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.

Seat

Seat


A chronological day-by-day history of Seat.

Thursday 24th December 1801

215 years ago

British inventor Richard Trevithick took seven of his friends for a test ride on his “Puffing Devil,” or “Puffer,” the first steam-powered passenger vehicle, on this day in 1801. Unlike the steam engine pioneered by the Scotsman James Watt, Trevithick’s used “strong steam”–that is, steam at a very high pressure (145 pounds per square inch, or psi, compared to the Watt engine’s 5 psi, which enabled him to build an engine small enough to fit in his “Puffer” car. Trevithick’s engines were undoubtedly more dangerous than Watt’s, but they were also extremely versatile: They could be put to work in mines, on farms, in factories, on ships and in locomotives of all kinds. Trevithick was born in 1771 in a mining village in Cornwall, England. He was a terrible student–his teachers thought he was a “disobedient, slow, obstinate, [and] spoiled boy” who would never amount to anything, and in fact he was basically illiterate his entire life–but he loved to tinker with tools and machines. In 1790, Trevithick went to work as a steam-engine repairman, first at the Wheal Treasury mine and then at the Ding Dong mine. In his off hours, he worked on an invention of his own: a steam locomotive that would be powerful enough to carry people and things but compact enough to be practical. On Christmas Eve 1801, Trevithick’s Puffer (so named because it puffed steam into the atmosphere) was ready at last. The machine had a pressure-operated piston connected to a cylindrical horizontal boiler and was large enough to seat all the onlookers who were eager to accompany Trevithick on his test run. (The car chugged steadily uphill, one of those passengers reported, “like a little bird…going faster than I could walk.”) A few days later, however, the amazing Puffer was destroyed when it overheated and caught fire. In 1804, at the Penydarren Ironworks in Wales, Trevithick built the first-ever steam locomotive to run along a track. It pulled five cars loaded with ten tons of iron and 70 ironworkers about nine miles, and chugging along at about five miles per hour. Unfortunately, it was also so heavy that it broke its rails and was retired after just three trips. In 1808, a similar locomotive–dubbed the “Catch-me-who-can”–hauled daredevil passengers in a circle around Torrington Square in London. (The rails eventually broke there, too.) Trevithick died in poverty in 1833, but his inventions lived on. Without a doubt, he was one of the most important figures of the industrial age.

Richard Trevithick

Richard Trevithick

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Friday 3rd August 1860

156 years ago

Driving a three-wheeled steam carriage, the Earl of Caithness, accompanied by his wife and the Reverend William Ross, set out on a 146-mile journey over the mountainous terrain from Inverness to Barrogill Castle (now the Castle of Mey), near Thurso, Scotland. The stoker was the carriage builder Thomas Rickett. The 2-cylinder engine with a 3.5-inch bore x 7-inch stroke, drove the offside rear wheel by a spur gear drive. The boiler pressure was 150 psi. The following article about this epic joruney was published in The Illustrated London News in September 1860: Commentary from the Illustrated London News Some time back we gave an illustration of a steam-camage which was driven from Buckingham to Windsor Castle. The accompanying Engraving represents a similar one, built for the Earl of Caithness, with which his Lordship, accompanied by Lady Caithness, the Rev. W. Ross, and Mr. Rickett, “travelled north;” in fact, drove from Inverness to Barrogell Castle, a distance of 150 miles, virtually in two days, and which is considered the boldest and most difficult enterprise recorded in the annals of road locomotion. A trial trip to a point 150 miles ahead, with a full load of passengers and luggage, over some of the most mountainous districts of Scotland, the party for the most part unacquainted with the route, and the supplies of coal and water therefore uncertain; sometimes ascending hills of 1 in 7, towering up to a splendid sea view, and again descending the winding roads cut in the hill sides, crossing the mountain gorges at an acute angle by a narrow bridge, down an unprotected gallery of rocks, without the slightest accident or danger, certainly speaks well for the noble conductor, and also for the inventor of the carriage. It is stated that his Lordship travelled the first stage from Inverness to Beauly, a distance of fourteen miles, in one hour and twenty minutes, notwithstanding frequent stoppages for horses and once for water. After leaving Beauly, on those parts of the road where some distance forward could be seen, he attained a speed of eighteen miles an hour, and could have kept, it up for any distance with ease and safety. He drove up the hills without difficulty, and, proceeding down the very steep declivity near where the road joins the other from Tain, the control his Lordship had over it was most satisfactory, and enabled him to descend at any rate he pleased with perfect case and safety. On the Monday he started from Golspie at an early hour, numbers assembling to see if it would manage the steep ascent leading to Dunrobin Castle; but, as usual, drove right on, amidst hearty cheers, to the town of Helmsdale, about fifteen miles, when, on stopping for water, egress from the carriage was almost impossible from the crowd of Gaelic fishermen assembled. The town is situated at the foot of “the Ord of Caithness,” a noted mountain, which, it was said, would bring the engine to a stand if anything could; and oft was the cry repeated, “Ye’ll ne’er get o’er the Ord!” The ascent commences immediately on leaving the town with an incline of about 1 in 10, and continues for five miles frequently 1 in 7. Winding up the precipitous route, the deep, strong, but regular beat of the engine told that, though severely taxed, the task was not more than it could manage, and without once stopping or flagging it reached the summit, when the party congratulated themselves on the crisis of the enterprise being so satisfactorily passed. For the descent into Berridale Glen his Lordship had provided a special drag, but found that; with the party walking down, the ordinary screw-breaks were quite sufficient to keep it perfectly under control. At Wick, about seventeen miles from his Lordship's residence, the arrival of the carriage was anxiously expected. Horsemen went out to meet it, and the firing of cannon announced its approach. The whole town appeared to have turned out, for the streets were thronged; and, being situated a hundred miles and more from any railway, steam on the highroads was hailed with emthusiam. Hia Lordship stopped more than an hour for refreshment, and then, amid the gathering shades of night, drove on to Barrogell; but the nights are not dark in that treeless county, and his Lordship drove as merrily as by daylight to within a few miles of John o’ Groats. These carriages are designed by Mr. Rickett to carry three persons at ten miles per hour on any ordinary roads, which they appear satisfactorily to accomplish. They require about the same space as a horse and chaise, carry sufficient water for ten to fifteen miles, and coal for thiity miles, weigh thirty cwt., and are well mounted on springs, the only noise being that of the escaping steam, which can be stopped instantly when horses appear frightened. The arrangement is such that the carriage and the engine are distinct, and the duties pertaining to each divided. The fireman keeps up the supply of power by attention to the fire and water, while the person occupying the front right-hand seat turns it on as he thinks proper, having absolute control in the use of the steam and in guiding the carriage.

Rickett's steam carriage, 1860

Rickett's steam carriage, 1860

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Tuesday 10th February 1885

132 years ago

The first US patent for seat belts was issued to Edward J. Claghorn of New York. Claghorn was granted United States Patent #312,085 for a Safety-Belt for tourists, described in the patent as "designed to be applied to the person, and provided with hooks and other attachments for securing the person to a fixed object."

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Saturday 29th August 1885

131 years ago

The world’s first motorcycle, the Reitwagen ("riding car") or Einspur ("single track"), was patented. It was essentially a wooden bicycle, with foot pedals removed and powered by a single-cylinder, Otto-cycle engine. This invention is a key milestone in automobile history, as engines up until this point had only been used on stationary machines. The original design of 1884 used a belt drive, and twist grip on the handlebars which applied the brake when turned one way and tensioned the drive belt, applying power to the wheel, when turned the other way. The plans also called for steering linkage shafts that made two right angle bends connected with gears, but the actual working model used a simple handlebar without the twist grip or gear linkage. It had a 264-cubic-centimetre (16.1 cu in) single-cylinder Otto cycle four-stroke engine mounted on rubber blocks, with two iron tread wooden wheels and a pair of spring-loaded outrigger wheels to help it remain upright. Its engine output of 0.5 horsepower (0.37 kW) at 600 rpm gave it a speed of about 11 km/h (6.8 mph). Daimler's 17-year-old son, Paul, rode it first on November 18, 1885, going 5–12 kilometres (3.1–7.5 mi), from Cannstatt to Untertürkheim, Germany. The seat caught fire on that excursion, the engine's hot tube ignition being located directly underneath. Over the winter of 1885–1886 the belt drive was upgraded to a two-stage, two-speed transmission with a belt primary drive and the final drive using a ring gear on the back wheel. By 1886 the Reitwagen had served its purpose and was abandoned in favor of further development on four wheeled vehicles.The original Reitwagen was destroyed in the Cannstatt Fire that razed the Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft Seelberg-Cannstatt plant in 1903, but several replicas exist in collections at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, the Deutsches Museum in Munich, the Honda Collection Hall at the Twin Ring Motegi facility in Japan, the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in Ohio, and in Melbourne, Australia. The Deutsches Museum lent their replica to the Guggenheim Las Vegas The Art of the Motorcycle exhibition in 2001. The replicas vary as to which version they follow. The one at the AMA Hall of Fame is larger than the original and uses the complex belt tensioner and steering linkage seen in the 1884 plans, while the Deutsches Museum's replica has the simple handlebar, as well as the ring gear on the rear wheel.

Daimler's first motorcycle

Daimler's first motorcycle

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Friday 29th January 1886

131 years ago

The world’s first patent for a practical internal-combustion-engine-powered automobile was issued to German engineer Karl Benz. With a tubular framework mounted on a Benz-designed, one-horsepower, single-cylinder, 954-cc engine, the carriage-like three-wheeler Motorwagen had tiller steering and a buggy seat for two. The engine was a refinement of the four-stroke engine designed by Nikolaus Otto 10 years earlier. Although awkward and frail, it incorporated some still-familiar features: an electrical ignition, differential, mechanical valves, a carburettor, an engine-cooling system, oil and grease cups for lubrication, and a braking system.

Benz Patent Motorwagen

Benz Patent Motorwagen

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Saturday 3rd July 1886

130 years ago

Mechanical engineer Karl Benz drove the first automobile in Mannheim, Germany, reaching a top speed of 16 km/h (10 mph). The automobile was powered by a 0.75-hp one-cylinder four-stroke gasoline engine. Benz’s engine was a refinement of the four-stroke engine designed by fellow German Nikolaus Otto, who had refined his design from Étienne Lenoir's two-stroke engine. The horseless carriage had a water-cooled internal combustible engine, three wheels, tubular framework, tiller steering, and a buggy-like seat for two. The vehicle further incorporated elements that would characterize the modern vehicle, including electrical ignition, differential, mechanical valves, carburetor, oil and grease cups for lubrication, and a braking system. As is often the case, Benz was not the only person working on such a design. However, Benz patented his work first. As such, he patented all the processes that made the internal combustion engine feasible for use in an automobile. In 1879 his first engine patent was granted to him. In 1886 Benz was granted a patent for his first automobile. In 1888, his wife and children drove the vehicle from Mannheim to Pforzheim in a rather daring publicity stunt to demonstrate the machine’s reliability, making Bertha Benz the first person to drive an automobile on an extensive “road trip”. Benz built his first four-wheeled car in 1891. In 1893, the Benz Velo became the world’s first inexpensive, mass-produced car. Benz’s work eventually became the foundation of Mercedes-Benz, a well known luxury car brand still available today. Benz’s work eventually became the foundation of Mercedes-Benz, a well known luxury car brand still available today.

Benz Patent-Motorwagen

Benz Patent-Motorwagen

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Wednesday 1st May 1901

115 years ago

The first Pierce Motorette was completed.This automobile had a 3½-horsepower De Dion Bouton single-cylinder, water-cooled engine that was located just forward of the rear axle. A horizontal, finned-tube radiator was located under the front part of the body. In operation, the water circulated from the radiator to the engine, then to a tank on the body above the engine, then back to the radiator. A float-equipped carburetor received gasoline from a tank under the seat and arm air from a duct running through the center of the water tank. Also under the seat was a small oil tank equipped with a hand pump which forced oil to the engine. A chain connects the engine to a starting crank in front of the right wheel. Controls consisted of four small levers, located on the steering column, and two pedals. The largest of the levers placed the transmission in high hear when it was put to the left and in low gear when it is moved to the right. The small lever to the left was the spark control and the other two levers are carburetor controls. The right pedal operates the external contracting brakes on the small rear-wheel drums, the other pedal operated the reversing mechanism. The ignition switch was on the front of the seat framing. The body rests on four elliptic springs. The frame was tubular. Behind the dash was a package or tool compartment. These automobile only had two speeds as standard equipment.

1901 Pierce Motorette

1901 Pierce Motorette

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Tuesday 12th July 1904

112 years ago

Now billed as one of the oldest motorsports events in the United States, the Mount Washington - Climb to the Clouds - was first run, seven years before the first 500-mile race at the Brickyard in Indianapolis and 12 years prior to the inaugural Pikes Peak Hillclimb in Colorado. Run sporadically throughout the years, many famous racecar drivers and automobile manufacturers have competed in the event through its’ colorful history. Driver Harry Harkness won the first Mount Washington, New Hampshire, hill-climb race driving a 60hp Mercedes. The earliest ascent of Mount Washington in an automobile occurred in 1899, but the aptly named "Carriage Road" had been carrying coaches to the top of Mount Washington since 1861. Answering the public's desire for auto racing--hill-climb races in particular--local authorities arranged for the first "Climb to the Clouds." The race attracted entries from car companies who wished to show off their performance capabilities. A contemporary account describes Harkness' win: "In a chill driving mist that would compel cautious running even on a wide level road, Harry Harkness rushed Mount Washington in the Climb to the Clouds today and placed the record figures for this year at twenty-four minutes, thirty seconds. Something more than the achievements of the drivers of American stock cars was to be expected from the sixty-horsepower $18,000 Mercedes, and from this comparative view the feat was not extraordinary." In contrast to Harkness and his expensive import, F.E. Stanley, the creator of the Stanley Steamer, drove his eight-horsepower steam engine to the top in twenty-eight minutes and nineteen seconds. Steam cars had dominated hill-climb events until companies like Mercedes could engineer cars that would handle the massive internal combustion engines required to propel them up inclines at higher speeds. The accomplishment of the drivers in these events is perhaps more remarkable than the feats of the cars themselves. Consider the newspaper account of Harkness' run: "To guide 2,200 pounds of mechanism up an eight-mile narrow mountain road, and to pull up just 4,600 feet above the starting point after averaging twenty miles an hour without a stop is a sure enough test of man and machine." In order to compete with Harkness' impressive posted time, Stanley stripped his machine bare for his ascent. The Stanley's engine had only 15 moving parts, ran silently, and managed only seven horsepower, but at 20mph it would bump and knock around a mountain road even more than its heavier competitors. Stanley eliminated even his seat cushion for the climb, and when he stood at the podium to accept the trophy for the steam car class "he was rather used up with the jolting he got along the way." The Climb to the Clouds still runs today in late June.

Harry Harkness in a 60 h.p. Mercedes on Mount Washington

Harry Harkness in a 60 h.p. Mercedes on Mount Washington

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Thursday 29th June 1905

111 years ago

A group of motoring enthusiasts met at the Trocadero restaurant in London's West End to form the Automobile Association (the AA) – a body initially intended to help motorists avoid police speed traps, in response to the Motor Car Act 1903 which introduced new penalties for breaking the speed limit, for reckless driving with fines, endorsements and the possibility of jail for speeding and other driving offences. The act also required drivers to hold a driving licence (which was obtained on payment of 5 shillings and did not require a driving test) and to display a registration plate on their vehicle. By 1906 the AA had erected thousands of roadside danger and warning signs and managed road signage until responsibility was passed to local authorities in the early 1930s. By 1926 the organisation had installed 6,500 direction signs and 15,000 village signs, most of which were removed during the Second World War. In 1908 the organisation published its first AA Members' Special Handbook containing a list of nationwide agents and mechanics with a free legal service the following year.AA patrols on bicycles warned motorists of police speed traps ahead. In 1910 in a legal test case ('Betts -v- Stevens') involving an AA patrolman and a potentially speeding motorist, the Chief Justice, Lord Alverston, ruled that where a patrolman signals to a speeding driver to slow down and thereby avoid a speed-trap, then that person would have committed the offence of 'obstructing an officer in the course of his duty' under the Prevention of Crimes Amendment Act 1885.Subsequently the organisation developed a coded warning system, which was used until the 1960s, whereby a patrolman would always salute the driver of a passing car which showed a visible AA Badge unless there was a speed trap nearby, on the understanding that their officers could not be prosecuted for failing to salute. The AA Handbook included the following message many times: "It cannot be too strongly emphasised that when a patrol fails to salute, the member should stop and ask the reason why, as it is certain that the patrol has something of importance to communicate." In 1910 the organisation introduced AA Routes and in 1912 began inspecting hotels and restaurants, issuing AA Star Classification to those deemed to be of sufficient quality and introduced pre-purchase and post-accident repair checks in the 1920s. 1949 saw the launch of a night-time breakdown and recovery service initially in London only before extending nationally.The AA Insurance brokerage service, started in 1967, is currently the UK's largest motor insurance company. After the war the AA 'led the protest' against petrol rationing which was repealed in 1950.The organisation campaigned for the compulsory wearing of seat belts, and for the introduction of unleaded petrol. Seat belt legislation became law in the UK in 1983 as required by the Transport Act 1981. They have lobbied successive governments over what they describe as 'unfair motoring taxes'. In February 1972 the AA relocated from its central London offices to Basingstoke. It began broadcasting AA Roadwatch traffic reports on UK commercial radio stations the following year. AA Relay was also introduced in 1973, a service that will deliver a broken-down vehicle, its driver and passengers, luggage and trailer to anywhere in Britain. In 2007 the AA merged with Saga to form Acromas Holdings.In July 2013, the company launched AA Cars in partnership with Vcars, rebranding its partners existing online service. At the time of rebranding over 110,000 cars were available for purchase via 2,000 registered dealers. One of the main reasons behind the launch of the new brand was due to statistics published in an AA/Populus study, which suggested that one in three UK driver’s felt buying a car was a stressful experience.Unlike other websites within automotive classifieds industry, AA Cars provides a 26-point spot check on every vehicle. Each 26-point spot check could show whether the car had outstanding finance, was registered stolen or had been written off by an insurer. The AA became listed on the London Stock Exchange in June 2014 through an initial public offering.

AA membership 12896 badge on a 1913 Lanchester.

AA membership 12896 badge on a 1913 Lanchester.

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Friday 26th January 1906

111 years ago

An American mechanic in the seat of a steam-powered automobile set a land speed record of 127.66 mph. Fred Marriott’s milestone was not beat until four years later, when a Blitzen Benz used a gasoline engine to reach 141.7 mph. His vehicle was a modified “Stanley Steamer,” a popular consumer model that the Stanley Motor Carriage Company produced from 1897 to 1924. Such steam-powered automobiles, which were at one point manufactured by 125 different firms, could take up to a half hour to light the pilot, fire up the boiler, and build the requisite pressure to move. (See an excellent demo, complete with a disproportionally dramatic soundtrack by Philip Glass, here.) Nevertheless, they remained a cleaner, more reliable alternative to gasoline-powered cars until Henry Ford perfected his assembly line and captured the market. Marriott set the record from a rolling start on the hard-packed sands of Florida’s Ormond Beach, just north of Daytona Beach. His Stanley Steamer Rocket was 16 feet long and 3 feet wide, and had it not been for the wheels, spectators may have mistaken the thing for an upside-down canoe, especially since it was sitting next to the water. But once that raucous boiler got going, propelling the beast one mile in just 28.2 seconds, they realized it probably wasn’t a canoe.In 1907 Marriott returned to the Floridian sands with an improved model of the Stanley Steamer Rocket, hoping to break his own record. He was thought to have been approaching 150 mph when his machine hit a gully, took to the sky, and split in two upon impact. Marriott survived, but would never attempt the effort again. Marriott’s 1906 record wouldn’t be topped by another steam-powered vehicle until more than a century later, when Charles Burnett III reached 136 mph and 151 mph during two runs in California’s Mojave Desert, much to the delight of spectating steampunks and local purveyors of fresh water.

Fred Marriott in his Stanley Steamer

Fred Marriott in his Stanley Steamer

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Thursday 16th May 1907

109 years ago

The Ardsley Motor Car Company was officially dissolved.The company salesrooms were located at 50th Street and Broadway in Yonkers. By 1906, the automobile was advertised in a national automobile trade magazine as "quiet and powerful." It had 35-horsepower, could seat five and was priced at US$3,500.

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Thursday 6th June 1907

109 years ago

Construction began on the Long Island Motor Parkway, the first first limited-access roadway in the world. Generel Manager A R Pardington performed the groundbreaking ritual. The road was originally planned to stretch for 70 miles (110 km) in and out of New York City as far as Riverhead, the county seat of Suffolk County, and point of division for the north and south forks of Long Island. Only 45 miles (72 km) (from Queens in New York City to Lake Ronkonkoma) were constructed, at a cost of $6 million. Construction began in June 1908 (a year after the Bronx River Parkway). On October 10, 1908, a 10-mile-long (16 km) section opened as far as modern Bethpage, making it the first superhighway. It hosted races in 1908 and on the full road in 1909 and 1910, but an accident in the latter year's Vanderbilt Cup, killing two riding mechanics with additional injuries, caused the New York Legislature to ban racing except on race tracks, ending its career as a racing road. By 1911, the road was extended to Lake Ronkonkoma. It was the first roadway designed exclusively for automobile use, the first concrete highway in the United States, and the first to use overpasses and bridges to eliminate intersections.

