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24-31 October: Motoring Milestones

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

120 years ago this week, Packard used its famous ‘Ask the man who owns one’ slogan in their advertising for the first time [31 October 1901]. By the time this ad came out, Packard already had a prestigious owner on its side in New York millionaire William D. Rockefeller. Mr. Rockefeller previously drove Winton cars. An anecdote retelling the creation of Packard’s slogan is featured in many of the company’s histories, including, “Packard 1899-1945.” The following is the retelling that is used over and over again in Packard literature often with slight variation in the wording, but the gist always remains the same: ‘Time: 1902. Place: Office of J. W. Packard. His secretary speaks: “Here’s a letter from a man who wants information about the dependability of Packard cars.” Replies Mr. Packard: “Since we have no sales literature yet, tell him to just ‘ASK THE MAN WHO OWNS ONE.’” Thus was born the Packard slogan. This 43 year slogan expresses the confidence Packard has in its product’……..110 years ago this week, the eighth Glidden Tour ended in Jacksonville, Florida, US and was won by a Maxwell driven by a team of drivers from Tarrytown, New York [26 October 1911]. A Reo truck that followed the cars with baggage and spare tires was fitted with pneumatic tires, the first time they were ever installed on a motor truck…….Packard was issued with a US patent for its first special radiator cap [27 October 1911]……. The Little Motor Car Company was founded primarily by William H. Little and William C. Durant in Flint, Michigan (US) [30 October 1911]. After the Panic of 1910–11 and lack of cash from overexpansion that led to General Motors’s Board to oust Durant, Durant began forming other car companies including Chevrolet and Mason Motors. Durant purchased the failing Flint Wagon Works and used the assets to set up the Little Motor Car Company and Mason. The Little company was charged with building a small car to fill the void left by Buick Motor’s discontinuing the Model 10 and compete with the Ford Motor Company.The first Little was two-seater, 20 hp four-cylinder released in 1911, and was considered a better auto than Chevrolet. Durant ordered another model, the Little Six, to be produced by the company. The company purchased engines from Sterling, another Durant company. In 1912, Durant set up Republic Motors to distribute and market both Little and Chevrolet autos. To help Republic, Durant had Littles rebadged as Chevrolets, which increased sales for the vehicle. In July 1912, Republic was incorporated and became the holding corporation for Little, Chevrolet, and Mason companies. Little also worked at Chevrolet and recommended that Chevrolet construction be moved to Flint to solve pricing issues with the first Chevrolet and keep quality high. The Little plant thus started to build Chevrolets in 1913. However, this made the Little somewhat a duplicate of Chevrolet with the less-marketable name. Chevrolet bought the Little Company at the end of 1913………80 years ago this week, jazz saxophonist Leon “Chu” Berry (33) died after being mortally injured while riding in an automobile taking members of the Cab Calloway Band to an engagement in Toronto, Canada [28 October 1941]. The band left his chair empty for weeks afterwards as a sign of respect. Dan Morgenstern, director of the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University, commented that, “Considering the brevity of Chu’s life, and that his recording career spans a mere decade, it is remarkable that his name continues to loom large in the annals of jazz. Had he lived, there is no doubt that he would be ensconced in the jazz pantheon alongside Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young. He was that good”……..70 years ago this week, three drivers were within striking distance of the World title coming to the final round of the 1951 season, the Gran Premio de España in Pedralbes: Juan Manuel Fangio (27 points), Alberto Ascari (25) and José Froilán González (21) [28 October 1951]. Ascari was the quickest in qualifying but a poor tyre choice, against the advice of Pirelli, left the Ferraris struggling. Fangio won the race in style and with it the championship……….Britain’s first zebra crossing was introduced in Slough, Berkshire