatic or manual overdrive transmissions, and featured four-way powered seats and pushbutton interior door handles. Other unique features were a telescoping steering wheel[5] and a tachometer. Equipped with a V8 engine, the Thunderbird could hit 110-120 mph. It was a smaller two-seat "personal luxury car", compared to many other much larger cars that were on the road in the 1950s. It was designed to be a brisk luxury tourer, and not a sports car.

Ford Thunderbird - 1954 Detroit Auto Show

Ford Thunderbird - 1954 Detroit Auto Show

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Monday 5th April 1954

63 years ago

Eugene Stenger of Orange Village near Cleveland, Ohio, USA, bought his white 1954 Chevrolet Corvette, and has owned it ever since- the longest car ownership from new. The original price was $3,577.85 (£1,270 at 1954 rates).

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Friday 30th July 1954

63 years ago

George Lister in Cambridge, England founded Lister Cars. Inspired by Cooper, he used a tubular ladder chassis, de Dion rear axle, and inboard drum brakes. Like others, he used a tuned MG engine and stock gearbox. It made its debut at the British Empire Trophy at Oulton Park in 1954, with former MG pilot Archie Scott Brown at the wheel. Later, Lister swapped in a Moore-tuned Bristol two-litre engine and knockoff wire wheels in place of the MG's discs to improve performance. For the sports car race supporting the 1954 British Grand Prix at Silverstone, Scott Brown won the two-litre class and placed fifth overall behind only works Aston Martins. In 1955, a handful of Lister-Bristols were built with a new body built by an ex-Bristol employee with the aid of a wind tunnel. Despite its new fins and strakes, it was less successful than the original Lister-Bristol of 1954. Lister moved up to a six-cylinder motor from a Formula 2 Maserati A6GCS for their own car, while customers continued to receive the Bristol motor, sold for ₤3900. Lister also attempted single-seater racing with a multi-tube chassis powered by a Coventry-Climax motor and using an MG gearbox, but the car was a failure. For 1957, Lister redesigned the car around a Jaguar D-type inline-six, with an aerodynamic aluminium body; it was tested by racing journalist John Bolster, performing a 0–100 mph (0–160 km/h) run in 11.2 seconds. Driver Archie Scott Brown won the 1957 British Empire Trophy in the new Lister-Jaguar. Refined again in 1958, the Lister-Jaguar entered international competitions. Brown was killed that season when he crashed the Lister-Jaguar at Spa-Francorchamps. Lister also developed another single-seater car based on the Lister-Jaguar, for use in the unique Race of Two Worlds at Monza. Cars from this era are affectionately known as the "Lister Knobbly" cars, due to their curved bodywork. For 1959, Lister hired aerodynamicist Frank Costin who produced entirely new bodywork built around a new Chevrolet Corvette powerplant. However, the front-engine layout of the new Lister-Chevrolet was quickly eclipsed by the rear-engine layout of the new Cooper sports car. By the end of 1959, Lister withdrew from competition, although production of sports cars continued for customers. In 1963 Brian Lister was chosen by the Rootes Group to prepare the Sunbeam Tiger for the prototype category of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Ford V8-powered Tiger was still in the early stages of development while Lister were constructing the chassis at the Jensen factory. Lister beefed up the suspension and brakes, added an aerodynamic fastback hardtop with a more sloping windscreen and a Kamm tail. The 260 cu in (4,300 cc) Ford V8 engine was tuned by Carroll Shelby to give it 275 hp (205 kW) instead of the stock 160 hp (120 kW). The cars were designed with a top speed of 170 mph (270 km/h), but were developed in too short a time frame and both suffered engine failures. Rootes later received a refund for the engines. The two cars and one prototype mule still exist. The Lister company returned in 1986 as Lister Cars Ltd. based in Leatherhead, Surrey, with engineer Laurence Pearce tuning approximately 90 Jaguar XJSs, improving their capable top speed to over 200 mph and with an asking price of over £100,000. Success at this endeavour led the company to design a new sports racer, the Lister Storm. Launched in 1993, it would use the largest V12 engine ever fitted to a production road car up to that time, a 7.0 L Jaguar unit. The Storm was later developed for motorsport in various guises, winning the FIA GT Championship in 2000. Lister later developed a bespoked Le Mans Prototype, the Storm LMP in 2003. Brian Lister died in December 2014 aged 88.

Lister Jaguar Costin

Lister Jaguar Costin

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Monday 29th November 1954

62 years ago

The last Allard car was produced. Allard Motor Company Limited was a London-based low-volume car manufacturer founded in 1945 by Sydney Allard which commenced from small premises in south-west London. Car manufacture almost ceased within a decade. It produced approximately 1900 cars before it became insolvent and ceased trading in 1958.Before the war, Allard supplied some replicas of a Bugatti-tailed special of his own design from Adlards Motors in Putney. Allards featured large American V8 engines in a light British chassis and body, giving a high power-to-weight ratio and foreshadowing the Sunbeam Tiger and AC Cobra of the early 1960s. Cobra designer Carroll Shelby and Chevrolet Corvette chief engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov both drove Allards in the early 1950s

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Thursday 20th January 1955

62 years ago

General Motor’s Motorama Show opened in New York where the Buick Wildcat III, Chevrolet Bel Air Nomad, Cadillac LaSalle II roadster and sedan, and Cadillac Eldorado Brougham were exhibited

One of the many attractions of the 1955 GM Motorama was this 1955 Oldsmobile 88 Delta. The two-tone blue dream car featured a blue-tinted, brushed aluminum ..

One of the many attractions of the 1955 GM Motorama was this 1955 Oldsmobile 88 Delta. The two-tone blue dream car featured a blue-tinted, brushed aluminum ..

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Tuesday 1st February 1955

62 years ago

The design for the 1956 Chevrolet Corvette was formally approved.

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Thursday 10th February 1955

62 years ago

The Chrysler C-300 hardtop coupe, America's first 500 hp mass produced car, was introduced to the US public as a mid-year model. It’s difficult today to realize what a sensation a 300-horsepower auto was in 1955. That was a car-crazy year for Americans, who welcomed radically new, unexpected body styles. For 1955, General Motors offered its racy Chevrolet Corvette V-8 sports car and Ford introduced its sporty Thunderbird V-8 two-seater. Chrysler Corp. had spent $100 milllion—than a huge sum—to dramatically restyle its 1955 models and had no money or time to develop a two-seater. The 300’s V-8 easier outpowered the Corvette and Thunderbird V-8s—not to mention the costly Cadillac’s top V-8, which had 270 horsepower.The C-300 arrived when the fastest, most powerful American mass-produced cars were still mostly costly, full-size models. The Corvette and Thunderbird were generally considered frivolous, as were two-seat foreign sports cars. The big, gorgeous new 1955 Chrysler model was officially called the C-300, with the “C” likely standing for “Chrysler.” But it soon was just referred to as the “300” to prevent confusion because the second 300 was the 1956 300B, which had 340-355 horsepower. Subsequent 300s carried the letters C through L, except the “I” designation was skipped to avoid confusion with the number “1.” They’re all Chrysler Corp.’s prized collector “letter cars.” The C-300 underscored Chrysler Corp.’s outstanding engineering reputation and was essentially a showroom attention-getter that helped sell lesser Chrysler models. But it found 1,725 buyers, which was a respectable number for a specialized model. It outsold the Chrysler New Yorker Deluxe convertible, which cost $3,924 and attracted 946 buyers. The C-300 had a race-style version of Chrysler Corp.’s then fairly new “Hemi” V-8.That engine got its nickname from its hemispherical combustion chambers. A Hemi had been put in a few tamer upscale Chryslers after arriving for 1951 with a 331.1-cubic-inch displacement and 180 horsepower—a high number that year. It provided great volumetric efficiency for superb performance. And its lower compression ratio let it use lower-octane fuel than non-Hemis, although it produced more power than comparably sized engines. The 1955 Hemi 300’s 331.1-cubic-inch Hemi was modified like Hemi V-8s used in successful early 1950s race cars, with such power-enhancing items as two four-barrel carburetors, a competition camshaft and solid valve lifters. Solid lifters were more efficient than the hydraulic ones used in other Chrysler V-8s, but were noisier. The camshaft also caused a rather rough engine idle, although not an intolerable one. The exhaust system generated a rumbling sound. It soon became clear that this was no car to mess with. An unusually firm suspension for a Chrysler model provided the excellent handling and flat cornering expected only from sports cars. Some of the first buyers of the 1955 300 just wanted to own the most powerful car in America, but soon found it was louder and had a rougher ride than other top-line Chryslers. They soon traded it in for a tamer upper-line Chrysler.The 1955 300 had a Chrysler New Yorker Newport hardtop body and smooth Chrysler Windsor side trim and rear-quarter body panels. There was subtle “300” badging on the body and hubcaps, but the 300 shared the classy “twin tower” taillights of other large Chryslers.Up front was a large Chrysler Imperial “eggcrate” grille. At $4,110, the new 300 was the second most costly Chrysler brand auto. Only the big $4,209 Town & Country station wagon cost more. The price, alone, signaled that this was no car for kids. It was a hot rod luxury model for generally older affluent folks who liked fast cars. Veteran national auto writer Tom McCahill said the new 300 was a “hardboiled, magnificent piece of semi-competition transportation, built for the real automotive connoisseur.” The 1955 300 was virtually unbeatable in competition that year, winning its first NASCAR Grand National race. It took the checkered flag at 37 NASCAR and AAA races of more than 100 miles. The 300 had a lavish interior featuring gorgeous “Natural Cowhide” leather upholstery and the top-line Chrysler Imperial’s dashboard, although the Imperial speedometer was changed to read up to 150 mph. The dashboard had no space for a tachometer. But one wasn’t really needed because the only transmission was Chrysler’s new two-speed Powerflite automatic, which was a heavy duty unit that could handle the Hemi’s power and torque. After all, a 300 buyer wasn’t expected to be bothered with shifting gears. Only red, white and black paint was available, and the few extras included a radio, heater and power steering. Also offered were a clock, tinted glass, wire wheels and power seats, brakes and windows. No air conditioning was offered, which didn’t seem unusual because few cars had “air.” The 300 came as both a coupe and convertible, starting in 1957, and was built through 1965, when the 360-horsepower 300L became the last of the classic 300 “letter-series” cars. The first-generation Hemi V-8 was dropped in 1959 because it was a complicated engine that was costly to make. The 1959-65 300s thus had big, conventional, high-horsepower V-8s. The most-prized 300s are the 1955-58 models because they had the Hemi. A second version of the Hemi V-8 came in the 1960s for some Chrysler Corp. cars to keep the automaker among the hottest contenders in that decade’s muscle-car race. But they were totally different types of cars than the glamorous 1950s 300 Hemi models. The 1957-58 300C/300D looked sleeker and was more powerful than the 1955 C-300, but there’s no topping the 1955 300 because there’s no topping an original.

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Saturday 26th March 1955

62 years ago

Fonty Flock wheeled Frank Christian's Chevrolet to victory in the 100-mile NASCAR Grand National race at Columbia, South Carolina, US. It was the first win for the Chevrolet nameplate in NASCAR's premier stock car racing series.

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Friday 9th September 1955

62 years ago

Zora Arkus-Duntov drove a Corvette to the summit of Pikes Peak (4,303 metre), Colorado in a record breaking time of 17 minutes, 24.05 seconds. Duntov had set a new sedan class record by more than 2 minutes. Chevrolet immediately launched an extensive advertising campaign around the Pikes Peak success. They used the opportunity to tout everything from Chevrolet’s superior handling to vehicle safety. Billboard ads and printed newspaper supplements appeared all over the U.S. in short order. Duntov’s record setting run up Pikes Peak brought him to the attention of others in GM and throughout the world of motor sports. He leveraged this success to create opportunities for him to make important contributions to many of GM’s motor sports programs and the Corvette in particular.

Zora Duntov Sets Pikes Peak Record

Zora Duntov Sets Pikes Peak Record

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Wednesday 11th January 1956

61 years ago

The 1956-model Chevrolet Corvette was officially announced, a vast improvement over the first generation in almost every respect. At $3,120, the price had increased by only a nominal amount, around $200, over the previous year’s (V8-equipped) model. It featured a new body, a convertible top, optional power steering, real glass roll-up windows and an optional hardtop. The old six-engine was dropped, while the V8 was upped to 210 or 225 bhp, and 3-speed manual transmission became standard.

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Friday 31st August 1956

61 years ago

The Oldsmobile Golden Rocket show car was introduced. The radically styled fiberglass concept, designed to resemble a rocket on wheels, was revised several times and displayed at various other auto shows,[6] most notably at the 1957 Paris Motor Show where it generated much fanfare, 18 months after it was first revealed. The car was featured in the promotional short film Design for Dreaming along with the rest of the 1956 General Motors lineup. Similar to other Space Age show cars, the Golden Rocket was heavily influenced by the themes of aviation and space exploration. Its distinctive sleek aerodynamic body was made entirely from lightweight fiberglass and finished in metallic bronze paint. Bullet-shaped chrome pieces resembling Dagmar bumpers were integrated into the front fenders in place of headlights as well as the sweeping rear fenders, giving the car an overall rocket-like appearance. Other notable features include a swept-back wrap-around windshield, which had already become a common design element by the mid-1950s, less prominent tailfins by contemporary standards and a split-window fastback roof design presaging the 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. It rode on unique "dotted-line" whitewall tires. A later photo taken inside the GM Design Center in Warren, Michigan shows the car sporting a blue paint scheme. Interior: The leather upholstery was finished in blue and gold. When a door was opened, the two-piece roof panel rose automatically in a similar manner to the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL's gull-wing doors. The seats were raised up by three inches and swiveled outwards by 45 degrees, enabling easier access to the passenger compartment.One of its most pioneering innovations was the button-controlled tilt steering wheel, making it one of the first vehicles with such feature. The speedometer was placed at the center of the foldable two-spoke steering wheel. The futuristic center console and control levers were inspired by an aircraft cockpit. Powertrain: The car was powered by an upgraded 324-cubic inch Rocket V8 engine tuned to crank out 275 horsepower. According to interior photos, the Golden Rocket had an automatic transmission like all other Motorama show cars. Details on other internal components are unfortunately unavailable. is unclear if the Golden Rocket still exists today. A common practice of General Motors in the 1950s was to destroy show cars after they fell out of usage in order to avoid liability concerns; however, the Golden Rocket is still unaccounted for with no confirmation it was crushed, thus the possibility it may have survived. There is photographic evidence that the car still existed as late as 1962, while several other show cars were scrapped earlier in 1959. The car was reportedly located somewhere in New Jersey, however the rumor still remains unconfirmed even after extensive investigation. Motorama historian David W. Temple believes that the Golden Rocket, along with other lost show cars, will likely never resurface again.

Oldsmobile Golden Rocket  - 1956

Oldsmobile Golden Rocket - 1956

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Friday 19th April 1957

60 years ago

Chevrolet issued the "1957 Chevrolet Stock Car Competition Guide" to their drivers.

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Sunday 28th April 1957

60 years ago

Paul Goldsmith drove his Smokey Yunick Ford to victory in the 250 lap NASCAR Grand National race at the Greensboro Agricultural Fairgrounds 1/3 mile dirt track in Northa Carolina, US. Jack Smith's factory backed Chevrolet finished 5 seconds behind in second. Under pressure from the manufacturers association, Bill France banned superchargers and fuel injection. Both had been legal because they were available to the public.

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Thursday 27th June 1957

60 years ago

The Chevrolet Division of General Motors registered the "Impala" name as a trademark. Chevrolet had been in existence 46 years when the legendary Impala was majestically assembled for the first time back in 1957 for the 1958 model year. The Impala, named after the medium-sized African antelopes, was originally introduced as a top-of-the-line Chevy Bel Air, a car that had been in rotation since the 1950 model year. The Bel Air Impala was only built in Sport Coupe or convertible models, and was a departure from typical Chevys at that point with it's shorter greenhouse, longer rear deck, and lower setting on an X-type frame. The top model added many unique features, including the roof simulator extractor vents, a two-spoke steering wheel, and the iconic three-circle tail lights. Starting at $2,586, consumers had the choice between a 235-cubic-inch Blue Flame I6, 283-cubic-inch Turbo-Fire V8, and a 348-cubic-inch Turbo-Thrust V8. Advertisements said the car, "lets you know you're the boss," and for years to come, that's exactly what it did.

Chevrolet Impala - 1958

Chevrolet Impala - 1958

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Thursday 4th July 1957

60 years ago

Paul Goldsmith wheeled Smokey Yunick's Chevrolet to victory in the 250-mile NASCAR Grand National race at Raleigh Speedway. Herb Thomas maade his first start of the season after injuries suffered in October 1956.