Long Island Motor Parkway Under Construction, New York, 1908

Long Island Motor Parkway Under Construction, New York, 1908

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Wednesday 12th August 1908

108 years ago

Henry Ford’s first Model T, affectionately known as the ‘Tin Lizzie’, rolled off the assembly line in Detroit, Michigan. The Model T revolutionised the motor industry by providing an affordable, reliable car for the average American. Ford was able to keep the price down by retaining control of all raw materials, as well as through his use of new mass-production methods. When first introduced, the car cost only $850 and seated two people. Although the price fluctuated, dipping as low as $290 in 1924, few other changes were ever made to it. Electric lights were introduced in 1915, and an electric starter was introduced as an option in 1919, but eventually the Model T’s design stagnancy cost it its competitive edge and Ford stopped manufacturing it in 1927. From the New Yorker, May 16, 1936: Farewell, My Lovely By: EB White “I see by the new Sears Roebuck catalogue that it is still possible to buy an axle for a 1909 Model T Ford, but I am not deceived. The great days have faded, and the end is in sight. Only one page in the current catalogue is devoted to parts and accessories for the Model T; yet everyone remembers springtimes when the Ford gadget section was larger than men’s clothing, almost as large as household furnishings. The last Model T was built in 1927, and the car is fading from what scholars call the American scene – which is an understatement, because to a few million people who grew up with it, the old Ford practically was the American scene. It was the miracle that God had wrought. And it was patently the sort of thing that could only happen once. Mechanically uncanny, it was like nothing that had ever come to the world before. Flourishing industries rose and fell with it. As a vehicle, it was hard working, commonplace, heroic; and it often seemed to transmit those qualities to the person who rode in it. My own generation identifies it with Youth, with its gaudy, irretrievable excitements; before it fades into the mist, I would like to pay it the tribute of the sigh that is not a sob, and set down random entries in a shape somewhat less cumbersome than a Sears Roebuck catalogue. The Model T was distinguished from all other makes of cars by the fact that its transmission was of a type known as planetary – which was half metaphysics, half sheer fiction. Engineers accepted the word ‘planetary’ in its epicyclic sense, but I was always conscious that it also meant ‘wandering’, ‘erratic’. Because of the peculiar nature of this planetary element, there was always, in Model T, a certain dull rapport between engine and wheels, and even when the car was in a state known as neutral, it trembled with a deep imperative and tended to inch forward. There was never a moment when the bands were not faintly egging the machine on. In this respect it was like a horse, rolling the bit on its tongue, and country people brought to it the same technique they used with draft animals. Its most remarkable quality was its rate of acceleration. In its palmy days the Model T could take off faster than anything on the road. The reason was simple. To get under way, you simply hooked the third finger of the right hand around a lever on the steering column, pulled down hard, and shoved your left foot forcibly against the low-speed pedal. These were simple, positive motions the car responded by lunging forward with a roar. After a few seconds of this turmoil, you took your toe off the pedal, eased up a mite on the throttle, and the car, possessed of only two forward speeds, catapulted directly into high with a series of ugly jerks and was off on its glorious errand. The abruptness of this departure was never equaled in other cars of the period. The human leg was (and still is) incapable of letting in the clutch with anything like the forthright abandon that used to send Model T on its way. Letting in a clutch is a negative, hesitant motion, depending on delicate nervous control; pushing down the Ford pedal was a simple, country motion – an expansive act, which came as natural as kicking an old door to make it budge. The driver of the old Model T was a man enthroned. The car, with top up, stood seven feet high. The driver sat on top of the gas tank, brooding it with his own body. When he wanted gasoline, he alighted, together with everything else in the front seat; the seat was pulled off, the metal cap unscrewed, and a wooden stick thrust down to sound the liquid in the well. There was always a couple of these sounding sticks kicking around in the ratty sub-cushion regions of a flivver. Refueling was more of a social function then, because the driver had to unbend, whether he wanted to or not. Directly in front of the driver was the windshield – high, uncompromisingly erect. Nobody talked about air resistance, and the four cylinders pushed the car through the atmosphere with a simple disregard of physical law. There was this about a Model T; the purchaser never regarded his purchase as a complete, finished product. When you bought a Ford, you figured you had a start – a vibrant, spirited framework to which could be screwed an almost limitless assortment of decorative and functional hardware. Driving away from the agency, hugging the new wheel between your knees, you were already full of creative worry. A Ford was born naked as a baby, and a flourishing industry grew up out of correcting its rare deficiencies and combating its fascinating diseases. Those were the great days of lily-painting. I have been looking at some old Sears Roebuck catalogues, and they bring everything back so clear. First you bought a Ruby Safety Reflector for the rear, so that your posterior would glow in another car’s brilliance. Then you invested thirty-nine cents in some radiator Moto Wings, a popular ornament which gave the Pegasus touch to the machine and did something godlike to the owner. For nine cents you bought a fan-belt guide to keep the belt from slipping off the pulley. You bought a radiator compound to stop leaks. This was as much a part of everybody’s equipment as aspirin tablets are of a medicine cabinet. You bought special oil to stop chattering, a clamp-on dash light, a patching outfit, a tool box which you bolted on the running board, a sun visor, a steering-column brace to keep the column rigid, and a set of emergency containers for gas, oil and water – three thin, disc-like cans which reposed in a case on the running board during long, important journeys – red for gas, gray for water, green for oil. It was only a beginning. After the car was about a year old, steps were taken to check the alarming disintegration. (Model T was full of tumors, but they were benign.) A set of anti-rattlers (ninety-eight cents) was a popular panacea. You hooked them on to the gas and spark rods, to the brake pull rod, and to the steering-rod connections. Hood silencers, of black rubber, were applied to the fluttering hood. Shock absorbers and snubbers gave ‘complete relaxation’. Some people bought rubber pedal pads, to fit over the standard metal pedals. (I didn’t like these, I remember.) Persons of a suspicious or pugnacious turn of mind bought a rear-view mirror; but most Model T owners weren’t worried by what was coming from behind because they would soon enough see it out in front. They rode in a state of cheerful catalepsy. Quite a large mutinous clique among Ford owners went over to a foot accelerator (you could buy one and screw it to the floor board), but there was a certain madness in these people, because the Model T, just as she stood, had a choice of three foot pedals to push, and there were plenty of moments when both feet were occupied in the routine performance of duty and when the only way to speed up the engine was with the hand throttle. Gadget bred gadget. Owners not only bought ready-made gadgets, they invented gadgets to meet special needs. I myself drove my car directly from the agency to the blacksmith’s, and had the smith affix two enormous iron brackets to the port running board to support an army trunk. People who owned closed models builded along different lines: they bought ball grip handles for opening doors, window anti-rattlers, and de-luxe flower vases of the cut-glass anti-splash type. People with delicate sensibilities garnished their car with a device called the Donna Lee Automobile Disseminator – a porous vase guaranteed, according to Sears, to fill the car with la faint clean odor of lavender’. The gap between open cars and closed cars was not as great then as it is now: for $11.95, Sears Roebuck converted your touring car into a sedan and you went forth renewed. One agreeable quality of the old Fords was that they had no bumpers, and their fenders softened and wilted with the years and permitted the driver to squeeze in and out of tight places. Tires were 30 x 3 1/2, cost about twelve dollars, and punctured readily. Everybody carried a ]iffy patching set, with a nutmeg grater to roughen the tube before the goo was spread on. Everybody was capable of putting on a patch, expected to have to, and did have to. During my association with Model T’s, self-starters were not a prevalent accessory. They were expensive and under suspicion. Your car came equipped with a serviceable crank, and the first thing you learned was how to Get Results. It was a special trick, and until you learned it (usually from another Ford owner, but sometimes by a period of appalling experimentation) you might as well have been winding up an awning. The trick was to leave the ignition switch off, proceed to the animal’s head, pull the choke (which was a little wire protruding through the radiator) and give the crank two or three nonchalant upward lifts. Then, whistling as though thinking about something else, you would saunter back to the driver’s cabin, turn the ignition on, return to the crank, and this time, catching it on the downstroke, give it a quick spin with plenty of That. If this procedure was followed, the engine almost always responded – first with a few scattered explosions, then with a tumultuous gunfire, which you checked by racing around to the driver’s seat and retarding the throttle. Often, if the emergency brake hadn’t been pulled all the way back, the car advanced on you the instant the first explosion occurred and you would hold it back by leaning your weight against it. I can still feel my old Ford nuzzling me at the curb, as though looking for an apple in my pocket. In zero weather, ordinary cranking became an impossibility, except for giants. The oil thickened, and it became necessary to lack up the rear wheels, which for some planetary reason, eased the throw. The lore and legend that governed the Ford were boundless. Owners had their own theories about everything; they discussed mutual problems in that wise, infinitely resourceful way old women discuss rheumatism. Exact knowledge was pretty scarce, and often proved less effective than superstition. Dropping a camphor ball into the gas tank was a popular expedient; it seemed to have a tonic effect both on man and machine. There wasn’t much to base exact knowledge on. The Ford driver flew blind. He didn’t know the temperature of his engine, the speed of his car, the amount of his fuel, or the pressure of his oil (the old Ford lubricated itself by what was amiably described as the ‘splash system’). A speedometer cost money and was an extra, like a windshield-wiper. The dashboard of the early models was bare save for an ignition key; later models, grown effete, boasted an ammeter which pulsated alarmingly with the throbbing of the car. Under the dash was a box of coils, with vibrators which you adjusted, or thought you adjusted. Whatever the driver learned of his motor, he learned not through instruments but through sudden developments. I remember that the timer was one of the vital organs about which there was ample doctrine. When everything else had been checked, you had a look at the timer. It was an extravagantly odd little device, simple in construction, mysterious in function. It contained a roller, held by a spring, and there were four contact points on the inside of the case against which, many people believed, the roller rolled. I have had a timer apart on a sick Ford many times. But I never really knew what I was up to, I was just showing off before God. There were almost as many schools of thought as there were timers. Some people, when things went wrong, just clenched their teeth and gave the timer a smart crack with a wrench. Other people opened it up and blew on it. There was a school that held that the timer needed large amounts of oil; they fixed it by frequent baptism. And there was a school that was positive it was meant to run dry as a bone; these people were continually taking it off and wiping it. I remember once spitting into a timer; not in anger, but in a spirit of research. You see, the Model T driver moved in the realm of metaphysics. He believed his car could be hexed. One reason the Ford anatomy was never reduced to an exact science was that, having ‘fixed’ it, the owner couldn’t honestly claim that the treatment had brought about the cure. There were too many authenticated cases of Fords fixing themselves – restored naturally to health after a short rest. Farmers soon discovered this, and it fitted nicely with their draft-horse philosophy: ‘Let ‘er cool off and she’ll snap into it again.’ A Ford owner had Number One Bearing constantly in mind. This bearing, being at the front end of the motor, was the one that always burned out, because the oil didn’t reach it when the car was climbing hills. (That’s what I was always told, anyway.) The oil used to recede and leave Number One dry as a clam flat; you had to watch that bearing like a hawk. It was like a weak heart – you could hear it start knocking, and that was when you stopped to let her cool off. Try as you would to keep the oil supply right, in the end Number One always went out. ‘Number One Bearing burned out on me and I had to have her replaced,’ you would say, wisely; and your companions always had a lot to tell about how to protect and pamper Number One to keep her alive. Sprinkled not too liberally among the millions of amateur witch doctors who drove Fords and applied their own abominable cures were the heaven sent mechanics who could really make the car talk. These professionals turned up in undreamed-of spots. One time, on the banks of the Columbia River in Washington, I heard the rear end go out of my Model T when I was trying to whip it up a steep incline onto the deck of a ferry. Something snapped; the car slid backwards into the mud. It seemed to me like the end of the trail. But the captain of the ferry, observing the withered remnant, spoke up. ‘What’s got her?’ he asked. ‘I guess it’s the rear end,’ I replied listlessly. The captain leaned over the rail and stared. Then I saw that there was a hunger in his eyes that set him off from other men. ‘Tell you what,’ he said casually, trying to cover up his eagerness, ‘let’s pull the son of a bitch up onto the boat, and I’ll help you fix her while we’re going back and forth on the river.’ We did just this. All that day I plied between the towns of Pasco and Kenniwick, while the skipper (who had once worked in a Ford garage) directed the amazing work of resetting the bones of my car. Springtime in the heyday of the Model T was a delirious season. Owning a car was still a major excitement, roads were still wonderful and bad. The Fords were obviously conceived in madness: any car which was capable of going from forward into reverse without any perceptible mechanical hiatus was bound to be a mighty challenging thing to the human imagination. Boys used to veer them off the highway into a level pasture and run wild with them, as though they were cutting up with a girl. Most everybody used the reverse pedal quite as much as the regular foot brake – it distributed the wear over the bands and wore them all down evenly. That was the big trick, to wear all the bands down evenly, so that the final chattering would be total and the whole unit scream for renewal. The days were golden, the nights were dim and strange. I still recall with trembling those loud, nocturnal crises when you drew up to a signpost and raced the engine so the lights would be bright enough to read destinations by. I have never been really planetary since. I suppose it’s time to say goodbye. Farewell, my lovely!”

Henry Ford - Model T

Henry Ford - Model T

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Tuesday 23rd March 1909

108 years ago

Maybach-Motorenbau GmbH was founded in 1909 by Wilhelm Maybach with his son Karl Maybach as director. The company was originally a subsidiary of Luftschiffbau Zeppelin/GmbH and was itself known as "Luftfahrzeug-Motorenbau GmbH" (literally Airship Engine Company) until 1918. Today, the brand is owned by Daimler AG and based in Stuttgart. Maybach has historic roots through the involvement of Wilhelm Maybach, who was the technical director of the Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft. The company originally developed and manufactured diesel and gas engines for Zeppelins, and then rail cars. The company first built an experimental car in 1919, with the first car with the first production model introduced two years later at the Berlin Motor Show. Between 1921 and 1940, the company produced various classic opulent vehicles. The company also continued to build heavy duty diesel engines for marine and rail purposes.Maybach contributed to the German war effort in World War II by producing the engines for the formidable Panther and Tiger tank. After the war, the factor performed some repair work, but automotive production was never restarted, and some 20 years later, its operations were merged into the Daimler AG mainline operations.In 1997, Mercedes-Benz presented at the Tokyo Motorshow an ultra-luxury concept car under the name Mercedes-Benz Maybach (V12, 5987 cc, 550 hp). The concept was quite successful and Mercedes-Benz decided to develop it. Mercedes, however, made the decision to market the car under the sole brand Maybach.Maybach was therefore revived as a brand in the early 2000s, with the production of the new model in two sizes — the Maybach 57 and the Maybach 62 (the numbers are equal to the lengths of the automobiles in decimetres; the longer 62 allows rear occupants to recline fully in their seats). The prices range from $335,500 to $426,000. In 2005, the new 57S was added, sporting a more powerful engine (6.0L V12 bi-turbo (which Mercedes calls the Kompressor)), producing 604 bhp (450 kW) and 737 ft·lbf (999 N·m) of torque) and cosmetic touches that provides a sporty image.When customers decide to order a Maybach they can go to Sindelfingen, the marque’s headquarters, (or meet over a video conference centre at a dealer in their own country) to specify every and any detail they desire. Many customers will personalise their cars with their initials or coats of arms. Maybach executives liken the experience to ordering a custom-built yacht or a personalized jet aircraft. Also, with a hand-crafted finish quality, and over two million equipment option combinations available, it is unlikely that two identical cars will ever leave the factory. The Maybach's main competitor is the Rolls-Royce Phantom. Given that most Maybach owners are chauffeured, owners especially appreciate the Maybach's highly adjustable rear seats with seat warmers, seat coolers, and massage features, none of which can be found in the Rolls Royce. Some have noted that Maybach's superior focus on occupant comfort highlights the difference between their respective creators, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, with BMW being more driver-focused, and Mercedes being more comfort/luxury-focused.

Maybach symbol

Maybach symbol

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Tuesday 12th July 1910

106 years ago

Charles Steward Rolls (32), pioneer aviator and co-founder of Rolls Royce, was killed when the tail of his plane snapped off in mid-air during a flying exhibition in Bournemouth, England. The third son of Lord and Lady Llangattock, who had their ancestral seat in Monmouth, Wales, Rolls was a card-carrying member of the British aristocracy. He was educated at Eton and at Cambridge University’s Trinity College, where he first developed his love for the new sport of motoring. His first vehicle, a Peugeot with 3.75 horsepower, was the first car to be seen at Cambridge, and enabled him to drive home to Monmouth in an astonishingly quick time of two days. In 1900, Rolls drove a 12-horsepower Panhard car in the famous British auto race the Thousand Mile Trial; he also took part in a number of other early long-distance European races. Considered the best driver in Wales, he was reportedly responsible for changing the national speed limit at the time from 4 to 12 miles per hour. In 1902, Rolls went into the business of selling cars. Two years later, at the Midland Hotel in Manchester, England, he met with Frederick Henry Royce, an electrical engineer of modest background who had his own engineering business, Royce Ltd., and had built several experimental cars of his own design. After that historic meeting, Rolls and Royce merged their firms in 1906 to form Rolls-Royce Ltd. The Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, produced that year, became one of the world’s most admired cars. While Royce was responsible for every aspect of car design, Rolls provided the bulk of the financing, as well as the social connections that helped make sales. In addition to automobiles, Rolls became passionate about aviation, including hot air balloons and early airplanes. In February 1910, Rolls wrote to the inventor Wilbur Wright to complain about the Wright plane he had bought in Europe. In the letter, Rolls told Wright he had resigned his former position at Rolls Royce and taken another, which “does not require any regular attendance at the office,” in order “to devote myself to flight.” That June, Rolls became the first aviator to fly nonstop across the English Channel and back.

Charles Rolls

Charles Rolls

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Thursday 25th August 1910

106 years ago

Walden W. Shaw and John D. Hertz formed the Walden W. Shaw Livery Company, which later became the Yellow Cab Company. In 1907, the Shaw Livery Company purchased a number of small taxicabs equipped with meters. The first yellow cab (the Model J) hit the streets of Chicago in 1915, and its distinctive colour became the company's trademark. The company was also the first to use automatic windshield wipers, ultrahigh frequency two-way radios, and passenger seat belts.

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Thursday 25th June 1914

102 years ago

The Salem, Massachusetts, US bicycle shop of Lucius B. Packard was destroyed by fire. In the late 1890's three prototype Packard automobiles had been built here, but further production did not occur. In 1895 he built a prototype automobile that featured a 2-bhp gasoline engine that gave its power via a chain to the left rear wheel. Speed was controlled by two levers. One sat on the right of the steering lever. Moving it forward accelerated the vehicle, backwards slowed it. In a vertical position it brought the engine to idle. A second lever behind the seat did the same for reverse. Packard found a buyer for his car before he finished it. In 1896 he completed another four-wheeled vehicle, this time with an electric engine. It was derived from a horse-drawn carriage. His last car was built in 1898, an electric Three-wheeler with a single front wheel, allowing the use of a long steering lever. It had a centre-tube frame, and the bodywork was hinged with springs. Lucius Packard seems to be unrelated to James Ward Packard of the Packard Motor Car Company.

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Wednesday 13th October 1915

101 years ago

James Couzens resigned as Vice President and Treasurer of the Ford Motor Company, but retained his 11% ownership and seat on the Board of Directors. In 1902, Henry Fordwas organising the Ford Motor Company; Alexander Malcomson was a major stakeholder in the company. The two were seeking additional stockholders; Couzens borrowed heavily and invested $2500 in the new firm. Ford Motor Company was founded in 1903 with John S. Gray as president, Ford as vice-president, Malcomson as treasurer, and Couzens as secretary. Couzens took over the business management of the new firm for a salary of $2400. In 1906, Gray died and Malcomson was eased out of the business, making Couzens vice president and general manager of the company. The company made both Ford and Couzens wealthy, due in no small part to Couzens's business acumen. However, the two men gradually grew apart, and Couzens resigned his position as general manager, although he retained a seat on the board. In 1919, Ford purchased Couzens's shares in the company for $30,000,000.

James Couzens

James Couzens

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Saturday 29th July 1916

100 years ago

The Nash Motor Company, based in Kenosha, Wisconsin, US, was founded by former General Motors president Charles W. Nash after acquiring the Thomas B. Jeffery Company. Jeffery's best-known automobile was the Rambler whose mass production from a plant in Kenosha, Wisconsin began in 1902. The 1917 Nash Model 671 was the first vehicle produced to bear the name of the new company's founder. Nash enjoyed decades of success by focusing its efforts to build cars "embodying honest worth ... [at] a price level which held out possibilities of a very wide market." Charles Nash convinced the chief engineer of GM's Oakland Division, Finnish-born Nils Eric Wahlberg, to move to Nash's new company. Wahlberg is credited with helping to design flow-through ventilation that is used today in nearly every motor vehicle. Introduced in 1938, Nash's Weather Eye directed fresh, outside air into the car's fan-boosted, filtered ventilation system, where it was warmed (or cooled), and then removed through rearward placed vents. The process also helped to reduce humidity and equalize the slight pressure differential between the outside and inside of a moving vehicle. Another unique feature of Nash cars was the unequal wheel tracks. The front wheels were set slightly narrower than the rear, thus adding stability and improving cornering. Wahlberg was also an early proponent of wind tunnel testing for vehicles and during World War II worked with Theodore (Ted) Ulrich in the development of Nash's radically styled Airflyte models. Nash's slogan from the late 1920s and 1930s was "Give the customer more than he has paid for" and the cars lived up to it. Innovations included a straight-eight engine with overhead valves, twin spark plugs, and nine crankshaft bearings in 1930. The 1932 Ambassador Eight had synchromesh transmissions and free wheeling, automatic centralized chassis lubrication, a worm-drive rear end, and its suspension was adjustable inside the car. A long-time proponent of automotive safety, Nash was among the early mid- and low-priced cars to offer four-wheel brakes. The Nash was a success among consumers that meant for the company "selling for a long time has been 100% a production problem... month after month all the cars that could be produced were sold before they left the factory floor." For the 1925 model year, Nash introduced the entry-level marque Ajax. A car of exceptional quality for its price, the Ajax was produced in the newly acquired Mitchell Motor Car Company plant in Racine, Wisconsin. In 1924, Nash absorbed LaFayette Motors and converted its plant to produce Ajax automobiles. The LaFayette name was reintroduced in 1934 as a lower priced companion to Nash. LaFayette ceased to be an independent marque with the introduction of the 1937 models. From 1937 through 1940, the Nash LaFayette was the lowest priced Nash, and was replaced by the new unibody Nash 600 for the 1941 model year. Before retiring, Charlie Nash chose Kelvinator Corporation head George W. Mason to succeed him. Mason accepted, but placed one condition on the job: Nash would acquire controlling interest in Kelvinator, which at the time was the leading manufacturer of high-end refrigerators and kitchen appliances in the United States. The resulting company, as of January 4, 1937, was known as the Nash-Kelvinator Corporation. Nash as a brand name continued to represent automobiles for Nash-Kelvinator. This was the largest merger of companies not in the same industry up until that time. In 1938, Nash introduced an optional conditioned air heating/ventilating system, an outcome of the expertise shared between Kelvinator and Nash. This was the first hot-water car heater to draw fresh air from outside the car, and is the basis of all modern car heaters in use today. Also in 1938, Nash, along with other car manufacturers Studebaker and Graham, offered vacuum-controlled shifting, an early approach at removing the gearshift from the front floorboards. Automobiles equipped with the Automatic Vacuum Shift (supplied by the Evans Products Company) had a small gear selector lever mounted on the dashboard, immediately below the radio controls. In 1936, Nash introduced the "Bed-In-A-Car" feature, which allowed the car's interior to be converted into a sleeping compartment. The rear seat back hinged up, allowing the rear seat cushion to be propped up into a level position. This also created an opening between the passenger compartment and the trunk. Two adults could sleep in the car, with their legs and feet in the trunk, and their heads and shoulders on the rear seat cushions. In 1949 this arrangement was modified so that fully reclining front seat backs created a sleeping area entirely within the passenger compartment. In 1950 these reclining seat backs were given the ability to lock into several intermediate positions. Nash soon called these new seat backs "Airliner Reclining Seats". In 1939, Nash added a thermostat to its "Conditioned Air System", and thus the famous Nash Weather Eye heater was born. The 1939 and 1940 Nash streamlined cars were designed by George Walker and Associates and freelance body stylist Don Mortrude. They were available in three series - LaFayette, Ambassador Six and Ambassador Eight. For the 1940 model cars Nash introduced independent coil spring front suspension and sealed beam headlights. The 1941, Nash 600 was the first mass-produced unibody construction automobile made in the United States. Post-World War II passenger car production resumed on October 27, 1945 with an Ambassador sedan first off the assembly line. There were few changes from 1942 models, most noticeable were longer and slimmer upper grille bars and a projecting center section on the lower grille. The 600 models got a new, more conventional front suspension & steering system. The inline 8-cylinder Ambassador model did not return in 1946. The large Ambassador engine thus was the seven main bearing, overhead valve 234-cubic-inch six-cylinder developing 112 brake horsepower. For the 1946 model year Nash introduced the Suburban model that used wood framing & panels on the body. It was similar to the Chrysler Town and Country and Ford Sportsman models. Suburbans were continued in 1947 and 1948 models with 1,000 built over all three years. In 1948 the Ambassador convertible returned with 1,000 built. The aerodynamic 1949 Nash "Airflyte" was the first car of an advanced design introduced by the company after the war. Its aerodynamic body shape was developed in a wind tunnel. The "cutting-edge aerodynamics" was the most "alarming" all-new postwar design in the industry since the Chrysler Airflow. The few changes for the 1950 Airflytes were a wider rear window, concealed fuel filler cap, some dashboard features and addition on Ambassadors of a GM Hydramatic automatic transmission option. The 600 models were renamed the "Statesman". A new first for an American car were seat belts, also new was a five-position Airliner reclining front passenger seat back, both optional in both models. The stroke on the Statesman engine was increased 1/4 inch giving 186 cubic inches and 85 HP and the Ambassador received a new cylinder head that increased HP to 115. Changes for the 1951 model Airflytes were to the rear fenders, elongated to incorporate vertical taillights, a new conventional dashboard replacing the Uniscope mounted on the steering column, a new vertical bar grille with horizontal parking lights and addition of GM Hydramatic as a Statesman option also. The three best sales years for Nash up to that time were 1949, 1950 and 1951. Nash-Kelvinator's President George Mason felt Nash had the best chance of reaching a larger market in building small cars. He directed Nash towards the development of the first compact of the post war era, the 1950 Nash Rambler, which was marketed as an up-market, feature-laden convertible. Mason also arranged for the introduction of the Austin-built small Metropolitan from Britain, which was introduced as a 1954 model. The full-size Nash Airflytes were completely re-designed for 1952, and were promoted as the Golden Airflytes, in honor of Nash Motors' 50th anniversary as an automobile builder (the company now counting the years of the Thomas B. Jeffery Company as part of their own heritage.) "Great Cars Since 1902" became one of the company's advertising slogans. Nash was one of the few American car manufacturers to introduce an all-new 1952 model other than Ford Motor Company. The new Golden Airflytes presented a more modern, squared-off look than did the 1949–1951 models, which were often compared to upside-down bathtubs. Pininfarina of Italy was contracted by Nash to design a body for the new Golden Airflyte; however management was unhappy with the design and the result was a combination of an in-house design and Pininfarina's model. Using its Kelvinator refrigeration experience, the automobile industry's first single-unit heating and air conditioning system was introduced by Nash in 1954. This was a compact, affordable system for the mass market with controls on the dash and an electric clutch.[21] Entirely incorporated within the engine bay, the combined heating and cooling system had cold air for passengers enter through dash-mounted vents.[20] Competing systems used a separate heating system and an engine-mounted compressor with an Evaporator in the car's trunk to deliver cold air through the rear package shelf and overhead vents. The alternative layout pioneered by Nash "became established practice and continues to form the basis of the modern and more sophisticated automatic climate control systems." 1951 saw the introduction of the Anglo-American Nash-Healey sports car, a collaborative effort between George Mason and British sports car manufacturer Donald Healey. Healey designed and built the chassis and suspension and also, until 1952, the aluminum body which another British manufacturer, Panelcraft Sheet Metal Co. Ltd., fabricated in Birmingham. Nash shipped the powertrain components. Healey assembled the cars, which were then shipped to the U.S. for sale. In 1952 the Italian designer Battista Farina restyled the body, and its construction changed to steel and aluminum. High costs, low sales and Nash's focus on the Rambler line led to the termination of Nash-Healey production in 1954 after 506 automobiles had been produced. In January 1954 Nash announced the acquisition of the Hudson Motor Car Company as a friendly merger, creating American Motors Corporation (AMC). To improve the financial performance of the combined companies, all production beginning with the 1955 Nash and Hudson models would happen at Nash's Kenosha plant. Nash would focus most of its marketing dollars on its smaller Rambler models, and Hudson would focus its marketing dollars on its full-sized cars. The Nash Metropolitan produced with the British Motor Corporation, which had been marketed under both the Nash and Hudson brands, became a make unto its own in 1957, as did the Rambler. The Ramblers quickly overtook Nash and Hudson as the leading line of cars manufactured by AMC. In 1970, American Motors acquired Kaiser Jeep (the descendant of Willys-Overland Motors) and its Toledo, Ohio, based manufacturing facilities. In the early 1980s, AMC entered into a partnership with Renault which was looking for a re-entry into the American market in the 1980s. AMC was ultimately acquired by Chrysler Corporation in 1987, becoming the Jeep-Eagle division.

