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.
Directional headlights provide improved lighting for cornering. Some automobiles have their headlamps connected to the steering mechanism so the lights will follow the movement of the front wheels. Czech Tatra was an early implementer of such a technique, producing the Tatra 77 in 1937 with a central directional headlamp. The American 1948 Tucker Sedan was likewise equipped with a third central headlamp connected mechanically to the steering system.
The first heaters specifically designed for cars appeared in the after-market around 1907 and used a vehicle's exhaust for warmth.Typically installed by plumbers, they'd use pipes to route exhaust gas through the car's cabin to give off heat. But these systems often leaked, smelled bad and even caused some asphyxiation deaths. The earliest modern heating system appeared on some 1933 Fords. Using a heat exchanger, they safely transferred warmth from the car's exhaust to fresh air that came out of a dashboard vent.
Rover unveiled the first car powered with a gas turbine engine in March 1950. JET1, a two-seater model was powered by the same kind of engine used in a jet, positioned behind the seats. The air intake grilles were on either side of the car and exhaust outlets on the top of the tail. During tests, the car reached top speeds of 90 miles an hour, with the engine running at 50,000 revs per minute.The Royal Automobile club recorded an acceleration speed of 0-60 (97km) in 14 seconds. The car ran on petrol, paraffin or diesel oil, but consumption was high - about five to seven miles a gallon (2 km to 2.5 km per litre). Rover and the BRM Formula 1 team joined forces to produce a gas turbine powered coupe, which entered the 1963 LeMans 24-hour race, driven by Graham Hill and Richie Ginther. It averaged 107.8mph (173km) and had a top speed of 142mph (229km). However, it proved difficult to build an engine small enough to fit in a car, which was also fuel efficient, so the gas turbine powered car was never going to be a viable alternative to the combustion engine.
Oklahoma City, USA was the site for the world’s first parking meter, where it was installed in July 1935. An invention of Gerald A. Hale and Professor H.G. Thuesen of Oklahoma State University, the first person to be arrested for a parking meter offence was the Reverend C.H. North of the Third Pentecostal Church of Oklahoma City in August 1935. Britain’s first parking meters made their appearance outside the American Embassy in London’s Grosvenor Square on 10 July 1958.
Making automobiles easier to start made them easier to steal, creating the need for car keys. Early electric starters just had push buttons, but one Indiana automaker included a key-controlled ignition switch on a 1914 model called the Inter-State. Car key ignitions came into wide use in 1949, when Chrysler added them to all of its cars. Ironically, automakers have been going the other direction in recent years and replacing key-controlled ignitions with push-button ones on many models. But unlike the early systems, modern keyless ignitions won't start unless you to have a special key fob that sends a signal to the auto to prove that you're authorised to drive.