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Monday 2nd September 1957

60 years ago

Speedy Thompson won the Southern 500 held at the Darlington Raceway, South Carolina, United States averaging 100.094 mph. The race car drivers still had to commute to the races using the same stock cars that competed in a typical weekend's race through a policy of homologation (and under their own power). This policy was in effect until roughly 1975. By 1980, NASCAR had completely stopped tracking the year model of all the vehicles and most teams did not take stock cars to the track under their own power anymore. It was the first Southern 500 to average better than 100 mph. Bobby Myers was fatally injured in a three-car crash on the 28th lap. Thompson drove the iconic 1957 Chevrolet during that race; that vehicle went on to win the 1958 and the 1959 runnings of the Southern 500. Owens acquired the pole position with a speed of 117.416 miles per hour (188.963 km/h) during the qualifying session, however, due to the abundant amount of clean air created by driving solo. T.A. Toomes received the last-place finish due to a problem with his brakes on lap 3 out of 364. Bobby Myers lost his life as a result of a race-related crash; Fonty Flock and Paul Goldsmith was also involved in this accident. George Parrish made a notable appearance in this race using a 1956 Studebaker Golden Hawk; he witnessed the fatal crash of Bobby Myers at an extremely close range. Since he had two children living at home with his wife, Parrish decided that the risky world of NASCAR racing wasn't for him and retired after the 1958 NASCAR Cup Series season. As a rookie, Cale Yarborough made his NASCAR debut here and finished in 42nd place (out of 50 drivers). Fonty Flock retired after this race.

Speedy Thompson - 1957 Southern 500

Speedy Thompson - 1957 Southern 500

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Sunday 6th October 1957

60 years ago

Bob Welborn, with relief help from Possum Jones, wion the Sweep­stakes 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Welborn's convertible Chevrolet outran the 40-car field of sedans and convertibles. It was Welborn's first NASCAR Grand National win.

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Sunday 27th October 1957

60 years ago

Buck Baker wrapped up his second straight NASCAR Grand National champion­ship campaign by wheeling his Chevrolet to a win in the 250-lap season finale at Central Carolina Fairground in Greensboro, North Carolina, US. Baker beat Marvin Panch by 760 points in the title hunt with his 10th win of the ­season.

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Thursday 31st October 1957

60 years ago

The Chevrolet Impala was introduced as top of the line Bel Air hardtops and convertibles. From the windshield pillar rearward, the 1958 Bel Air Impala differed structurally from the lower-priced Chevrolet models. Hardtops had a slightly shorter greenhouse and longer rear deck. The wheelbase of the Impala was longer than the lower priced models, although the overall length was identical. Interiors held a two-spoke steering wheel and color-keyed door panels with brushed aluminum trim. No other series included a convertible. The 1958 models were longer, lower, and wider than its predecessors.[8] The tailfins of the 1957 were replaced by deeply sculptured rear fenders. Impalas had three taillights each side, while lesser models had two and wagons just one. Crossed-flag insignias were attached above the side moldings, as well as bright rocker moldings and dummy rear-fender scoops. 1958 was the first year of dual headlamps. For 1958, GM was promoting their fiftieth year of production, and introduced anniversary models for each brand; Cadillac, Buick, Oldsmobile, Pontiac, and Chevrolet.[9] The 1958 models shared a common appearance on the top models for each brand; Cadillac Eldorado Seville, Buick Roadmaster Riviera, Oldsmobile Holiday 88, Pontiac Bonneville Catalina, and the all-new Chevrolet Bel-Air Impala. The standard perimeter-type frame was abandoned, replaced by a unit with rails laid out in the form of an elongated "X." Chevrolet claimed that the new frame offered increased torsional rigidity and allowed for a lower placement of the passenger compartment. This was a transitional step between traditional construction and the later fully unitized body/chassis, the body structure was strengthened in the rocker panels and firewall.[10] However, this frame was not as effective in protecting the interior structure in a side impact crash, as a traditional perimeter frame. A coil spring suspension replaced the previous year's rear leaf springs, and an air ride system was optional. A 283 cu in (4,640 cc) engine was the standard V8, with ratings that ranged from 185 to 290 horsepower. A "W" block (not to be confused with the big-block) 348 cu in (5,700 cc) Turbo-Thrust V8 was optional, producing 250 hp (190 kW), 280 hp (210 kW), or 315 hp (235 kW). The Ramjet fuel injection was available as an option for the Turbo-Fire 283 V8, not popular in 1958. A total of 55,989 Impala convertibles and 125,480 coupes were built representing 15 percent of Chevrolet production. The 1958 Chevrolet Bel Air Impala helped Chevrolet regain the number one production spot in this recession year

1958 Chevrolet Bel Air Impala

1958 Chevrolet Bel Air Impala

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Friday 20th December 1957

59 years ago

The first 1958 Ford Thunderbird (2nd generation), the first car completely designed by the styling team headed by George W. Walker and the first of the submarque to have four seats, was produced. It was offered in both hardtop and convertible body styles, although the latter was not introduced until June 1958, five months after the release of the hardtop. The new Thunderbird was considerably larger than the previous generation, with a longer 113.0 inches (2,870 mm) wheelbase to accommodate the new back seat. The increased size also increased the car's weight significantly by close to 1,000 pounds (454 kg). Along with a new, more rigid unibody construction was new styling, including dual headlights (for a total of four), more prominent tailfins, a bolder chrome grille, and a larger, though non-functional, hood scoop. Powering the Thunderbird was a new, 300 horsepower (220 kW) 352 cu in (5.8 L) FE V8, available with a 3-speed manual or automatic transmissions. In the part of model year 1958 that the car was available, sales were 37,892 units, outselling the previous model year 16,000 units. For 1959, the car received a new grille and a newly optional, 350 horsepower (260 kW) 430 cu in (7.0 L) MEL V8 for 1959, sales climbed even higher to 67,456. For 1960, the Thunderbird was given another new grille and other minor stylistic changes along with a newly optional manually operated sunroof for hardtop models. Dual-unit round taillights from 1958 to 1959 were changed to triple-units after the fashion of the Chevrolet Impala. Customers continued to approve of the car as it broke sales records yet again with 92,843 sold for 1960. Ford went ahead with a redesign for the Thunderbird to debut in 1961.

1958 Ford Thunderbird

1958 Ford Thunderbird

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Tuesday 31st December 1957

59 years ago

The four-passenger Ford 'Square Bird' was first unveiled at a New Year's Eve party at the exclusive Thunderbird Golf Club in Palm Springs, California. Although the 1955-57 Thunderbird was a success, Ford executives—particularly Robert McNamara – felt that the car's position as a two-seater restricted its sales potential. As a result, the car was redesigned as a four-seater for 1958. The new Thunderbird began a sales momentum previously unseen with the car, selling 200,000 units in three years, four times the result of the two seat model. This success spawned a new market segment, the personal luxury car. It was the first individual model line (as opposed to an entire company) to earn Motor Trend "Car of the Year" honors. It was offered in both hardtop and convertible body styles, although the latter was not introduced until June 1958, five months after the release of the hardtop.[14] The new Thunderbird was considerably larger than the previous generation, with a longer 113.0 inches (2,870 mm) wheelbase to accommodate the new back seat. The increased size also increased the car's weight significantly by close to 1,000 pounds (454 kg). Along with a new, more rigid unibody construction was new styling, including dual headlights (for a total of four), more prominent tailfins, a bolder chrome grille, and a larger, though non-functional, hood scoop. Powering the Thunderbird was a new, 300 horsepower (220 kW) 352 cu in (5.8 L) FE V8, available with a 3-speed manual or automatic transmissions. In the part of model year 1958 that the car was available, sales were 37,892 units, outselling the previous model year 16,000 units. For 1959, the car received a new grille and a newly optional, 350 horsepower (260 kW) 430 cu in (7.0 L) MEL V8 for 1959, sales climbed even higher to 67,456. For 1960, the Thunderbird was given another new grille and other minor stylistic changes along with a newly optional manually operated sunroof for hardtop models. Dual-unit round taillights from 1958 to 1959 were changed to triple-units after the fashion of the Chevrolet Impala. Customers continued to approve of the car as it broke sales records yet again with 92,843 sold for 1960. Ford went ahead with a redesign for the Thunderbird to debut in 1961.

1958 Ford Thunderbird brochure

1958 Ford Thunderbird brochure

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Friday 30th May 1958

59 years ago

Fireball Roberts drove his Chevrolet to a big win in the 500-mile NASCAR Grand National race at Trenton, New Jersey (US). The race was the first 500-miler staged north of Darlington (North Carolina, US).

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Wednesday 11th June 1958

59 years ago

The 39 millionth Chevrolet car was built, a 1958 Corvette

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Thursday 16th October 1958

59 years ago

Chevrolet introduced the El Camino, a sedan-pickup created to compete with Ford's popular Ranchero model. Built on the full-size Chevrolet challis, the big El Camino failed to steal the Ranchero's market and was discontinued after two years. But four years later, in 1964, the El Camino was given a second life as a derivative of the Chevelle series, a line of cars commonly termed "muscle cars." The Chevelles were stylish and powerful vehicles that reflected the youthful energy of the 1960s and early 1970s, and sold well. The Chevelle Malibu Super Sport was the archetypal muscle car, featuring a V-8 as large as 454 cubic inches, or 7.4 liters. Chevelles came in sedans, wagons, convertibles, and hardtops, and, with the reintroduction of the El Camino in 1964, as a truck. The station wagon-based El Camino sedan-pickup had a successful run during its second manifestation as a Chevelle, and proved an attractive conveyance for urban cowboys and the horsey set.

1959 Chevrolet El Camino

1959 Chevrolet El Camino

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Thursday 6th August 1959

58 years ago

The Chevrolet Corporation registered the Corvair name for its new rear-engine compact car. Corsairs became quite controversial - people either loved them or hated them. The car was accused of being "unsafe at any speed," with much criticism directed toward its handling, even though a 1972 government study later exonerated the Corvair.

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Friday 2nd October 1959

58 years ago

Chevrolet debuted the Corvair. The 1960 Corvair 569 and 769 series four-door saloons were conceived as thrift cars offering few amenities in order to keep the price competitive, with the 500 (standard model) selling for under $2,000. Powered by the Turbo Air 6 engine 80 hp (60 kW; 81 PS) and three-speed manual or optional extra cost two-speed Powerglide automatic transmission, the Corvair was designed to have comparable acceleration to the six-cylinder full-size Chevrolet Biscayne. The Corvair's unique design included the "Quadri-Flex" independent suspension and "Unipack Power Team" of engine, transmission and rear axle combined into a single unit. Similar to designs of European cars such as Porsche, Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz and others, quadri-flex used coil springs at all four wheels with independent rear suspension arms incorporated at the rear. Specially designed 6.5 in by 13 in. 4-ply tyres mounted on 13 inch wheels with 5.5 in. width were standard equipment. Available options included RPO 360, the Powerglide two-speed automatic transmission ($146), RPO 118, a Gasoline Heater ($74), RPO 119, an AM tube radio ($54), and by February 1960 the rear folding seat (formerly $32) was standard. Chevrolet produced 47,683 of the 569 model and 139,208 769 model deluxe sedans in 1960.

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Saturday 16th January 1960

57 years ago

The Chicago Auto Show opened to the public. Harsh winter weather did not keep Chicagoans away who had a batch of new imports and compact cars to gaze at in 1960, along with chrome-laden full-size models. As automakers aimed at economy, Chevrolet introduced its rear-engine Corvair, Ford offered the new compact Falcon and Chrysler developed the Valiant. The show also offered the public a glimpse of nearly three- dozen imported makes, including Deutsch-Bonnet, Toyota and Fiat. This was the final viewing of the waning DeSoto line. A few 1961 DeSotos were built, but production halted prior to the 1961 show.

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Thursday 28th January 1960

57 years ago

Automotive engineer Earl S MacPherson (68), whose career included stints with Chalmers, Libert, Hupmobile, and Chevrolet before executive roles with General Motors and the Ford Motor Company, died. For most of World War I, MacPherson was in Europe working on aircraft engines for the U.S. Army. His experience there left an indelible impression on MacPherson, and his exposure to the advanced, sophisticated engineering informed everything he would do in the next half-century. His entire pre-war career revolved around the automotive industry. From 1919 to 1922, he worked for auto manufacturer Liberty, before moving on to Hupmobile until 1934, when he joined General Motors' central engineering office. In just one year, MacPherson would become Chevrolet's chief design engineer. His task: direct the creation of a small car for Chevrolet. That car never came to fruition. And it is a second small Chevrolet that never materialized for which MacPherson is generally remembered. The charge was to produce a Chevrolet that was to sell for $1,000 or less. The least expensive Fords and Chevrolets were priced at $1,050. GM's chairman, Alfred P. Sloan, was opposed to building small, cheap cars, believing (rightly it turned out) that the United States would be treated to unprecedented prosperity, and that conventional automobiles would win the day. As a compromise, Chevrolet embarked on the Chevrolet Light Car Project in 1945, and MacPherson was installed as chief engineer. MacPherson assembled an incredible team of engineers for the project. Earl W. Rohrbacher, chief designer for mechanical components on the Light Car, noted in an article written by Karl Ludvigsen that "MacPherson didn't like to rush a design," adding "He liked to think it out very thoroughly before any experimental parts were built up. He said you saved money in the long run that way." Parts did begin to be constructed, though, and when they did, they were world-class. Elements of the Light Car were described as "an engineer's dream." The car featured a front engine and rear drive, since MacPherson decided that this was the best configuration for a four-door passenger car with a target weight of 2,200 pounds. The car was small: It was designed for just four passengers, and had a wheelbase of just 108 inches, eight inches shorter than a traditional Chevy. It was the Light Car's suspension system, though, that was truly revolutionary. MacPherson had combined the tubular shock absorbers and coil springs into tall towers that also guided the vertical travel of the wheels. Each of the car's four wheels were suspended independent from each other. Tubular radius rods controlled the movement of the lower end of each tower. The Light Car--by now known as the Cadet--became the first car with a true MacPherson strut suspension. The innovative suspension system was also employed at the rear, which is something you don't generally see on modern cars. It had to be in this case, because MacPherson wanted more seat and trunk room, and to reduce unsprung weight and provide an exceptional ride. In testing at the GM Proving Grounds in Milford, Michigan, the cars showed outstanding characteristics. The Delco Division worked to improve durability of the struts, while eliminating any squeaks with nylon bushings. The struts allowed for long wheel travel, while still providing light and pleasant handling, described as "snappy" by testers. Handling characteristics were better than that year's Chevrolet's, and even better than contemporary Cadillacs'. Unfortunately, the project was proving to be expensive. At the $1,000-a-unit threshold, Chevrolet's salesmen would have had to sell 300,000 Cadets a year to make a profit, something they felt was impossible. After tangling with GM engineering vice president James M. Crawford, who felt that the Cadet was "too much of a jewel of a car," and pressed for more simplicity in its design and engineering, MacPherson had seen just about enough at General Motors. MacPherson soon received an offer from Harold Youngren at Ford Motor Company, and he packed up and took his talents to Dearborn. In the intervening years, MacPherson's genius was employed in the Ford overhead-valve six-cylinder, and most notably, in the use of his innovative suspension system in the front of the French Ford Vedette, and later, the English Ford Consul and Zephyr, and later on Volkswagen Type IVs and Super Beetles. The combined advantages of low unsprung mass and space-saving design made the MacPherson strut suspension system the tool of choice for cars built in the 1980s. Ironically, it wasn't until 1980, when the X-body Citation debuted, that Chevrolet would finally employ the system MacPherson designed.

Earl S MacPherson

Earl S MacPherson

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Thursday 10th March 1960

57 years ago

Gordon Keeble introduced the Gordon GT at the Geneva Motor Show. The car came about when John Gordon, formerly of the struggling Peerless company, and Jim Keeble got together in 1959 to make the Gordon GT car, initially by fitting a Chevrolet Corvette V8 engine, into a chassis by Peerless, for a USAF pilot named Nielsen. Impressed with the concept, a 4.6 litre Chevrolet (283 c.i.) V8 was fitted into a specially designed square-tube steel spaceframe chassis, with independent front suspension and all-round disc brakes. The complete chassis was then taken to Turin, Italy, where a body made of steel panels designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro was built by Bertone. The car's four five-inch headlights were in the rare, slightly angled "Chinese eye" arrangement also used by a few other European marques, generally for high-speed cars such as Lagonda Rapide, Lancia Flaminia and Triumphs, as well as Rolls-Royce. The interior had an old luxury jet feel, with white on black gauges, toggle switches, and quilted aircraft PVC. This British company produced 100 cars between 1964 and 1967. The marque's badge was unusual in featuring a tortoise after a pet tortoise walked into the frame of an inaugural photo-shoot, taken in the grounds of t

Gordon GT

Gordon GT

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Sunday 24th December 1961

55 years ago

General Motors styling chief William L Mitchell has his self-proclaimed "greatest moment" as Buick accepts his design for the 1963 Riviera and Chevrolet accepts his design for the 1963 split-window Corvette.

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Saturday 13th January 1962

55 years ago

Ernie Kovacs, a comedian who hosted his own television shows during the 1950's and is said to have influenced such TV hosts as Johnny Carson and David Letterman, died at the age of 42 after crashing his Chevrolet Corvair into a telephone pole in Los Angeles, California, while driving during a rainstorm. Kovacs, who often appeared on camera with his trademark cigar, was found by police with an unlit cigar, leading to speculation that he had been reaching for the cigar and lost control of his vehicle. The Corvair was later made infamous by Ralph Nader's groundbreaking 1965 book "Unsafe at Any Speed: The Designed-In Dangers of the American Automobile," about unsafe practices in the auto industry.