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Saturday 1st September 1917

99 years ago

The first Nash automobile was produced; a 4-liter six-cylinder model, it had the unusual feature for the period of pushrod-operated overhead valves, an obvious legacy from Nash's period with Buick, which had never built anything but ohv engines since its inception in 1903. The model line-up included five and seven-seat touring cars, a 'chummy', a coupe and a sedan. Sales were moderately encouraging at 10,283 for the 1918 season. Nash pioneered some important innovations; in 1938 they debuted the heating and ventilation system which is still used today, unibody construction in 1941, seat belts in 1950, a US built compact car in 1950, and muscle cars in (1957).

Nash Tourer - 1918

Nash Tourer - 1918

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Saturday 1st November 1919

97 years ago

Armstrong Siddeley Motors was officially formed in Britain. The 30HP was the first model built and produced in 1919 and the first car to carry the Armstrong Siddeley name, followed by the sloping V radiator and the sphinx mascot that would become symbols of the marque. One journalist described an early Armstrong Siddeley "as silent and inscrutable as the sphinx", The description touched Colonel J D Siddeley so much it was to become his trade mark and he commissioned an artist to draw the sphinx from the base of Cleopatra's needle on the Thames Embankment, London. Car production was small scale with between one and two thousand a year between the 1920's to 1930's with a range of models from a small 12hp family vehicle to a 5 litre Siddeley Special. During the Depression in 1932 sales rose due to the modestly priced small cars. Armstrong Siddeley introduced a preselector semi automatic gear box in 1928 that would become associated with most models of marque. A new British car with front suspension and advanced body design was produced after the Second Wold War. Design was slow with the first new models announced on the 11 May 1945. It took till 1946 for the first production to be built. Two litre 16HP engine cars were named after famous war time aircrafts built by the company, with the likes of the Hurricane, Lancaster and Typhoon. During 1949 to 1954 the cars were updated and used an improved 2.3 litre 18HP engine, while the Typhoon sports was replaced with the Whitley saloon. However the Mulliner bodied Lancaster ceased production in 1952. Two commercial vehicles were also produced by the Armstrong Siddeley group. These were versions of the 18HP models being a utility coupe and a station coupe, boosting a short tray and an occasional bench seat behind the front seat in its extended cab. More than half of these vehicles were exported to Australia were a few survive having bin restored and cherished by there owners. Limousines with extended chassis and cabriolets were also produced. Very few two door Hurricane drop head coupes and two door Typhoon sports saloon's survive and these perhaps are the most interesting post war models. 1952 saw the introduction of the 3.4 litre Sapphire saloon witch went on sale in 1953. These engines were advanced in design with hemispherical combustion chambers and producing 120bhp witch was developed to produce 125bhp, and with twin carburettors 150bhp was produced. A genuine 100mph was possible from the twin carburettor Sapphire. The Sapphire had a choice of preselector and synchromesh gearboxes. In 1954 the Mark 2 was introduced with an automatic version available. The discontinued 16/18HP cars were replaced in 1956 with a smaller 234 and 236 Sapphire models. An advanced 4 cylinder version of the Sapphire engine developing 120bhp powered the 234 Sapphire giving it outstanding performance and characteristics. The 18HP was redeveloped to produce 85bhp and used in the 236 Sapphire. Both models had a 4 speed synchromesh gearbox as standard with the option of a Laycock de Normanville overdrive. Manumatic clutches were fitted to many 236 Sapphires but these were not very popular due to there unusual body styling for there time and production stopped in 1958. The opulent Star Sapphire replaced The Sapphire in 1958 and was one of the first British cars produced with front disc brakes. The Star Sapphire was the last car produced by the company and the last one left the work shop in July 1960.

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Saturday 6th November 1920

96 years ago

The Orpington, built by Frank Smith and Jack Milroy at their Pond Garage, opposite Priory Road in Orpington, Kent, went on a test run in front of the press. It was a two-seater with a dickey seat capable of accommodating two more small people behind the driving wheel, had a 10-bhp engine, and cost £495.

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Sunday 4th September 1921

95 years ago

The first Italian Grand Prix, held at the 10.7 mile (17.3 km) circuit near Brescia, was won by Jules Giux in a 3 litre Ballot. However, the race is more closely associated with Monza, which was built in 1922 in time for that year's race, and has been the location for most of the races over the years. The 1923 race included one of Harry A. Miller's rare European appearances with his single seat "American Miller 122" driven by Count Louis Zborowski of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang fame. The Italian Grand Prix counted toward the European Championship from 1935 to 1938. It was one of the inaugural Formula One championship races in 1950, and has been held every year since then. The only other championship race for which this is true is the British Grand Prix.

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Thursday 24th November 1921

95 years ago

Gottfried Schlöemer (79), mechanic and inventor, who lived on the south side of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, US, died. His principal claim to fame rests on the "motor wagon" that he built there in 1889, which some have hailed as the first workable gasoline-engine automobile ever built in the United States, four years ahead of Charles and Frank Duryea, who are most often identified with this achievement. At the time of his death certain local reports even claimed him as the designer and maker of the first gasoline-powered automobile in the world, although that honor is usually given to the German Karl Benz in 1885. In 1880 he conceived the idea of a "motor wagon" (a.k.a. "gas buggy", "auto wagon") with an attached gasoline engine to make it self-propelling. He was in the cooperage business at the Toepfer blacksmith shop on National Avenue in Milwaukee at that time. Schloemer had a single-cylinder motor made according to his design by the Sintz Gas Engine Company of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Sintz made the engines used later by Charles Brady King and others for their first automobile. The Sintz engine that was specifically designed and ordered by Schloemer was 3.5 inches by 3.5 inches. It was installed in the "motor wagon" that was made in 1889 by Schloemer. He first drove the motorized wagon on the streets of Milwaukee in 1890. Schloemer believed in the commercial value of the idea of his "motor wagon" and went about marketing his car. He went about getting capitalists to invest in his invention in later part of the 1880s without much luck. Finally he obtained two wealthy Milwaukee men to invest in his self-propelled "motor wagon" in 1889. They set plans by 1892 to manufacture the car in a large quantities, however the national financial panic of 1893 put a halt on their plans and the investors backed out. Schloemer had to improvise on his "motor wagon" for an igniting system to fire the fuel, since at that time there was no such thing as a spark plug. He used a home-made make-and-break sparking mechanism consisting of two points of steel striking together causing a "spark" to ignite the gasoline fumes in the cylinder. In 1892 he designed and patented a carburetor, which was known as the Gottfried Schloemer carburetor and used kerosene lamp wicks in the center of it to get the gasoline from the gas tank into the cylinder of the motor to be ignited. In a later testimony he states that when he drove his "motor wagon" down the streets of downtown Milwaukee for the first time he remembers he went down West Water Street and stopped at Spiegel's Drug Store to purchase some items. When he came out of the store there was a large crowd around the automobile and found it necessary to ask a policeman to clear a passageway for him to leave. Once he started the motor, the very loud noise scared the people that gathered and they immediately scattered. Schloemer's first version of a horseless carriage was a "rocking seat automobile" where a person bounced up and down on the seat to cause a mechanical rocking operation that drove a crank that drove the rear wheels. This operated the "automobile" for only a block and a half before it failed. From there he added his specially designed Sintz motor in 1889 and in 1890 was driving the self-propelled automobile on the streets of Milwaukee. Schloemer drove his car in a floral parade in 1895, the first automobile ever to do this. He was the only automobile in the parade. He also led the first automobile parade that was ever held on the streets of Milwaukee. There were seven automobiles in the car parade There is a debate even to this day as to who should get the credit for making the first practical workable gasoline-powered automobile.[18] Karl Benz is a claimant to the world's first self-propelled velocipede with a three-wheeled motorwagon in Germany in 1885. Some that take the claim of making the first gas-fueled car in America are Henry Nadig and Charles H. Black. Popular credit usually goes to the Duryea Brothers for the first commercially manufactured gasoline-powered "horseless carriage" in the U.S. with the introduction of the "Ladies Phaeton" motor wagon model in 1893.[19] Henry Ford is credited with the idea of the modern-day assembly line production of cars.

Schloemer and his automobile in 1895 floral parade

Schloemer and his automobile in 1895 floral parade

Schloemer 1889 patent

Schloemer 1889 patent

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Tuesday 27th June 1922

94 years ago

Julien S Friede was issued with a United States patent for an air tight seat cushion with adjustable vent on behalf of the Moon Motor Car Company, thought to be the only patet ever issued to this firm.

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Wednesday 29th November 1922

94 years ago

Former Ford Motor Company executive James Couzens was appointed to the United States Senate to replace Truman H. Newberry, who had defeated Henry Ford for the seat in 1918.

James Couzens

James Couzens

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Friday 6th July 1923

93 years ago

The Squire Car Manufacturing Company, a British auto manufacturer of the 1930s, based in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire was declared bankrupt. It was founded as Squire Motors Ltd two years earlier by 21-year-old Adrian Squire (1910–1940), formerly of Bentley and MG. Renamed as the Squire Car Manufacturing Company it produced the Squire car, which epitomised the Grand Prix car turned into road car. After Frazer-Nash temporarily cast aside British Anzani, Squire seized the opportunity to use Anzani's R1 100 bhp (75 kW) 1,496 cc twin-cam engine. They were purchased from Anzani with a Squire emblem cast into them. Blown versions were available. Very few were made, but it held a reputation for exceptional top speed and braking. Squire designed and built a fine rigid chassis offered in two lengths for two or four seat versions with attractive bodywork by Vanden Plas. The car was too expensive even with cheaper bodywork from Markham of Reading, and financial difficulties ended production in 1936. A Vanden Plas two seater cost £1,220 which was Bugatti money and even the Markham cost £995. Squire himself went on to join Lagonda and was working for the Bristol Aeroplane Company when killed in an air raid in 1940. Two or possibly three more cars were assembled from left over parts by Valfried Zethrin in 1938 and 1939. There were plans to resume production after the war but the lack of patterns to make the engine made this uneconomical. After the war Val Zethrin pursued a new project, an updated and simplified attempt at the Squire concept, called the Zethrin Rennsport. The reliability and cost of the R1 Anzani engine had always been an issue, and post-war conditions rendered it unthinkable. Through Benjamin Bowden and John Allen's design company, contact was made with Donald Healey, who recommended using a souped up Riley Motor engine, as he had employed in the Healey-Abbott· Suspension and modified frame from the Riley stable provided the back-bone for what was to be an interesting but doomed venture. 180 bhp from the heavily modified engine was forecast, coupled to a fairly advanced body, suggesting that a 135 mph maximum speed was achievable. It seems that this project went little further than a road-going prototype with rudimentary bodywork. Zethrin did not have the technical expertise of Adrian Squire, and failed to ensure sufficient industry interest in what seemed a flight of fancy, in an era of austerity. Lack of funds and backers falling away put paid to the Rennsport becoming available for purchase.

Adrian Squire

Adrian Squire

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Sunday 19th April 1925

91 years ago

Pioneer British motoring patron and one of the founders of the London and Westminster Bank, Sir David Salomans (73) died. In 1835 he was elected as Sheriff of the City of London. However, he was unable to take up the post, because the mandatory oath of office included Christian statements of faith. The Sheriffs' Declaration Act was passed later that year, and Salomons was able to take up the post. In 1839, he was High Sheriff of Kent, where his Broomhill estate, now the Salomons Museum, was located near Tunbridge Wells. In December 1835, Salomons was elected as an Alderman of the City of London, but again faced an unacceptable oath, and on this occasion the law was not changed. Salomons was disqualified, but was re-elected in 1847, after the Religious Opinions Relief Act had amended the oath. In 1855, the Aldermen elected him as Lord Mayor of London. In the meantime, he trained as a lawyer and was called to the bar in 1849, though he did not practise as a barrister. However, he was the first Jewish magistrate in England. In 1847 he served on the committee of the British Relief Association. In 1851 he stood as a Liberal candidate at a by-election in the Greenwich constituency, and on 28 June he was elected as one of the constituency's two Members of Parliament (MPs). He was not permitted to serve in the House of Commons, because he had not taken the oath of abjuration in the form established by Parliament. However, he did not withdraw quietly: instead he took the oath, but omitted the Christian phrases, and took his seat on the government benches. He was asked to withdraw, and did so on the second request, but he returned three days later, on 21 July 1851. In the debate that followed, Salomons defended his presence on grounds of having been elected by a large majority, but was eventually removed by the Sergeant-at-Arms, and fined £500 for having voted illegally in three divisions of the House. When the law was eventually changed in 1858, Lionel de Rothschild became the first Jewish MP to legally take his seat, having been elected in 1857. In the 1859 general election, David Salomons was re-elected for Greenwich and served as the constituency's MP until his death in 1873. His country house Broomhill north of Tunbridge Wells is now preserved as the Salomons Museum.

David Salomans

David Salomans

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Tuesday 3rd January 1928

89 years ago

The Packard Custom 443 was introduced along with rumble seat coupe and a convertible coupe as an additional body style in all series.

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Tuesday 4th December 1928

88 years ago

"Dapper Dan" Hogan, a St. Paul, Minnesota (US) saloonkeeper and mob boss, was killed when someone planted a car bomb under the floorboards of his new Paige coupe. Fat and bloated from a big breakfast, Dapper Dan walked towards his Paige coupe to go to work. He had the car parked in the garage in back. Hogan climbed in, turned on the ignition, and stepped on the starter pedal. Unbeknownst to him, an explosive charge had been hidden between the engine block and the floorboard, wired to the bolt on the top of the engine block and attached by wires to the explosive. As he started the car the bomb detonated, with an explosion so great the car leapt backwards out of the garage. The hood blew off, all the coupe’s windows shattered, the gears flattened, and the steering wheel was blown from its base. Hogan’s right leg was smashed beyond recognition. He was taken to the hospital, slipped into a coma, and nine hours later died from his wounds. According to some accounts, Hogan probably would have perished instantly if he had been the size of a normal man. He was so fat, though, that he had to lean back in his car seat a ways to operate the vehicle, and his head was protected by the distance his stomach created; otherwise his head would have likely been ripped from his body during the explosion. His murder is still unsolved.

"Dapper Dan" Hogan

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Sunday 14th December 1930

86 years ago

The first Ford Model A Victoria was introduced.Of the 17 body styles offered in 1930, the Model A’s third season, five were completely new. These included a Deluxe Phaeton, a Deluxe Roadster with sporty canted windshield and lower top profile, a two-window Deluxe Forder with blind rear quarters, a Deluxe Coupe with upscale interior and a close-coupled two-door sedan called “Victoria.” Of these, the Victoria was the most noteworthy, heralding a number of styling features that would find wider use in 1931. Built with extra-wide doors for ease of entry, the Victoria had folding front seats for access to the roomy rear seat. Behind the rear seat was luggage space, provided by adding a pleasing “bustle” to the car’s rear contour. Introduced in November 1930, it had a visor-less slanted windshield and a lowered steering column, similar to that in the Deluxe Phaeton. Cars were available in two roof styles, with steel rear quarters or with a full padded fabric cover. Interior fabrics were either brown Bedford cord or striped tan broadcloth. Just 6,447 Victorias were built in the final days of 1930. In 1931, production virtually soared. By the time production wound down in August, nearly 37,000 had been delivered. The body style was sufficiently popular that it was carried into 1934, by which time completely new bodies for 1935 were available with an externally-accessible trunk compartment. The name proved even more durable, being recycled for Ford’s first “hardtop convertible” in 1951.

Ford Model A Victoria

Ford Model A Victoria

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Thursday 31st March 1932

84 years ago

The Ford Motor Company publicly unveiled its one piece "V-8" flathead engine. Bringing out a pioneering eight-cylinder low-priced car was a bold move in the midst of the most severe economic depression the United States had ever endured. But Henry Ford was determined to build a mass-produced V8, and the world was ready for it. There would be 212,000 Model 18 Ford engines produced in 1932 and that was only the beginning. Ford passenger cars would be powered by refined versions of what would become known as the Ford 'flathead' V8 through 1953 (and in Canada, through 1954). Edsel Ford, Henry's son, styled the 1932 Ford car. This one-year-only model bore a marked resemblance to the Lincoln of the same year, which had also been designed under the direction of Edsel Ford. Generations of car enthusiasts have admired the handsome, clean lines of the 1932 Ford, which is popularly known as the 'Deuce.' The Model B, with a 4-cylinder engine, was also available in 1932. Combined production of the Fours and V8s totaled just a bit more than 250,000 cars. Ironically, what would become one of the most desired Fords ever was originally one of the lowest production models ever. A mere four years after the introduction of the Model A, Henry Ford introduced the first mass-produced V-8 in the low-priced field - the Model 18. The V8 engine was available for just $50 over the price of the four-cylinder model, known as the Model B. The flathead V8 engine could be found in Ford and Mercury cars until 1953. Some of the styling cues from the Lincolns were incorporated into the Model 18s. They were available in a wide range of 14 bodystyles, along with a choice of a trunk or rumble seat in the roadsters and coupes. Ford introduced the B-400 two-door convertible sedan bodystyle in 1931. It featured all-weather protection for open-car enthusiasts and was one of lower production Fords for 1932. Only 41 customers purchased the car with the four-cylinder engine, while 842 customers selected the V-8 engine. This 1932 Ford V-8 B-400 Convertible Sedan is one of the few of this bodystyle produced. It is a left-hand-drive example that was exported to Europe in 1932. Its last inspection for public roads was performed in Denmark in 1957. In June of 2007, the car was brought back to the United States and is currently in original, unrestored condition. In early 2008, the current owner purchased the V8 from Gary Matranga of Lake Havasu, Arizona. The V-8 flathead engine appears to be a correct factory replacement Ford engine from the early 1930s. The body has minor rust and has never been taken off the frame. In 2008, this B-400 Convertible Sedan V-8 Ford was offered for sale at the Gooding & Company auction held in Pebble Beach, California and was estimated to sell for $150,000 - $210,000. As the gavel fell for the third and final time, the lot had been left unsold, as bidding had failed to satisfy the car's reserve.

Henry Ford - V8 engine - 1932

Henry Ford - V8 engine - 1932

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Saturday 6th August 1932

84 years ago

Richard Hollingshead Jr. of Camden, New jersey, US first registered his patent for the drive-in movie theatre. He wanted to create an alternative to ordinary movie houses, where parents could bring the children in their pajamas, avoid baby-sitters, and relax in the comfort of their own car while watching a Friday night film. Hollingshead was awarded the patent in May of the following year, though it was declared invalid in 1950. After the patent was revoked, thousands of drive-ins appeared across the US, reaching a high of 4,063 in 1958. The largest drive-in theatre in patron capacity was the All-Weather Drive-In of Copiague, New York. All-Weather had parking space for 2,500 cars, an indoor 1,200 seat viewing area, kid's playground, a full service restaurant and a shuttle train that took customers from their cars and around the 28-acre theater lot.

First drive-in theater Camden New Jersey, US 1933

First drive-in theater Camden New Jersey, US 1933

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Monday 23rd January 1933

84 years ago

Arthur L. Garford (74), a chassis manufacturer associated with the early Studebaker, died in Ohio, US. By the early 1900s, Garford had amassed a sizable fortune from the Garford Manufacturing Company. This firm manufactured the first padded bicycle seat in the entire world. Garford eventually sold this company to George Worthington, who renamed the firm the Worthington Manufacturing Company. In conjunction with George Pope, a bicycle and automobile manufacturer, Garford, utilizing funds from the Garford Manufacturing Company's sale, soon formed the Federal Manufacturing Company. In 1904, Garford purchased Pope's share in the firm, and this same year, Garford renamed the company the Garford Company. The Garford Company primarily manufactured Studebaker-Garford automobiles. The company began production in 1904 and ceased production in 1911, having manufactured only 2,481 Studebaker-Garford cars. In 1908, Garford sold his majority interest in the Garford Company to Studebaker. Studebaker officials sold the Garford Company to the Willys-Overland Company in 1911.