in order to reduce casualties at pedestrian road crossings [31 October 1951]. Metal studs had been the road markings for crossings up until then, but, although pedestrians could see them clearly, the motorist couldn’t. Others things were tried but nothing had the visual impact of the broad white and black stripes across the road at a zebra crossing…….60 years ago this week, the 8th Tokyo Motor Show opened. The Prince Sports Convertible designed by Michelloti, an Italian-style 700cc prototype from Daihatsu, the Italian-style Toyopet Sports (1900cc experimental car) from Toyota, Datsun Fairlady SP310 from Nissan, 2-seater 450 Sports from Fuji Heavy Industries, and the Suzulight Sports 360 from Suzuki [25 October 1961]. Young people were delighted with the rush of sports cars. As for sedans, Isuzu completed home-production of the Hillman, and independently developed the mid-sized “Bellel,” and Hino Motors developed “Contessa 900” based on Renault. These cars were displayed at the Show. Also featured were 1900cc cars in the Crown, Cedric, and Prince series. This trend followed the change in displacement regulations the previous year. Though not a new model, the “Bluebird Fancy” was remarkable in that it was designed to meet the demands of an increasing number of women acquiring their driver’s license. The car attracted female fans with its soft-colored appearance and built-in make-up kits and other accessories…….Daimler-Benz AG acquired a license to manufacture petrol-powered Wankel rotary engines of greater than 50 hp [26 October 1961]…… Maschinen Augsburg-Nurnburg of Germany, makers of MAN trucks, acquired a license to manufacture Wankel rotary engines [30 October 1961], and Enzo Ferrari put 26 year old Mauro Forghieri in charge of the entire Scuderia Ferrari racing program [30 October 1961]……..50 years ago this week, the Ferrari 365GT4 Berlinetta Boxer – cover image – was unveiled at the 1971 Turin Motor Show [28 October 1971]. Designed to rival the Lamborghini Miura and the newly developed Lamborghini Countach, it was finally released for sale in 1973 at the Paris Motor Show. 387 were built, of which 88 were right-hand drive (of which 58 for the UK market), making it the rarest of all Berlinetta Boxers…….Slide guitarist and the leader of the Allman Brothers Band, Duane Allman (24), was killed when he crashed his motorcycle into the side of a flatbed truck in Macon, Georgia [29 October 1971]. In two short years, guitarist Duane Allman racked up an impressive catalog of songs, both with the Allman Brothers Band and as a studio musician……..Denny Hulme drove a McLaren M8F-Chevrolet to victory in the Can-Am race at Riverside, California, USA. His Team McLaren teammate Peter Revson finished second [31 October 1971]……40 years ago this week, the 1982 Pontiac Phoenix and T100 compacts were introduced [28 October 1981]…….30 years ago today, an unprecedented 352 companies, two governments and one organization representing 13 countries participated in the 29th Tokyo Motor Show [25 October 1991]. The high-class passenger cars and sports cars that had played the leading role at the previous show disappeared, and “compact cars” (exhibited for reference) with lighter, smaller bodies and engines were placed on the turntables of each stand in line with the show theme, environmental problems. Show cars included the AXV-IV (Toyota), with a lean-burning engine mounted on a 450-kg aluminum/magnesium body; the EP-X (Honda), with a 620-kg aluminum body; the MS1000 (Mitsubishi) small rounded style; the X-201 (Daihatsu), with a 700-kg FRP body that addressed driving pleasure as well as environmental concerns; and the compact sports DUAD (Nissan)……. The 30,000,000th Pontiac was produced, a white Bonneville SSei built at the Wentzville Assembly Centre in Missouri, US [29 October 1991]…….20 years ago this week, the Ford Motor Co. reached a settlement that would cost as much as $2.7 billion to replace a $4 ignition device prone to cause stalling [25 October 2001]……..Greg Biffle survived a green-white-checkered overtime finish, holding off Jack Sprague in the Chevy Silverado 150 for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at Phoenix International Raceway, Arizona, US [26 October 2001]. Biffle, who led 79 of the 159 laps, finished just .542 seconds ahead of Sprague, who paced 66 laps.

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