Ernie Kovacs

Ernie Kovacs

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Saturday 17th February 1962

55 years ago

In its second year at McCormick Place, the Chicago Auto Show continued to grow, with exhibits on two levels of the facility. Among the new models introduced that year were the Chevy II, Ford Fairlane and Mercury Meteor. For mid-1962, Chevrolet decided to turn the rear-engined Corvair into a sporty machine, courtesy of a turbocharged engine, tachometer, four-speed gearbox, tauter suspension and Monza Spyder designation. Among the imports seen that year were Alfa-Romeo, Austin, Commer, Daimler, Fiat-Abarth, Osca, Porsche, Opel and Simca.

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Monday 30th April 1962

55 years ago

The 47,000,000th Chevrolet is produced.

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Friday 28th September 1962

55 years ago

The 1963 Chevrolet cars and trucks were introduced on the same day that the 48,000,000th Chevrolet was produced.

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Sunday 10th March 1963

54 years ago

Junior Johnson won the "150 mile" NASCAR Grand National race on a dusty Orange Speedway. The race actually was 148.5 miles, but promoters still billed it as a "150". Actress Jayne Mansfield presented the trophy to Johnson, who won $1550 for his efforts on the 9/10 mile dirt track. Johnson's Ray Fox Chevrolet finished 2 seconds ahead of Jim Paschal's Petty Engineering Plymouth. Herman "The Turtle" Beam was running at the finish, the 84th consecutive race he had done so.

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Sunday 24th March 1963

54 years ago

NASCAR Hall of Famer Junior Johnson drove a Ray Fox-owned Chevrolet to a one-lap victory over Richard Petty in the Hickory 250 at Hickory Speedway, North Carolina, US. Petty, who led 84 laps before Johnson took control at the halfway point, places second with Ned Jarrett third.

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Sunday 23rd June 1963

54 years ago

Worth McMillion made his Grand National racing debut driving a Pontiac at South Boston, Virginia, US. He participated in 62 races until his retirement in 1969. McMillion finished only once in the top-five and eighteen times in the top-ten. Total earnings for this driver were $15,690 ($102,469.08 when considering inflation) after competing in 9,142.0 miles (14,712.6 km) of stock car racing experience. While McMillion had raced in 16161 laps, he was the leader in none of them. His average start was 24th place while his average finish was in 14th place.From 1962 to 1965, McMillion was a driver/owner. Starting in 1965, Worth McMillion drove for other owners like Allen McMillion and Roy Tyner. Most of his races were done in Pontiac vehicles (either in a 1962 Pontiac Catalina or in 1964 generic Pontiac vehicle) while two races would have him use a generic 1962 Chevrolet vehicle. The most money that McMillion has ever earned in a race was at the 1964 World 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He would earn $1,200 ($9,266.52 when considering inflation) for his 14th-place finish after starting in 37th place (out of 44 qualifying drivers).

Worth McMillion

Worth McMillion

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Wednesday 9th October 1963

54 years ago

The Rover company, previously manufacturers of staid and technically unadventurous cars, announced the advanced P6 2000. The vehicle was marketed first as the Rover 2000 and was a complete "clean sheet" design intended to appeal to a larger number of buyers than earlier models such as the P4 it replaced. Rover had identified a developing market between the standard '1.5-litre' saloon car class (such as the Ford Consul and the Singer Gazelle) and the accepted 'three-litre' large saloon cars (typified by the Wolseley 6/99 and the Vauxhall Cresta). Younger and increasingly affluent professional workers and executives were seeking out cars that were superior to the normal 1.5-litre models in style, design and luxury but which offered more modern driving dynamics than the big three-litre class and lower purchase and running costs than sports saloons such as the Jaguar Mark 2. Automotive technology had improved significantly in the mid-to-late 1950s, typified by the introduction of cars such as the Citroen DS and Lancia Flavia in Europe and the Chevrolet Corvair in America. The replacement for the traditionally-designed P4 would therefore be a smaller car with a two-litre engine (although a gas turbine was invisioned as power unit in the future) utilising the latest design, engineering and styling, thus making the Rover one of the earliest examples of what would now be classified as an executive car. The P6 would be lower-priced than the P4 and sales volumes were anticipated to be significantly higher. The P5 was sold alongside the P6 until 1973.[citation needed] The 2000 was advanced for the time with a de Dion tube suspension at the rear, four-wheel disc brakes (inboard on the rear), and a fully synchromesh transmission. The unibody design featured non-stressed panels bolted to a unit frame, inspired by the Citroën DS. The de Dion set-up was unique in that the "tube" was in two parts that could telescope, thereby avoiding the need for sliding splines in the drive shafts, with consequent stiction under drive or braking torque, while still keeping the wheels vertical and parallel in relation to the body. The Rover 2000 won industry awards for safety when it was introduced and included a carefully designed "safety" interior. One innovative feature was the prism of glass on the top of the front side lights. This allowed the driver to see the front corner of the car in low light conditions, and also confirmed that they were operative. One unique feature of the Rover 2000 was the design of the front suspension system, in which a bell crank (an L-shaped rotating bracket trailing the upper hub carrier joint) conveyed the vertical motion of the wheel to a fore-and-aft-horizontally mounted spring fastened to the rear wall of the engine compartment. A single hydraulically damped arm was mounted on the firewall for the steering.The front suspension was designed to allow as much width for the engine compartment as possible so that Rover's Gas Turbine engine could be fitted. In the event, the engine was never used for the production vehicle, but the engine compartment width facilitated the accommodation of the V8 engine adopted years after the P6's initial launch. Sculptor Flaminio Bertoni's Citroën DS body inspired David Bache. With a nod to the new Kamm tail, the finished Rover appearance incorporated a necessarily enlarged boot filled otherwise by Rover's de Dion rear suspension. It lacked the Citroën shark nose, which it was planned to introduce later as a drooping bonnet with headlamps in pods and projecting sidelights. The luggage compartment was limited in terms of usable space, because of the "base unit" construction, complex rear suspension and, in series II vehicles, the battery location. Lack of luggage space led to the optional mounting on the boot lid and also to optional Dunlop Denovo run-flat technology for a limited time on later vehicles. The car's primary competitor on the domestic UK market was the Triumph 2000, also released in October 1963, just one week after the Rover. In continental Europe the Rover 2000 contended in the same sector as the Citroën DS which, like the initial Rover offering, was offered only with a four-cylinder engine – a situation which was resolved in the Rover four years after its launch, when Rover's compact V8 was engineered to fit into the engine bay. The Rover 2000 interior was not as spacious as those of its Triumph and Citroën rivals, especially in the back, where its sculpted two-person rear seat implied that Rover customers wishing to accommodate three in the back of a Rover should opt for the larger and older Rover 3 Litre. Six days later Standard-Triumph announced the Triumph 2000.

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Monday 15th February 1965

52 years ago

The Chevrolet Caprice was introduced in the US as an upscale Impala Sport Sedan. The Caprice name was coined by Bob Lund (Chevrolet's General Sales Manager) after a classy restaurant he frequented in New York City. Some say the car was named after Caprice Chapman, daughter of auto executive and influential Indy-car official James P. Chapman. A Caprice Custom Sedan option package (RPO Z18) was offered on the 1965 Chevrolet Impala 4-door hardtop, adding $200 to the $2,742 price tag. The Caprice option included a heavier frame, suspension changes, black accented front grille and rear trim panel with Caprice nameplate, slender body sill moldings, Fleur-de-lis roof quarter emblems, color-keyed bodyside stripes and Caprice hood and dash emblems. Full wheel covers were the same as that year's Super Sport, but the "SS" emblem in the center of the spinner was replaced by a Chevy bowtie. The Super Sport's blackout rear trim panel was also used, without the "Impala SS" nameplate. The interior featured a higher-grade cloth and vinyl seat and door trim (as well as thicker, higher-grade carpeting), faux walnut trim on the dashboard and door panels, pull straps on the doors and extra convenience lights. A full vinyl roof was optional. A 283 cu in (4.6 L), 195 hp (145 kW) V8 engine was standard. The Caprice was intended to compete with the Ford LTD, Plymouth VIP, AMC's Ambassador DPL, and even the smaller Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme.[3] These models included luxuriously upholstered interiors with simulated wood dashboard and door-panel trim, thicker carpeting, sound insulation, courtesy lighting, and more upscale exterior trims. Chevrolet offered a full line of Caprice models for the 1966 and subsequent model years, including a "formal hardtop" coupe and an Estate station wagon. The 1971 to 1976 models are the largest Chevrolets ever built. The downsized 1977 and restyled 1991 models were awarded Motor Trend Car of the Year. Production ended in 1996.

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Saturday 20th February 1965

52 years ago

Datsun (Nissan) sold its first car in Chicago on the opening day of the auto show. Making their world debut were the AMC Marlin, Ford Thunderbird Special Landau coupe, and Chevrolet Caprice. Popular concept vehicles included the Dodge Charger II, Mercury Comet Cyclone Sportster and Plymouth VIP.

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Tuesday 10th August 1965

52 years ago

The Ford Bronco, intended to compete against Jeep's CJ-5 and International Harvester's Scout, was introduced, feeding the burgeoning four-wheel-drive market. The first Broncos were very simple, without options such as power steering or automatic transmission. The idea behind the Bronco began with Ford product manager Donald N. Frey, who also conceived the Ford Mustang; and similarly, Lee Iacocca pushed the idea through into production. In many ways, the Bronco was a more original concept than the Mustang; whereas the Mustang was based upon the Ford Falcon, the Bronco had a frame, suspension, and a body that were not shared with any other vehicle.The Bronco was designed under engineer Paul G. Axelrad. Although the axles and brakes were used from the Ford F-100 four wheel drive pickup truck, the front axle was located by radius arms (from the frame near the rear of the transmission forward to the axle) and a lateral track bar, allowing the use of coil springs that gave the Bronco a 34-foot (10.4 m) turning circle, long wheel travel, and an anti-dive geometry which was useful for snowplowing. The rear suspension was more conventional, with leaf springs in a typical Hotchkiss design. A shift-on the-fly Dana Holding Corporation transfer case and locking hubs were standard, and heavy-duty suspension was an option. The initial engine was the Ford 170 cu in (2.8 L) straight-6, modified with solid valve lifters, a 6-US-quart (6 l) oil pan, heavy-duty fuel pump, oil-bath air cleaner, and a carburetor with a float bowl compensated against tilting. Styling was subordinated to simplicity and economy, so all glass was flat, bumpers were straight C-sections, the frame was a simple box-section ladder, and the basic left and right door skins were identical except for mounting holes. The early Broncos were offered in wagon, halfcab, and a less popular roadster configuration. The roadster version was dropped and the sport package, which later became a model line, was added. The base price was US$2,194, but the long option list included front bucket seats, a rear bench seat, a tachometer, and a CB radio, as well as functional items such as a tow bar, an auxiliary gas tank, a power take-off, a snowplow, a winch, and a posthole digger. Aftermarket accessories included campers, overdrive units, and the usual array of wheels, tires, chassis, and engine parts for increased performance. The Bronco sold well in its first year (23,776 units produced[4]) and then remained in second place after the CJ-5[5] until the advent of the full-sized Chevrolet Blazer in 1969. Lacking a dedicated small SUV platform, the Blazer was based on their existing full size pickup which was a larger and more powerful vehicle, offering greater luxury, comfort and space. The longer option list included an automatic transmission and power steering, and thus had broader appeal. Ford countered by enlarging the optional V8 engine from 289 cu in (4.7 L) and 200 hp (150 kW) to 302 cu in (4.9 L) and 205 hp (153 kW), but this still could not match the Blazer's optional 350 cu in (5.7 L) and 255 hp (190 kW) (horsepower numbers are before horsepower ratings changed in the early to mid-1970s.) In 1973, the 170 was replaced by a 200 cu in (3.3 L) straight six, power steering and automatic transmissions were made optional, and sales spiked to 26,300. By then, however, Blazer sales were double those of the Bronco, and International Harvester had seen the light and come out with the Scout II that was more in the Blazer class. By 1974, the larger and more comfortable vehicles such as the Jeep Cherokee (SJ) made more sense for the average driver than the more rustically oriented Bronco. The low sales of the Bronco (230,800 over twelve years) did not allow a large budget for upgrades, and it remained basically unchanged until the advent of the larger, more Blazer-like second generation-Bronco in 1978. Production of the original model fell (14,546 units) in its last year, 1977.

Ford Bronco - 1966

Ford Bronco - 1966

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Wednesday 25th August 1965

52 years ago

First production of the Iso Grifo GL, powered by American Chevrolet Corvette small-block 327 (5.4 L) V8s fitted to Borg-Warner 4-speed manual transmissions, began. With over 400 horsepower (300 kW) and a vehicle weight of less than 2,200 pounds (1,000 kg), the Grifo was able to reach speeds over 275 km/h (171 mph).

Iso Grifo GL

Iso Grifo GL

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Tuesday 7th December 1965

51 years ago

Chevrolet produced its 3,000,000th car for the year. It was the first time Chevrolet had produced an annual total surpassing 3,000,000 vehicles.

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Thursday 10th February 1966

51 years ago

Ralph Nader testified before the US Senate, restating his claims that the automobile industry was socially irresponsible and detailing the peculiar methods the industry used in attempting to silence him. Nader's 1965 book, Unsafe At Any Speed: The Designed-In Dangers of the American Automobile, attacked the automotive industry's unwillingness to consider the safety of the consumer. Nader's heaviest criticism was leveled at the Chevrolet Corvair, a car that had been involved in a high number of one-car accidents. General Motors (GM) responded to Nader's criticism by launching an investigation into his personal life and accusing Nader of being gay and anti-Semitic. Nader filed an invasion of privacy suit against GM, and ultimately exacted $425,000 from the automotive giant. By bringing the public's right to safe automobiles into the spotlight, and by directly challenging General Motors in court, Nader created the methodology for contemporary consumer advocacy. The National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act, which in 1966 mandated seatbelts, owed its existence to Nader's initiative, as do the other federally regulated safety standards, which are common practice today.

Ralph Nader

Ralph Nader

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Saturday 19th February 1966

51 years ago

Introductions at the Chicago Auto Show included the Chevrolet Caribe and Concours, the Ford Magic Cruiser, the Chrysler 300-X research car and the Dodge Charger, which was easy to spot with its long fastback body. Dodge also displayed the Coronet 500, which was equipped with a V8 engine and only available as a convertible or hardtop coupe. Also that year, Chevelles ranked high on the wish lists of muscle car fans. Visitors couldn't get enough of the models on display fitted with Super Sport (SS) trim, and a massive 6.5 litre V8 engine, packing 325 horsepower.

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Saturday 26th February 1966

51 years ago

Mario Andretti made his first Daytona 500 start, driving a Chevrolet for Smokey Yunick. Richard Petty, driving a Plymouth, won the race, which was shortened by two laps because of rain.

Mario Andretti

Mario Andretti

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Tuesday 12th April 1966

51 years ago

Sydney Allard (55), who won both the Monte Carlo rally and achieved a podium finish at the Le Mans 24 hours race on his first attempt, in cars bearing his own nam, died. Educated at Ardingly College in Sussex. Allard commenced racing in 1929 with a Morgan three-wheeler, later converted to four wheels, which he ran at Brooklands and in early trial events. In 1935 he won his class for unlimited unsupercharged sports cars, at the Brighton Speed Trials in the first of his Ford V-8 engined speciaIs. Further competition success ensured that the Allard Special was put into limited production with Ford V8 and Lincoln V12 motors. In 1937 Allard attempted to climb Ben Nevis in Scotland, in his Allard Special. The car overturned and rolled, but Allard emerged with only bruising. That year, Allard, with Ken Hutchison and Guy Warburton in the ‘Tailwaggers’ Allard-Specials team, competed successfully in trials, sprints, rallies and races.On July 15, 1939, Allard took a class win at the Lewes Speed Trials in a time of 22.12 secs. Allard won the last speed event to be held in England prior to World War Two. Having set the fastest time at the Horndean Speed Trials, his car overturned past the finish line. Both he and his passenger, Bill Boddy, were thrown clear and uninjured. During World War Two Sydney Allard operated a large repair shop fixing army vehicles, including Ford trucks and Jeeps. In 1943 he had 225 employees and was renovating more than 30 vehicles a week. At the end of the war Sydney soon returned to competition, taking part in the Filton Speed Trials on October 28, 1945. He restarted his car company, coping with petrol rationing, material shortages and export quotas. Allard won the 1949 British Hill Climb Championship at the wheel of the Steyr-Allard, fitted with a war surplus air-cooled V8 engine. He was third in the Championship in 1947 and 1948, winning in 1949, second in 1950, and third again in 1951. In 1949, Allard cars won the team prize in the Monte Carlo Rally (L. Potter 4th overall, A.A.C. Godsall 8th, A.G. Imhof 11th) with Sydney Allard finishing in 24th place. In 1950, Allard finished eighth in the Monte Carlo Rally, then raced in the Targa Florio in Sicily where his J2 Allard caught fire after losing control over a railway crossing. He bounced back with a third place at the 24 Hours of Le Mans that year, again in the J2 Allard, partnered with Tom Cole. A gearbox failure left Allard and Cole driving for hours with top gear only. Allard’s determination and fearless driving captured the imagination of the huge crowd. Sydney then achieved international recognition by winning the 1952 Monte Carlo Rally in an Allard P1, with co-driver Guy Warburton and navigator Tom Lush. Starting from Glasgow he narrowly defeated Stirling Moss, in a Sunbeam-Talbot 90, who finished second overall while competing in his first rally. The P1 was powered by a 4,375 c.c. Ford V8 side-valve motor. Mrs. Eleanor Allard, Sydney’s wife, also competed in this event, accompanied by her sisters Edna and Hilda, but retired. Allard competed again in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1951, 1952 and 1953 but did not finish. In 1952 he and Jack Fairman drove the works J2X, chassis number 3055, fitted with a Chrysler hemi engine, where the car retired at 6.30 a.m. In 1953 he shared a Cadillac-engined Allard JR with Philip Fotheringham-Parker, leading the race at the end of the first lap, but on lap four he was the first to retire when the quick-change differential chassis mounting fractured, causing damage to a rear brake pipe. In 1952 and 1953, a sister car was driven at Le Mans by Zora Arkus-Duntov, a one-time Allard employee. Carroll Shelby also raced an Allard-Cadillac J2 in the United States early in his driving career. Thus the successful Allard formula of an American V8 engine in a light chassis inspired the development of the Chevrolet Corvette and the A.C. Shelby Cobra. In the 1960’s, Sydney Allard continued to compete in rallies mostly accompanied by Australian navigator Tom Fisk. They won their class in the 1963 Monte Carlo Rally in a Ford Allardette. Starting from Glasgow they reached Monte Carlo unpenalised. In the 1964 Monte Allard hit a level-crossing in Czechoslovakia in his Ford Cortina and retired. Sydney’s final outing in the Monte Carlo Rally came in 1965. In 1961 Sydney Allard, (considered by many to be the father of British drag racing), built the Allard dragster. Constructed in 23 weeks between January and June 1961, in a small workshop directly beneath Sydney’s office at the Allard main works on Clapham High Street, the car featured a 354-cubic inch Chrysler motor with front-mounted 6-71 GMC supercharger. The car was then invited to appear over the standing start quarter mile at an N.S.A. record meeting at Wellesbourne Aerodrome, near Stratford-Upon-Avon, on October 14, 1961. Denis Jenkinson writing in Motor Sport said: “Sydney Allard pointed the sleek blue dragster down the quarter-mile, let in the clutch, opened up and with a sound like a large bomber going down the runway disappeared through the timing traps in 10.841 sec”. Sadly few spectators witnessed this achievement. According to Jenkinson: “Allard’s temperamental machine eventually did 10.48 sec on its best run,” for the standing-start quarter mile, which took place at Debden, Essex on April 14, 1962. At the time, this was the fastest quarter-mile time ever recorded in the U.K. He passed away at his home, Black Hills, Esher, Surrey on April 12, 1966, the day after the opening of Santa Pod, the first purpose-built dragstrip in England. Fittingly, it was one of the biggest events to date for drag racing in England and several Allard Dragons were in competition that day.