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Thursday 9th February 1933

84 years ago

Ford introduced a revised Model 40 and a new Model B. The 1933, revisions of the car were substantial, especially considering how important the 1932 change had been. For its second year, the wheelbase was stretched, from 106 in (2692 mm) to 112 in (2845 mm) on a new crossmember frame. The grille was revised, gaining a pointed forward slope at the bottom which resembled either a shovel or the 1932 Packard Light Eight. Both the grille and hood louvers curved down and forward. The overall design and grille were inspired by the English Ford Model Y. Streamlining was further accentuated by the new hood which now covered the cowl, giving an impression of more length. In addition, there were more rounded and skirted fenders and new, elegantly bowed bumpers. Headlamp support bars were no longer in use, and there were new wire wheels. The cars got a new dashboard with instruments set in an oval insert in front of the driver. There was a glove box on the passenger side. Closed Deluxe models received heavy DI-NOC woodgraining[5] on dash and window frames, and there were deeper seat cushions. There were 10 body styles (14 if standard and Deluxe trim levels are counted separately). Now, all were available for V-8s and the Model B, which thus got Deluxe models, too. Convertible Coupes and Victoria came in Deluxe trim only, and the most expensive car in the line, the "woody", as a Standard only. It cost US$590 with the four cylinder engine.

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Wednesday 26th May 1937

79 years ago

The Battle of the Overpass took place in which labor organizers clashed with Ford Motor Company security guards at the River Rouge Plant complex in Dearborn, Metro-Detroit, Michigan. The United Auto Workers had planned a leaflet campaign entitled, "Unionism, Not Fordism", at the pedestrian overpass over Miller Road at Gate 4 of the River Rouge Plant complex. Demanding an $8 (equivalent to $132 today) six-hour day for workers, in contrast to the $6 (equivalent to $99 today) eight-hour day then in place, the campaign was planned for shift change time, with an expected 9,000 workers both entering and leaving the plant. At approximately 2 p.m., several of the leading UAW union organizers, including Walter Reuther and Richard Frankensteen, were asked by a Detroit News photographer, James R. (Scotty) Kilpatrick, to pose for a picture on the overpass, with the Ford sign in the background. While they were posing, men from Ford's Service Department, an internal security force under the direction of Harry Bennett, came from behind and began to beat them.[1] The number of attackers is disputed, but may have been as many as forty. Frankensteen had his jacket pulled over his head and was kicked and punched. Reuther described some of the treatment he received:'Seven times they raised me off the concrete and slammed me down on it. They pinned my arms . . . and I was punched and kicked and dragged by my feet to the stairway, thrown down the first flight of steps, picked up, slammed down on the platform and kicked down the second flight. On the ground they beat and kicked me some more. . .' One union organizer, Richard Merriweather, suffered a broken back as the result of the beating he received. The security forces mob also attempted to destroy photographic plates, but the Detroit News photographer James R. Kilpatrick hid the photographic plates under the back seat of his car, and surrendered useless plates he had on his front seat. News and photos of the brutal attack made headlines in newspapers across the country. In spite of the photographs, and many witnesses who had heard his men specifically seek out Frankensteen and Reuther, security director Bennett claimed — "The affair was deliberately provoked by union officials. . . . They simply wanted to trump up a charge of Ford brutality. ... I know definitely no Ford service man or plant police were involved in any way in the fight." The incident greatly increased support for the UAW and hurt Ford's reputation. Bennett and Ford were chastised by the National Labor Relations Board for their actions. Three years later Ford signed a contract with the UAW.

UAW leaders Walter Reuther and Richard Frankensteen following the Battle of the Overpass at the Ford Rouge Plant.

UAW leaders Walter Reuther and Richard Frankensteen following the Battle of the Overpass at the Ford Rouge Plant.

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Sunday 26th September 1937

79 years ago

US blues singer Bessie Smith (43) was critically injured while travelling along US Route 61 in Mississippi in an old Packard. Her lover, Richard Morgan, was driving and misjudged the speed of a slow-moving truck ahead of him. Tire marks at the scene suggested that Morgan tried to avoid the truck by driving around its left side, but he hit the rear of the truck side-on at high speed. The tailgate of the truck sheared off the wooden roof of Smith's old Packard. Smith, who was in the passenger seat, probably with her right arm or elbow out the window, took the full brunt of the impact. Morgan escaped without injuries. The first people on the scene were a Memphis surgeon, Dr. Hugh Smith (no relation), and his fishing partner, Henry Broughton. In the early 1970s, Hugh Smith gave a detailed account of his experience to Bessie's biographer Chris Albertson. This is the most reliable eyewitness testimony about the events surrounding her death. After stopping at the accident scene, Hugh Smith examined the singer, who was lying in the middle of the road with obviously severe injuries. He estimated she had lost about a half pint of blood and immediately noted a major traumatic injury to her right arm; it had been almost completely severed at the elbow. He stated that this injury alone did not cause her death. Although the light was poor, he observed only minor head injuries. He attributed her death to extensive and severe crush injuries to the entire right side of her body, consistent with a sideswipe collision.Broughton and Smith moved the singer to the shoulder of the road. Smith dressed her arm injury with a clean handkerchief and asked Broughton to go to a house about 500 feet off the road to call an ambulance. By the time Broughton returned, about 25 minutes later, Bessie Smith was in shock. Time passed with no sign of the ambulance, so Hugh Smith suggested that they take her into Clarksdale in his car. He and Broughton had almost finished clearing the back seat when they heard the sound of a car approaching at high speed. Smith flashed his lights in warning, but the oncoming car failed to stop and plowed into his car at full speed. It sent his car careening into Bessie Smith's overturned Packard, completely wrecking it. The oncoming car ricocheted off Hugh Smith's car into the ditch on the right, barely missing Broughton and Bessie Smith.The young couple in the new car did not have life-threatening injuries. Two ambulances arrived on the scene from Clarksdale, one from the black hospital, summoned by Broughton, the other from the white hospital, acting on a report from the truck driver, who had not seen the accident victims.Bessie Smith was taken to Clarksdale's G. T. Thomas Afro-American Hospital, where her right arm was amputated. She died that morning without regaining consciousness. After her death, an often repeated but now discredited story emerged that she had died as a result of having been refused admission to a whites-only hospital in Clarksdale. The jazz writer and producer John Hammond gave this account in an article in the November 1937 issue of Down Beat magazine. The circumstances of Smith's death and the rumor promoted by Hammond formed the basis for Edward Albee's 1959 one-act play The Death of Bessie Smith."The Bessie Smith ambulance would not have gone to a white hospital, you can forget that," Hugh Smith told Albertson. "Down in the Deep South cotton country, no ambulance driver, or white driver, would even have thought of putting a colored person off in a hospital for white folks." Smith's funeral was held in Philadelphia a little over a week later, on October 4, 1937. Her body was originally laid out at Upshur's funeral home. As word of her death spread through Philadelphia's black community, the body had to be moved to the O.V. Catto Elks Lodge to accommodate the estimated 10,000 mourners who filed past her coffin on Sunday, October 3.Contemporary newspapers reported that her funeral was attended by about seven thousand people. Far fewer mourners attended the burial at Mount Lawn Cemetery, in nearby Sharon Hill. Gee thwarted all efforts to purchase a stone for his estranged wife, once or twice pocketing money raised for that purpose.Smith's grave was unmarked until a tombstone was erected on August 7, 1970, paid for by the singer Janis Joplin and Juanita Green, who as a child had done housework for Smith.

Bessie Smith

Bessie Smith

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Tuesday 23rd April 1946

70 years ago

The Vespa scooter was granted a patent for a "motorcycle of a rational complexity of organs and elements combined with a frame with mudguards and a casing covering the whole mechanical part", that started the line of iconic Vespa scooters into production, starting with the Vespa 98. The basic patented design allowed a series of features to be deployed on the spar-frame that would later allow quick development of new models. The original Vespa featured a rear pillion seat for a passenger, or optionally a storage compartment. The original front protection "shield" was a flat piece of aero metal; later, this developed into a twin skin to allow additional storage behind the front shield, similar to the glove compartment in a car. The fuel cap was located underneath the (hinged) seat, which saved the cost of an additional lock on the fuel cap or need for additional metal work on the smooth skin. The scooter had rigid rear suspension and small 8-inch (200 mm) wheels that allowed a compact design and plenty of room for the rider's legs. The Vespa's enclosed, horizontally mounted 98 cc two-stroke engine acted directly on the rear drive wheel through a three-speed transmission. The twistgrip-controlled gear change involved a system of rods. The early engine had no forced-air cooling, but fan blades were soon attached to the magneto-flywheel (which houses the points and generates electricity for accessories and for the engine's spark) to push air over the cylinder's cooling fins. The modern Vespa engine is still cooled this way.

Vespa 98

Vespa 98

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Monday 7th July 1947

69 years ago

The Tucker 48 was shown in an exclusive preview at the Hotel Statler in Washington DC. Only 51 cars were made before the company folded on March 3, 1949, due to negative publicity initiated by the news media, a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation and a heavily publicized stock fraud trial (in which allegations were proven baseless in court with a full acquittal). Speculation exists that the Big Three automakers and Michigan senator Homer S. Ferguson also had a role in the Tucker Corporation's demise.[citation needed] The 1988 movie Tucker: The Man and His Dream is based on the saga surrounding the car's production. The film's director, Francis Ford Coppola, is a Tucker owner and displays his vehicle on the grounds of his winery. The 48's original proposed price was said to be $1,000, but the actual selling price was closer to $4,000. A 1948 Tucker sedan was featured in the July 26, 2011, installment of NBC's It's Worth What? television show. The car's estimated value at that time was US$1,200,000. The car is commonly referred to as the "Tucker Torpedo". This name was never used in conjunction with the actual production car, and its name was officially "Tucker 48". Some components and features of the car were innovative and ahead of their time. The most recognizable feature of the Tucker '48, a directional third headlight (known as the "Cyclops Eye"), would activate at steering angles of greater than 10 degrees to light the car's path around corners. At the time, 17 states had laws against cars having more than two headlights. Tucker fabricated a cover for the cyclops center light for use in these states. The car had a rear engine and rear-wheel drive. A perimeter frame surrounded the vehicle for crash protection, as well as a roll bar integrated into the roof. The steering box was behind the front axle to protect the driver in a front-end accident. The instrument panel and all controls were within easy reach of the steering wheel, and the dashboard was padded for safety. The windshield was made of shatterproof glass and designed to pop out in a collision to protect occupants. The car's parking brake had a separate key so it could be locked in place to prevent theft. The doors extended into the roof, to ease entry and exit. Each Tucker built differed somewhat from the previous car, as each car built was basically a "prototype" where design features and engineering concepts were tried, improved, or discarded throughout the production cycle. The door releases on the interior of the Tucker came from the Lincoln Zephyr. The steering columns used in the Tucker were donated by Ford and are from the 1941 Lincoln. Preston Tucker held a patent for a collapsible steering column design. A glove box was added to the front door panels instead of the more conventional location in the dashboard to provide space for the "crash chamber" that the Tucker is now famous for. This is a padded area ahead of the passenger seat, free from obstructions, providing the front seat passengers an area to protect themselves in the event of an accident. The engine and transmission were mounted on a separate subframe which was secured with only six bolts. The entire drive train could thus be lowered and removed from the car in minutes. Tucker envisioned loaner engines being quickly swapped in for service in just 30 minutes. Tucker envisioned several other innovations that were later abandoned. Magnesium wheels, disc brakes, fuel injection, self-sealing tubeless tires, and a direct-drive torque converter transmission were all evaluated or tested, but were dropped on the final prototype due to cost, engineering complexity, and lack of time to develop. Tucker initially tried to develop an innovative engine, with help from Ben Parsons, then owner and president of the Fuelcharger Corporation, and would later be Tucker's VP of engineering.[18] It was a 589 cubic inches (9.65 L) flat-6 cylinder with hemispherical combustion chambers, fuel injection, and overhead valves operated by oil pressure rather than a camshaft. An oil pressure distributor was mounted in line with the ignition distributor and delivered appropriately timed direct oil pressure to open each valve at proper intervals. The oil pressure fed to each valve was "timed" by intake and exhaust eccentrics and measured by spring-loaded plungers.[18] Built of aluminum and magnesium castings with steel-plated cylinder linings, the huge pistons required up to 60 volts to turn over the starter, nearly triple the power of a normal starter. This unique engine was designed to idle at 100 rpm and cruise at 250-1200 rpm through the use of direct-drive torque converters on each driving wheel instead of a transmission. It was designed to produce almost 200 hp (150 kW; 200 PS)1 and 450 lb·ft (610 N·m) of torque at only 1800 RPM. When cruising at 60 mph (97 km/h), it would only turn at approximately 1000 rpm. These features would have been auto industry firsts in 1948, but as engine development proceeded, problems appeared. Six prototypes of the 589 engine were built, but it was installed only in the test chassis and the first prototype.

Tucker 48

Tucker 48

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Friday 10th June 1949

67 years ago

Hailed as a visionary by some and a con artist by others, Preston Tucker (1903-1956) was the man behind an innovative, futuristic-looking car that debuted amid great fanfare during the summer of 1948, was indicted for fraud. As envisioned by Tucker himself, the "Tucker Torpedo" (as the concept vehicle was known) represented quite a departure from the standard fare offered by the Big Three automakers. Long, low, and substantially wider than other large cars then available, with sleek lines reminiscent of a rocket, it had doors that slid up into the roof and six chrome-plated exhaust pipes. Its unique safety features included headlights mounted in fenders that moved with the front wheels to illuminate the road as the car made a turn, a windshield made of shatterproof glass, seat belts, disc brakes, and a heavily padded dashboard to protect front-seat passengers in the event of a collision. In another unusual twist, the driver's seat was positioned in the middle rather than on the left, with separate passenger seats on either side. The American public responded with unbridled enthusiasm to Tucker's "car of tomorrow" and buried him in an avalanche of letters and inquiries. But first he had to secure some factory space in which to make his fantasy a reality. Under the auspices of the War Assets Administration (WAA), the federal government leased him a former B-29 engine plant outside Chicago, Illinois. Because the deal was contingent upon his ability to raise $15 million in capital by March 1, 1947, Tucker then set about lining up potential investors. However, he soon found out that in return for their financial support they expected him to surrender control of his company, a notion he found intolerable.Tucker then came up with a rather creative way to finance his dream. Although he had produced nothing more than an idea, he began selling dealer franchises and quickly amassed some $6 million that was to be held in escrow until he delivered the first Tucker. But the scheme prompted an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the first of many such probes. Tucker then devised a new strategy that involved issuing $20 million in stock. Before the SEC could rule on his plan, though, the head of the National Housing Agency demanded that the WAA cancel its deal with the Tucker Corporation so that the Lustron Corporation could use the factory to make prefabricated metal houses. By January 1947, Tucker had won the right to remain in the plant he had leased. In addition, his March 1 capital-raising deadline was extended to July 1. (The SEC's decision on selling stock in the Tucker Corporation was still pending.) But all of the setbacks and squabbles had greatly undermined the public's confidence in the would-be entrepreneur, and the struggle to underwrite the cost of his venture continued. By the spring of 1948, Tucker was ready to go into production with his car despite some lingering financial difficulties resulting from insufficient stock sales. In need of some quick cash, he came up with a new fundraising tactic that offered Tucker buyers the opportunity to pre-purchase certain accessories such as seat covers, radios, and custom luggage. But SEC officials took a dim view of his plan given the fact that not a single vehicle had yet rolled off the assembly line. In May 1948, working in conjunction with the Justice Department, they launched a major investigation into Tucker's business practices and the viability of his car. The bad publicity and lawsuits that ensued effectively disrupted production, spooked creditors, and sent the company's stock price plummeting. Finally, in January 1949, the Tucker factory was forced to close and Tucker was ousted from his own organization and replaced by two court-appointed trustees. The trial began that October, with government prosecutors using "The Tin Goose" rather than one of the actual production vehicles tried to prove that the Tucker could not be built or perform as promised. But many of the 70-plus witnesses called to testify against the company actually hurt rather than helped the government's case.Tucker himself hinted darkly that the Big Three auto-makers and their supporters were behind the attempt to destroy him because of the threat he represented to their domination of the market. Indeed, some evidence suggests that officials of both General Motors and Chrysler actively sought to make it more difficult for Tucker to succeed. Whether they also tried to influence the government to pursue him is less certain. There is no question, however, that Tucker had made some powerful enemies in Washington who repeatedly denounced him as a con artist. The trial dragged on until January 1950. In the end, the jury found Tucker and his associates innocent of all the charges against them. However, Tucker was left bankrupt and with his reputation in tatters; as a result, he was forced to sell his remaining assets, including the 51 vehicles that had been completed before the plant was shuttered. They would be the only Tuckers ever manufactured. During the early 1950s, a more subdued but still optimistic Tucker tried one more time to develop and market a new kind of car. Before he could pull together all of the necessary financing, however, he was diagnosed with lung cancer. He succumbed to the disease in 1956 on the day after Christmas. Tuckers are now prized by car collectors (around 47 are still known to exist), most of whom are active members of the Tucker Automobile Club of America. Meanwhile, the debate continues over Tucker's place in automotive history. His detractors still consider him a fraud who tried to pass off what was basically a lemon as "the car of tomorrow." His fans regard him as a visionary who was brought down by sinister forces with money and power. Others believe the truth lies somewhere in between those two extremes. Even if his ultimate goal was to strike it rich, they argue, he was sincere about his desire to build an exciting, innovative new vehicle that offered a level of comfort, safety, and affordability not available in any other car at the time. What they do fault is his naivete and lack of business sense, which left the Tucker Corporation woefully under capitalized and in a constant state of financial crisis that doomed it to failure. Yet as Tucker himself once observed, as quoted in American History Illustrated, no matter what the obstacles, it was unthinkable not to try to make his fantasy come true. "A man who has once gotten automobiles into his blood can never give them up, " he said. "A man with a dream can't stop trying to realize that dream…. It's no disgrace to fail against tough odds if you don't admit you're beaten. And if you don't give up."

Preston Tucker

Preston Tucker

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Thursday 16th March 1950

67 years ago

Introduced at the Geneva Motor Show, the '1400' was Fiat's first all-new postwar model, its first unibody car, and its first passenger car offered with a diesel engine. It also was the first passenger car produced by Spanish manufacturer SEAT and Yugoslavian manufacturer Zastava. A 1400 cc model tested by the British magazine The Motor in 1950 had a top speed of 74.4 mph (119.7 km/h) and could accelerate from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 35.7 seconds. A fuel consumption of 24.2 miles per imperial gallon (11.7 L/100 km; 20.2 mpg‑US) was recorded. The car was never sold in the UK, but the Italian market price would have equated to approximately £750 including taxes. Having eulogised the performance and "quite exceptional...top gear flexibility", British journalists went on to praise the "astonishing silence, smoothness and comfort provided by the vehicle", highlighting various "unique features designed to prevent the transmission of noise and vibration to the passengers". Great use was made of rubber and of "a sound-proofing compound...liberally coated...[on the car's]...integral structure". The Motor tested a 1901 cc diesel model in 1954 and recorded a top speed of 63.8 mph (102.7 km/h), acceleration from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 45.2 seconds and a fuel consumption of 33.9 miles per imperial gallon (8.3 L/100 km; 28.2 mpg‑US). The car was not at the time available on the UK market but a price in Italy of 1,545,000 Lire was quoted which they worked out as equivalent to £909

Fiat 1400

Fiat 1400

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Thursday 28th September 1950

66 years ago

The Kaiser-Frazer Corporation officially introduced the Henry J as a new marque. Named after its chairman, Henry J. Kaiser, production of six-cylinder models began in July 1950, and four-cylinder production started shortly after Labor Day, 1950. The car was marketed through 1954. The Henry J was the idea of Henry J. Kaiser, who sought to increase sales of his Kaiser automotive line by adding a car that could be built inexpensively and thus affordable for the average American in the same vein that Henry Ford produced the Model T. The goal was to attract "less affluent buyers who could only afford a used car" and the attempt became a pioneering American compact car. To finance the project, the Kaiser-Frazer Corporation received a federal government loan in 1949. This financing specified various particulars of the vehicle. Kaiser-Frazer would commit to design a vehicle that in its base form retailed (including federal tax and retail delivery preparation charge) for no more than $1,300.00 (US$12,786 in 2016 dollars). It was to seat at least five adults, be capable of going at least 50 miles per hour (80 km/h) for sustained periods of time, and available for retail sale no later than September 30, 1950. To accomplish this, the Henry J was designed to carry the fewest possible components, and built from the fewest number of parts. To save body stamping costs, early Henry Js did not have rear trunk lids; owners had to access the trunk by folding down the rear seat. Another cost-saving measure was to offer the car only as a two-door sedan with fixed rear windows. Also lacking in the basic version were glove compartment, armrests, passenger-side inside sun visor and flow-through ventilation. Power for the Henry J was delivered by a 134.2 cu in (2.2 L) four-cylinder 68 hp (51 kW; 69 PS) engine.[2] Later models were available with a 161 cu in (2.6 L) L-head six-cylinder engine producing 80 hp (60 kW; 81 PS) .[6] The engines were supplied by Willys-Overland; the four-cylinder engine was the same engine used in the CJ-3A series Jeeps, with only slight modifications to component parts; the block and internal components were interchangeable with the CJ-3A engine. The Henry J production provided a substantial revenue source for Willys-Overland.[7] This standard engine could achieve up to 35 mpg-US (6.7 L/100 km; 42 mpg-imp) when driven conservatively. Before the Henry J was released to the market, the first production models were taken to Arkansas and driven over roads that experts computed that each 100 miles (161 km) of the roughest roads would equal 5,000 miles (8,047 km) of normal driving.Kaiser's effort to boost sales in the low-priced market segment by adding a small car to its product offer came at a time when consumers were demanding big cars. With the acquisition of Willys-Overland's vehicle operations in early 1953 by the Kaiser Manufacturing Company division of Kaiser-Frazer (the division changed its name at that time to Willys Motors, Incorporated), management decided to discontinue the car at the end of the 1953 model year. Kaiser also leased the Willow Run factory to General Motors (a fire had destroyed its automatic transmission plant in Livonia) and Kaiser's vehicle assembly was consolidated at Jeep's Toledo Complex. However, production of the Henry J was not moved from Michigan to the Ohio factory. Instead, the Willys Aero was a similar vehicle that continued to be made in Toledo. Efforts to sell off remaining vehicles resulted in an abbreviated run of Henry J automobiles as 1954 models that used up leftover or incomplete 1953 cars. They can be distinguished from the 1953 version only by their "54" prefix in the serial number.

