21-27 December: Motoring Milestones

Discover the most momentous motoring events that took place this week in history …….

120 years ago this week, Austrian businessman Emil Jellinek took delivery of the first car to be produced under the “Mercedes” name [22 December 1910]. Jellinek had commissioned the Mercedes car from the German company Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft (DMG). This first “Mercedes”, developed by Wilhelm Maybach, the chief engineer at DMG, caused a stir at the start of the century. With its low centre of gravity, its pressed steel frame, its light and high powered engine and its honeycomb radiator, it brought in numerous innovations, and is regarded today as the first modern automobile. was faster, lighter, and sleeker than any car the company had ever made before. Jellinek was confident that the car would win races and that besotted buyers would snap them up that he bought 36 of them, paying DMG 550,000 marks in all. In exchange for his extraordinary patronage, Gottlieb Daimler agreed to name its new machine after Jellinek’s 11-year-old daughter, Mercedes…….110 years ago this week, the Pierce-Arrow 5-ton truck was introduced, the world’s first motor truck with worm-gear drive [23 December 1910]…….100 years ago this week, the Moore Motor Vehicle Company of Danville, Illinois (US) was liquidated at auction after production of 612 cars since 1916 in Minneapolis and Danville [22 December 1920]. The Moore was high priced automobile and sold for US$5,000 by 1909. It was advertised as “safe, speedy and reliable.” The company only produced one model which came with a 40-horsepower, 4-cylinder, water-cooled engine. It had a 4-speed transmission and was shaft driven and was reported as having “three spark plugs per cylinder”…….60 years ago this week, the millionth Morris Minor rolled off the production line – the first British vehicle to achieve this [22 December 1960]. To mark the auspicious occasion 349 replicas of the same car were produced. They were finished in lilac paint, and had white and gold leather seats. Special ‘MINOR 1,000,000’ badges were made for the bonnet and boot. Minor Millions have a cult following even within the Morris Minor Owners Club, and over 40 are known to have survived……..20 years ago this week, Citroen has made history in the UK by selling more than 100,000 vehicles in a year for the first time ever, beating its previous best figure by more than 11,000 [21 December 2000]………. John Cooper, the driving force behind the Cooper Car Company died aged 77 [24 December 2000]. With his father, Charles, he started building racing cars after the Second World War; and it was Stirling Moss who gave the company its first GP victory in the 1958 Argentine Grand Prix. This was the first rear engine car to win a grand prix and started a revolution – within two years all the cars on the grid were rear engined. “He made a great contribution to the sport of motor racing – he put England back on top,” Stirling Moss said. “It’s thanks to John Cooper that I was able to get into the sport as his racing cars were relatively cheap.” Cooper’s development of the British Motor Corporation Mini — the Mini Cooper — was adored by both rally racers and ordinary road drivers. Before John Cooper’s death, the Cooper name was licensed to BMW for the higher-performance versions of the cars, inspired by the original Mini, sold as the MINI. John, along with his son Mike Cooper, served in an advisory role to BMW and Rover’s New MINI design team. Cooper was the last surviving Formula One team principal from the formative years of the sport, and he often lamented later in life that the fun had long since gone out of racing. He helped establish Britain’s domination of motorsport technology, which continues today, and he received the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his services to British motorsport. He remained head of the West Sussex family garage business (which had outlets for Mini Cooper at East Preston and Honda at Ferring) until his death…….. Walter Hayes (76), English journalist, and later public relations executive for Ford died [26 December 2000]. Hayes was key in developing Ford’s Formula One program, by signing Jackie Stewart and funding the building of the Cosworth DFV V8 Formula One racing engine; and the creation of the Premier Automotive Group with the purchases of classic English brands Jaguar and Aston Martin.

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