Sydney Allard

Sydney Allard

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Saturday 14th May 1966

51 years ago

The Subaru 1000, the first front wheel drive Subaru produced by Fuji Heavy Industries that was in the Japanese government "compact car" classification, went on sale. Previous Subaru models such as the Subaru 360 and the Sambar had been rear-engined, rear wheel drive kei cars. It was the first production Subaru to use a boxer engine. In 1960, Subaru management decided to introduce a successor to the prototype Subaru 1500 with a new code name "A-5" with a four-cycle air-cooled horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine displacing 1500 cc, driving the front wheels in a compact car platform. It was to have a double wishbone front suspension. Due to FHI's limited resources, the car wasn't produced. The Subaru 360 was selling at the time but Subaru wanted a car that could comfortably carry four passengers without a cramped compartment, that would appear to be an alternative to the Toyota Publica, the Datsun 110/210, the Hino Contessa, and the Mitsubishi Colt 600. Subaru also wanted to reduce engine noise by placing the engine up front and improve interior space by implementing front wheel drive, thereby eliminating a centrally mounted drive shaft powering the rear wheels, and utilizing an independent suspension at all four wheels. The only other Japanese company to use an air-cooled, horizontally opposed engine at the time was in the Publica, and the Toyota U engine. In 1963, Subaru tried again, with a new project code "A-4", with a smaller 923 cc engine, front wheel drive, and an overall length of 3,885 mm (153.0 in), a wheelbase of 2,400 mm (94 in), a front wheel width of 1,230 mm (48 in) and a rear wheel width of 1,220 mm (48 in), weighing 500 kg (1,100 lb). It made it towards production status and was changed to production code "A-63" and was eventually introduced as the Subaru 1000. To address space efficiency and a quiet operation with minimal vibration, the engine was developed as a water-cooled engine instead of the original intent of air-cooled in the "A-5" concept. These cars featured a unique water-cooled, horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine, with overhead valves operated by pushrods. Subaru engineers examined Porsche, Volkswagen and even Chevrolet Corvair and thought it would be nice if this type of engine is combined with front wheel drive system. The neck in proceeding the mechanism was the vibrations from universal joints, but in collaboration with the bearing maker Toyo Bearing (now known as NTN), the epoch-making "double offset joint" was invented. Modern Subaru's still make use of horizontally opposed four-cylinder engines, albeit of a much greater capacity and with more modern overhead-cam-driven valves. As was typical of early front wheel drive cars, the 1000 featured inboard drum brakes up front to reduce unsprung suspension weight and an easier implementation of an independent front suspension (but atypically Subaru would retain this unusual design into the seventies). Other unique features of the 1000 were a lack of a heater core, the heating system took its warmth directly from the radiator, and a hybrid suspension system that used torsion bars in combination with coil springs (much like the front suspension of the Subaru 360). The 1000 was superseded by the 1100 (also known as the Subaru FF-1 Star in the United States and in other export markets) at the start of the seventies.

Subaru 1000 - 1966

Subaru 1000 - 1966

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Tuesday 28th June 1966

51 years ago

At a press conference in Detroit’s Statler-Hilton Hotel, Chevrolet’s Pete Estes announced a new car line, project designation XP-836. The name that Chevrolet chose was in keeping with their other car names beginning with the letter C, such as the Corvair, Chevelle, Chevy II and Corvette. He claimed the name ‘suggests the comradeship of good friends, as a personal car should be to its owner’, and that ‘to us, the name means just what we think the car will do… Go!’ The new Camaro name was then unveiled. The automotive press asked Chevrolet product managers what a Camaro was and were told it was ‘a small, vicious animal that eats Mustangs’. The first-generation Chevrolet Camaro appeared in Chevrolet dealerships in September 1966, for the 1967 model year on a brand-new rear-wheel drive GM F-body platform and was available as a 2-door, 2+2 seat, hardtop (no "B" or center pillar) or convertible with a choice of six-cylinder and V8 power plants. The first-generation Camaro was built through the 1969 model year. The Camaro's standard drive train was either a 230 cu in (3.8 L) straight-6 engine rated at 140 hp (104 kW) or a 327 cu in (5.4 L) (307 cu in (5.0 L) later in 1969) V8 engine, with a standard three-speed manual transmission. There were 8 (in 1967), 10 (in 1968), and 12 (in 1969) different engines available in 1967-1969 Camaros. The two-speed "Powerglide" automatic transmission was optional. The three-speed "Turbo Hydra-Matic 350" automatic became available starting in 1969. The larger Turbo 400 three-speed automatic was an option on SS396 cars. A four-speed manual was optional. There was a plethora of other options available all three years, including three main packages: The RS was an appearance package that included hidden headlights, revised taillights with back-up lights under the rear bumper, RS badging, and exterior bright trim. It was available on any model. The SS performance package consisted of a 350 or 396 cu in V8 engine and chassis upgrades for better handling and to deal with the additional power. The SS featured non-functional air inlets on the hood, special striping, and SS badging. The Z/28 performance package was designed (with further modifications) to compete in the SCCA Trans-Am series. It included a solid-lifter 302 V8, 4-speed transmission, power disc brakes, and two wide stripes down the hood and trunk lid. The idea of offering such a wide variety of "packages" and numerous options was to "blanket" Camaro's end of the personal car market with everything from a nice, plain and docile Six to a gaudy and fire breathing V8.[6] Almost all of 1967-1969 Camaros were built in the two U.S. assembly plants: Norwood, Ohio and Van Nuys, California. There were also five non-U.S. Camaro assembly plants in countries that required local assembly and content. These plants were located in the Philippines, Belgium, Switzerland, Venezuela, and Peru.

Camaro - 1966

Camaro - 1966

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Thursday 11th August 1966

51 years ago

The first Chevrolet Camaro drove out of the manufacturing plant in Norwood, Ohio. The 1967 Camaro coupe was named just weeks before production; General Manager Elliot Estes, when publicly announcing the name, quipped, "I went into a closet, shut the door and came out with the name." Camaro is actually French for "comrade, pal, or chum." The Camaro was a hit with the public, sporting a base price of only $2,466 for a 6 cylinder engine and three-speed manual transmission.The first-generation Camaro was built through the 1969 model year.The Camaro's standard drive train was either a 230 cu in (3.8 L) straight-6 engine rated at 140 hp (104 kW) or a 327 cu in (5.4 L) (307 cu in (5.0 L) later in 1969) V8 engine, with a standard three-speed manual transmission. There were 8 (in 1967), 10 (in 1968), and 12 (in 1969) different engines available in 1967-1969 Camaros. The two-speed "Powerglide" automatic transmission was optional. The three-speed "Turbo Hydra-Matic 350" automatic became available starting in 1969. The larger Turbo 400 three-speed automatic was an option on SS396 cars. A four-speed manual was optional.There was a plethora of other options available all three years, including three main packages: The RS was an appearance package that included hidden headlights, revised taillights with back-up lights under the rear bumper, RS badging, and exterior bright trim. It was available on any model. The SS performance package consisted of a 350 or 396 cu in V8 engine and chassis upgrades for better handling and to deal with the additional power. The SS featured non-functional air inlets on the hood, special striping, and SS badging. The Z/28 performance package was designed (with further modifications) to compete in the SCCA Trans-Am series. It included a solid-lifter 302 V8, 4-speed transmission, power disc brakes, and two wide stripes down the hood and trunk lid. Four distinct generations of the Camaro were developed before production ended in 2002. The nameplate was revived on a concept car that evolved into the fifth-generation Camaro; production started on March 16, 2009. The idea of offering such a wide variety of "packages" and numerous options was to "blanket" Camaro's end of the personal car market with everything from a nice, plain and docile Six to a gaudy and fire breathing V8

Chevrolet Camaro - 1966

Chevrolet Camaro - 1966

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Monday 12th September 1966

51 years ago

The Chevrolet Camaro was first shown at a press preview in Detroit, Michigan. It was available as a two-door convertible with 2+2 seating, and a choice of 3.8 L, 4.1 L inline-6 or 4.9 L, 5.0 L, 5.4 L), 5.7 L, 6.5 L, 7.0 L V8 powerplants. Concerned with the runaway success of the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet executives realized that their compact sporty car, the Corvair, would not be able to generate the sales volume of the Mustang due to its rear-engine design, as well as declining sales, partly due to the negative publicity from Ralph Nader's book, Unsafe at Any Speed. Therefore, the Camaro was touted as having the same conventional rear-drive, front-engine configuration as the Mustang and Chevy II Nova. In addition, the Camaro was designed to fit a variety of power plants in the engine bay. The first-generation Camaro lasted until the 1969 model year and eventually inspired the design of the new retro fifth-generation Camaro.

1968 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28

1968 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28

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Monday 26th September 1966

51 years ago

The Chevrolet Camaro "pony car" made its first public appearance. It was introduced as a 1967 model year and was designed as a competing model to the Ford Mustang. The first-generation Camaro was built through the 1969 model year. The Camaro's standard drive train was either a 230 cu in (3.8 L) straight-6 engine rated at 140 hp (104 kW) or a 327 cu in (5.4 L) (307 cu in (5.0 L) later in 1969) V8 engine, with a standard three-speed manual transmission. There were 8 (in 1967), 10 (in 1968), and 12 (in 1969) different engines available in 1967-1969 Camaros. The two-speed "Powerglide" automatic transmission was optional. The three-speed "Turbo Hydra-Matic 350" automatic became available starting in 1969. The larger Turbo 400 three-speed automatic was an option on SS396 cars. A four-speed manual was optional. There was a plethora of other options available all three years, including three main packages: The RS was an appearance package that included hidden headlights, revised taillights with back-up lights under the rear bumper, RS badging, and exterior bright trim. It was available on any model. The SS performance package consisted of a 350 or 396 cu in V8 engine and chassis upgrades for better handling and to deal with the additional power. The SS featured non-functional air inlets on the hood, special striping, and SS badging. The Z/28 performance package was designed (with further modifications) to compete in the SCCA Trans-Am series. It included a solid-lifter 302 V8, 4-speed transmission, power disc brakes, and two wide stripes down the hood and trunk lid. The idea of offering such a wide variety of "packages" and numerous options was to "blanket" Camaro's end of the personal car market with everything from a nice, plain and docile Six to a gaudy and fire breathing V8.

1968 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28

1968 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28

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Thursday 29th September 1966

51 years ago

The first-generation Chevrolet Camaro appeared in dealerships for the 1967 model year on a brand-new rear-wheel drive GM F-body platform and was available as a 2-door, 2+2 seat, coupe or convertible with a choice of six-cylinder and V8 powerplants. The first-generation Camaro would last up through the 1969 model year.The Camaro's standard drivetrain was either 3.8 litre straight-6 engine rated at 140 hp or a 5.4 litre (5.0 litre in 1969) V-8 engine, backed by a Saginaw three-speed manual transmission. There were 8 (in 67), 10 (in 68), and 12 (in 69) different engines available in 67-69 Camaros. And there were several transmission options. A four-speed manual was optional, replacing the base three-speed. The two-speed "Powerglide" automatic transmission was a popular option in 1967 and 1968 until the three-speed "Turbo Hydra-Matic 350" automatic became available starting in 1969. The larger Turbo 400 three-speed automatic was an option on SS396 cars.

Chevrolet Camaro - 1967 advertisment

Chevrolet Camaro - 1967 advertisment

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Friday 21st April 1967

50 years ago

General Motors (GM) celebrated the manufacture of its 100 millionth American-made car, a Caprice Custom Coupe Chevrolet made in the Janesville, Wisconsin plant. It took General Motors nearly 50 years to build its first 50 million vehicles, and right around 12 to build its second 50 million. Therein lies irrefutable evidence of GM’s stronghold on the average consumer in mid 20th-century America.

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Friday 28th April 1967

50 years ago

Bobby Allison drove away from a duel with James Hylton to win the 100 mile NASCAR GN race on the 1/2 mile dirt Savannah Speedway, Georgia. Allison took the lead from Hylton on lap 86. Hylton stayed in contention until lap 183, when he spun his Dodge and was hit by Buck Baker. Allison's J.D. Bracken Chevrolet went on to finish 16 seconds ahead of Richard Petty. Shortly before the race, Allison was named to replace David Pearson in the Cotton Owens Dodge.

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Saturday 1st February 1969

48 years ago

John DeLorean was named the top executive at Chevrolet. DeLorean had risen through the ranks at Pontiac, where he pioneered the successful GTO and Grand Prix models. As a top candidate for the presidency of General Motors (GM), DeLorean walked away from Chevrolet in late 1973 to start his own company. He brashly predicted he would "show [GM] how to make cars." DeLorean raised nearly $200 million to finance his new venture, the DeLorean Motor Company. He built a factory in Northern Ireland and began production on the sleek, futuristic DMC-12 car. Interest in the car was high, but the company ran into serious financial trouble. Refusing to abandon his project, DeLorean involved himself in racketeering and drug trafficking in a desperate attempt to make the money that would save his company. In 1982, after being caught on film trying to broker a $24 million cocaine deal, DeLorean was arrested on charges of drug trafficking and money laundering. A federal jury later ruled that DeLorean had been the victim of entrapment, and he was acquitted of all charges. Nevertheless, DeLorean's career and reputation were ruined.

John DeLorean with 1969 Pontiac Grand Prix SJ

John DeLorean with 1969 Pontiac Grand Prix SJ

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Saturday 15th February 1969

48 years ago

John Z. DeLorean was appointed General Manager of the Chevrolet Divisions of General Motors.

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Wednesday 14th May 1969

48 years ago

The last Chevrolet Corvair produced. As the only American-designed, mass-produced passenger car to feature a rear-mounted air-cooled engine, the Corvair range included a two-door coupe, convertible, four-door sedan, and four-door station wagon body styles, as well as passenger van, commercial van, and pickup truck variants. The Corvair's legacy was affected by controversy surrounding its handling, for which it became the subject of Ralph Nader's Unsafe at Any Speed. One controversial 1972 Texas A&M University safety commission report for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that the 1960–1963 Corvair possessed no greater potential for loss of control in extreme situations than its contemporaries.

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Sunday 20th July 1969

48 years ago

Mark Donohue drove a Chevrolet Camaro to victory in the SCCA Trans-Am race at Bryar Motorsports Park in Loudon, New Hampshire.

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Tuesday 12th August 1969

48 years ago

Mark Donohue drove a Chevrolet Camaro to victory in the SCCA Trans-Am race at Watkins Glen, New York, US.

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Sunday 21st September 1969

48 years ago

Mark Donohue, driving a Chevrolet Camaro, beat Parnelli Jones, driving a Ford Mustang, by 2.17 seconds to win the Sears Point 200 Trans-Am race at Sears Point, Caliornia. The win clinched Chevy's second straight Trans-Am title. After spraying the crowd in victory circle with champagne, Donohue picked up a garden hose and continued his celebration. His team owner, Roger Penske, locked himself in a street car with the windows rolled up to escape the antics..