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Thursday 3rd July 1952

64 years ago

The last Crosley automobile was produced at their Marion factory in Indiana, US. Incorporated in 1939, Crosley Motors began assembling mini-cars in Richmond Indiana. The first Crosley was a two-door convertible. It weighed less than 1,000 pounds and sold for $250. In the beginning, his idea was for these small cars to be sold in department stores that also sold his radios and refrigerators: since the car was only 48 inches wide, it could be moved through a standard commercial store door. While there were some stores, such as Macy’s in New York, that displayed Crosley automobiles next to the Crosley refrigerators, the idea of selling cars in department stores did not really catch on. According to some reports, Mrs. Averell Harriman was the first Macy’s customer to buy a Crosley. The Crosley dealer network developed primarily as extensions of filling stations and automobile repair shops. In 1941, Crosley brought out some new body styles: both two- and four-door convertibles, a station wagon, a panel truck, a pickup, and a convertible sedan (this featured windows for the rear seat passengers). There was also the Parkway Delivery (a mini-panel truck with no roof over the front seat) and Covered Wagon (a convertible pickup truck with a removable back seat). With the top in place, the Covered Wagon functioned as a car and with the top down and the rear seat removed it became a ¼ ton pickup truck. A record-setting gas mileage run was made by Cannonball Baker in a Crosley Covered Wagon. He drove from Cincinnati to Los Angeles, then back through New Orleans, Jacksonville, and New York. The trip covered 6,517 miles and the Crosley averaged more than 50 miles per gallon. The Crosleys came equipped with a speedometer (60 mph maximum), ammeter, oil pressure gauge, and a hand-cranked windshield wiper. The windows slid open for ventilation and for signaling. In the summer, many Crosley owners simply removed the windows. The glove compartment was large enough for a pair of gloves, but little more. Prices for the 1941 models ranged from $315 for the 915 pound two-passenger convertible to $470 for the four-passenger station wagon which weighed 1160 pounds. At this time, the Cadillac Fleetwood sold for $2,195 and the Lincoln Continental convertible sold for $2,700. World War II brought gasoline rationing to the United States. With good gas mileage—50 mpg—the Crosley became an attractive vehicle. However, the war ended the production of all civilian automobiles in the United States, including the Crosley. Less than 6,000 prewar Crosleys were built. Following the war, Crosley car production resumed in 1946 with the new, larger, and aerodynamic CC model. At this time the public was car-hungry and ready to buy anything with an engine and four wheels. Initially, suppliers couldn’t provide nameplates for the cars and so Crosley had the name painted three inches high in red on the front and rear bumpers. The first post-war Crosleys were available only in grey with red seats. The speedometer now went to 70 mph and the glove compartment had been enlarged so that it could hold two pairs of gloves. In 1948, Crosley introduced the term “Sport Utility” with an open model based on a wagon. In 1948, Crosley introduced the first real postwar sports car in America: the HotShot. It sold for less than $1,000 and featured coil springs on the rear wheels and disc brakes on all four wheels. In 1950, Crosley brought out the Farm-O-Road model which was a small utility vehicle. The Farm-O-Road was designed: “To do big jobs on small farms, and smaller jobs on big farms.” The vehicle looked like a small Jeep and was intended for rural customers who wanted a vehicle for doing chores around the farm and which could take them into town as well. The base price was $795 and options included dual rear wheels, a pickup bed which could come with a hydraulic dump, power take-off on both front and rear, a rear seat, a top, and side window curtains. Attachments included such items as a 10-inch plow, a sickle bar mower, and a three-gang reel mower. Crosley’s best year was 1948 when 24,871 cars were sold. Sales began to slip in 1949. By 1951 production was down to 300 cars per month and in 1952 only 1,522 Crosley’s were sold at which time production stopped. There were plans to merge Crosley with Nash, but when Nash merged with Hudson that merger did not happen.

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Wednesday 22nd October 1952

64 years ago

Reliant exhibited their first three-wheeled car, the Regal Mark I at the London Motor Show, although an earlier prototype had been shown at the Cycle and Motor Show in 1951. The Mark I however, was not manufactured until 1953 as Reliant made many modifications to the production vehicle shaving off both weight and price for it to qualify for reduced road tax. The car was powered by a 747 cc side-valve water cooled engine and had an aluminum body fixed onto an ash frame, which in turn was mounted to a steel box section chassis. Unlike the prototype, the Mark I had Perspex sidescreens and only one windscreen wiper. The Regent Mar I was manufactured until late 1954 with the only modifications being a 2 inch increase in the thickness of the cushion on the front seats to prevent bodily contact with the seat frame. Donald Healey showed a 4-cylinder 2.6 litre Austin A90 Atlantic engined two-seater sports car called the Hundred at the show. It was initially priced at £850, but was soon reduced to £750. The Triumph TR2 was also launched.

Reliant Regal 3/25 (1964)

Reliant Regal 3/25 (1964)

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Monday 22nd December 1952

64 years ago

Chevrolet EX122 show car was completed. Unveiled at New York City's Waldorf Astoria Hotel, and shown as part of the traveling road show extravaganza known as Motorama, EX122 would go into production as the 1953 Corvette. Conceived by Harley J. Earl, the two seat convertible built by GM aimed at capturing the small car market from manufacturers like Jaguar and MG. All 1953 Corvettes were convertibles with black canvas tops, polo white with red interiors, built by hand and more eye-candy than sports car with their 'Blue Flame' six coupled with a two-speed automatic transmission. This prototype was retained by GM's engineering department and later used as a test bed for the new V-8 that would see production in 1955.

Chevrolet EX122 (1952)

Chevrolet EX122 (1952)

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Monday 31st August 1953

63 years ago

The Packard Balboa show car was unveiled. The early 1950s was the era of the 'dream' car and Packard was an active participant. The Balboa X incorporated the prize-winning styling of two popular Packard predecessors, the Pan American and the Caribbean. It featured a fresh new approach to the upper body, the Canopy Top, which featured a reverse-slanted rear glass. Safety was a theme of the car as demonstrated by the reverse angle of the rear window which eliminated such hazards as snow and rain accumulation. This feature found its way into many Mercury and Lincoln models well into the 1960s. Greater headroom and less head load was also an advantage. The intent was that the window could be raised and lowered for ventilation, although the window was actually fixed on the show car. The show car was built for Packard by the Mitchell-Bentley Corporation in Michigan. The Packard Balboa was designed by Richard Teague, who succeeded John Reinhart as chief stylist at Packard. The car was briefly known as the Balboa-X, with the 'X' representing 'experimental.' Period press material describes only one Balboa, finished in Packard Ivory with a special maroon top. The inside is described as a Caribbean interior finished in maroon-and-white leather with embroidered Packard-crest medallions on the seat backs. Recent research suggests a second example was constructed for the personal use of Don Mitchell of Mitchell-Bentley. The car was held in a family museum for decades. That example was finished in blue and white with a naugahide interior. After retiring from the car show circuit in 1954, the Balboa was fated to be crushed, but it was taken out of the factory by farsighted workers and saved. The car made its first public appearance at the 2012 St. Johns Concours since its initial public tour in 1953.

Packard Balboa

Packard Balboa

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Monday 26th October 1953

63 years ago

The Allstate marque built by Kaiser-Frazer, based on Kaiser's compact Henry J. One body style was discontinued. Allstate had offered, a fastback two-door sedan in two lines, the Series 4 and the Series 6. For 1952, the Series 4 came in the Model 111 Standard (the best seller at US1,486) and Model 113 DeLuxe ($1,539) trim versions, and was also available in an austere Model 110 Basic version for $1,395. The Series 6 Basic was priced at $1,594 and the well-trimmed, swift Model 115 DeLuxe was offered at $1,693. (The Standard was never offered in the Series 6.) The cars had a 100 in (2,500 mm) wheelbase. The marketing slogan was "Your one brand new car for '52! Allstate!" Virtually no appearance changes were made for 1953 but Allstate cars weighed as much as 145 lb (66 kg) more than their 1952 counterparts. All the Allstate Basic models were dropped and Allstate prices jumped substantially; the entry-level Series 4 Standard Model 210 sold for $1,528 and the DeLuxe Model 213 for $1,589. The Series 6 was now only offered in the upscale DeLuxe Model 215 version at $1,785, and was the most popular Allstate that year. The standard Allstate interior material was made from tightly-twisted strands of paper that were woven together and then coated in plastic, which proved to be unusually durable as well as attractive and eliminated the need for seat covers. Seat covers were popular in the 1950s, and many were made of this same type of material. Unlike early Henry Js, which were built without trunk lids to reduce costs, Allstates offered opening trunk lids. Series 4 cars used an 134.2 cu in (2.2 L) L-head four-cylinder 68 hp (51 kW) engine, and the Series 6 was powered by a 161 cu in (2.6 L) L-head six 80 hp (60 kW), both powerplants built by Willys. A three-speed manual transmission was standard, with overdrive available for $104 extra. One mechanical difference between Allstate and Henry J was that Allstates were equipped with Allstate-brand tires, tubes, spark plugs and batteries, all with their own Sears "Triple Guarantee" warranties. Initially, the Allstate was offered only in the south and southwest United States, with plans to expand distribution as demand for the product grew. Sears locations selling Allstates included Baytown, Texas; Beaumont, Texas; Birmingham, Alabama; Dallas, Texas; Fayetteville, North Carolina; Houston, Texas; Jackson, Mississippi; Knoxville, Tennessee; Little Rock, Arkansas; Lubbock, Texas; Memphis, Tennessee; Norfolk, Virginia; Orlando, Florida; Phoenix, Arizona; Portsmouth, Virginia; Richmond, Virginia; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Waco, Texas. While some Sears outlets tried to stock at least one sample of the car, most were built on demand by Kaiser-Frazer, which made delivery to the store where they were sold. Kaiser-Frazer urged its dealers to service Allstate cars when asked. Many Kaiser-Frazer dealers were displeased to see "their cars" sold by another outlet, especially since the Allstate carried more standard equipment, yet sold at a lower price than the Henry J. Sears marketed the car as "the lowest-priced full-sized sedan on the U.S. market." However, Sears did not accept trade-ins from Allstate buyers, and there may have been reluctance to buy a car through a department store where service was thought to be questionable. (The lack of a trade-in program proved to be a serious impediment to the sale of Graham-Bradley tractors from Graham-Paige Motors Corp. by Sears in the late 1930s.) Only 2,363 Allstates were sold in two model years before the marque was discontinued; 1,566 during 1952 and 797 in 1953. Kaiser soon discontinued the Henry J as well.

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Friday 13th November 1953

63 years ago

The first-ever Seat car, a 1400 model, rolled off the assembly line in Barcelona. Daily production was just 5 cars, with a workforce of 925.

Seat 1400

Seat 1400

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Thursday 21st January 1954

63 years ago

General Motors revealed the first concept turbine-powered vehicle, the Firebird XP-21, designed by Harley Earl, which was essentially a jet airplane on wheels. It was named in imitation of the US military's experimental jet-powered aircraft, which had code numbers like XP-59A. The design was entirely impractical, with a bubble topped canopy over a single seat cockpit, a bullet shaped fuselage made entirely of fiberglass, short wings, and a vertical tail fin. It has a 370 hp (280 kW) Whirlfire Turbo Power gas turbine engine, which had two speeds, and expeled jet exhaust at 1,250 °F (677 °C). The entire weight of the car was 2,500 lb (1,134 kg) and had a 100 inch wheelbase. Engineers tested it up to 100 mph (160 km/h), but upon shifting into second gear the tyres lost traction under the extreme engine torque and they immediately slowed down for fear of crashing. The car was later test driven at the Indianapolis Speedway by race car driver Mauri Rose. The car was never actually intended to test the power or speed potential of the gas turbine, but merely the practical feasibility of its use. The braking system differs from standard drum systems, in that the drums are on the outside of the wheels to facilitate fast cooling, and the wings actually have aircraft style flaps for slowing from high speed. A miniature version of the FirebirdI crowns the Harley J. Earl Trophy, given to the winner of the Daytona 500.

Firebird XP-21

Firebird XP-21

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Thursday 28th January 1954

63 years ago

The XP-21 Firebird, the first gas turbine automobile ever to be built and tested in the United States, was introduced by General Motors in New York City. The design is entirely impractical, with a bubble topped canopy over a single seat cockpit, a bullet shaped fuselage made entirely of fiberglass, short wings, and a vertical tail fin. It had a 370 hp (280 kW) Whirlfire Turbo Power gas turbine engine, which had two speeds, and expelled jet exhaust at some 1,250 °F (677 °C). The entire weight of the car was 2,500 lb (1,134 kg) and had a 100 inch wheelbase. At first, GMs project leader, Emmett Conklin was the only person qualified to drive it, and he tested it up to 100 mph (160 km/h), but upon shifting into second gear the tires lost traction under the extreme engine torque and he immediately slowed down for fear of crashing. The car was later test driven at the Indianapolis Speedway by race car driver Mauri Rose. The car was never actually intended to test the power or speed potential of the gas turbine, but merely the practical feasibility of its use. The braking system differed from standard drum systems, in that the drums were on the outside of the wheels to facilitate fast cooling, and the wings had aircraft style flaps for slowing from high speed. A miniature version of the Firebird crowns the Harley J. Earl Trophy, given to the winner of the Daytona 500.

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Monday 25th October 1954

62 years ago

The Austin Cambridge A50 was introduced in the United States. With a body identical to that of the A40 Cambridge, it used a new 1.5 litre (1489 cc) B-Series four-cylinder engine with single Zenith carburettor which was good for 50 hp (37 kW). The de luxe version had a heater, leather seat facings, carpets replacing the standard rubber matting, armrests on the doors, twin-tone horns, a passenger sun visor, and some extra chrome including overriders. Technical advances in the A50 Cambridge included an optional Borg-Warner overdrive unit for the top three (of four) gears. A semi-automatic transmission (branded "manumatic" and providing pedal-free clutch operation) was also offered, but it was unpopular with buyers. A number of modifications were introduced in October 1956 including smaller 13 in (330 mm) wheels and increased compression ratio (8.3:1). A de luxe version tested by The Motor magazine in 1955 had a top speed of 73.6 mph (118.4 km/h) and could accelerate from 0–60 mph (97 km/h) in 28.8 seconds. A fuel consumption of 28.0 miles per imperial gallon (10.1 L/100 km; 23.3 mpg-US) was recorded. The test car cost £720 including taxes. A radio and a clock were optional extras.

Austin A50

Austin A50

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Wednesday 2nd February 1955

62 years ago

The Chrysler Corporation legally made Imperial a separate marque, to better compete with its North American rivals, Lincoln and Cadillac, and European luxury sedans such as the Mercedes-Benz 300 Adenauer and the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud. The 1955 models are said to be inspired by Virgil Exner's own 1952 Chrysler Imperial Parade Phaeton show cars (which were themselves later rebodied to match the 1955-56 Imperials). The platform and bodyshell were shared with that year's big Chryslers, but the Imperial had a wheelbase that was 4.0 inches (102 mm) longer, providing it with more rear seat legroom, had a wide-spaced split eggcrate grille, the same as that used on the Chrysler 300 "executive hot rod", and had free-standing "gunsight" taillights mounted above the rear quarters, which were similar to those on the Exner's 1951 Chrysler K-310 concept car. Gunsight taillights were also known as "sparrow-strainer" taillights, named after the device used to keep birds out of jet-engines. Such taillights were separated from the fender and surrounded by a ring and became an Imperial fixture through 1962, although they would only be free-standing in 1955-56 and again in 1961-62. Two "C-69" models were available, including the two-door Newport hardtop coupe (3,418 built) and pillared four-door sedan (7,840 built), along with an additional "C-70" Crown limousine model (172 built). The "FirePower" V8 engine was Chrysler's first-generation Hemi with a displacement of 331 cu in (5.4 L) and developing 250 brake horsepower (186 kW). Power brakes and power steering were standard, along with Chrysler's "PowerFlite" automatic transmission. One major option on the 1955 and 1956 Imperials was air conditioning, at a cost of $535. Production totaled 11,430, more than twice the 1954 figure, but far below Lincoln and Cadillac. The Chrysler Corporation's luxury automobile brand between 1955 and 1975, with a brief reappearance in 1981 to 1983, and a second reapearance from 1990-1993.

Imperial car brochure - 1955

Imperial car brochure - 1955

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Monday 27th June 1955

61 years ago

Illinois passed the first seat belt legislation in the United States.

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Tuesday 13th September 1955

61 years ago

The first Ford Squire 100E estate, costing £669, rolled off the production line. It was a two-door, four-seat estate design, the brother to the Ford Prefect 100E four-door saloon, sharing the same 1172 cc Ford Sidevalve 36 bhp (27 kW) engine and other parts and the same interior trim. It was substantially shorter than both the Prefect and the closely related Ford Anglia 100E two-door saloon. It used the short front doors of the four-door model because the bodyshell was optimised for use as a panel van (which was marketed as the Thames 300E). The rear door was in two pieces split horizontally and the rear seat could be folded flat to convert from a four-seater to a load carrier. Until 1957 there were wood trim pieces screwed to the sides of the vehicle.

Ford Squire 100E estate

Ford Squire 100E estate

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Saturday 1st September 1956

60 years ago

The Volvo Amazon was introduced. The mid-size car was manufactured from 1956 to 1970 and introduced in the USA as the 122S at the New York International Auto Show in April 1959. It shared the wheelbase, tall posture and high H-point seating of its predecessor, the PV and was offered two-door sedan, four-door sedan, and a five-door wagon body styles. In 1959 Volvo became the world's first manufacturer to provide front seat belts as standard equipment — by providing them on all Amazon models, including the export models and later becoming the first car featuring three-point seat belts as standard equipment.When introduced, the car was named the Amason (with an 's'), deriving from the fierce female warriors of Greek mythology, the Amazons. German motorcycle manufacturer Kreidler had already registered the name, and the two companies finally agreed that Volvo could only use the name domestically (i.e., within Sweden), modifying the spelling to Amazon.[3] Subsequently, Volvo began its tri-digit nomenclature and the line became known as the 120 Series. The Amazon was originally manufactured at Volvo's Lundby plant in Gothenburg and subsequently at the company's Torslandaverken plant, which began operating in 1964. By the end of production, 234,653 four-door models, 359,917 two-door models and 73,220 station wagons had been produced, of which 60% were exported; for a total of 667,791 vehicles.

Volvo Amazon

Volvo Amazon

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Saturday 13th October 1956

60 years ago

Edward R Dye (59), the inventor of the 'cloverleaf' highway interchange and an advocate of seat belts died in Orchard Park, New York.

The Kathipara cloverleaf interchange in Chennai, India, is the largest in Asia.

The Kathipara cloverleaf interchange in Chennai, India, is the largest in Asia.

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Thursday 27th June 1957

59 years ago

SEAT 600 model production began. Made in Spain under licence by Fiat, it helped to start the economic boom, the Spanish miracle (1959–1973), that came at the end of the slow recovery from the Spanish Civil War. Technically, the car was basic and not very modern; it was a license-built Italian Fiat 600 of 1955 with a rear-engine/rear-wheel-drive layout. The engine was a 4-cylinder, water-cooled unit formerly with a displacement of 633 cc producing 19 hp (14 kW) and later 767 cc, yielding 21.5 hp (16 kW) at 4600 rpm. It was a relatively inexpensive vehicle (then 60,000 Spanish pesetas) and was the first car that came within the modest but rapidly growing economic means of most Spanish families from the mid-1960s to the early 1970s. The vehicle has become an icon of the period. The SEAT company was born as a joint venture of the Spanish state holding agency National Institute of Industry, six Spanish banks and Fiat - almost all SEAT models up to 1982 were license-built Fiat based cars although the 1200/1430 Sport "Boca negra" and 133 were models created in-house by SEAT in the 1970s. Up to 797,319 SEAT 600s and 18,000 SEAT 800s were made until 1973. They were exported to Argentina, Mexico, Poland and Finland. The Fiat version enjoyed far less success in its homeland than the Spanish model, probably because the Italian market was more advanced than the Spanish at the time. Among the reasons for ending production were the thin and weak b pillars, which made seat belt installation very difficult.[1] The SEAT 600 was replaced by the far less successful SEAT 133, a modernized derivative of the SEAT 850 designed by SEAT.

Seat 600 (1961)

Seat 600 (1961)

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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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Tuesday 11th February 1958

59 years ago

NASCAR legend Marshall Teague died at age 37 attempting to raise the closed-course speed record at the newly opened Daytona International Speedway. The “King of the Beach” was conducting test sessions in preparation for the April debut of the United States Auto Club championship with Indy-style roadsters. He was piloting a "Sumar Special" streamliner, a Kurtis-Kraft chassis with a Meyer-Drake Offenhauser 270 engine, streamlined fenders, and a canopy enclosing the driver, thus being classified as Formula Libre. On February 9, 1959, Teague set an unofficial closed course speed record of 171.821 mph (276.5 km/h). Teague was attempting to go even faster on this day, eleven days before the first Daytona 500. "Teague pushed the speed envelope in the high-powered Sumar Special streamliner - to an estimated 140 mph (230 km/h). His car spun and flipped through the third turn and Teague was thrown, seat and all, from his car. He died nearly instantly.

Marshall Teague beside the Fabulous Hudson Hornet with his daughter at the Daytona Beach.

Marshall Teague beside the Fabulous Hudson Hornet with his daughter at the Daytona Beach.

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Tuesday 18th August 1959

57 years ago

The first pictures of BMC’s new compact four-seater Mini, designed by Alec Issigonis, were revealed to the press. Designated by Leonard Lord as project ADO15 (Amalgamated Drawing Office project number 15) and the product of the Morris design team, the Mini came about because of a fuel shortage caused by the 1956 Suez Crisis. Petrol was once again rationed in the UK, sales of large cars slumped, and the market for German bubble cars boomed. Lord, the somewhat autocratic head of BMC, reportedly detested these cars so much that he vowed to rid the streets of them and design a 'proper miniature car'. He laid down some basic design requirements: the car should be contained within a box that measured 10×4×4 feet (3.0×1.2×1.2 m); and the passenger accommodation should occupy 6 feet (1.8 m) of the 10-foot (3.0 m) length; and the engine, for reasons of cost, should be an existing unit. Issigonis, who had been working for Alvis, had been recruited back to BMC in 1955 and, with his skills in designing small cars, was a natural for the task. The team that designed the Mini was remarkably small: as well as Issigonis, there was Jack Daniels (who had worked with him on the Morris Minor), Chris Kingham (who had been with him at Alvis), two engineering students and four draughtsmen. Together, by October 1957, they had designed and built the original prototype, which was affectionately named "The Orange Box" because of its colour. The ADO15 used a conventional BMC A-Series four-cylinder, water-cooled engine, but departed from tradition by mounting it transversely, with the engine-oil-lubricated, four-speed transmission in the sump, and by employing front-wheel drive. Almost all small front-wheel-drive cars developed since have used a similar configuration, except with the transmission usually separately enclosed rather than using the engine oil. The radiator was mounted at the left side of the car so that the engine-mounted fan could be retained, but with reversed pitch so that it blew air into the natural low pressure area under the front wing. This location saved vehicle length, but had the disadvantage of feeding the radiator with air that had been heated by passing over the engine. It also exposed the entire ignition system to the direct ingress of rainwater through the grille. The suspension system, designed by Issigonis's friend Dr. Alex Moulton at Moulton Developments Limited, used compact rubber cones instead of conventional springs. This space-saving design also featured rising progressive-rate springing of the cones, and provided some natural damping, in addition to the normal dampers. Built into the subframes, the rubber cone system gave a raw and bumpy ride accentuated by the woven-webbing seats, but the rigidity of the rubber cones, together with the wheels' positioning at the corners of the car, gave the Mini go kart-like handling. Initially an interconnected fluid system was planned, similar to the one that Alec Issigonis and Alex Moulton were working on in the mid-1950s at Alvis. They had assessed the mechanically interconnected Citroën 2CV suspension at that time (according to an interview by Moulton with Car Magazine in the late 1990s),[citation needed] which inspired the design of the Hydrolastic suspension system for the Mini and Morris/Austin 1100, to try to keep the benefits of the 2CV system (ride comfort, body levelling, keeping the roadwheel under good control and the tyres in contact with the road), but with added roll stiffness that the 2CV lacked. The short development time of the car meant this was not ready in time for the Mini's launch. The system intended for the Mini was further developed and the hydrolastic system was first used on the Morris 1100, launched in 1962; the Mini gained the system later in 1964. Ten-inch (254 mm) wheels were specified, so new tyres had to be developed, the initial contract going to Dunlop. Issigonis went to Dunlop stating that he wanted even smaller, 8 in (203 mm) wheels (even though he had already settled on ten-inch). An agreement was made on the ten-inch size, after Dunlop rejected the eight-inch proposition. Sliding windows allowed storage pockets in the hollow doors; reportedly Issigonis sized them to fit a bottle of Gordon's Gin. The boot lid was hinged at the bottom so that the car could be driven with it open to increase luggage space. On early cars the number plate was hinged at the top so that it could swing down to remain visible when the boot lid was open. This feature was later discontinued after it was discovered that exhaust gases could leak into the cockpit when the boot was open. The Mini was designed as a monocoque shell with welded seams visible on the outside of the car running down the A and C pillars, and between the body and the floor pan. Those that ran from the base of the A-pillar to the wheel well were described as 'everted' (lit., 'turned outward') to provide more room for the front seat occupants[citation needed]. To further simplify construction, the hinges for the doors and boot lid were mounted externally. Production models differed from the prototypes by the addition of front and rear subframes to the unibody to take the suspension loads, and by having the engine mounted the other way round, with the carburettor at the back rather than at the front. This layout required an extra gear between engine and transmission to reverse the direction of rotation at the input to the transmission. Having the carburettor behind the engine reduced carburettor icing, but the distributor was then exposed to water coming in through the grille. The engine size was reduced from 948 to 848 cc (57.9 to 51.7 cu in); this, in conjunction with a small increase in the car's width, cut the top speed from 90 to 72 mph (145 to 116 km/h). In 1959, BMC and Alec Issigonis won the Dewar Trophy, for the design and production of the Mini. The Mini shape had become so well known that by the 1990s, Rover Group – the heirs to BMC – were able to register its design as a trademark in its own right.

