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.
A random selection of firsts from the world of motoring.
In 1931 the first practical roadside breath-testing device was the drunkometer developed by Rolla Neil Harger of the Indiana University School of Medicine. The drunkometer collected a motorist's breath sample directly into a balloon inside the machine. The breath sample was then pumped through an acidified potassium permanganate solution. If there was alcohol in the breath sample, the solution changed color. The greater the color change, the more alcohol there was present in the breath. The drunkometer was manufactured and sold by Stephenson Corporation of Red Bank, New Jersey.
The first roadside petrol pumps became operational in St Louis, USA in 1905. Roadside petrol pumps were first installed in Britain in 1913, though they did not enter into general use until 1921. In 1920 the Automobile Association opened the first roadside petrol station (solely for the purpose of supplying fuel as opposed to being a garage) at Aldermaston, Berkshire. A number of similar stations were established around the country. They were operated by AA Patrolmen and exclusively for the use of AA members. They established the modern pattern of vehicles pulling off the public road and drawing up alongside petrol pumps rather than being filled at the kerbside as at garages. Britain’s first self-service petrol pump became operational in November 1961 at Southwark Bridge, London.
The Smith Flyer of 1917, was the world’s first five-wheeled car. The fifth wheel incorporated a small air-cooled engine and took the drive. Very similar was a ‘car’ made by Briggs and Stratton in 1920.
The first commercial touring caravan emerged a year after World War I with the Eccles car-pulled caravan. Founded by Bill Riley and his son, Eccles Motor Transport essentially gave birth to modern British caravanning. Their first model was priced at £90 – a lot of money at the time.
The Lanchester was the first British designed four-wheeled petrol car. Designed by Frederick Lanchester and built, with his brother George’s help, in Birmingham, in 1895, it was the first ever to be designed from first principles as a complete mechanical entity rather than as a assemblage of odds and ends. The first production-model Lancaster appeared in 1900.