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Sunday 21st September 1969

48 years ago

Mark Donohue, driving a Chevrolet Camaro, beat Parnelli Jones, driving a Ford Mustang, by 2.17 seconds to win the Sears Point 200 Trans-Am race at Sears Point, California, USA. The win clinched Chevy's second straight Trans-Am title. After spraying the crowd in victory circle with champagne, Donohue picked up a garden hose and continued his celebration. His team owner, Roger Penske, locked himself in a street car with the windows rolled up to escape the antics.

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Friday 20th February 1970

47 years ago

Small cars were the predominant trend at the Chicago Auto Show. Ford introduced visitors to two new models: the Mustang Grabber and Maverick Grabber. Chevrolet, Pontiac and Oldsmobile presented new models, including Chevy's offerings of the second-generation Camaro and latest Corvette, the redesigned Pontiac Firebird, and the Oldsmobile Rallye 350. After releasing a series of practical Kadetts in the Sixties, Opel turned out a stylish little sport coupe, dubbed the Opel GT, for 1970. With styling similar to the Chevrolet Corvette, it was the star of the show.

Opel GT

Opel GT

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Wednesday 25th February 1970

47 years ago

The 70,000,000th Chevrolet was produced.

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Sunday 19th April 1970

47 years ago

John Cannon drove a Carl Hogan owned, Chevrolet powered McLaren M10B to victory in the SCCA Continental Championship (Formula 5000) race at Riverside International Raceway in California. Pole sitter Cannon and 2nd fastest Ron Grable pulled clear at the start of the 40 lap race. Entering turn 9 the first time, Chuck Parsons slid sideways and tapped 3rd qualifier Bob Williams, sending Williams' Wayne Jones Eagle-Plymouth into the wall and Parsons into a 360 degree spin. Williams was out with a bent A-frame and dead motor while Parsons stalled and fell to last before getting his Lola T190 restarted. The race settled in with Cannon leading, Grable filling his mirrors and young Japanese driver Hiroshi Fushida all alone in 3rd in another Jones Eagle-Plymouth. 1967 champ Gus Hutchison moved into 4th in his F1 Brabham-Ford. Fushida retired with a blown motor on lap 28, moving Hutchison to 3rd and he began to close on Grable. Grable's challenge came to an end when his throttle stuck wide open entering turn 6 with 6 laps to go. Despite simultaneously braking, downshifting and hitting the kill switch, Grable's Lola took a hard hit into the boiler plate wall, tearing off both left side wheels. When the wrecker moved quickly to assist Grable, Hutchison had to spin to avoid. Without a clutch since the early going, Hutchison had trouble restarting and fell to 8th. With his only serious challenger out, Cannon cruised across the line over a lap ahead of Dave Jordan's AIR Eagle-Chevy. Jordan in turn, just barely held off Parsons, who had come back from his lap 1 spin to take 3rd.

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Tuesday 11th August 1970

47 years ago

The Ford Pinto, a subcompact car was introduced. Initially offered as a two-door sedan, hatchback and wagon models followed in 1972. With over 3 million sold over a 10-year production run, the Pinto competed in the U.S. market against the AMC Gremlin and Chevrolet Vega — outproducing both by total production as well as by highest model year production. The Pinto also competed against imported cars from Volkswagen, Datsun, and Toyota.

Ford Pinto (1972)

Ford Pinto (1972)

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Sunday 16th August 1970

47 years ago

Driving a Chaparral-entered Chevrolet Camaro, Vic Elford won the SCCA Trans-Am race at Watkins Glen, New York. This was the only Camaro Trans-Am win during the season.

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Sunday 18th April 1971

46 years ago

Not only was it the first IMSA race held at Virginia International Raceway, it was the first race for IMSA's Grand Touring class. It was hoped that the new subcompact Ford Pinto and Chevrolet Vega would make their road racing debuts in the event, but none entered. 24 cars and an estimated 10,000 spectators were on hand for the inaugural event of the new series.

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Wednesday 17th November 1971

46 years ago

The inaugural 2,900 mile Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash, from the Red Ball Garage in New York City to the Portofino Inn in Redondo Beach, California was won by Dan Gurney and Brock Yates in a Ferrari Daytona coupe. Gurney, the "retired" veteran of international racing, and Yates, a senior editor of Car & Driver magazine, covered the distance in 35 hours and 54 minutes. They were only 53 minutes faster than the second-place finisher, a Chevrolet Sportsvan entered by Briggs Chevrolet-Ferrari, South Ambory, New Jersey for the three co-founders of the Polish Racing Drivers of American, Tony Adamowicz, Oscar Koveleski and Brad Niemcek. The PRDA team covered the distance in 36 hours and 47 minutes.In fact, less than two hours separated the five fastest finishers, even through the event was run through rain, snow, sleet and got at various points long the routes the teams travelled.The Cannonball Baker event conceived by Yates as a whimsical gesture of defiance of the regimen of contemporary traffic laws was run without accident or injury, but the law did takes its toll.Four of the eight teams received a total of 12 speeding tickets along the route. The most remarkable among them was a citation given to Gurney in Arizona for allegedly doing 135mph in a 70mph zone. But the leading ticket-takers were the third-place finishers. Larry Opert, Ron Herisko and Nate Pritzker of Cambridge, Massachusetts, received six tickets, talked themselves out of a seventh and narrowly escaped jail for allegedly stealing gasoline at one point in their journey to California in a 1971 Cadillac - in a time of 36 hours and 56 minutes. Koveleski, a director of the Motor Racing Safety Society, pointed out that the RPDA went ticket-free "because we endeavored to remain within the speed limit at all times." The PRDA van was equipped to run the distance without a fuel stop, having started from Manhattan at 12:11am on November 15th with 298 gallons of Gulf No-Nox on board. But the team was forced to stop in Albuquerque, New Mexico to take on 78 additional gallons of fuel. The fourth place finishers were runners-up in ticket-taking. Tom Marebut, Randy Waters and Becky Poston of Little Rock, Arkansas received four speeding tickets during the course of their 37-hour 45-minute trip.

1st Cannonball run

1st Cannonball run

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Thursday 6th January 1972

45 years ago

Colonel Robert Samuel McLaughlin, CC, ED, CD, LLD, an important Canadian businessman, philanthropist and founder, in 1907, of the McLaughlin Motor Car Co. - the first major automobile manufacturers in Canada, died at the magnificent age of 100. In 1892 McLaughlin and his brother George become junior partners in their father's company - McLaughlin Carriage Works, which had opened in 1867 and at one time was the largest manufacturer of horse-drawn buggies and sleighs in the British Empire. In 1898 he married Adelaide Mowbray. With engines from William C. Durant of Buick, he produced the McLaughlin-Buick Model F, establishing The McLaughlin Motor Car Company, incorporated on November 20, 1907. In 1908, its first full year of operation, it produced 154 cars. In 1910, he became a director of General Motors. He sold his Chevrolet company stock in 1918, becoming president of General Motors of Canada, which continued to sell cars under the McLaughlin-Buick brand until 1942. He retired in 1945, but remained chairman of the board until his death. He remained on the board of General Motors until the early 1960s, and was coincidentally replaced by Royal Bank of Canada president Earle McLaughlin, his first cousin once removed. His brother, chemist John J. McLaughlin, founded the Canada Dry company. After his brother's death in 1912, McLaughlin became president of this company briefly until it was sold around 1917. His mansion, Parkwood Estate, begun in 1916, was designed by the Toronto architectural firm of Darling and Pearson. In 1989, the Parkwood estate was officially designated a National Historic Site of Canada.

Colonel Robert Samuel McLaughlin

Colonel Robert Samuel McLaughlin

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Tuesday 14th March 1972

45 years ago

David Pearson drove a Chevrolet Camaro to victory as NASCAR inaugurated it's new Grand National East division with a 100 mile race on the 1/2 mile dirt Jacksonville Speedway. Pearson finished 2 laps ahead of another Camaro driven by Charlie Blanton with veteran Buck Baker 3rd in a Pontiac Firebird. Veteran Grand National independents Wendell Scott and James Hylton rounded out the top 5. The series was created when the Grand National schedule was cut to 31 races after the 1971 season by eliminating most short tracks and all dirt tracks. Open to Grand American "muscle cars" as well as Grand National legal cars, the schedule was made up of traditional Grand National short track races of 250 miles or less in length. The division only lasted two seasons.

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Tuesday 25th April 1972

45 years ago

Darrell Waltrip won the NASCAR GN 'Virginia 500' on the .525 mile paved Martinsville Speedway, Virginia, US. Waltrip's DiGard Chevrolet finished a lap ahead of Cale Yarborough in the Junior Johnson Chevrolet.

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Thursday 20th July 1972

45 years ago

The results of the National Highway Traffic Administration's two-year study were released. The study concluded that 1960-63 Chevrolet Corvair models were at least as safe as comparable models of other cars sold in the same period, directly contradicting charges made by the leading consumer advocate Ralph Nader, contradicting his claim in his book “Unsafe at Any Speed, The Designed-In Dangers of the American Automobile”. Nader's book is often blamed for the demise of the Corvair because it caused sales of the model to drop.

Chevrolet Corvair - 1960

Chevrolet Corvair - 1960

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Monday 28th August 1972

45 years ago

General Motors announced that it would market a Wankel rotary engine as an optional power unit for the Chevrolet Vega within two years.

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Thursday 13th September 1973

44 years ago

The Chevrolet Corvette XP-897GT, designed by General Motor's in-house studio and built by Pininfarina in Italy, made its debut at the Frankfurt Auto Show. The XP-897GT featured a mid-mounted 180bhp two-rotor Wankel engine mounted transversely, driving a new automatic transaxle being developed for the forthcoming X-body Chevrolet Citation. The car was built in 6 months on a modified Porsche 914 chassis. The prototype made the rounds to all the major auto shows until GM decided to cut its rotary engine program due to poor emissions and mileage. After its British Motor Show debut, it was put in storage in the UK without its Citation transaxle or its Chevrolet rotary engine.

Chevrolet Corvette XP-897GT

Chevrolet Corvette XP-897GT

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Sunday 17th February 1974

43 years ago

The 1974 Daytona 500, the 16th running of the event, was won by Richard Petty after three hours, eleven minutes, and thirty-eight seconds of racing at Daytona International Raceway in Daytona Beach, Florida, USA. This was his 5th Daytona 500 victory and his second straight win. During the start of the 1974 NASCAR season, many races had their distance cut ten percent in response to the energy crisis of the year. As a result, the race was shortened to 180 laps (450 miles), as symbolically, the race "started" on Lap 21 and the race is often known as the Daytona 450. The Twin 125 qualifying races (won by Bobby Isaac in a Banjo Matthews Chevrolet and Cale Yarborough in the Richard Howard Chevy prepared by Junior Johnson) were also shortened to 45 laps (112.5 miles).

Richard Petty's 1974 Daytona 500 winning car

Richard Petty's 1974 Daytona 500 winning car

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Saturday 14th September 1974

43 years ago

Bobby Unser drove a Chevrolet Camaro to victory in round one of the IROC series at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan, US.

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Tuesday 24th September 1974

43 years ago

General Motors (GM) announced that the release of the "Monza," its rotary-engine compact sports car, would be postponed due to problems complying with new US Environmental Protection Agency emissions standards. Environmental concerns had become an increasingly high priority with the American public, and the government had been responding accordingly. This combined with rotary issues including mediocre fuel economy compounded at a time by high fuel prices following the Arab oil boycotts of 1973 and 1974, resulted in GM cancelling the engine. When it was eventually launched in 1975 the Chevrolet Monza was powered by a conventional piston engines.

Chevrolet Monza

Chevrolet Monza

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Thursday 1st May 1975

42 years ago

The Vauxhall Chevette, Britain's first production small hatchback, which was similar in concept to the Italian Fiat 127 and French Renault 5, went on sale, prices starting at £1,593. It was Vauxhall's version of the "T-Car" small car family from Vauxhall's parent General Motors (GM). The family included the Opel Kadett in Germany, the Isuzu Gemini in Japan, the Holden Gemini in Australia, the Chevrolet Chevette in the United States, Canada, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Argentina, and in the U.S. and Canada was re-badged as Pontiac Acadian/Pontiac T1000.

Vauxhall Chevette

Vauxhall Chevette

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Saturday 21st February 1976

41 years ago

Economy was the theme of the 1976 Chicago Auto Show. Over 700 cars were on display by 36 manufacturers. The dramatic radial layout of the show's second floor featured not only Ford, Chevrolet and Dodge but also Toyota, Volkswagen and British-Leyland, the UK-based manufacturer of MG's, Triumphs and Jaguars.. Subaru billed its 4-wheel drive wagon as "The Economy Car for Today's Economy," and Volkswagen's Rabbit was advertised as "The Best Car in the World for under $3500." Even Rolls Royce was calling itself "The Unexpected Economy Car in 1976!"

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Friday 9th July 1976

41 years ago

(9th-10th): Gerald Hoagland drove a 1969 Chevrolet Impala 501 miles in reverse for 17 hours 38 minutes at Chemung Speed Drome, New York, at an average speed of 28.4 mph.

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Tuesday 15th March 1977

40 years ago

The 500,000th Chevrolet Corvette was produced, a white coupe with red interior to match the first 1953 Corvette. It was purchased by 22 year old Francis Patric Meraw of Detroit, Michigan, US. Unlike other milestone Corvettes, it is privately owned. It was photographed while on display at the National Corvette Museum.

500,000th Chevrolet Corvette

500,000th Chevrolet Corvette

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Monday 2nd May 1977

40 years ago

Edward Nicholas Cole (67), a General Motors executive died when a small plane his was piloting crashed during a storm. He coordinated the development of the Corvair, was chief engineer of the Chevrolet Vega and directed the GM design staff in developing their first subcompact, four passenger vehicle

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Saturday 25th February 1978

39 years ago

Visitors to the Chicago Auto Show flocked to see the Mercedes-Benz C-111 sport coupe equipped with a turbocharged 5 cylinder diesel engine, that set three world records, averaging 156.5 mph for 10,000 miles. Additionally that year, Oldsmobile offered its Starfire Firenza, Holiday 88 coupe and sport-painted Cutlass Supreme. Buick showed a 75th anniversary Riviera, and Chrysler introduced its subcompact front-drive Dodge Omni/Plymouth Horizon. Dodge used a pair of space-suited presenters from the imaginary planet "Omni" to promote the car. Concept cars on show included the American Motors Crown Pacer, American Motors Gremlin GT, Chevrolet Black Sterling. Dodge Big Red and Ford Corrida by Ghia.

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Saturday 18th March 1978

39 years ago

Peter Gethin drove his Chevron B24 to victory in the opening round of the European Formula 5000 series on the Brands Hatch circuit. The race was a preliminary to the following day's non-championship F1/F5000 'Race of Champions'. Gethin, the '69 and '70 European F5000 champ, won the pole and led the 25 lap race wire to wire. 3 time Tasman and '72 U.S. F5000 champ Graham McRae ran 2nd despite an overheating motor until a deflating tire sent his McRae GM1 spinning off circuit with just 5 laps to go. Carl Hogan brought his American F5000 team over for the weekend and U.S. driver Brett Lunger finished a lonely 2nd in a Lola T330. Tony Dean was 3rd, also in Chevron B24. The entire 20 car field was Chevrolet powered. Jody Scheckter, David Hobbs (in the other Hogan Lola), Gijs van Lennep, Teddy Pilette and future F1 drivers Guy Edwards, Bob Evans and Ian Ashley made up what had to be one of the best fields in European F5000 history. Hobbs finished 5th, last car on the lead lap, but was uncompetitive. When asked afterwards why he was so slow, Hobbs said "There was nothing wrong with the engine."

Peter Gethin

Peter Gethin

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Thursday 11th May 1978

39 years ago

The 2,000,000th Chevrolet Camaro was produced, a gold coupe driven off the Van Nuys, California , US assembly line by General Manager Robert D Lund.

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Wednesday 28th February 1979

38 years ago

General Motors produced its 100 millionth car, a 1979 Chevy Monza. It was driven off the production line at 10:42 am EST, by Robert Lund. Chevrolet General Manager. The 1979 Beige Town Coupe, was sold to a Dr. Jane B Dunlap, of Akron, Ohio, a present to herself for just completing her Doctorate program.

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Thursday 19th April 1979

38 years ago

Production of the Chevrolet Citation, the marque's first front-wheel-drive car, began. The Citation was significantly downsized compared to the Nova it was replacing. As a variant of the GM X platform, the Citation was adapted for front-wheel drive and was manufactured with badge engineered variants including the Buick Skylark, Oldsmobile Omega, and Pontiac Phoenix. After its discontinuation in 1985, the Citation was replaced by the Chevrolet Beretta coupe and Chevrolet Corsica sedan/hatchback, introduced in 1987. 1,642,587 Citations were manufactured during its production run.

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Thursday 19th April 1979

38 years ago

The mid-sizes Pontiac Phoenix was discontinued with the series being assigned to the compact-sized front-wheel-drive chassis shared with the Chevrolet Citation.