One of the earliest sketches for the Mini design as penned by Alec Issigonis. Note how the car changed remarkably little between concept and production.

One of the earliest sketches for the Mini design as penned by Alec Issigonis. Note how the car changed remarkably little between concept and production.

1959 Morris Mini-Minor: pure, unspoiled Mini. Along with the Austin Se7en, this car caused an absolute sensation when launched during August 1959. People took a long time to latch on to the fact that something so small could accommodate four fully-grown adults and their luggage.

1959 Morris Mini-Minor: pure, unspoiled Mini. Along with the Austin Se7en, this car caused an absolute sensation when launched during August 1959. People took a long time to latch on to the fact that something so small could accommodate four fully-grown adults and their luggage.

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Friday 2nd October 1959

57 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.

Chevrolet Corvair (1st generation)

Chevrolet Corvair (1st generation)

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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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Saturday 30th April 1960

56 years ago

The first Nissan Cedric, the '30' series, was unveiled. Produced until 1962, it was available only at Japanese Nissan dealerships called Nissan Bluebird Store. It was the first product labeled as a Nissan, but shared mechanicals with Datsun products built at the time. Several models were available, including the Cedric 1500 DeLuxe and Standard (30), Cedric 1900 Deluxe (D30, powered by the 1.9 L Nissan H engine), Cedric 1900 Custom (G30, also powered by the Nissan H engine), Cedric Van (V30, six-seater) and the Cedric Wagon (WP30, eight-seater). Only the Cedric Standard used a 1.5 L (1,488 cc) G-series I4 engine which produced 70 hp (52 kW). The 1.9 L (1,883 cc) H-series with 87 hp (65 kW) was optional. A four-speed manual transmission with the top three gears synchronized was standard, with a three-speed manual fitted to 1900 versions. Diesel engines were supplied by newly acquired Minsei Diesel Industries, Ltd, which was renamed Nissan Diesel Motor Co., Ltd in 1960. The Cedric replaced the Austin A50 Nissan was building under license from Austin Motor Company of England, which was called the Nissan Austin. The six-seater Cedric introduced Nissan's first monocoque body and a wrap-around windshield. The first Cedric featured two stacked headlights on either side of a large grille (inspired by a late 1950s commuter train from Japan, the Tobu JNR 151). The taillights were the same as the Datsun Bluebird 312. and was considered a six-seater. April 1962 saw the introduction of a station wagon–van, able to seat eight people. The twin-stacked headlight approach, which first appeared on large North American and European vehicles in the late 1950s, was a novel approach to suggest size and luxurious accommodations, and was also used on the 1961 Isuzu Bellel and the earlier Mercedes-Benz S-Class of the late 1950s.

Nissan Cedric - 1960

Nissan Cedric - 1960

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Friday 30th September 1960

56 years ago

It was announced that the new Rootes car would be called Hillman 'Imp'. Being a direct competitor to the BMC's Mini, it used a space-saving rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout to allow as much luggage and passenger capacity as possible in both the rear and the front of the car. It used a unique opening rear hatch to allow luggage to be put into the back seat rest.In addition to its 875 cc aluminium engine, it was the first mass-produced British car to have an engine in the back and the first car to use a diaphragm spring clutch. The baulk-ring synchromesh unit for the transaxle compensated for the speeds of gear and shaft before engagement, which the Mini had suffered from during its early production years.It incorporated many design features which were uncommon in cars until the late 1970s such as a folding rear bench seat, automatic choke and gauges for temperature, voltage and oil pressure.This unorthodox small/light car was designed for the Rootes Group by Formula One driver Michael Parkes and Tim Fry. It was manufactured at the purpose-built Linwood plant in Scotland. Along with the Hillman marque was a series of variations including an estate car (Husky), a van and a coupé. The Imp gained a reputation as a successful rally car when Rosemary Smith won the Tulip Rally in 1965. This led the Rootes Group to produce a special rally conversion of the Imp under both the Hillman and Singer marques known as the Imp Rallye. In 1966, Rosemary Smith after winning the Coupe des Dames, was disqualified under a controversial ruling regarding the headlamps of her Imp. The Imp was also successful in touring car racing when Bill McGovern won the British Saloon Car Championship in 1970, 1971 and 1972. Arguably, it was considered advanced for the time with its various innovative features and technical advantages over other cars. But reliability problems harmed its reputation, which led to the Rootes Group being taken over by Chrysler Europe in 1967. The Imp continued production until 1976, selling just under half a million units in 13 years.

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Saturday 5th November 1960

56 years ago

Country and rockabilly artist Johnny Horton, whose number one hit "Battle of New Orleans" topped the US pop charts for six solid weeks in 1959, was killed in an auto accident in Milano, Texas. Ironically, he had just played his last show at the Skyliner in Austin, Texas, where, in 1953, country legend Hank Williams also played his last show, before dying in an automobile as he drove to his next performance. In another twist, Johnny Horton was married to Billie Jean Jones, the widow of Hank Williams. However, the deaths of the two country music pioneers were slightly different, while Horton perished in an auto wreck, Williams, his predecessor in music and love, died silently from a heart attack attributed to drugs, alcohol, and insomnia, in the back seat of his chauffeured Cadillac.

Johnny Horton

Johnny Horton

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Wednesday 9th November 1960

56 years ago

The world’s first ‘Hover Scooter’ - a combination of a hovercraft and a scooter - was demonstrated on land and water in Long Ditton, Surrey. It was little more than a seat and handlebars on top of a scarily loud fan. The spinning fan produced a six-inch cushion of air to keep the scooter just barely off of the ground, allowing it to hover over land or water with ease.

Hover Scooter - 1960

Hover Scooter - 1960

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Sunday 30th April 1961

55 years ago

The Olivier Gendebien/Wolfgang von Trips Ferrari Dino won the Targa Florio Sports Car race. held in Sicily. A terrific duel between von Trips and Stirling Moss' Porsche ended when the Porsche blew. Gendebien took Richie Ginther's seat when the car he was originally slated for was crashed by Graham Hill on lap 1.

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Thursday 20th September 1962

54 years ago

Ford launched the Cortina Mk1. The chief designer was Roy Brown Jr., the designer of the Edsel, who had been banished to Dagenham following the failure of that car. The Cortina, aimed at buyers of the Morris Oxford Farina and Vauxhall Victor, was designed to be economical, cheap to run and easy and inexpensive to produce in Britain. Originally to be called Ford Consul 225, the car was launched as the Consul Cortina until a modest facelift in 1964, after which it was sold simply as the Cortina. It was available with 1200 and 1500 four-cylinder engines with all synchromesh gearbox, in two-door and four-door saloon, as well as in five-door estate (from March 1963) forms. Standard, Deluxe, Super, and GT trims were offered but not across all body styles. Early Standard models featured a simple body coloured front grille, earning it the nickname 'Ironbar'. Since this version cost almost the same as the better equipped Deluxe it sold poorly and is very rare today. Options included heater and bench seat with column gearchange. Super versions of the estates offered the option of simulated wood side and tailgate trim. In an early example of product placement many examples of the brand new Cortina featured as "Glamcabs" in the comedy film Carry On Cabby. Costing £573 for the standard 1200 saloon, it became an instant best-seller and enjoyed a 20-year career in which 4.3 million units were produced. The last Cortina was assembled in July 1982, to be succeeded by the Sierra, by which time the entry-level model was priced at £4,515.

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Thursday 3rd January 1963

54 years ago

Internationale premier of the Ford Thunderbird Limited Edition Landau or the "Princess Grace Landau" took place at the Monte Carlo Casino in Monaco to commemorate Ford's involvement in the 1963 Monte Carlo Rally. A television ad was filmed in Monaco for the Limited Edition Landau. The car featured in the ad was the prototype Limited Edition Landau. A close inspection of the TV ad reveals the dash plaque is not the same as the one installed in production models. The number one car carries the official crest of the Principality of Monaco, which was not permitted on the other 1,999 cars. This plaque was made of silver, while production models were chrome-plated with a brushed aluminum insert on their face. The production plaques stated "LIMITED EDITION THUNDERBIRD LANDAU" on the top line, which was offset slightly to the right. Under that, "Serial No." appeared centered with the top line, with the number stamped into the plate. "WORLD PREMIERE" was centered below the serial number line, and "Principality of Monaco" followed below in script. An emblem topped by a crown that resembled the official crest was used by Ford in its advertising, and was also embossed on the dash plaque to its left side. This emblem was filled in with red paint in an alternating diamond pattern, and was also accented with black paint at the base of the crown, which was located just above the diamond pattern. Black paint also filled in all of the lettering on this plaque, with the exception of the stamped serial number itself. The prototype car also had black backgrounds in the S-bar Thunderbird emblems, which were white on the other cars. The prototype Landau was equipped with power windows, power seats on both sides, rear seat speaker, and whitewall tires; but it did not have tinted glass, Automatic Door Locks, AM-FM Radio, or seat belts. Tinted glass is not normally installed on cars destined for photography, as clear glass looks better in photographs. However, at least one of the Galaxie 500 XL's sent to Monaco did have tinted glass installed. It is reported that Princess Grace was consulted regarding the colour selection for the Limited Edition Landaus, and the final colour scheme of Rose Beige and Corinthian White that was chosen resembled Monaco's flag, which is divided in half horizontally with red on top and white on bottom. The Rose Beige color selected for the vinyl roof is darker than the Rose Beige used on other Thunderbird models. Almost a maroon, it has a lot of brown in it. The interior shade of Rose Beige that was used on the Limited Edition Landaus is slightly lighter in colour than the vinyl roof, but is much darker than the color used on other Thunderbirds. The vinyl roof covering on the Limited Edition Landaus was very prone to fading, and within just a few years many had faded quite a bit, which has led some to believe they were a lighter shade than they really were.

Ford Thunderbird Limited Edition Landau (1963)

Ford Thunderbird Limited Edition Landau (1963)

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Friday 15th February 1963

54 years ago

Studebaker announced that all of their new cars would be fitted with front seat belts.

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Wednesday 1st January 1964

53 years ago

The US government required front seat belts as standard equipment on all newly manufactured new cars.

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Monday 17th February 1964

53 years ago

The locally-built Morris 1100 Deluxe was launched in Australia. It differed from the British built Morris in that it had a bench seat instead of separate front seats, handbrake at driver's right, rear seat redesigned, armrests fitted to front doors, different boot handle and number plate light and other modifications.

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Monday 9th March 1964

53 years ago

The first Ford Mustang rolled off the assembly line. The Mustang was basically the utilitarian Ford Falcon with a lot better looking body. The Mustang defined the “pony car” segment: Long hood, short trunk, that Chevy, Pontiac, Chrysler, and AMC would all imitate. It was a great little car for the money. It was the perfect car for the times, and Ford couldn’t make them fast enough. The Mustang wnt go on sale April 17, 1964 [as a 64 ½ model] and set all kinds of sales records. The first car sold to the public was a Wimbledon White convertible. This Mustang was delivered with the following options: Wimbledon White paint, 260ci 2V V8 engine, Cruise-O-Matic automatic transmission, Rally Pac gauges, power brakes, power steering, power convertible top, padded visors, reverse lights, a heavy duty battery, full-length console, tinted windshield, a push-button AM radio with antenna, rocker panel moldings, Deluxe wheel covers with spinners, white wall tires, heater delete, seat belt delete, dual outside mirrors, compass, day/night mirror, and 2-speed electric wipers and washer. The base price of the car was only $2,368, but buyers averaged over $1,000 of extra features. Ford executive Lee Iacocca said, "People want economy so badly they don’t care how much they pay for it." Over it first two years the Mustang earned $1.1 billion in profits for Ford.

The very first Mustang sold to the public, a Wimbledon White convertible with a blue top.

The very first Mustang sold to the public, a Wimbledon White convertible with a blue top.

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Thursday 1st October 1964

52 years ago

The 1965 Ford Mustangs were officially introduced, including the new 2+2 fastback coupe.The standard interior features of the 1965 Mustang included adjustable driver and passenger bucket seats, an AM radio, and a floor mounted shifter in a variety of color options. Ford added additional interior options during the 1965 model year. The Interior Decor Group was popularly known as "Pony Interior" due to the addition of embossed running ponies on the seat fronts, and also included integral armrests, woodgrain appliqué accents, and a round gauge cluster that would replace the standard Falcon instrumentation. Also available were sun visors, a (mechanical) remote-operated mirror, a floor console, and a bench seat. Ford later offered an under-dash air-conditioning unit, and discontinued the vinyl with cloth insert seat option, offered only in early 1965 models. One option designed strictly for fun was the Rally-Pac. Introduced in 1963 after Ford's success at that year's Monte Carlo Rally and available on other Ford and Mercury compacts and intermediates, the Rally-Pac was a combination clock and tachometer[25] mounted to the steering column. It was available as a factory ordered item for US$69.30. Installed by a dealer, the Rally-Pac cost US$75.95.A 14" rim option was available for Rally-pac and GT350R vehicles widening front and rear track to 57.5". Reproductions are presently available from any number of Mustang restoration parts sources.[24] A compass, rear seat belts, A/C, and back-up lights were also optional. Nationwide survey of owners by Popular Mechanics included many complaints about leg room.[26] Fuel economy was very good for the period, with a published test by Popular Mechanics rating the small 260 cubic inch V8 with automatic transmission at 20.93 mpg at 60 mph.

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Monday 5th October 1964

52 years ago

The special Lincoln Continental convertible involved in the assassination of John F Kennedy in 1963 returned to service after receiving significant armor plating and a bullet-proof hardtop and was painted black. It resumed its role as a presidential limousine for President Lyndon Johnson until 1967 and remained in service until 1978, when it was sent to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. The SS-100-X (U.S. Secret Service code name for the presidential limousine) was originally a standard 1961 Lincoln Continental four door convertible (model 74A) built by the Ford Motor Company and assembled at the Wixom, Michigan plant. It had a retail price of $7,347 (equivalent to $58,179, as of 2015).The car was moved to the Experimental Garage at the Ford Proving Grounds where an additional 41 inches was added between the front and rear doors and just beyond the rear doors. The car's frame was strengthened to accommodate the additional length and weight. From there it was taken to Hess & Eisenhardt of Cincinnati, Ohio for reupholstering. During the refit the car had no bulletproof or bullet-resistant additions added. The windshield remained the standard two-ply safety glass windshield which could be easily replaced at any dealership. It was first delivered to the White House on 15 June 1961 and measured 21 and a quarter feet (255 inches) long, had a wheelbase of 13 feet (156 inches), was 6-and-a-half feet (78.6 inches) wide and four-and-three-quarters feet (57 inches) high and weighed 7,800 lbs (originally the car weighed 5215 lbs). The engine was a hand-built 350-horsepower 430 cubic inch Ford MEL engine. An open car, the Lincoln was equipped with an assortment of tops, including a snap-together bubble top, a black cover for the bubble, a formal rear top and a stainless steel forward section (none of which were bulletproof). It also featured two-way radio telephones[1] and retractable steps and grab-handles for Secret Service agents. Although it was not armor-plated, the undercarriage and all suspension components were strengthened. A hydraulically-lifted rear seat was fitted. At the time of the assassination, the Lincoln had been fitted with a 1962-model front clip (fenders, hood, grille and bumper assemblies). It had a special short-turn radius (61.9 feet, compared to 64 feet on the 1950 Eisenhower 'bubbletop' which had been its predecessor), which should have enabled its turning gracefully onto Elm Street in Dallas (although the 120-degree dogleg turn was supposed to have been forbidden by SS protocols). However, in the Zapruder film (full version, MPI Video) the car is seen to swing to the right in front of the Texas School Book Depository. It was painted a special midnight blue color and modified to Secret Service specifications by Ford's Advanced Vehicles Group and Hess & Eisenhardt. Total cost of modifications was approximately $200,000. The limousine was registered to the Ford Motor Company and was leased to the Secret Service for a nominal fee of $500 per year.

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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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Wednesday 29th September 1965

51 years ago

Aston Martin launched the 150 mph DB6. The DB6 also had a longer wheelbase than its predecessors and could seat four people, with some degree of comfort - a more generous 2+2, rather than full four-seater, though. The higher roofline, split bumpers and more aerodynamic Kamm tail were the main identifying points, and and, as before with the DB4 and '5, a more powerful Vantage version was offered, with a Ferrari-scaring 325bhp. The Mk2 appeared in 1969, characterised by flared arches and optional fuel injection. The Prince of Wales later owned a DB6 Volante MkII given to him by his mother on his twenty-first birthday. In 2008 s part of cutting his carbon footprint, the prince converted the classic car to run on 100 per cent bioethanol fuel distilled from surplus British wine.

Aston Martin DB6

Aston Martin DB6

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Tuesday 19th October 1965

51 years ago

The MGB GT was launched. It sported a ground-breaking greenhouse designed by Pininfarina and launched the sporty "hatchback" style. By combining the sloping rear window with the rear deck lid, the MGB GT offered the utility of a station wagon while retaining the style and shape of a coupe. This new configuration was a 2+2 design with a right-angled rear bench seat and far more luggage space than in the roadster. Although acceleration of the GT was slightly slower than that of the roadster, owing to its increased weight, top speed improved by 5 mph (8.0 km/h) to 105 mph (169 km/h) because of better aerodynamics. On sale at £825 plus purchase tax of £173 8s 9d the GT was exceptional value and the total price was just under the £1000 psychological barrier. This however was the just for the basic car, many of the refinements were listed as optional extras, such as £14 6s 1d for a fresh air heater, overdrive was an option at £60 8s 4d whilst seat belts (not compulsory in 1965) were £3 5s Od each!

MGB GT brochure

MGB GT brochure

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Tuesday 30th November 1965

51 years ago

Ralph Nader's “Unsafe at Any Speed,” a book that has been voted among the top 100 pieces of journalism of the 20th century, was published. In the book Nader accused car manufacturers of resistance to the introduction of safety features, like seat belts, and their general reluctance to spend money on improving safety. Less than a year after the book was published, a balky Congress created the federal safety agency that became the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration — an agency whose stated mission is to save lives, prevent injuries and reduce crashes. Today, even some of the book’s harshest critics acknowledge its impact. “The book had a seminal effect,” Robert A. Lutz, who was a top executive at BMW, Ford Motor, Chrysler and General Motors, said in a telephone interview. “I don’t like Ralph Nader and I didn’t like the book, but there was definitely a role for government in automotive safety.”

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Friday 24th June 1966

50 years ago

The US Senate voted 76-0 for the passage of what will become the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act which was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson the following September. The Act established an agency that would set safety standards for all new motor vehicles beginning with the 1968 model year. Among the first safety standards adopted by the agency were seat belts, windshield wipers, glare reduction on interior and exterior surfaces, padded visors and dashboards, recessed control knobs, outside mirrors, impact-absorbing steering columns, dual braking systems and standardized bumper heights.

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Monday 1st January 1968

49 years ago

Most seat belt legislation in the United States is left to the states. However, the first seat belt law was a federal law which took effect on this day and required all vehicles (except buses) to be fitted with seatbelts in all designated seating positions. Since then this law was modified to require 3-point seatbelts in outboard seating positions, and finally 3-point seatbelts in all seating positions. Seatbelt use was not compulsory.

