Cars, people and events in this week’s Motoring Milestones include: Pontiac, first pedestrian killed in the UK by a car, Formula 1, Land Speed Record, and the Mancunian Way.
120 years ago this week, housewife Mrs Driscoll (44) travelling from Old Town, Croydon to a folk-dancing display in Crystal Palace, became the first pedestrian in the UK to be killed by a car [17 August 1886]. At Mrs Coroner William Percy Morrison at Mrs Driscoll’s inquest said he hoped that
“such a thing would never happen again” and was the first to apply the term “accident” to violence caused by speed. Witnesses said that the car, driven by Arthur Edsel, was travelling at a reckless pace, in fact, like a fire engine. Mr Edsel claimed that he had only been doing 4 mph and that he had rung his bell as a warning. The jury took six hours to reach a verdict that Mrs. Driscoll had died of accidental death…..110 years ago this week, the first production Mason, financed by Edward R. Mason and designed by Frederick S. Duesenberg, was completed at the Mason Motor Car Company factory in Des Moines, Iowa, US [16 August 1906]….. 75 years ago this week, Ford produced its last British private car until after the war [20 August 1941]….. 70 years ago this week, Marquis Jules Félix Philippe Albert de Dion de Wandonne, a pioneer of the automobile industry in France, died aged 90 [19 August 1946]. During 1883 he formed a partnership with George
Bouton which became the De Dion-Bouton automobile company, the world’s largest automobile manufacturer for a time. They tried marine steam engines, but progressed to a steam car which used belts to drive the front wheels whilst steering with the rear. This was destroyed by fire during trials. In 1884 they built another with steerable front wheels and drive to the rear wheels. It is the world’s oldest running car, and is capable of carrying four people at up to 38 mph. In 1898 he co-founded the Mondial de l’Automobile (Paris Motor Show)….. World War II civilian truck restrictions imposed during World War II were lifted in the U.S [20 August 1946]. Civilian auto production virtually ceased after the attack on Pearl Harbour as the U.S. automotive industry turned to war production, and gas rationing began in 1942. To receive a gasoline ration card, a person had to certify a need for gasoline and ownership of no more than five tires. All tires in excess of five per driver were confiscated by the government, because of rubber shortages. An “A” sticker on a car was the lowest priority of gasoline rationing and entitled the car owner to 3 to 4 US gallons (11 to 15 l; 2.5 to 3.3 imp gal) of gasoline per week. B stickers were issued to workers in the military industry, entitling their holder up to 8 US gallons (30 l; 6.7 imp gal) of gasoline per week. C stickers were granted to persons deemed very essential to the war effort, such as doctors. T rations were made available for truckers. Lastly, X stickers on cars entitled the holder to unlimited supplies and were the highest priority in the system. Ministers, police, firemen, and civil defense workers were in this category. A scandal erupted when 200 Congressmen received these X stickers…..60 years ago this week, the 6,000,000th Pontiac was produced, a 1956 Star Chief Custom Catalina [17 August 1956]. The last Pontiacs were built in late 2009, with the final dealer franchises expiring October 31, 2010….. 40 years ago this week, John Watson took his first Formula One win, taking the chequered flag in Austria for Penske [15 August 1976]. Local drivers Otto Stuppacher and Karl Oppitzhauser had applied to enter the event, but were refused due to their lack of experience. They petitioned the other teams for support but none was forthcoming, and they did not participate, although they had brought their cars to the circuit. They had entered under the ÖASC Racing Team banner, with Stuppacher bringing a Tyrrell 007, and Oppitzhauser a March 761……Jensen closed its doors after 42 years [17 August 1976], although production of the Interceptor would soon resume on a limited basis….. 30 years ago this week, Alain Prost won the Austrian Grand Prix at the Osterreichring in a McLaren MP4/2C-TAG.[17 August 1986]….. Warren Johnson became the first NHRA Pro Stock drag racer to hit 190 mph at the end of the quarter-mile when he ran 190.07 mph at Indianapolis, Indiana, USA [19 August 1986]….. The final section of the 2,900 mile (4,666 km) coast-to-coast Interstate 80
(San Francisco, California, to New York City) was dedicated on the western edge of Salt Lake City, Utah, making I-80 the world’s first contiguous freeway to span from the Atlantic to Pacific ocean and, at the time, the longest contiguous freeway in the world [21 August 1986]. The section spanned from Redwood Road to just west of the Salt Lake City International Airport. At the dedication it was noted that coincidentally this was only 50 miles (80 km) from Promontory Summit, where a similar feat was accomplished 120 years prior, with the laying of the golden spike of the United States’ First Transcontinental Railroad…..25 years ago this week, the Mazda Motor Corporation of Japan announced it planned to enter the luxury car market in 1994 with the Amati [20 August 1991]. Several other high-end brands from Japan had already been introduced: Lexus, Infiniti, and Acura….. Al Teague in Spirit of ’76 achieved the highest speed by a wheel driven car, with a peak speed of 432.692 mph (696.331 kmph) at Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah, USA [21 August 1991]….. 15 years ago this week, RM Auctions at Monterey, California sold a 17 August 2001] 1956 Ferrari 410
Sport Spyder for $3.8 million ($4.3 million adjusted for inflation).….. Michael Schumacher won his fourth World Championship and equalled Alain Prost’s record of 51 Grand Prix victories at the Hungarian Grand Prix [19 August 2001]. Rubens Barrichello in the other Ferrari finished second and McLaren driver David Coulthard finished third…..10 years ago this week, several large Californian auto insurers said they would set premiums based on driving records rather than ZIP codes, and that doing so would reduce rates for most motorists [17 August 2001]…..One year ago this week, a 30ft hole appeared in one of Manchester (UK) city centre’s busiest roads, after heavy rainfall [14 August 2015]. The hole, on the eastbound carriageway of the Mancunian Way was (12m) deep and at least 30ft (9m) wide. It is believed a large water pipe beneath the Mancunian Way eroded, causing the road surface to cave in.