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Saturday 23rd February 1980

37 years ago

Over 700 vehicles went on display at the 1980 Chicago Auto Show. GM promoted its compact X-cars, led by the Chevrolet Citation, while Datsun showed its 10th anniversary 280ZX, and Ford offered its Fiesta GTK, billed as the "station wagon of the future." Specialty cars shown were the Berlina coupe, the Guanci SJS-1, the Arntz Cobra, the Clenet, a 1920's-style Creighton, the Commuter Electric, the Lectric Leopard, the Cabriolet Cadillac and the Excalibur Series V Phaeton.

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Thursday 9th April 1981

36 years ago

Pontiac introduced the T1000, a sub-compact based on the Chevrolet Chevette.

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Friday 31st July 1981

36 years ago

The last of 695,124 Chevrolet Corvettes was produced at the St Louis, Missouri, US factory as production was transferred to the new plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky, US. On June 1, 1981 Bowling Green production started so for a couple of months Corvettes were built in two different places simultaneously.

Bowling Green, KY Corvette assembly plant

Bowling Green, KY Corvette assembly plant

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Wednesday 26th August 1981

36 years ago

General Motors launched the Vauxhall Cavalier Mk 2, available for the first time with front-wheel drive and as a hatchback. On its launch, it offered class-leading levels of fuel economy and performance which had previously been unthinkable for this sector of car. Sales began towards the end of September. This model was part of GM's family of compact "J-cars", along with the Ascona, the Australian Holden Camira, the Brazilian Chevrolet Monza, the Japanese Isuzu Aska, and the North American Chevrolet Cavalier, Pontiac Sunbird, Buick Skyhawk, Oldsmobile Firenza, and Cadillac Cimarron. In the UK, the new Cavalier was a huge success and challenged the supremacy of the Ford Cortina as the company car of choice. By 1982, Ford and Vauxhall had an effective two-horse race at the top of this sector on the British market, as sales of the Talbot Alpine (previously a Chrysler until Peugeot took over the European operations of Chrysler) had tailed off by 1981, while British Leyland was winding down production of the Austin Ambassador hatchback and Morris Ital saloon and estate in preparation for the launch of all-new car (which would be sold as the Austin Montego) by 1984. Cavalier sales topped 100,000 in 1982, compared to less than 40,000 the previous year.

Vauxhall Cavalier Mk 2

Vauxhall Cavalier Mk 2

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Sunday 11th October 1981

36 years ago

George Follmer drove a Chevrolet Camaro to victory in the SCCA Trans-Am race at Laguna Seca, California, USA.

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Thursday 14th January 1982

35 years ago

The brand new 3rd generation of Chevrolet Camaros and Pontiac Firebirds were shown to the public for the first time.

1989 Pontiac Trans Am Firebird GTA.

1989 Pontiac Trans Am Firebird GTA.

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Saturday 27th February 1982

35 years ago

The 74th Chicago Auto Show opened to the public. Visitors enjoyed a close look at the sporty Dodge Daytona and Chrysler Laser. Concept vehicles that year included the Buick Questor, Ford Probe IV, Continental Concept 100 and Nissan NRV II research vehicle. Convertibles were coming back into fashion, with rag top models of the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Cavalier and Pontiac Sunbird. The Oldsmobile subcompact Firenza also made is debut, and a GM experimental, unnamed economy car, said to achieve 60 mpg. Chevrolet redesigned the Camaro for 1982, while Pontiac undertook comparable action with its Firebird. The new Camaro was nearly 10 inches shorter and 500 pounds lighter, with an all-coil suspension, and for the first time, a standard four-cylinder engine. The compound-curved backlight served as a hatch.

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Thursday 17th February 1983

34 years ago

During the first of the Twin 125 qualifying races for the Daytona 500, former Indy 500 driver Bruce Jacobi lost control at the exit of Turn 2 and flipped his Chevrolet upon entering the grass infield, eventually coming to a stop near the inside dirt bank. It is speculated that his roll cage failed during the crash. Jacobi suffered extensive head injuries and was in a coma for almost four years before passing away at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis.

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Sunday 20th February 1983

34 years ago

Cale Yarborough of Timmonsville, South Carolina, became the first driver to run a qualifying lap over 200 mph (320 km/h) at Daytona in his #28 Hardees Chevrolet Monte Carlo. However, on his second of two qualifying laps, Yarborough crashed and flipped his car in turn four. The car had to be withdrawn, and the lap did not count. Despite the crash, Yarborough drove a back-up car (a Pontiac LeMans) to victory. He is one of only two drivers in NASCAR history to win three consecutive championships. He was the second NASCAR driver to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated (the first was Curtis Turner on the February 26, 1968 issue). His 83 wins places him at #6 on the all-time NASCAR winner's list (behind Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip, who are tied for fourth with 84). His 14.82% winning percentage is the ninth best all-time and third among those with 500 or more starts. Yarborough won the Daytona 500 four times; his first win coming in 1968 for the Wood Brothers, the second in 1977 for Junior Johnson, and back-to-back wins in 1983 and 1984. In 1984, he became the first driver to qualify for the Daytona 500 with a top speed of more than 200 miles per hour (320 km/h). Yarborough is a three-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Driver of the Year Award (1977, 1978, 1979).

Cale Yarborough

Cale Yarborough

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Thursday 21st April 1983

34 years ago

The 1984 Chevrolet Corvette was introduced as the first completely restyled Corvette since 1968.

1984 Chevrolet Corvette brochure

1984 Chevrolet Corvette brochure

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Saturday 11th February 1984

33 years ago

The Chicago Motor Show was opened by Mayor Harold Washington and Illinois Secretary of State Jim Edgar. More than 700 vehicles were exhibited including the new sporty Pontiac Fiero, the Honda CRX, the Nissan 300 ZX and the Ford Mustang SVO. Chevrolet offered visitors a glimpse of the redesigned Chevrolet Cavalier Type 10, displayed with a special Chicago appearance package. Concept vehicles shown included the four-wheel steering Mazda MX-02, Nissan NX-21 (dubbed family car of the Nineties), Ford Ghia Barchetta convertible, mid-engined Toyota SV-3 prototype, Oldsmobile diesel Ciera ES, and Chevrolet's fiberglass Citation IV.

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Wednesday 1st August 1984

33 years ago

Brian ‘Club’ Keene and James ‘Wilbur’ Wright began an epic 37 day journey driving their Chevrolet Blazer 9031 miles in reverse through 15 US States and Canada, Though it was prominently named ‘Stuck In Reverse’, police officers in Oklahoma refused to believe it and insisted they drove in reverse reverse, that is, forwards out of the State.

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Thursday 16th August 1984

33 years ago

After close to 30 hours of deliberation, a jury of six men and six women unanimously acquits the former automaker John Z. DeLorean of eight counts of drug trafficking in Los Angeles, California, on this day in 1984. Mr DeLorean's wife, the model Christina Ferrare, sobbed with joy when the verdicts were read out. Mr DeLorean was arrested in October 1982 and charged with conspiring to smuggle $24m (£15m) worth of cocaine into the US. The FBI claimed he wanted the money to bail out his bankrupt car plant in northern Ireland. A Detroit native and the son of an autoworker, DeLorean began working for the Packard Motor Company as an engineer in 1952. He rose quickly at Packard and later at General Motors (GM), where he moved in 1956. At GM, he managed both the Pontiac and Chevrolet divisions before becoming a vice president in 1972. DeLorean's flashy style and self-promotional ability distinguished him in the staid culture of the auto industry, while his ambition and appetite for innovation seemed never to be satisfied: He claimed to hold more than 200 patents and was credited with such developments as the lane-change turn signal, overhead cam-engine and racing stripes. In 1975, DeLorean left GM to found the DeLorean Motor Company and follow his dream of building a high-performance and futuristic but still economical sports car. With funds from the British government, DeLorean opened his car plant near Belfast in Northern Ireland in 1978 to manufacture his eponymous dream car: Officially the DMC-12 but often called simply the DeLorean, it had an angular stainless-steel body, a rear-mounted engine and distinctive "gull-wing" doors that opened upward. After skyrocketing production costs caused the DMC-12's price tag to top $25,000 (at a time when the average car cost just $10,000) sales were insufficient to keep the company afloat. Following an investigation into suspected financial irregularities, the British government announced the closing of the DeLorean Motor Company on October 19, 1982. That same day, John DeLorean was arrested and charged with conspiring to obtain and distribute $24 million worth of cocaine. The prosecution's seemingly airtight case centered on a videotaped conversation about the drug deal between DeLorean and undercover FBI agents. If convicted, DeLorean faced up to 60 years in prison. DeLorean's defense team argued that he had been entrapped, or lured into a situation that made it look like he had committed a crime. Over the next 15 years, DeLorean saw his dream car shoot to Hollywood stardom (in the "Back to the Future" film trilogy) even as he battled nearly 40 legal cases relating to his failed auto company. He declared bankruptcy in 1999 and died in 2005, at the age of 80.

John DeLorean

John DeLorean

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Wednesday 2nd January 1985

32 years ago

The first High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (aka Hummer) rolled off the assembly line of AM General’s South Bend facility in Indiana, US. The original Hummers were first designed by AM General Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary American Motors Corporation (AMC). In 1979, the United States Army was seeking contractors for a new "High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicle" which could follow the tracks and ruts of full size army trucks (HMMWV). Among the four competitors for the contract, AM General designed an entirely new vehicle to meet the Army's requirements. In less than one year, it was the first to deliver a prototype vehicle. Initial production versions were delivered to the Army's proving grounds in April 1982. After testing was completed AM General was awarded the contract to supply its HMMWV to the United States armed forces. The first models were built in a variety of military-based equipment and versions. The first contract was in 1983, worth US$1.2 billion to produce 55,000 "Humvees" by 1985. In December 1999, AM General sold the brand name to General Motors, but continued to manufacture the vehicles. GM was responsible for the marketing and distribution of all Hummers produced by AM General. Shortly thereafter, GM introduced two of its own design models, the H2 and H3, and renamed the original vehicle H1. AM General continued to build the H1 until it was discontinued in 2006, and was contracted by GM to produce the H2. The H3 was built in Shreveport, LA alongside the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon pickups, with which it shared the GMT-355 platform (modified and designated GMT-345). Hummer dealership buildings featured an oversized half Quonset Hut style roof, themed to the Hummer brand's military origins. By 2006, the Hummer began to be exported and sold through importers and distributors in 33 countries. On October 10, 2006, GM began producing the Hummer H3 at its Port Elizabeth plant in South Africa for international markets.The Hummers built there at first were only left-hand drive, but right-hand drive versions were added and exported to Australia and other markets. The H2 was also assembled in Kaliningrad, Russia, by Avtotor, starting in 2006 and ending in 2009. The plant produced a few hundred vehicles annually, and its output was limited to local consumption with five dealers in Russia. On June 3, 2008, one day prior to GM's annual shareholder meeting, Rick Wagoner, GM's CEO at that time, said the brand was being reviewed, and had the possibility of either being sold, having the production line completely redesigned, or being discontinued.[17] This was due to the decreasing demand for large SUVs as a result of higher oil prices. Almost immediately after the announcement, a pair of Indian automakers, including Mahindra & Mahindra, expressed interest in purchasing all or part of Hummer.

Hummer 1

Hummer 1

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Saturday 1st March 1986

31 years ago

The first Shelby GLH-S, a Dodge-based performance car designed by Carroll Shelby was produced at the Shelby Automobiles Inc., plant in Whittier, California, US. The '1986 Shelby GLH-S' was a modified Dodge Omni GLH, with changes made at the Shelby factory. They were retitled as Shelby Automobiles cars sold at select Dodge dealerships. GLH stood for "Goes Like Hell" and GLHS stood for Goes Like Hell S'more. Just 500 were made. Dash plaques used a 3-digit serial numbering system (as only 500 were made). The Turbo I engine was modified with pre-production pieces from what would become the Turbo II inline-four engine. These changes included an intercooler and other changes to produce 175 hp (130 kW) and a flat 175 ft·lbf (237 N·m) torque curve. Not included were any of the durability changes to the short block (forged crank, full floating pin, stouter connecting rods, etc.) of the 1987 Chrysler Turbo II engine. Luckily, the Shelby engines have proved to be reliable even without the durability enhancements of the production Turbo II. Performance was impressive, with just 6.5 s needed for 0–60 mph (97 km/h) and 14.8 s for the quarter mile (402 m) run. Top speed was 130 mph (209 km/h). Shelby Automobiles received the first T-2 induction pieces (prior to Dodge/Chrysler), and installed them on the 500 GLH cars that shipped to the Whittier factory. Engine mods. included: New T-2 fuel rail, T-2 injectors, wiring harness, larger throttle body, bigger turbo, tuned intake & exhaust manifolds, intercooler/rad. & fan assemblies, induction hoses, T-2 airbox, GLHS specific logic module, CS-Shelby-CS windshield decal, & tape graphics pkg. Interestingly, there was a Dodge emblem left on in production. A black/yellow overlay sticker was placed at the bottom of the speedometer to read to 135 mph (217 km/h). A Momo leather-wrapped shifter knob, Izumi leather-wrapped steering wheel, and shift pattern sticker were also installed. A Use only Mobil 1 in your GLHS plaque was affixed to the front of the standard production valve cover. The primary differences between the Shelby engine and the Chrysler Turbo II engine are the torque: Shelby's unique engine computer shaved the torque to save the stock Omni transaxle, Chrysler Turbo II engines had 200 lb·ft (270 N·m) of torque; the trimetal bearings, forged crank and extra oil passages weren't present; and the wiring harness is a conglomeration of original Turbo I, with splicings for the heated oxygen sensor. All-in-all this was a very formidable car, especially on short tracks. In SCCA Solo competition, it was never allowed a place in the stock categories because it failed to meet the required 1000 unit a year production quota. It also was significantly faster In the quarter mile than the Chevrolet Camaro with the 305 V8, Pontiac's

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Sunday 29th November 1987

29 years ago

The first race was held at Bob Jane's Calder Thunderdome in Australia. The Thunderdome is a purpose-built 1.8 km (1.1 mi) quad-oval speedway located on the grounds of Calder Park Raceway. It was originally known as the Goodyear Thunderdome to reflect the naming rights sponsorship bought by the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company. With its "double dogleg" front stretch and the start/finish line located on a straight section rather than the apex of a curve, the Thunderdome is technically a quad-oval in shape, though since its opening it has generally been referred to as a tri-oval. The track, modelled on a scaled down version of the famous Charlotte Motor Speedway, has 24° banking on Turns 1, 2, 3 and 4 while the front stretch is banked at 4° and the back straight at 6°. The Thunderdome was completed in 1987, but can trace its roots back over twenty years previously when Australian motorsport icon Bob Jane, previous owner of Calder Park Raceway, travelled to the United States and visited the Charlotte Motor Speedway and Daytona International Speedway numerous times to gauge stock car racing's rise in popularity. With NASCAR getting more air time on Australian television largely thanks to the influence of Channel 7 motorsport commentator and Sydney speedway promoter Mike Raymond, in 1981 Jane struck a deal with Bill France Jr., the head of NASCAR, to bring stock car racing to Australia and plans were laid out for a high banked oval adjacent to the existing Calder Park Raceway. Ground first broke for the track in 1983 and it took four years to complete. It was built at a cost of A$54 million— with Jane personally contributing over $20 million of his own money. Due to the lack of such knowledge in Australia, during construction Jane was forced to bring in engineers from the USA who had experience in building high banked speedway ovals. The Thunderdome was officially opened by the Mayor of the Keilor City Council on 3 August 1987. The first race on the Thunderdome was held just two weeks after its opening, although the track used incorporated both the Thunderdome and the pre-existing National Circuit. It was a 300-kilometre event for Group A touring cars, with John Bowe and Terry Shiel in a turbocharged Nissan Skyline DR30 RS taking first place – to date the only time a Japanese car has won a race held on the Thunderdome. AUSCAR had the distinction of hosting the first ever race to exclusively use the Thunderdome. The race, aptly named the AUSCAR 200, was held a week prior to the Goodyear NASCAR 500. In a shock to the male dominated establishment, 18-year-old female driver Terri Sawyer won the 110 lap race driving a Holden VK Commodore. Sawyer had qualified her Commodore on the front row of the grid and ran at or near the front all day to win from Kim Jane (the nephew of Calder owner Bob Jane), Max de Jersey, Phil Brock and Graham Smith. The top five positions all went to those driving either a VK or VL Commodore. Greg East, also driving a VK Commodore, sat on pole for the AUSCAR 200 with a time of 33.2 seconds for an average speed of 121.34 mp/h. The first NASCAR race that used only the oval was the Goodyear NASCAR 500 held on 28 February 1988 (unlike the "500's" in US NASCAR racing, the Australian version was only 500 km, or 310 mi - roughly the same distance as a Busch Series race). The race was nationally televised by the Seven Network and was shown in the USA on ESPN. It featured some of Australia's top touring car and speedway drivers as well as a slew of imports from the Winston Cup, including Bobby Allison (who had won his third Daytona 500 just two weeks earlier in a thrilling finish from his son Davey, giving the Thunderdome race a big publicity boost), Neil Bonnett (who had won the Winston Cup race at the Richmond International Raceway the previous weekend), Michael Waltrip, Harry Gant, Morgan Shepherd, Dave Marcis, Rick Wilson and others. NASCAR's most famous last name was also represented with 1987 Coca-Cola 600 winner Kyle Petty making the trip down under. In a test session prior to the 1988 Goodyear NASCAR 500, NASCAR's "King" Richard Petty, the record holder for the most victories in NASCAR history with 200 career wins and the father of Kyle Petty, set an unofficial lap record for the Thunderdome of 28.2 seconds for an average speed of 142.85 mp/h. This was some 6/10ths of a second (3.1 mp/h) faster than Bonnett's pole time for the race. Bonnett won the race in a Pontiac Grand Prix from Allison in a Buick LeSabre and Marcis in a Chevrolet Monte Carlo. The race saw a heavy crash on lap 80 which took some 6 cars out of the race including Australian's Dick Johnson (Ford Thunderbird) and Allan Grice (Oldmobile Delta 88) who suffered a broken collar bone after hitting Johnson's already crashed car at high speed in the middle of turns 3 and 4. Grice, who like Johnson had a Racecam unit in his car and in a NASCAR first was able to talk to the Channel 7 commentary team while racing, had been unable to slow sufficiently due to his car's lack of brakes which he had told the television audience about only laps before the crash. This was the first time a NASCAR event had been staged outside North America and it proved so popular that many of the same drivers returned for another race held at the Thunderdome that December, the Christmas 500, with three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Johnny Rutherford returning to Australia for the first time since his brief appearance in the 1977 Bathurst 1000 to be part of the driving line up. The Thunderdome also played host to numerous Australian Stock Car Auto Racing (AUSCAR) events until that series ended in 2001. AUSCAR was unique in that the cars were right-hand drive and based on the Australian Ford Falcon and Holden Commodore. Engines were limited to 5.0L which allowed use of the existing Holden V8 engine and the Ford 302 engine, though until Ford Australia re-introduced the 302 V8 to the Falcon range in 1991, those who raced the Ford XF Falcon used the 5.8L 351 Cleveland V8. Unlike NASCAR, the right-hand drive AUSCARs raced clockwise on oval tracks such as the Thunderdome and the ½ mile Speedway Super Bowl at the Adelaide International Raceway. The most successful AUSCAR driver was Brad Jones who won five straight championships from 1989/90 until 1993/94 in various Commodore's. Jones also successfully made the transition to NASCAR, winning the Superspeedway Series on his first try in 1994/95. With NASCAR vehicles able to lap the track at better than 140 mp/h (approximately 28 seconds per lap), the Thunderdome is generally regarded as the fastest race circuit in Australia. AUSCARs were generally able to lap the Thunderdome at approximately 126 mp/h (around 32 seconds per lap)