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Wednesday 17th January 1968

49 years ago

Ford officially unveiled ‘The new Escort: the small car that isn’t’. It was initially available as a two-door saloon with 1,098-cc or 1,298-cc engines. A Deluxe cost £635 9s 7d, which included purchase tax and delivery. A-high performance twin-cam model, costing £1,123, was also unveiled. The Escort replaced the successful, long-running Anglia. The car was presented in continental Europe as a product of Ford's European operation. Escort production commenced at the Halewood plant in England during the closing months of 1967, and for left hand drive markets during September 1968 at the Ford plant in Genk. Initially the continental Escorts differed slightly from the UK built ones under the skin. The front suspension and steering gear were differently configured and the brakes were fitted with dual hydraulic circuits; also the wheels fitted on the Genk-built Escorts had wider rims. At the beginning of 1970, continental European production transferred to a new plant on the edge of Saarlouis, West Germany. The Escort was a commercial success in several parts of western Europe, but nowhere more than in the UK, where the national best seller of the 1960s, BMC's Austin/Morris 1100 was beginning to show its age while Ford's own Cortina had grown, both in dimensions and in price, beyond the market niche at which it had originally been pitched. In June 1974, six years into the car's UK introduction, Ford announced the completion of the two millionth Ford Escort, a milestone hitherto unmatched by any Ford model outside the US. It was also stated that 60% of the two million Escorts had been built in Britain. In West Germany cars were built at a slower rate of around 150,000 cars per year, slumping to 78,604 in 1974 which was the last year for the Escort Mark I. Many of the German built Escorts were exported, notably to Benelux and Italy; from the West German domestic market perspective the car was cramped and uncomfortable when compared with the well-established and comparably priced Opel Kadett, and it was technically primitive when set against the successful imported Fiat 128 and Renault 12. Subsequent generations of the Escort made up some of the ground foregone by the original model, but in Europe's largest auto-market the Escort sales volumes always came in well behind those of the General Motors Kadett and its Astra successor. Just over two months after the launch of the saloon/sedan, Ford announced a three-door station wagon / estate version of their new Escort. The Escort had conventional rear-wheel drive and a four-speed manual gearbox, or three-speed automatic transmission. The suspension consisted of MacPherson strut front suspension and a simple live axle mounted on leaf springs. The Escort was the first small Ford to use rack-and-pinion steering. The Mark I featured contemporary styling cues in tune with its time: a subtle Detroit-inspired "Coke bottle" waistline and the "dogbone" shaped front grille – arguably the car's main stylistic feature. Similar Coke bottle styling featured in the larger Cortina Mark III (also built in West Germany as the Taunus) launched in 1970. Less than two years after launch, Ford offered a four-door version of the Escort.Initially, the Escort was sold as a two-door saloon (with circular front headlights and rubber flooring on the "De Luxe" model). The "Super" model featured rectangular headlights, carpets, a cigar lighter and a water temperature gauge. A two-door estate was introduced at the end of March 1968 which, with the back seat folded down, provided a 40% increase in maximum load space over the old Anglia 105E estate, according to the manufacturer. The estate featured the same engine options as the saloon, but it also included a larger, 7 1⁄2-inch-diameter (190 mm) clutch, stiffer rear springs and in most configurations slightly larger brake drums or discs than the saloon.[11] A panel van appeared in April 1968 and the 4-door saloon (a bodystyle the Anglia was never available in for UK market) in 1969. Underneath the bonnet was the Kent Crossflow engine also used in the smallest capacity North American Ford Pinto. Diesel engines on small family cars were rare, and the Escort was no exception, initially featuring only petrol engines – in 1.1 L, and 1.3 L versions. A 940 cc engine was also available in some export markets such as Italy and France. This tiny engine remained popular in Italy, where it was carried over for the Escort Mark II, but in France it was discontinued during 1972. There was a 1300GT performance version, with a tuned 1.3 L Crossflow (OHV) engine with a Weber carburetor and uprated suspension. This version featured additional instrumentation with a tachometer, battery charge indicator, and oil pressure gauge. The same tuned 1.3 L engine was also used in a variation sold as the Escort Sport, that used the flared front wings from the AVO range of cars, but featured trim from the more basic models. Later, an "executive" version of the Escort was produced known as the "1300E". This featured the same 13" road wheels and flared wings of the Sport, but was trimmed in an upmarket, for that time, fashion with wood trim on the dashboard and door cappings. A higher performance version for rallies and racing was available, the Escort Twin Cam, built for Group 2 international rallying.[13] It had an engine with a Lotus-made eight-valve twin camshaft head fitted to the 1.5 L non-crossflow block, which had a bigger bore than usual to give a capacity of 1,557 cc. This engine had originally been developed for the Lotus Elan. Production of the Twin Cam, which was originally produced at Halewood, was phased out as the Cosworth-engined RS1600 (RS denoting Rallye Sport) production began. The most famous edition of the Twin Cam was raced on behalf of Ford by Alan Mann Racing in the British Saloon Car Championship in 1968 and 1969, sporting a full Formula 2 Ford FVC 16-valve engine producing over 200 hp. The Escort, driven by Australian driver Frank Gardner went on to comfortably win the 1968 championship. The Mark I Escorts became successful as a rally car, and they eventually went on to become one of the most successful rally cars of all time.[14] The Ford works team was practically unbeatable in the late 1960s / early 1970s, and arguably the Escort's greatest victory was in the 1970 London to Mexico World Cup Rally, co-driven by Finnish legend Hannu Mikkola and Swedish co-driver Gunnar Palm. This gave rise to the Escort Mexico (1598cc "crossflow"-engined) special edition road versions in honour of the rally car. Introduced in November 1970, 10,352 Mexico Mark I's were built. In addition to the Mexico, the RS1600 was developed with 1,601 cc Cosworth BDA which used a Crossflow block with a 16-valve Cosworth cylinder head, named for "Belt Drive A Series". Both the Mexico and RS1600 were built at Ford's Advanced Vehicle Operations (AVO) facility located at the Aveley Plant in South Essex. As well as higher performance engines and sports suspension, these models featured strengthened bodyshells utilising seam welding in places of spot welding, making them more suitable for competition. After updating the factory team cars with a larger 1701 cc Cosworth BDB engine in 1972 and then with fuel injected BDC, Ford also produced an RS2000 model as an alternative to the somewhat temperamental RS1600, featuring a 2.0 L Pinto (OHC) engine. This also clocked up some rally and racing victories; and pre-empted the hot hatch market as a desirable but affordable performance road car. Like the Mexico and RS1600, this car was produced at the Aveley plant. The Escort was built in Germany and Britain, as well as in Australia and New Zealand. The Ford Escort was manufactured by Ford Europe from 1968 to 2004. The Ford Escort name was also applied to several different small cars produced in North America by Ford between 1981 and 2003. In 2014, Ford revived the Escort name for a car based on the second-generation Ford Focus sold on the Chinese market.

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Thursday 24th April 1969

47 years ago

British Leyland unveiled its new 1500 Austin saloon, called the Maxi in a blaze of publicity in Oporto Portugal. It was the first British five-speed five-door hatchback and was one of the first cars to appear on the BBC's new car programme Wheelbase, a forerunner to Top Gear. Underneath the Maxi's practical and spacious bodyshell lay an all-new front wheel drive chassis, which was interlinked with an innovative five-speed manual transmission. The latter suffered from notorious problems with its control linkage, especially in early models which had a cable-operated linkage prone to cable stretch and other problems. These were noted by autotesters such as Vicar in Today's Driver (1969), who wrote: "This is probably a good idea that just needs a little bit of working on." The later rod linkage was less problematic. All models were prone to problems brought on by the "cogs in the sump" layout, whereby the gearbox and engine shared a common oil supply. The clutch oil seal was also prone to leakage. Power came from a 1485 cc, E-Series petrol engine which would later find its way into other British Leyland products such as the Austin Allegro. The 1750 and twin-carburettor 1750 HL models, added to the range in 1971, offered good performance by the standards of this era, with a top speed of 97mph, while the smaller-engine version could exceed 90 mph. Despite the new platform, the Maxi's styling suffered from the decision to save tooling costs by carrying over door panels from the Austin 1800 "Landcrab", which effectively made the Maxi resemble a scaled down version of that car – a design which was by then five years old, at a time when curvaceous "coke bottle" styling (typified by contemporaries such as the Ford Cortina Mk III and Hillman Avenger) was very much in vogue, contrasting sharply with the Maxi's very obvious mid-1960s looks. Another styling ambition for the car was a four-door saloon version, to compete directly with the Ford Cortina. A prototype was built, badged as a Morris, but it was not put into production, since the booted extension made the Maxi almost the same size as the 1800 model. The Maxi featured a spacious interior, comfortable passenger accommodation, competitive pricing and reasonable running costs, but it was let down by a dull interior and poor build quality, although it was not as notorious for its failings as the Austin Allegro and Morris Marina were during the 1970s. One unusual feature of this car was that the rear seat back, as well as folding forward as in a conventional hatchback, also folded back. In combination with fully reclining front seats this gave satisfactory, if spartan, sleeping accommodation. Towards the end of the Maxi's life, in 1980, a lightly revised model was marketed as the "Maxi 2".

Austin Maxi advertisement

Austin Maxi advertisement

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Thursday 21st February 1974

43 years ago

Hall-of-Fame NHL defenseman Tim Horton (44), who played 24 seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Buffalo Sabres, was killed in an automobile accident shortly after what would be his final professional hockey game. Having drunk a considerable amount of vodka, Horton was driving on the Queen Elizabeth Way from Toronto to Buffalo in his De Tomaso Pantera sports car when he failed to make a curve, lost control, and hit a cement culvert. His car flipped over and he was thrown out of the car (he was not wearing his seat belt). His car had been going over 100 miles per hour at the time of the accident. Horton also founded a chain of donut shops that bear his name.

Tim Horton

Tim Horton

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Monday 3rd June 1974

42 years ago

The Mercedes-Benz ESF24, the last of five experimental cars built to test safety features, was introduced to the public. Based on the S-Class, the car was entirely conventional in appearance, yet could withstand a frontal barrier impact crash at 65 KPH (40.3 MPH). Its passenger restraint systems mirrored those of the ESF 22, and the car once again demonstrated the capabilities of anti-lock brakes. Despite the longer-travel front bumper and associated structures (which still added 10.4 inches to the overall length of the car), the weight gain of the ESF 24 was now down to 422 pounds. With the ESF 24, Mercedes-Benz had demonstrated that a car focused on safety need not sacrifice style or performance. Many of the experimental systems previewed in Mercedes-Benz’s ESF vehicles ultimately made it into production models, including anti-lock braking (which debuted as an option for the 1978 S-Class); airbags (include passenger airbags and side airbags); reinforced seatbacks with integrated and motion reducing headrests; automated seat belts (thankfully eliminated by the mid-1990s); seat belt pretensioners and force limiters; improved side impact protection; and even pictogram-labeled controls, designed to minimize driver distraction.

Mercedes-Benz ESF24

Mercedes-Benz ESF24

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Thursday 22nd January 1976

41 years ago

The first SEAT 124D rolled off the assembly line at the Landaben (Portugal) plant.

SEAT 124D

SEAT 124D

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Friday 20th October 1978

38 years ago

Racer Gunnar Nilsson died exactly one month short of the age of 30. Nilsson was a works-driver for March in the 1976 Formula 2 championhip and came into Formula 1 in mid-season as the result of a swap involving countryman Ronnie Peterson leaving Lotus and joining the March F1 team. Nilsson filled the vacant seat at Lotus and scored 11 points that year with impressive third places in Spain and Austria. The following year, his first full season in F1, the young Swede overtook Niki Lauda at to score his first Grand Prix win. But what could have been a terrific season ended with shocking news: Gunnar was diagnosed with cancer. His deal with the new Arrows team for 1978 never came to fruition as his condition worsened quickly. One of the last things he did was to set up the Gunnar Nilsson Cancer Research fund.

Gunnar Nilsson

Gunnar Nilsson

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Monday 31st January 1983

34 years ago

A new law came into force at midnight in Britain making it compulsory for drivers and front seat passengers to wear seatbelts. According to the Department of Transport 30,000 people a year were being killed or seriously injured in road accidents. It was hoped the compulsory wearing of front seatbelts would save 1,000 lives a year. Police took a softly softly approach to start with, but drivers were eventually fined £50 for not wearing their seatbelts.

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Tuesday 1st March 1983

34 years ago

The launch of the seven car Austin Maestro range was greeted with huge enthusiasm; maybe more so by the dealers than the public, who after enduring some horrible years selling some horrible mid-range cars, had something new and competent to sell. "Miracle Maestro – Driving is Believing" claimed the brochure for the long-awaited Allegro replacement. In its summing up of the new car the Consumers' Association, in the June edition of Which? magazine described it as roomy, comfortable, and nice to drive, and said "If you are considering buying one now, our advice, based on our first impressions, is to go ahead". In January 1984, after testing the car, they concluded: "In comparison with opposition of a similar price and body size, the Maestro has a clear advantage on room for passengers, with few cars equalling it for comfort either in the front or back". They also considered it to be a serious rival to the higher-segment Vauxhall Cavalier and Ford Sierra, apart from its smaller boot space. The Maestro incorporated many novel and pioneering features for its class. It had a bonded laminated windscreen, homofocal headlamps, body-coloured plastic bumpers, an electronic engine management system, adjustable front seat belt upper anchorage positions, an asymmetrically split rear seat, and a 12,000-mile (19,300 km) service interval. The MG and Vanden Plas versions had solid-state instrumentation with digital speedometer and vacuum fluorescent analogue displays for tachometer, fuel and temperature gauges, trip computer and a voice synthesis warning and information system.The car was a reasonable success, but not as much as beleaguered BL had hoped. After the "boom" years of 1986 and 1987, Maestro sales went into terminal decline. Production ceased in 1995 - although descendants of the Maestro are still being produced in China.

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Friday 27th April 1984

32 years ago

The first SEAT Ibiza rolled off the assembly line in the Zone Franca plant, the first entirely Spanish car of the new SEAT generation.

SEAT Ibiza

SEAT Ibiza

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Wednesday 11th July 1984

32 years ago

The US government announced that cars produced after 1 April 1989 would be required to have driver-side airbags or automatic seat belts. Airbags were not mandatory on trucks until 1995.

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Tuesday 1st January 1985

32 years ago

US's first mandatory seat belt law came into effect in New York.

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Thursday 2nd May 1985

31 years ago

Attilio Bettega (32) died on the 4th stage of the Tour de Corse when he lost control of his Lancia and crashed into a tree which simply ruptured into the driver's seat and killed him instantly. His co-driver Maurizio Perissinot survived the crash uninjured.

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Thursday 6th March 1986

31 years ago

A car accident in France resulted in Formula One team principal Frank Williams sustaining a spinal cord injury and becoming tetraplegic. While driving a Ford Sierra rental car from the Paul Ricard Circuit to Nice airport, Williams lost control of the car which then rolled over causing him to be pressed between his seat and the roof resulting in a spinal fracture between the 4th and 5th vertebra. He had not been wearing his seat belt at the time of the accident. Williams' passenger and the team sponsorship manager Peter Windsor sustained only minor injuries. Since the accident, Williams has used a wheelchair.

Frank Williams

Frank Williams

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Friday 2nd May 1986

30 years ago

Henri Toivonen (29) died during the seventh kilometre of the 18th stage of the Tour de Corse, Corte–Taverna, when his Lancia went off the side of the road at a tight left corner with no guardrail. The car plunged down a ravine and landed on its roof. The aluminium fuel tank underneath the driver's seat was ruptured by the trees and exploded. The explosion happened within seconds of the crash, and Toivonen and his co-driver, Sergio Cresto would not have time to get out had they still been alive.

Henri Toivonen

Henri Toivonen

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Sunday 8th June 1986

30 years ago

Volkswagenwerk AG obtained a majority interest in "Sociedad Española de Automóviles de Turismo, SA" (SEAT), initially with 51 % of the share capital. SEAT became the third independent brand within the Volkswagen Group.

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Wednesday 1st April 1987

29 years ago

As from this date all cars must have rear seat belts fitted at the point of manufacture in UK.

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Thursday 27th August 1987

29 years ago

A.J. Foyt drove a Oldsmobile Aerotech to a new closed-course speed record of 257.123 mph on the 7.71 mile oval test track at Fort Stockton, Texas, USA.The car consisted of a March Indycar single seat chassis enclosed in an extremely efficient aerodynamic body shell. It was powered by a highly turbo-charged version of the 2-litre Oldsmobile Quad 4 engine. The Aerotech body was designed by GM Design staff and was one of the sleekest vehicles ever developed for use on a high speed track. The design of the Aerotech included the capability of adjusting underbody sections to control the distribution of downforce, front to rear. Oldsmobile produced three versions of the original Aerotech to prove the capabilities of the company's Quad 4 engine. Two were short-tailed (ST) versions and one was long-tailed (LT). Subsequently, between 7 - 15 December 1992, another version of the Aerotech, this time powered by a 4.0 litre Oldsmobile Aurora V8 engine and fitted with lights, broke 47 speed endurance records including the 10000 and 25000 kilometre world speed records. Other national and international speed records ranging from 10 kilometres to 24 hours were accomplished by a team of drivers working 24 hours a day for 8 days. These records were also set at the Fort Stockton test track.

Oldsmobile Aerotech

Oldsmobile Aerotech

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Thursday 7th April 1988

28 years ago

The first SEAT Marbella was produced.

Seat Marbella (1988)

Seat Marbella (1988)

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Saturday 4th May 1991

25 years ago

SEAT Toledo made its debut at the Barcelona Motor Show. The initial version of the SEAT Toledo (Typ 1L) was launched as a five-door liftback sedan, and its sales career lasted from 1991 to 1999. This generation of the Toledo was the first SEAT automobile developed entirely under Volkswagen Group ownership, and it was built on the Golf Mk2 Volkswagen Group A2 platform with a 550 litre boot expandable to 1360 litres when folding rear seats, larger in shape and size than the Volkswagen Jetta/Vento's combined with the advantage of a tailgate.As saloon versions of small family cars were rare in Europe, it was sometimes considered a large family car due to its overall length and boot size, despite having comparably less rear leg room, and pricing closer to small family cars. It went on sale in most of Europe in May 1991, though it did not arrive on the British market until October 1991.The Toledo initially featured underpowered engines compared to the Ibiza and Málaga's 'System Porsche' units, such as a base 1.6 L 75 PS (55 kW; 74 bhp) petrol engine, and a GT version using the 2.0 L 115 PS (85 kW; 113 bhp) engine. Later, the Toledo would see the addition of more powerful versions, including a 150 PS (110 kW; 148 bhp) 2.0 GTI 16v, and 110 PS (81 kW; 108 bhp) 1.9 TDI which, like many diesel engines built since 1996 by the Volkswagen Group, is advertised as capable of running on either mineral diesel or biodiesel.This model later received a mild facelift in 1996. Sales were not strong however, as has been the case for all the generations of the Toledo.

Seat Toledo (1991)

Seat Toledo (1991)

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Monday 23rd November 1992

24 years ago

The Ford Mondeo was launched, with sales beginning on 22 March 1993. Intended as a world car, it replaced the Ford Sierra in Europe, the Ford Telstar in a large portion of Asia and other markets, while the Ford Contour and Mercury Mystique replaced the Ford Tempo and Mercury Topaz in North America. Despite being billed as a world car, the only external items the Mondeo shared initially with the Contour were the windscreen, front windows, front mirrors and door handles. Thus, the CDW27 project turned out not to be a true world car in the sense that the original Ford Focus and newer Ford developed under the "One Ford" policy turned out to be—that being one design per segment for the world. The first generation Mondeo was replaced in 2000, by the larger second generation; in the United States and Canada, the Countour/Mystique were replaced by the Fusion. Instigated in 1986, the design of the car cost Ford US$6 billion. It was one of the most expensive new car programmes ever. The Mondeo was significant as its design and marketing was shared between Ford USA in Dearborn, and Ford of Europe. Its codename while under development reflected thus: CDW27 signified that it straddled the C & D size classes and was a "world car". The head of the Mondeo project was John Oldfield, headquartered at Ford Dunton in Essex, England. A large proportion of the high development cost was due to the Mondeo being a completely new design, sharing very little, if anything, with the Ford Sierra. Unlike the Sierra, the Mondeo is front-wheel drive in its most common form, with a rarer four-wheel drive version available on the Mk I car only. Over optimistically the floor pan was designed to accept virtually any conceivable drivetrain, from a transverse four to a longitudinal V-8.[citation needed] This resulted in a hugely obtrusive and mostly disused bellhousing cover and transmission tunnel. The resulting interior front of the car, especially the footwells, feel far more cramped than would be expected from a vehicle of this size. The Mondeo featured new manual and automatic transmissions and sophisticated suspension design, which give it class-leading handling and ride qualities, and subframes front and rear to give it executive car refinement. The automatic transmission featured electronic control with sport and economy modes plus switchable overdrive. The programme manager from 1988, and throughout its early development, was David Price. The car was launched in the midst of turbulent times at Ford of Europe, when the division was haemorrhaging hundreds of millions of dollars,[citation needed] and had gained a reputation in the motoring press for selling products which had been designed by accountants rather than engineers. The fifth generation Escort and third generation Orion of 1990 was the zenith of this cost-cutting/high price philosophy which was by then beginning to backfire on Ford, with the cars being slated for their substandard ride and handling, though a facelift in 1992 had seen things improve a little. The Sierra had sold well, but not as well as the all-conquering Cortina before it, and in Britain, it had been overtaken in the sales charts by the newer Vauxhall Cavalier. Previously loyal customers were already turning to rival European and Japanese products, and by the time of the Mondeo's launch, the future of Europe as a Ford manufacturing base was hanging in the balance. The new car had to be good, and it had to sell. Safety was a high priority in the Mondeo design with a driver's side airbag (it was the first ever car sold from the beginning with a driver's airbag in all of its versions, which helped it achieve the ECOTY title for 1994), side-impact bars, seat belt pretensioners, and ABS (higher models) as standard features. Other features for its year included adaptive damping, self-levelling suspension (top estate models), traction control (V6 and 4WD versions), and heated front windscreen, branded Quickclear. The interiors were usually well-appointed, featuring velour trim, an arm rest with CD and tape storage, central locking (frequently remote), power windows (all round on higher models), power mirrors, illuminated entry, flat-folding rear seats, etc. Higher specification models had leather seats, trip computers, electric sunroof, CD changer and alloy wheels. During its development, Ford used the 1986 Honda Accord and in the later stages the 1990 Nissan Primera as the class benchmarks that the CDW27 had to beat. In December 1998, Ford released in Europe a sports car with a coupé body shell based upon the Mk II Mondeo called the Ford Cougar (or Mercury Cougar in North America). This car shared the engines (2.0 I4, 2.5 V6), transmissions, suspension (partially) and floorpans from the Mondeo, but the body shell was unique to the Cougar, and was one of the last Ford cars to be designed under Ford's New Edge philosophy.

Ford Mondeo

Ford Mondeo

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Friday 5th March 1993

24 years ago

Ford introduced the "world car" Mondeo in Europe, 18 months before the Ford Contour in U.S. Instigated in 1986, the design of the car cost Ford US$6 billion. It was one of the most expensive new car programmes ever. The Mondeo was significant as its design and marketing was shared between Ford USA in Dearborn, and Ford of Europe.[4] Its codename while under development reflected thus: CDW27 signified that it straddled the C & D size classes and was a "world car". The head of the Mondeo project was John Oldfield, headquartered at Ford Dunton in Essex. A large proportion of the high development cost was due to the Mondeo being a completely new design, sharing very little, if anything, with the Ford Sierra. Unlike the Sierra, the Mondeo is front-wheel drive in its most common form, with a rarer four-wheel drive version available on the Mk I car only. Over optimistically the floor pan was designed to accept virtually any conceivable drivetrain, from a transverse four to a longitudinal V-8.[citation needed] This resulted in a hugely obtrusive and mostly disused bellhousing cover and transmission tunnel. The resulting interior front of the car, especially the footwells, feel far more cramped than would be expected from a vehicle of this size. The Mondeo featured new manual and automatic transmissions and sophisticated suspension design, which give it class-leading handling and ride qualities, and subframes front and rear to give it executive car refinement. The automatic transmission featured electronic control with sport and economy modes plus switchable overdrive. The programme manager from 1988, and throughout its early development, was David Price. The car was launched in the midst of turbulent times at Ford of Europe, when the division was haemorrhaging hundreds of millions of dollars,[citation needed] and had gained a reputation in the motoring press for selling products which had been designed by accountants rather than engineers. The fifth generation Escort and third generation Orion of 1990 was the zenith of this cost-cutting/high price philosophy which was by then beginning to backfire on Ford, with the cars being slated for their substandard ride and handling, though a facelift in 1992 had seen things improve a little. The Sierra had sold well, but not as well as the all-conquering Cortina before it, and in Britain, it had been overtaken in the sales charts by the newer Vauxhall Cavalier. Previously loyal customers were already turning to rival European and Japanese products, and by the time of the Mondeo's launch, the future of Europe as a Ford manufacturing base was hanging in the balance. The new car had to be good, and it had to sell. Safety was a high priority in the Mondeo design with a driver's side airbag (it was the first ever car sold from the beginning with a driver's airbag in all of its versions, which helped it achieve the ECOTY title for 1994), side-impact bars, seat belt pretensioners, and ABS (higher models) as standard features. Other features for its year included adaptive damping, self-levelling suspension (top estate models), traction control (V6 and 4WD versions), and heated front windscreen, branded Quickclear. The interiors were usually well-appointed, featuring velour trim, an arm rest with CD and tape storage, central locking (frequently remote), power windows (all round on higher models), power mirrors, illuminated entry, flat-folding rear seats, etc. Higher specification models had leather seats, trip computers, electric sunroof, CD changer and alloy wheels. During its development, Ford used the 1986 Honda Accord and in the later stages the 1990 Nissan Primera as the class benchmarks that the CDW27 had to beat. In December 1998, Ford released in Europe a sports car with a coupé body shell based upon the Mk II Mondeo called the Ford Cougar (or Mercury Cougar in North America). This car shared the engines (2.0 I4, 2.5 V6), transmissions, suspension (partially) and floorpans from the Mondeo, but the body shell was unique to the Cougar, and was one of the last Ford cars to be designed under Ford's New Edge philosophy.

