Cars, people and events in this week’s Motoring Milestones include: Chevrolet Camaro, Hudson, Battle of the Somme, BMW and Elvis Presley.
100 years ago this week, Hudson launched a series of publicity stunts to promote its new ‘Super Six’ engine, including a “Twice Across America” run from San Francisco to New York and back, which began on this day [13 September 1916]. The Hudson Motor Car Company had a number of firsts for the auto industry; these included dual brakes, the use of dashboard oil-pressure and generator warning lights, and the first balanced crankshaft, which allowed the Hudson straight-six engine, the “Super Six”, to work at a higher rotational speed while remaining smooth, developing more power for its size than lower-speed engines. The Super Six was the first engine built by Hudson, previously Hudson had developed engine designs and then had them manufactured by Continental Motors Company. It became so popular that the name “Super Six” became the unofficial brand name of Hudson. ….Tanks were first used in battle – by the British at the Battle of the Somme [15 September 1916]. The tank had been kept secret from the enemy – the very
name tank came from a description intended to put German intelligence off the scent. Developed by the navy, with Churchill as head of the Admiralty one of its great advocates, the first machines were manned by sailors. General Haig deployed the first Mark 1 tanks available to him – just 49 of them – in the attempted breakthrough at Flers-Courcelette, rather than waiting to use greater numbers of the machines in a massive attack. Those 49 machines may not have been fully ready either, several failing to make it into battle. The first ever tank to advance against the enemy was that commanded by Captain H.W. Mortimore in Delville Wood, the same sector where the first tank crew member won a decoration – Private A. Smith winning the Military Medal for his bravery in action there. Some 2km of German territory was taken in the initial attack of the tanks supported by infantry, German troops reeling at the sight of the monstrous machines, but poor planning and liaison and a failure to follow through after breaking the enemy lines wasted the game-breaking opportunity….. 90 years ago this week, Alfred Neubauer introduced a code system for communicating with drivers during his first appearance as manager of the Mercedes-Benz racing team in a race at the Solitude circuit near Stuttgart, Germany – Otto Merz led the team to a one-two-three finish [12 September 1926]…… 50 years ago this week, the Chevrolet Camaro was first shown at a press preview in Detroit, Michigan [12 September 1966]. It was
available as a two-door convertible with 2+2 seating, and a choice of 3.8 L, 4.1 L inline-6 or 4.9 L, 5.0 L, 5.4 L), 5.7 L, 6.5 L, 7.0 L V8 powerplants. Concerned with the runaway success of the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet executives realized that their compact sporty car, the Corvair, would not be able to generate the sales volume of the Mustang due to its rear-engine design, as well as declining sales, partly due to the negative publicity from Ralph Nader’s book, Unsafe at Any Speed. Therefore, the Camaro was touted as having the same conventional rear-drive, front-engine configuration as the Mustang and Chevy II Nova. In addition, the Camaro was designed to fit a variety of power plants in the engine bay. The first-generation Camaro lasted until the 1969 model year and eventually inspired the design of the new retro fifth-generation Camaro…… Don Nicholson became the first NHRA Funny Car driver to run the 1/4-mile in under 8 seconds when “Dyno” he turned in a 7.96 second pass, in Michigan, US [14 September 1966]…… Jerry Titus drove his Shelby Mustang to victory in the Riverside, California Trans-Am event. This gave Ford their first title in the Trans-Am – Over 2-Liter class [18 September 1966]……40 years ago this week, Ronnie Peterson took the March team’s last victory in Formula One at the Italian Grand Prix. Niki Lauda came 4th just 5 weeks after his horrific Nurburgring accident [12 September 1976]…… 30 years ago this week, Bentley Turbo R broke 16 records for speed and endurance at
the Millbrook high-speed circuit in Bedfordshire [17 September 1986]…… 25 years ago this week, the first Frankfurt International Automobile Exhibition to focus solely on “passenger cars”, opened its doors [12 September 1991]. With more than 935,000 visitors, and 1,271 exhibitors from 43 countries displaying their new products and innovations, it was a huge success. Citroen unveiled two world firsts: the Citroën ZX Diesel and the Citroën XM Estate, whilst Audi presented the Audi Quattro Spyder….. The Bugatti EB110, an exclusive supercar from Bugatti Automobili SpA, the 1990s successor to one of the most celebrated marques in automotive history was unveiled in both Versailles and in front of the Grande Arche at La Défense in Paris, France exactly 110 years after Ettore Bugatti’s birth [15 September 1991]….. 10 years ago this week, a pink 1961 Cadillac once owned by Elvis Presley was sold at auction for £21,000 in Derbyshire, England [13 September 2006]. The 20ft long 8-litre Coupe de Ville was bought new by the rock-and-roll legend but was later purchased by a Yorkshire collector. The Cadillac, which was white with a pink roof and pink and white upholstery, had travelled 76,099 miles. It was originally valued at between £15,000 and £18,000……Ford bought rights to the Rover name from BMW for approximately £6 million [18 September 2006]. Ironically no Rover branded cars were produced whilst Ford owned the brand. As part of Ford’s agreement to sell their Jaguar & Land Rover operations early this year to Tata Motors, the Rover brand name was included in the deal…..1 year ago this week, four technicians from tyre specialist Reifen Umert set the record for the fastest wheel change on a road car at 58.43 seconds in Miltenberg and Wertheim, Germany [12 September 2015]. The technicians used traditional, hand-held wheel braces to change all four wheels simultaneously on a Ford Focus – they also had to jack the car up during the attempt, which was conceived as a publicity stunt for the company