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Saturday 13th February 1988

29 years ago

The 80th Chicago Auto Show opened. On display were the Ford Probe, Chevrolet Cavalier Z24, Mercedes Benz 300 SE, Jeep Cherokee sport and the tenth anniversary of the Mazda RX-7. Concept vehicles included the Dodge Intrepid, Ford DM-1, Lincoln Machete, Plymouth Slingshot and Pontiac Banshee.

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Sunday 20th March 1988

29 years ago

The last Pontiac Fiero was produced. The Fiero was designed by George Milidrag and Hulki Aldikacti as a sports car. The Fiero was the first two-seater Pontiac since the 1926 to 1938 coupes, and also the first and only mass-produced mid-engine sports car by a U.S. manufacturer. Many technologies incorporated in the Fiero design such as plastic body panels were radical for their time. Other features included hidden headlamps and, initially, integrated stereo speakers within the driver and passenger headrests. A total of 370,168 Fieros were produced over the relatively short production run of five years; by comparison, 163,000 Toyota MR2s were sold in their first five years.[1] At the time, its reputation suffered from criticisms over performance, reliability and safety issues. The word fiero means "very proud" in Italian, and "wild", "fierce", or "ferocious" in Spanish. Alternative names considered for the car were Sprint (which ended up on a Chevrolet car instead), P3000, Pegasus, Fiamma, Sunfire (a name which would later be applied to another car), and Firebird XP. The Fiero 2M4 (two-seat, mid-engine, four-cylinder) was on Car and Driver magazine's Ten Best list for 1984. The 1984 Fiero was the Official Pace Car of the Indianapolis 500 for 1984, beating out the new 1984 Chevrolet Corvette for the honor.

Pontiac Fiero (1984-88)

Pontiac Fiero (1984-88)

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Friday 1st April 1988

29 years ago

The Chevrolet Corvette 35th Anniversary Edition was introduced at the New York Auto Show.

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Monday 12th September 1988

29 years ago

William L. Mitchell (76), an important General Motors designer from the late 1930s to the late 1970s, died. He succeeded Harley Earl as Vice President for Styling in the late 1950s. He was particularly identified with the Chevrolet Corvette and the Buick Riviera, although most agree his best accomplishment was the 1967 Cadillac Eldorado.

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Saturday 11th February 1989

28 years ago

The final 80s edition of the Chicago Auto Show opened offering consumers a glimpse into the trend for the 90s: quality. Many of the new-for-1989 models featured improved handling and increased horsepower over 1988 cars, and quality started to become the new buzz word in the industry. Enthusiasm for performance cars was making a comeback. It was possible to purchase an emissions-legal 385 BHP Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1 from your local dealer in 1989, and even with all the required safety and emissions devices, the car was the fastest and best-handling production Corvette made to that time.

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Friday 1st September 1989

28 years ago

The 1990 Chevrolet Blazer and Astro were introduced. The Astro was the first minivan to offer all-wheel drive as an option.

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Tuesday 14th May 1991

26 years ago

General Motors ended production of the Buick Reatta, a two-seater sports car that had been introduced in 1988. As Buick's first two-seater and its first convertible since the 1985 Riviera, the Reatta was manufactured in a highly specialized assembly program at the Reatta Craft Centre (later known as the Lansing Craft Centre) in Lansing, Michigan—achieving production of over 21,000 units in four years. The presence of the Chevrolet Corvette, Pontiac Fiero and Cadillac Allante at the time of the Reatta's introduction meant that with the exception of Oldsmobile, all of GM's passenger-car divisions offered two-seaters during the late 1980s and early 1990s.

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Thursday 2nd July 1992

25 years ago

The one-millionth Corvette, a white LT1 roadster with a red interior and a black roof – the same colours as the original 1953 model – was driven off the production line by original Corvette engineer Zora Arkus Duntov in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The event was monumental to both America's first sports car and the man that made the car possible. Duntov was born in Belgium, the son of Russian immigrants. He pursued an interest in motorcycle racing and engineering until the outbreak of World War II, at which point he joined the French Air Force. After the French surrender, Duntov managed to secure exit visas to Spain for his entire family. He later resettled in Manhattan, and started a performance engineering firm, called Ardun, with his brother. The firm enjoyed a reputation for quality, but eventually went out of business as the result of questionable financial practices on the part of a third partner that Duntov and his brother had taken on. Duntov moved to England to work on the Allard sports car, which he co-drove at Le Mans in 1952 and 1953. Duntov earned a reputation as an exacting driver and engineer in the European tradition of performance car racing. After witnessing the prototype Corvette on display at the 1953 Motorama in New York City, he decided to join Chevrolet. While Duntov was visually taken by the car, he expressed dismay at what lay under the hood. He wrote Chevrolet Chief Engineer Ed Cole and offered his services to improve the Corvette, including with his note a technical paper outlining his plan to increase the Corvette's performance capabilities. Chevrolet was so impressed that engineer Maurice Olley, then in charge of the Corvette, offered Duntov a position as a staff engineer. Soon after arriving at Chevrolet, Duntov set the tone for his career at the company by distributing a paper to his superiors entitled "Thoughts Pertaining to Youth, Hot Rodders, and Chevrolet." The paper laid the foundation for a strategy to create both racing and performance parts programs for Chevy. It was his desire that the Corvette measure itself against the best sports cars in the world: Porsche, Ferrari, and Mercedes. He helped develop the small-block V-8 engine to increase the little Corvette's power; he introduced the Duntov high-lift cam-shaft; and he introduced fuel injection, seeing the Corvette through from its inauspicious beginnings to its triumphant end. He created the Corvette Grand Sport Program in 1963, making the Corvette competitive on all levels of international performance competition. Duntov also helped to build the Corvette culture, appearing at Corvette shows, clubs, and rallies all over the U.S. He retired from Chevrolet in 1975, but Duntov's legacy will stay alive as long as Corvettes roam the open road.

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Sunday 14th February 1993

24 years ago

Jeff Gordon made his first Daytona 500 start. He made quite a splash, finishing in the top five. On lap 170, trying to avoid the spinning cars of Michael Waltrip and Derrick Cope, Rusty Wallace's Pontiac lost control and cart-wheeled several times down the backstretch grass. With two laps to go and Dale Earnhardt leading, Dale Jarrett's Chevrolet was running third going into turn three. Using a push from fourth place Geoff Bodine, Jarrett went under Jeff Gordon for second and pulled even with the leader Earnhardt. They bumped and that sent the five time Winston Cup Champion sliding up the track and Jarrett made the pass. With his father and former Cup Champion Ned Jarrett in the broadcast booth, he became his son's biggest fan on national TV. It was the fourth time Earnhardt had been leading the 500 with less than ten laps to go, but failed to win.

Jeff Gordon

Jeff Gordon

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Saturday 5th February 1994

23 years ago

At the 1994 Chicago Auto Show, Buick used a product presentation theatre to promote the new 1995 Riviera. Ford teased visitors with its Profile concept, said to suggest the coming-soon Contour. Lincoln's Contempra concept foretold the 1995 Continental. As their names suggest, the Dodge Venom and Chrysler Espresso concepts could hardly have been more different. Official debuts in Chicago included the Toyota Avalon, Mercury Mystique, Pontiac Firebird convertible, 1995 Chevrolet Blazer, and 1995 Mitsubishi Eclipse/Eagle Talon. The 1994 Cadillac Northstar engine was guaranteed not to require a tuneup for the first 100,000 miles!

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Monday 24th April 1995

22 years ago

The last Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1 was produced, although the ceremony celebrating the car came four days later. Nicknamed "The King of the Hill," the ZR-1 was built from 1990 to 1995; a total of 6,939 ZR-1s were produced over the six-year period. GM's intention with the car was to build the ultimate sports car in terms of both price and performance. With its top speed of 180 mph, the ZR-1 was the fastest production Corvette ever built.

Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1

Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1

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Friday 28th April 1995

22 years ago

The last ZR-1 Corvette - "King of the Hill" - rolled off the assembly line. Chevrolet general manager Jim Perkins and Chief Corvette Engineer Dave McLellan delivered the car to the National Corvette Museum. During its six year lifetime, 6939 ZR-1 Corvettes were built. The ZR-1 was distinguishable from other Corvette coupes by its wider tail section, 11" wide rear wheels and its new convex rear fascia with four square shaped taillights and a CHMSL (center high mounted stop lamp) attached to the top of the hatch glass instead of between the taillights. The ZR-1 displayed stunning ability both in terms of acceleration and handling capabilities, but carried with it an astonishingly high price. MSRP for the (375 hp) ZR-1 in 1990 was $58,995, almost twice the cost of a (250 hp) non-ZR-1, and had ballooned to $66,278 by 1995; some dealers successfully marked units as high as $100,000. Even at base MSRP, this meant that the ZR-1 was competing in the same price bracket as cars like the Porsche 964, making it a hard sell for GM dealers. In 1991, the ZR-1 and base model received updates to body work, interior, and wheels. The rear convex fascia that set the 1990 ZR-1 apart from the base model found its way to all models, making the high-priced ZR-1 even less distinguishable. Further changes were made in 1992, including extra ZR-1 badges on the fenders and the introduction of Acceleration Slip Regulation (ASR) or traction control. For model year 1993, Lotus design modifications were made to the cylinder heads, exhaust system and valvetrain of the LT5, bringing horsepower up from 375 to 405. In addition, a new exhaust gas recirculation system improved emissions control. The model remained nearly unchanged into the 1995 model year, after which the ZR-1 was discontinued as the result of waning interest, development of the LS series engines, cost and the coming of the C5 generation. A total of 6,939 ZR-1s were manufactured over the six-year period. Not until the debut of the C5 platform Z06 would Chevrolet have another production Corvette capable of matching the ZR-1's performance. Although the ZR-1 was extremely quick for its time (0-60 mph in 4.4 seconds, and onto 180+ mph), the huge performance of the LT5 engine was matched by its robustness. As evidence of this, a stock ZR-1 set seven international and world records at a test track in Fort Stockton, Texas on March 1, 1990, verified by the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile) for the group II, class 11 category: 100 miles (160 km) at 175.600 mph (282.601 km/h) 500 miles (800 km) at 175.503 mph (282.445 km/h) 1,000 miles (1,600 km) at 174.428 mph (280.715 km/h) 5,000 km (3,100 mi) at 175.710 mph (282.778 km/h) (World Record) 5,000 miles (8,000 km) at 173.791 mph (279.690 km/h) (World Record) 12 Hours Endurance at 175.523 mph (282.477 km/h) 24 Hours Endurance at 175.885 mph (283.059 km/h) for 4,221.256 miles (6,793.453 km) (World Record) These records were later broken by the Volkswagen W12, a one-off concept car that never went into production.

1990 Corvette ZR-1

1990 Corvette ZR-1

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Tuesday 20th February 1996

21 years ago

Clare M MacKichan (77), a General Motors stylist (1939-78) best remembered for the 1955-57 Chevrolets, Chevrolet Nomad, and Opel GT, died in Florida, US.

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Friday 21st June 1996

21 years ago

The last Corvette of the fourth-generation "C4" body style (used since 1984) was produced and was purchased by Mike Yager, owner of Mid-America Design, for his museum in Illinois. The fourth generation Chevrolet Corvette was introduced at the close of 1982 production as a 1984 model, meaning that there's no such thing as a "1983 Corvette" (though 44 prototype 1983s were built, number 23 is the only survivor and is housed at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green). The C4 Corvette is known for its sleek look. Instead of fiberglass, it was made from reaction injected molding plastics, a sheet molding compound. The C4 coupe also is the first Corvette to have a glass hatchback (except for the 1982 Collector's Edition) for better storage access. It also had all new brakes with aluminum calipers. The Corvette C4 came standard with an electronic dashboard with digital liquid crystal displays for speed and RPM. The C4 was a complete redesign of the previous generation, and the emphasis was on handling. The C4 Corvette was proclaimed the best handling car ever when it was released. This handling came with the benefit of a solid, uncompromising ride. The unit-body frame used in the C4 was prone to rattles and squeaks due to minimal sound deadening. Also due to the external unit-body frame, the door sills were high and entry and exit have been likened to a "fall in and climb out" experience. The emergency brake was relocated to between the seats in 1988 for easier entry and exit. From 1984 through 1988, the Corvette was available with a Doug Nash "4+3" transmission - a 4-speed manual coupled to an automatic overdrive on the top three gears. This unusual transmission was a synergy that allowed corvette to keep a stout 4 speed, but add an overdrive. As technology progressed, it was replaced by a modern ZF 6-speed manual. However, the C4 performance was hampered by its L98 250 hp (186 kW) engine until 1992, when the second-generation LT1 was installed, markedly improving the C4s performance. 1996 was a high point of small block Chevrolet development and the 330 hp (246 kW) LT4 was installed in all manual transmission cars.

1996 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe

1996 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe

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Sunday 11th August 1996

21 years ago

The highest average speed achieved in a non-stop reverse drive exceeding 500 miles of 30.36 mph was set by John Smith, who drove his Chevrolet Caprice 501 miles in 13 hr 48 min at the I-94 Speedway, Fergus Falls, Minesota, US.

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Monday 13th January 1997

20 years ago

Detroit (North American) Auto Show opened. Production cars introduced included the Chevrolet Corvette C5, Chrysler Concorde, Dodge Durango, Ford Escort ZX2, Mercedes-Benz CLK, Subaru Forester, Toyota Sienna, and the Volvo C70 convertible.

Ford Escort ZX2

Ford Escort ZX2

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Sunday 16th February 1997

20 years ago

Twenty-five-year-old Jeff Gordon claimed his first Daytona 500 victory, becoming the youngest winner in the history of the 200-lap, 500-mile National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) event, dubbed the "Super Bowl of stock car racing." Driving his No. 24 Chevrolet Monte Carlo for the Hendrick Motorsports racing team, Gordon recorded an average speed of 148.295 mph and took home prize money of more than $377,000. According to NASCAR.com, Gordon was "a veritable babe in a field that included 27 drivers older than 35, 16 at least 40." Gordon's Hendrick teammates Terry Labonte and Ricky Craven finished the race second and third, respectively.

Jeff Gordon

Jeff Gordon

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Saturday 7th February 1998

19 years ago

A Chevrolet Corvette convertible featured on the cover of the 90th Chicago Auto Show program. A record-breaker crowd of 1,080,637 attended the 1998 show. Big hits at the annual event, were the Volkswagen New Beetle, 1999 Chevy Tahoe Z71, Ford Libre concept convertible, Mercedes-Benz Maybach, Kia sponsored Elan sports car, and the debut of next-generation Mitsubishi Galant.

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Friday 9th July 1999

18 years ago

In Los Angeles jury ordered General Motors to pay $4.9 billion to 6 people burned when their 1979 Chevrolet Malibu fuel tank exploded on Christmas Eve1993 following a rear end collision. In August a judge reduced the award to $1.2 billion. A judge later reduced the punitive damages to $1.09 billion, while letting stand $107 million in compensatory damages; General Motors continued to appeal.