Ford Mondeo - market launch brochure

Ford Mondeo - market launch brochure

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Friday 2nd April 1993

23 years ago

Vauxhall launched its all-new Corsa supermini, the replacement for the Nova, which like its predecessor was built at the Zaragoza plant in Spain. The great looks were a major plus but the first road tests revealed a chassis that wasn't the breakthrough many journalists had expected. The GSi, in particular, was a disappointment with enthusiast drivers and it went out of production in 1994 after poor sales. The range included 1.2, 1.4 and 1.6-litre petrol engines at launch, as well as 1.5-litre diesel and turbo diesels. The 1.4 received a 16-valve cylinder head and more power in August 1994, as part of a minor update. There was also the standard fitment of a height adjustable driver's seat and rear wash/wipe for most cars previously without them. In January 1996, a new 1.7-litre normally aspirated diesel engine arrived, though the older 1.5 carried on as the range-topping TD GLS. There were many special edition Corsas launched, some of which became long-running models in their own right. These all included extra equipment over the base Merit model and some of the more popular ones were Vegas, Premier, Swing, Breeze, Arizona, Twist and Spin.

Vauxhall Corsa launch brochure

Vauxhall Corsa launch brochure

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Wednesday 25th May 1994

22 years ago

The ashes of 71-year-old George Swanson are buried (according to Swanson´s request) in the driver´s seat of his 1984 white Corvette in Hempfield County, Pennsylvania. Swanson, a beer distributor and former U.S. Army sergeant during World War II, died the previous March 31 at the age of 71. He had reportedly been planning his automobile burial for some time, buying 12 burial plots at Brush Creek Cemetery, located 25 miles east of Pittsburgh, in order to ensure that his beloved Corvette would fit in his grave with him. After his death, however, the cemetery balked, amid concerns of vandalism and worries that other clients would be offended by the outlandish nature of the burial. “George wanted to go out in style, and, indeed, now he will,” commented Swanson´s lawyer in a report from The Associated Press. “We agree that this is rather elaborate, but really it´s no different than being buried in a diamond-studded or gold coffin.” According to the AP, Swanson´s widow, Caroline, transported her husband´s ashes to the cemetery on the seat of her own white 1993 Corvette. The ashes were then placed on the driver´s seat of his 10-year-old car, which had only 27,000 miles on the odometer. The license plate read “HI-PAL,” which was Swanson´s go-to greeting when he didn´t remember a name. As 50 mourners looked on, a crane lowered the Corvette into a 7-by-7-by-16-foot hole. “George always said he lived a fabulous life, and he went out in a fabulous style,” Caroline Swanson said later. “You have a lot of people saying they want to take it with them. He took it with him.”

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Monday 6th March 1995

22 years ago

The Ferrari F50, capable of 0 to 60 mph in just 3.4 seconds and with a top speed of 194 mph, was introduced at the Geneva Motor Show. The two-door, two seat roadster with a removable hardtop had a 4.7 L naturally aspirated 60-valve V12 engine that was developed from the 3.5 L V12 used in the 1990 Ferrari 641 Formula One car. Only 349 cars were made. The last F50 was produced in Maranello, Italy, in July 1997.

Ferrari F50

Ferrari F50

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Tuesday 26th September 1995

21 years ago

His Royal Highness the Prince of Asturias of Spain drove the 10,000,000th SEAT (a Toledo) off the Martorell assembly line.

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Sunday 10th March 1996

21 years ago

A feast for Australian Formula One fans as the country hosted the first race of the season, less than four months after it had staged the last grand prix of the 1995 season. Damon Hill in his Williams Renault won the race but only because team-mate Jacques Villeneuve, on his F1 debut, led most of the way before being forced to retire with an oil leak. "I am sure everyone will agree Jacques was the moral winner, "Hill, who equalled his father's record of 14 grand prix wins, said. He also revealed a loose stone had worked its way into his overalls and he spent much of the race shifting in his seat to try to dislodge it. "Every time I moved it slipped somewhere else even less comfortable." It was also a memorable day for Martin Brundle who walked away from a spectacular 170mph opening-lap crash which left his Jordan ripped in two. He was able to take his place at the re-start in his spare car, but spun off on the opening lap. "I knew the car was a write-off," Brundle said, "but I hadn't travelled halfway round the world to sit and watch the race."

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Tuesday 1st September 1998

18 years ago

The Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 finally went into effect. The law required that all cars and light trucks sold in the United States to have air bags on both sides of the front seat. Inspired by the inflatable protective covers on Navy torpedoes, an industrial engineering technician from Pennsylvania named John Hetrick patented a design for a "safety cushion assembly for automotive vehicles" in 1953. The next year, Hetrick sent sketches of his device to Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler, but the automakers never responded. Inflatable-safety-cushion technology languished until 1965, when Ralph Nader's book "Unsafe at Any Speed" speculated that seat belts and air bags together could prevent thousands of deaths in car accidents.

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Wednesday 4th November 1998

18 years ago

The first production model of the world's first three-door coupe, the Saturn rolled off the Spring Hill assembly line in Tennessee. The third door, a rear- hinged panel is located behind the driver's door. The front door must be opened first. There is a definite logic to this -- in a parking lot, the coupe driver can more easily toss packages, groceries, or a briefcase in the rear seat, without having to move the front seat back forward and so out of adjustment. And when someone needs to get into or out of the rear seat, access is much easier.

Saturn SC2 3-door coupe

Saturn SC2 3-door coupe

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Wednesday 17th March 1999

18 years ago

DaimlerChrysler unveiled the first driveable zero-emission, fuel cell car in the US, that demonstrated a 40% increase in fuel cell power and up to three times the range of a battery-powered vehicle. NECAR 4 (New Electric Car), used fuel cell technology to generate electricity and water vapour. Based on a Mercedes-Benz A-class compact car, NECAR 4 could achieve 90 mph and travel nearly 280 miles (450 km) before refuelling. The fuel cell system was incorporated in the vehicle floor allowing the compact car to comfortably seat five passengers and leave plenty space for luggage.

NECAR 4

NECAR 4

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Tuesday 6th April 1999

17 years ago

Cars used for a driving test in Britain from this day onwards had to have a front passenger seat belt, head restraints and a rear-view mirror.

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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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Thursday 2nd March 2000

17 years ago

The following major introductions were made at the Geneva Auto Show: Opel Speedster, Opel Omega V8, SEAT Salsa concept and Tata Aria concept.

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Wednesday 25th April 2001

15 years ago

Michele Alboreto (44) died in a testing crash. Michele Alboreto first got noted by winning the European and Italian Formula 3 championships as well as a works-driver for the Lancia works-team in the WSC. While racing in Formula 2, scoring Minardiís only F2 victory, Michele got a three-years-deal from Ken Tyrrell to drive for his team and made his Formula 1 debut at the 1981 San Marino GP. His first win came in 1982 in the Las Vegas GP and the following year in Detroit in 1983. Then Ferrari signed him for 1984 and Michele became the first Italian to race for Ferrari for over 10 years. He won the Belgian Grand Prix that year and in the 1985 season Michele scored wins in Canada and Germany but his World Championship challenge was beaten off by Alain Prost. In his three remaining seasons at Ferrari he failed to win another race. Out of a seat for 1988 he returned to Tyrrell but fell out with Ken in midseason. He took a drive with Larrousse at the end of the year but for 1990 he joined Arrows and stayed with the newly-named Footwork operation in 1991, hoping his career would be revived with Porsche V12 engines. They were a disaster and in 1993 he switched to Scuderia Italia which was using Lola cars and Ferrari engines. Another disaster. Then Scuderia Italia merged with Minardi in 1994, which was to be Alboretoís last year in F1. The Italian entered the history books by delivering the last victory to the good old Ford Cosworth DFV noraly aspirated V8 engine at the 1993 Detroit Grand Prix in a time when the dominant Formula 1 teams were all equipped with powerful turbocharged engines. After leaving F1 he resumed the side of his career that had brought success in sports cars in the early 80s and in 1997 won the Le Mans 24 Hours with his former Ferrari team mate Stefan Johansson and Tom Kristensen in a TWR-run Porsche. He went on to become an important member of the emerging Audi works-team and it was testing an R8 at the Lausitzring when he got killed when a high-speed tire failure sent the car airborne and landing upside down. He was 44 at the time of his demise.

Michele Alboreto

Michele Alboreto

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Monday 30th April 2001

15 years ago

The ‘Boost America!’ Campaign was launched, with Ford giving away a million booster seats and offering education on booster seat safety.

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Tuesday 11th September 2001

15 years ago

The Frankfurt Motor Show opened to international media, with a series of concept and production vehicle debuts kicking off in the early morning. First news of terrorist attacks in the US came in the early afternoon. Large display screens were switched over to news coverage, opening celebrations were cancelled, and the usual upbeat presentations were absent for the rest of the show. MG Rover Group unveiled its stunning new luxury high performance sports coupe - the MG X80. Styled by MG Rover's world renowned design director Peter Stevens, the £55,000 MG X80 had a high-technology super-formed aluminum body, mounted to a steel box section chassis. Skoda revealed its new model, the Superb. There was a large number of concept vehicles, including the Citroën C-Crosser, SEAT Tango, Renault Talisman, Jaguar R Coupe, Ford Fusion and Audi Avantissimo. Top production car debuts included the BMW 7 Series, Ford Fiesta, Citroën C3, Honda Jazz, Volkswagen Polo and Lamborghini Murcielago.

MG X80

MG X80

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Friday 15th February 2002

15 years ago

San Diego Padres outfielder Mike Darr (25) and his friend Duane Johnson (23) were killed when Darr's sport utility vehicle careened out of control, rolled over repeatly as it crossed the Loop 101 freeway in northwest Phoenix, Arizona, crashed through a fence, and landed on its top on a frontage road. Alcohol may have been a factor in the accident. Ben Howard (23), a minor league pitching prospect for the Padres, was slightly injured in the crash. He was in the back seat wearing his seat belt; the other two were in the front seat without their seat belts on.

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Thursday 26th September 2002

14 years ago

Nils Ivar Bohlin (82), Swedish inventor of the three-point safety belt, died. Bohlin worked on the seat belt for about a year, using skills in developing ejection seats for SAAB; he concentrated on keeping the driver safe in a car accident. After testing the 3-point safety belt, he introduced his invention to the Volvo company in 1959 and received his first patent (number 3,043,625). Ten years later, he led the Central Research and Development Department for Volvo in 1969. In 1995 he received a gold medal from Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences and in 1999, was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame. He retired from Volvo in 1985 and was posthumously inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Nils Bohlin

Nils Bohlin

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Thursday 30th January 2003

14 years ago

Twenty years after the introduction of compulsory front seat belt wearing, the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS) published their Seat Belts Factsheet which stated: "Seat belts are a proven way of reducing the severity of injuries. The government has estimated that since seat belt wearing was made compulsory in 1983 it has reduced casualties by at least 370 deaths and 7000 serious injuries per year for front seat belts and 70 deaths and 1000 serious injuries for rear seat belts."

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Tuesday 9th September 2003

13 years ago

The Frankfurt Motor Show, opened it’s doors, with the simultaneous launch of the 5th generation of VW Golf and Opel Astra. Ford unveiled the first production models based on next year’s new Focus platform – the Mazda 3 and new Volvo S40 sedan. The 2003 Show was also a significant event for BMW, with the debut of the new 5-Series saloon and 6-Series coupe, while the X5 was updated for 2004 and joined by the smaller, all-new X3. Mercedes showed the production version of the SLR McLaren; Jaguar the X-Type Estate and Maserati returned to the luxury saloon fold with the premiere of the new Quattroporte. Leading the concept car debuts from Europe were the Citroen C-Airlounge, Renault Be-Bop, Peugeot 407 Elixir, SEAT Altea, and Saab 9-3 Sporthatch, together with surprises from Lancia with the Fulvia Coupe concept and Skoda with the Roomster. Japanese makers were also strongly featured with concepts such as the Toyota CS&S, Nissan Dunehawk, Mazda Kusabi, Mitsubishi ‘i’, and Suzuki S2.

VW Golf (5th generation)

VW Golf (5th generation)

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Thursday 4th March 2004

13 years ago

The Koenigsegg CCR supercar built in Italy, but produced in Sweden made its debut at the Geneva Motor Show. Pagnini unveiled the Zonda C 12 S supercar, while SEAT Altea made its world premier. Volvo made history in Geneva by unveiling the first concept car designed totally by women. Called the YC - for Your Car Concept, with new features that included Easy-Clean paint, door sills that rotated downward when doors open so legs didn’t brush against them, a sensor that told in advance if a parallel parking space was big enough for the car, an Autopark system that handled the steering to get the car into the space, and interchangeable, contoured front seat covers and floor mats that changed the interior look. Women "want everything male car buyers want and a lot more," said Hans-Olov Olsson, president and chief executive officer of Volvo Cars.

Koenigsegg CCR

Koenigsegg CCR

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Friday 15th October 2004

12 years ago

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ruled that hearse manufacturers no longer had to install anchors for child-safety seats in their vehicles. In 1999, to prevent parents from incorrectly installing the seats using only their cars' seat belts, the agency had required all carmakers to put the standardised anchors on every passenger seat in every vehicle they built. Though it seemed rather odd, most hearse-builders complied with the rule and many thousands of their vehicles incorporated baby-seat latches on their front and back passenger seats. However, the year after the agency issued the rule, one of the largest "funeral coach" manufacturers in the U.S. petitioned for an exemption. "Since a funeral coach is a single-purpose vehicle, transporting body and casket," the petition said, "children do not ride in the front seat." In fact, typically that seat is empty—after all, most people do try to avoid riding in hearses. On this day, the agency agreed: All funeral coaches (now officially defined as "a vehicle that contains only one row of occupant seats, is designed exclusively for transporting a body and casket and that is equipped with features to secure a casket in place during the operation of the vehicle") were permanently exempt from all child-safety provisions. According to this formulation, those rare hearses that do have rear seats are not technically funeral coaches; therefore; they are subject to the same child-restraint rules as every other carmaker.

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Monday 29th November 2004

12 years ago

For the second time in a month, a blind thief was arrested in Romania for stealing a car and crashing into a tree. With the assistance of another blind pal and a sighted friend in the passenger seat telling him which direction to drive in, Alin Prica managed to drive the stolen car 25 miles before crashing into the tree. A couple of weeks earlier Prica had managed to drive another stolen car for almost a mile by himself before smashing into a tree and knocking himself out. At the time, he stated: ‘I just wanted to prove to myself that I could do anything I wanted – despite my handicap. I only crashed because I was not sure of the way home.’

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Friday 11th February 2005

12 years ago

Samuel W. Alderson (90), inventor of crash test dummies, used by car manufacturers to test the reliability of seat belts and other safety protocols, died in Marina Del Rey, California. Information gleaned from cadaver research and animal studies had already been put to some use in the construction of human simulacra as early as 1949, when "Sierra Sam" was created by Samuel W. Alderson at his Alderson Research Labs (ARL) and Sierra Engineering Co. to test aircraft ejection seats, aviation helmets and pilot restraint harnesses. This testing involved the use of high acceleration to 1000 km/h (600 mph) rocket sleds, beyond the capability of human volunteers to tolerate. In the early 1950s, Alderson and Grumman produced a dummy which was used to conduct crash tests in both motor vehicles and aircraft. Alderson went on to produce what it called the VIP-50 series, built specifically for General Motors and Ford, but which was also adopted by the National Bureau of Standards. Sierra followed up with a competitor dummy, a model it called "Sierra Stan," but GM, who had taken over the impetus in developing a reliable and durable dummy, found neither model satisfied its needs. GM engineers decided to combine the best features of the VIP series and Sierra Stan, and so in 1971 Hybrid I was born. Hybrid I was what is known as a "50th percentile male" dummy. That is to say, it modeled an average male in height, mass, and proportion. The original "Sierra Sam" was a 95th percentile male dummy (heavier and taller than 95% of human males). In cooperation with the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), GM shared this design, and a subsequent 5th percentile female dummy, with its competitors.

'Sierra Sam' test crash dummy

'Sierra Sam' test crash dummy

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Monday 28th February 2005

12 years ago

President General Pervez Musharraf attended the official launch of A1 Team Pakistan at the spectacular Lahore Fort as A1 Grand Prix made history, by being the first to run a single seat race car in Pakistan.

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Monday 20th November 2006

10 years ago

The Huntsville Bus Accident involving a school bus carrying 43 students occurred on an elevated portion of Interstate 565 in Huntsville, Alabama. Police stated that the bus went over the side after being hit by a small car. Plunging almost 40 feet, 4 students were killed and 23 were injured. The driver was ejected from the bus before it hit the ground. The crash reignited debate over the installation of seat belts in buses, and whether Alabama should follow the lead of states such as Florida in legislating compulsory lap belts. Following the crash Alabama Governor Bob Riley ordered a report be made into the issue. A study group consisting of education and transport officials interviewed 17 expert witnesses, and in early 2007 released recommendations that a pilot program be run with lap/shoulder belts being installed in a limited number of new buses from 2008.

Huntsville Bus Accident

Huntsville Bus Accident

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Friday 24th November 2006

10 years ago

Twenty-one year old Lewis Hamilton was confirmed as Fernando Alonso's team-mate at McLaren for the following season, despite still not having driven an F1 car. It was the culmination of a relationship which had started 11 years earlier with a handshake between Ron Dennis and Hamilton. "We reviewed the grid and, apart from the top three, we reckoned most of them had plateaued," Dennis said. "I am distinctly unimpressed with the majority of drivers currently involved in F1. I feel Lewis is well equipped to deal with these drivers who fall into that category." Hamilton himself admitted he was "overwhelmed". He added: "It was a surreal feeling. I was sat on a couch opposite Ron at his home. He told me that McLaren had decided to take me on as their new driver. It didn't kick in. I put on a professional face. I could see Ron was excited. He said I should be, too. Inside I was. But it had been such a long wait. It was a warm feeling knowing the seat was mine. Now I have to get on and prepare.'' The decision to appoint Hamilton was made after Monza in late September but had been kept secret.

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Wednesday 3rd January 2007

10 years ago

A 77 seat double-decker National Express coach overturned near Heathrow Aiport after failing to negotiate a slip road between the M4 and the M25. Two passengers died shortly after and a third six months later. Several passengers were left with amputated limbs, either traumatically in the accident itself, or later surgically in hospital. It is regarded as the worst crash in National Express' history. The coach driver, Philip Rooney (47), admitted causing the deaths of three passengers by dangerous driving and was jailed for five years.

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Thursday 10th May 2007

9 years ago

Perodua launched the new compact car, the Viva. It was initially launched with six models. They are: 660EX manual, 850EX manual, 1.0SX Standard manual, 1.0SXi Premium manual, 1.0EZ Standard automatic and the 1.0EZi Premium automatic. The range was later updated on the 23 July 2009 with the Viva 660BX manual (Kancil replacement model), Viva Elite manual, Viva Elite automatic, Viva Elite EZi and Viva 1.0BZ automatic.The suspension was typical of small hatchbacks with MacPherson struts in front located by an L-shaped lower arm. At the rear, Viva was fitted with a torsion beam axle and trailing arms. The suspension geometry were optimised for better steering response and ride comfort. The 1000 cc models had power-assisted steering, optional auto transmission and also a front stabilizer. The 660 cc and 850 cc were barebones basic models, devoid of power steering and auto transmission. As the Viva was based on Daihatsu Mira Avy, a kei car, it had a compact exterior dimensions and a small turning radius. It is roomy for its class, with enough room to seat five adults.

Daihatsu Viva

Daihatsu Viva

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Thursday 17th January 2008

9 years ago

Former Pittsburgh Steeler defensive tackle Ernie Holmes (59) died in a one-car accident. Holmes was driving alone when his car left the road and rolled several times near Beaumont, Texas. He was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected from the car. He died at the scene. Also a former pro wrestler and an ordained minister, Holmes had been a member of the Steel Curtain that led Pittsburgh to four Super Bowl wins in the 1970s.

Ernie Holmes

Ernie Holmes

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Wednesday 13th February 2008

9 years ago

A California judge ruled that the actor Mel Gibson, star of such movies as the Academy Award-winning "Braveheart" and the "Mad Max" and "Lethal Weapon" series, had successfully completed the terms of his no-contest plea to misdemeanour drunk driving. The 50-year-old Gibson made headlines after he was stopped for speeding and arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol in the early morning hours of July 28, 2006, on the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, California. The actor, who was driving a Lexus LS 430, reportedly had an open bottle of tequila on the seat next to him. A breathalyser test revealed his blood-alcohol level was above California's legal limit. Gibson is far from the only Hollywood celebrity to be involved in a drunk-driving case. In 2007, Kiefer Sutherland, the star of the hit TV show "24," pled guilty to a DUI charge in California and was sentenced to 48 days in jail.

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Thursday 21st February 2008

9 years ago

Ralf Schumacher admitted that he lied to reporters when he told them he would be staying in F1 in 2008, in order to have a quiet end to his career. Sick of being pestered by journalists about his plans for the following year, Schumacher told the press that he would be staying in F1 just to get them off his back. Schumacher said: "I did make those comments, but the situation never changed for me. I just said that [I would remain in F1] because there were a lot of people talking, and the situation was difficult at Toyota, so I just wanted to finish the season in peace." Despite testing for Force India he wasn't offered a drive and in the end settled for a race seat in DTM.

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Saturday 11th October 2008

8 years ago

Luc Costermans of Belgium set a new world speed record for blind drivers with the speed of 192 mph. Costermans drove a borrowed Lamborghini Gallardo on a long, straight stretch of airstrip near Marseilles, France. Cosermans had a carload of sophisticated navigational equipment as well as a human co-pilot, who gave directions from the Lamborghini's passenger seat accompanying him during the event.

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Tuesday 7th April 2009

7 years ago

GM and Segway announced that they were working together to develop a two-wheeled, two-seat electric vehicle designed to be a fast, safe, inexpensive and clean alternative to traditional cars and trucks for cities across the world. The project was called P.U.M.A. (Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility). It operates on two wheels placed side by side, a layout that differs in placement from motorcycles which instead have their two wheels placed at the front and rear. The PUMA design transfers the two-wheeled self-balancing characteristics of a Segway PT into a vehicle that can carry two passengers side by side at up to 35 miles per hour (56 km/h) for a distance of up to 35 miles (56 km). In addition to the main driving wheels at each side of the vehicle, there are small stabilizing wheels at both front and rear to support the vehicle whilst parked and to limit the maximum leaning angle. The first public prototype weighed approximately 300 pounds (140 kg). One idea proposed was that the vehicle could make use of its Global Positioning System (GPS) determined position to avoid crashes with other vehicles; the position would be transmitted to other vehicles using a communications technology. With all of the vehicles knowing their whereabouts, it would allow each car to drive itself to avoid obstacles including other vehicles and pedestrians. The developers claimed that crash-avoidance systems would eliminate the need for airbags and would include seat belts exclusively for "comfort purposes".The limited top speed would prevent the use of the vehicle on highways and other roadways.

P.U.M.A. (Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility)

P.U.M.A. (Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility)

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Thursday 14th June 2012

4 years ago

MINI officially debuted the “new look” MINI Rocketman for the London 2012 Olympic Games. The updated Rocketman was displayed at the BMW Group Pavilion during the games. The three-door, 3+1 seater was around 70 cm shorter than the Mini Hatch and used a carbon fibre-reinforced-plastic space-frame chassis. It was designed to seat three with an additional seat available for extra journeys.

MINI Rocketman

MINI Rocketman

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Friday 3rd April 2015

1 years ago

Bob Burns (64), the American drummer who was in the original line-up of the Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd died in a car crash in Georgia when his car struck a mailbox and a tree with the front of the vehicle. Burns was the only occupant of the car and was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash. He appeared on the band's 'Sweet Home Alabama,' 'Gimme Three Steps' and 'Free Bird.'

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