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Tuesday 8th February 2000

17 years ago

Professional American Football linebacker Derrick Thomas (33) of the Kansas City Chiefs broke his neck and one of his friends, Michael Tellis (49), died after Thomas lost control of his Chevrolet Suburban while speeding on a snow-and-ice-covered stretch of Interstate 435. His car hit the median and then rolled several times. Both Thomas and Tellis were not wearing their seat belts and were thrown from the car. Another friend, Joe Hagebusch, who was wearing his seat belt, survived the crash with minor injuries. Thomas was paralyzed from the waste down by his neck injury. Thomas died on February 8th of cardio-respiratory arrest probably caused by a blood clot while attempting to recover from the accident at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Florida.

Derrick Thomas

Derrick Thomas

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Friday 11th February 2000

17 years ago

At the 2000 Chicago Auto Show, Mayor Richard M. Daley stated that nothing shaped 20th century America more than the automobile, and wondered what the automobile's role would be in the new 21st century. First Look for Charity raised more than $1 million for 12 Chicago area charities’, and a 2000 Chevrolet Suburban was the evening's grand prize. Hot topics were hybrids and fuel cells. Rendering on the cover is of a Pontiac concept car.

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Thursday 30th March 2000

17 years ago

The Chevrolet Corvette Convertible received the award for "Best Engineered Car of the 1990's and Best Engineered Car of the 20th Century" from the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE International).

Chevrolet Corvette Convertible - 1996

Chevrolet Corvette Convertible - 1996

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Thursday 28th June 2001

16 years ago

The last Plymouth automobile, a silver Neon, rolled off the assembly line. Plymouth was introduced in 1928 as Chrysler Corporation’s entry-level car. At this time, the low-priced field was dominated by Ford and Chevrolet. While Plymouth was priced higher than Ford and Chevrolet, the Plymouth offered some standard features not available on the competition, such as external expanding hydraulic brakes. In the beginning, Plymouth was sold exclusively through Chrysler dealerships. With regard to the name Plymouth, the official story goes: "Product of Chrysler engineering and craftsmanship, Plymouth has been so named because its endurance and strength, ruggedness and freedom from limitations so accurately typify that Pilgrim band who were the first American Colonists." The real story is somewhat different. When Walter Chrysler decided to get involved in the low-priced car field in 1926, everybody knew that Ford and Chevrolet dominated this market and thus any new car entering the market would have a struggle. While every farmer by this time had to have a car and most were buying Fords, every farmer had heard of Plymouth Binder Twine. By naming the new car Plymouth, Chrysler took advantage of a well-known and trusted name. In spite of the competition, during its first year of production (actually only six months) became fifteenth in terms of production and by 1931 it had become the third best-selling vehicle in America. In 1930, Chrysler expanded its distribution of Plymouths to all three Chrysler divisions (Chrysler, DeSoto, and Dodge). By the 1950s, Plymouth had a reputation for engineering, affordability, and durability. In 1957, Plymouth reached its production peak. By the 1960s, Plymouth rapidly lost market share and lost its third place standing to Pontiac. Between 1971 and 1974, Plymouth briefly reclaimed its third place status, but in the 1980s its popularity continued to fall. By 2001, Plymouth only had one model, the Neon, and the last Plymouth was assembled in June 2001.

The last Plymouth car

The last Plymouth car

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Tuesday 25th September 2001

16 years ago

General Motors announced the 2002 model year would be the last for the Chevrolet Camaro and the Pontiac Firebird.

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Thursday 21st March 2002

15 years ago

Car production at Vauxhall's Luton plant ceased after 97 years. The 7,415,045th and final car, a silver V6 Vectra rolled out at 10.23am, was added to a heritage collection of Vauxhall vehicles at a centre in Luton. Vauxhall Motors first came to Luton in 1905. The Vauxhall Iron Works had been operating in Vauxhall South London and began making cars in 1903.The company needed to expand and chose a seven acre site in Kimpton Road right on the edge of Luton. The town had just opened its municipal power station, was served by two railways and had a ready supply of workers. On 29th March 1903 the first Luton built car rolled out of the factory. This model was under powered and was replaced by a 9hp model in 1906 incorporating the famous bonnet flutes which were a feature of Vauxhall's until 1959. In 1925 Vauxhall was purchased by General Motors for 2.5 million dollars. Soon after bus and truck production started as the Luton factory expanded. Early Bedfords were based on Chevrolet designs, Chevrolet being a major GM subsidiary. Meanwhile Vauxhall turned to the popular car market. The 1931 Cadet was the first British car to feature a synchromesh gearbox. The 1937 Vauxhall 10 was the first introduction to motoring for many people. The 10 had four seats and returned a frugal 42mpg...quite extraordinary in its time...and all for £168. The Second World War saw Vauxhall play a major part in the war effort. The Churchill tank was produced here and battle damaged tanks came back for repair. Thousands of Bedford lorries were turned out at Kimpton Road including the magnificent QL which was the company's first four wheel drive vehicle. Military contracts were to occupy Bedford workers for years to come and it was boasted that you could find Bedfords all over the world. Initial post war efforts saw cars built for export, but in 1948 the famous Wyvern and Velox models were introduced with more than a nod to contemporary American styling. The 1951 E type versions saw the wings as being integral to the body in the way of today's cars. This was the heyday of Vauxhall with as many as 36000 people working at Kimpton Road which had been expanded by excavating the side of a chalk hill away to build AA block.n 1955 bus and truck production moved to Dunstable although the CA van remained at Luton. The 1957 F type Victor and the 1959 PA Cresta turned heads. They were finished in bright two colour schemes with fins on the boot and whitewall tyres. The Cresta wrap-round windscreen was a work of art in itself. These cars represented the end of post war austerity and were destined to become an essential part of the swinging sixties.1963's Viva was a re-entry into the small car market, but, ominously for Luton, it was built in a new factory on Merseyside - Ellesmere Port. The next even smaller car the Nova was the first example of GM badge engineering. Sold on the continent as the Corsa, Nova was built in Spain. Luton's lifeline was the 1975 Cavalier, and a very fine car it was. A new production line and massive paint shop dominated the skyline and much of the old factory was demolished. Luton built the next two Cavalier models and also its replacement the Vectra. In 1998 GM announced that the replacement model Vectra code named Epsilon would keep Luton building cars well into the new Millennium. Retooling had started when the fateful announcement was made in December 2000 that the new Vectra would be made in Ellesmere Port and Luton would close.

Vauxhall's Luton factory opened in 1905

Vauxhall's Luton factory opened in 1905

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Sunday 28th April 2002

15 years ago

Jimmy Johnson in a Chevrolet Monte Carlo, won the NAPA Auto Parts 500 at the California Speedway, Fontana, California, US.

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Friday 7th March 2003

14 years ago

Jim Keeble (79), who founded the British Gordon-Keeble marque with John Gordon in 1963, died. Gordon-Keeble was a British car marque, made first in Slough, then Eastleigh, and finally in Southampton (all in England), between 1964 and 1967. The marque's badge was unusual in featuring a tortoise — a pet tortoise walked into the frame of an inaugural photo-shoot, taken in the grounds of the makers. Because of the irony (the slowness of tortoises) the animal was chosen as the emblem. The Gordon-Keeble came about when John Gordon, formerly of the struggling Peerless company, and Jim Keeble got together in 1959 to make the Gordon GT car, initially by fitting a Chevrolet Corvette V8 engine, into a chassis by Peerless, for a USAF pilot named Nielsen. Impressed with the concept, a 4.6 litre Chevrolet (283 c.i.) V8 was fitted into a specially designed square-tube steel spaceframe chassis, with independent front suspension and all-round disc brakes. The complete chassis was then taken to Turin, Italy, where a body made of steel panels designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro was built by Bertone. The car's four five-inch headlights were in the rare, slightly angled "Chinese eye" arrangement also used by a few other European marques, generally for high-speed cars such as Lagonda Rapide, Lancia Flaminia and Triumphs, as well as Rolls-Royce. The interior had an old luxury jet feel, with white on black gauges, toggle switches, and quilted aircraft PVC. The car appeared on the Bertone stand in March 1960, branded simply as a Gordon, at the Geneva Motor Show. At that time problems with component deliveries had delayed construction of the prototype, which had accordingly been built at breakneck speed by Bertone in precisely 27 days. After extensive road testing the car was shipped to Detroit and shown to Chevrolet management, who agreed to supply Corvette engines and gearboxes for a production run of the car. The car was readied for production with some alterations, the main ones being a larger 5.4-litre (327 c.i.) 300 hp (224 kW; 304 PS) Chevrolet V8 engine and a change from steel to a glass fibre body made by Williams & Pritchard Limited. Problems with suppliers occurred and before many cars were made the money ran out and the company went into liquidation. About 90 cars had been sold at what turned out to be an unrealistic price of £2798. Each car had two petrol tanks. In 1965 the company was bought by Harold Smith and Geoffrey West and was re-registered as Keeble Cars Ltd. Production resumed, but only for a short time, the last car of the main manufacturing run being made in 1966. A final example was actually produced in 1967 from spares, bringing the total made to exactly 100. The Gordon-Keeble Owners' Club claim that over 90 examples still exist. An attempt was made to restart production in 1968 when the rights to the car were bought by an American, John de Bruyne, but this came to nothing, although two cars badged as De Bruynes were shown at that year's New York Motor Show along with a new mid-engined coupé

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Wednesday 26th May 2004

13 years ago

Marcos Engineering Ltd ("Marcos") announced the new 5.7 litre V8 Marcos TSO roadcar, capable of 185 mph. It featured a Chevrolet V8 engine in either 350 bhp (260 kW) or 400 bhp (300 kW) versions. The car's components were CAD designed in England, while chassis engineering has been done by Prodrive. Also in 2004, the 5.7-litre Chevrolet Corvette (LS1) V8 TSO GT was announced, but solely for the Australian market. It was joined in 2005 by the GT2 for the European market. In 2006 Marcos announced the TSO GTC, a modified version of the current TSO with a racing suspension, racing brakes and a rear diffuser. The car continues on with its Chevrolet-sourced 420 bhp (310 kW) V8, but there is also a 462 bhp (345 kW) Performance Pack available as well. With the extra power from the Performance Pack the TSO GTC accelerates to 60 mph (97 km/h) in 4.1 seconds and to 100 mph (160 km/h) in 8.5 seconds. With the bigger brakes, 340 mm AP Racing brakes, the TSO GTC delivers a 0-100-0 time of 12.9 seconds. With the extra power, its 50 to 70 mph (110 km/h) time is just 2.1 seconds. Top speed is over 185 mph (298 km/h). Marcos Engineering Ltd went into administration on October 9, 2007, production was only 5 or 6 road cars plus some incomplete.

Marcos TSO

Marcos TSO

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Monday 11th April 2005

12 years ago

Bobby Labonte (USA), driving a Chevrolet truck, won his first career NASCAR Craftsman Series race, at Martinsville Speedway. With that victory, Labonte became the first driver to win in all three major NASCAR series (truck, Busch and Nextel Cup series races) at the same speedway.

Bobby Labonte

Bobby Labonte

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Wednesday 31st January 2007

10 years ago

Cars.com named its top 10 most memorable TV cars; a 1982 Pontiac Trans Am named KITT from the show "Knight Rider" topped the list. The second-place vehicle on the Cars.com list was the the General Lee, a souped-up 1969 Dodge Charger featured on "The Dukes of Hazzard." Third place on went to the mythical Mystery Machine, a multicolored van from the cartoon "Scooby-Doo." Coming in fourth was the Ferrari 308 GTS from "Magnum, P.I." Fifth on the list was the Batmobile, a modified 1955 Lincoln Futura concept car that was featured on the show "Batman." Rounding out the second half of the list were the 1975 Ford Gran Torino from "Starsky and Hutch," the 1973 Chevrolet El Camino from "My Name is Earl," the 1983 GMC G-Series from "The A-Team," the Mach 5 from the animated show "Speed Racer" and the 2005 Maserati Quattroporte seen on "Entourage."

KITT

KITT

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Sunday 4th November 2007

10 years ago

Boss, a robotic Chevrolet Tahoe from Carnegie Mellon University, won the annual $2 million prize in the driverless race sponsored by DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) at a deserted air force base near Victorville in San Bernardino County, California. Six of the 11 starting vehicles finished the 60-mile urban-area racecourse within the allocated 6 hours. Rules included obeying all traffic regulations while negotiating with other traffic and obstacles and merging in to traffic. No car finished the first race in 2004.

2007 Chevrolet Tahoe Boss Darpa Front View

2007 Chevrolet Tahoe Boss Darpa Front View

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Sunday 18th January 2009

8 years ago

This date marked the final day of a weeklong auction in which auto giant General Motors (GM) sold off historic cars from its Heritage Collection. GM sold around 200 vehicles at the Scottsdale, Arizona auction, including a 1996 Buick Blackhawk concept car for $522,500, a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro ZL-1 COPO Coupe for $319,000 and a 1959 Chevrolet Corvette convertible for $220,000. Other items included a 1998 Cadillac Brougham, which was built for the pope. (That vehicle was blessed by the pope but never used because of safety issues; it sold for more than $57,000.) Most were preproduction, development, concept or prototype cars. The vehicles came from GM's Heritage Center, an 81,000 square foot facility in Sterling, Michigan, that housed hundreds of cars and trucks from GM's past, along with documents chronicling the company's history and other artifacts and "automobilia." Rumours spread that the financially troubled GM was selling off its entire fleet of historic vehicles, but that was not the case.

General Motors Heritage Collection

General Motors Heritage Collection

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Tuesday 11th August 2009

8 years ago

General Motors reported that its Chevrolet Volt Extended-Range Electric Vehicle (or E-REV) was capable of 230 mpg in city driving, more than four times the mileage of the current champion, the Toyota Prius. The Volt, which was neither a hybrid nor a battery electric vehicle, was powered by electricity 100 per cent of the time. Volt’s Voltec electric drive unit kept going when its lithium-ion battery was depleted, thanks to its on-board petrol-to-electricity-powered generator, extending its range to over 300 miles.

Chevrolet Volt

Chevrolet Volt

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Monday 9th November 2009

8 years ago

General Motors said that it would invest C$90 million ($85.1 million) to expand a joint venture plant in Canada where it built the Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain crossovers.

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Friday 12th February 2010

7 years ago

The Chicago Auto Show opened to the public. The vehicle on the cover of the Chicago Auto Show program was the 2010 Chevrolet Equinox. A wide range of vehicles made their public debuts, including the next-generation Toyota Avalon, the 75th Anniversary Diamond Edition Chevrolet Suburban and Kia Ray Hybrid concept. This was the 102nd edition of the Chicago Auto Show, which filled more than one million square feet of exhibit space, all on one level in McCormick Place. A stunning display - as much modern art as automotive exhibit, was the upside down Ram Heavy Duty pickup truck cantilevered over the show floor. Motor Trend selected the new Ram its 2010 Truck of the Year.

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Monday 1st March 2010

7 years ago

General Motors Co. recalled 1.3 million Chevrolet and Pontiac compact cars sold in the US, Canada and Mexico to fix power steering motors that could fail.

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Thursday 1st April 2010

7 years ago

The Chevrolet Camaro was named the World Car Design of the Year at the World Car of the Year Awards.

Chevrolet Camaro

Chevrolet Camaro

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Friday 11th February 2011

6 years ago

The 2011 Chicago Auto Show celebrated its 103rd edition with rave reviews and a 10 percent increase in attendance over the 10-day run when compared to the 2010 show. Two new vehicles, a 2011 Honda CR-Z and a 2011 Hyundai Sonata turbo, were awarded to the fortunate ticket holders during the First Look for Charity event held the evening before the show opened to the public. Eighteen area charities shared in the $1,905,060 raised from the tickets sold for the black-tie fund-raiser. Four brands rolled out ride and drive tracks, including Jeep, Ford, Toyota and Chevrolet. Among brands unveiled at the 2011 show included the 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, Volkswagen GLI, Hyundai’s Genisis 5.0 R-spec and Veloster Rally Car, the 2012 2Acura TL with Acura Vice President of Sales Jeff Conrad. The 012 Shelby GT350 convertible, Toyota Matrix and Chrysler 200 convertible were seen for the first time at this show, and Audi presented the TT RS for the first time anywhere in North America. Ram Truck announced a new trim package for the Ram Tradesman, and Dodge unleashed five new performance models. A bold experiment premiered on the second media day that proved auto shows and social media are a match made in marketing heaven.

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Friday 12th August 2011

6 years ago

General Motors recalled 16,198 Chevrolet Impala and Buick LaCrosse cars in the United States and Canada to address sensor and power-steering problems.

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Saturday 9th February 2013

4 years ago

Crowds swarmed at the opening of the Chicago Auto Show to the Chevrolet exhibit to be among the first to see the 2014 Corvette on display. Visually stunning, the ’14 Corvette’s sculptured, aerodynamic two-door hatchback exterior and track-capabilities was worthy of the iconic “Stingray” designation. This model marked the seventh-generation of “America’s Sport Car.” New vehicle introductions at the '13 Chicago show included the 2014 Toyota Tundra, 2014 Volkswagen Beetle GSR and 2014 GMC Sierra 1500 pickup truck.

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