17-23 July: Motoring Milestones

Momentous motoring events that took place during this week in history …..

100 years ago this week, Rapp-Motorenwerke was renamed Bayerische Motoren Werke GmbH (BMW) [21 July 1907]…… 90 years ago this week, the Mercedes-Benz Type S made its racing debut at the Eifel race at the Nurburgring, with Rudolf

Caracciola winning the sports-car class [19 July 1927]……. The Studebaker Model ES Big Six Custom Sedan was introduced – the car was marketed as the ‘President’, the marque’s first usage of this name [23 July 1927]……. 80 years ago this week, “B Bira” (ERA) won the London Grand Prix at the Crystal Palace track in England [17 July 1937]……. 70 years ago this week, Gary Davis, President of the Davis Motor Car Company of Van Nuys, California, US introduced the prototype Davis D-2 three-wheeled automobile (cover image) [22 July 1947]. It was largely based upon “The Californian”, a custom three-wheeled roadster built by future Indianapolis 500 racing car designer Frank Kurtis for Southern Californian millionaire and racer Joel Thorne. After building two prototypes (D1 and D2) in 1947, Davis embarked on an aggressive publicity and promotional campaign for the car, which included numerous magazine appearances, a lavish public unveiling at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, and a promotional trip across the United States. At the company factory in Van Nuys, employees worked frantically to build Divans, although the model was never put into mass production. Despite raising $1,200,000 through the sale of 350 dealerships, the Davis Motorcar Company failed to deliver cars to its prospective dealers or pay its employees promptly, and was ultimately sued by both groups. The company’s assets were liquidated in order to pay back taxes, while Gary Davis himself was eventually convicted of fraud and grand theft and sentenced to two years at a “work farm” labor camp. Only 13 cars (including the two prototypes) were ever built, of which 12 have survived. The car featured aircraft-inspired styling details as well as disc brakes, hidden headlights, and built-in jacks……. 60 years ago this week, after 52 World Championship Grands Prix, a British car won a round in Britain. Stirling Moss steered the Vanwall VW5 to victory at Aintree, having shared driving duties with fellow Briton Tony Brooks [20 July 1957]. It was the first major Grand Prix win for a British car since Henry Segrave won the French Grand Prix in 1923 in a Sunbeam……The first Ford Edsel advertising appeared, in Life magazine. The 2-page advertisements featured wrapped cars and

blurred photos to tease the public [22 July 1957]…….. There were violent scenes around Britain as the strike by busmen in the English regions entered its fourth day [23 July 1957]. In some instances strike-breaking drivers were attacked and vehicles vandalised, including those with passengers on board……. 50 years ago this week, the last Panhard, a blue Model 24b coupe , was completed to end 78 years of automobile production [20 July 1967]. Panhard & Levassor was one of the oldest car manufacturers in the world. They started car production in 1891. Before WWII Panhard was well known for its large luxurious cars. After WWII it became obvious that there was little market for these expensive cars, and Panhard switched to building smaller, more modestly-priced vehicles. These cars were called the Dyna – with Dyna X being a small sedan, and the Dyna Junior a 2-seater sports car. Mechanical layout was similar – a 652cc, 2 cylinder, air-cooled engine with front-wheel drive. Performance was modest. Dyna Junior car production ended in 1956, and the Dyna X morphed into the PL 17, having a slightly larger engine and body than its predecessor. In 1963 Louis Bionier designed the crisp-lined 2 plus 2 body called the PL 24 coupe. The name was soon changed to 24BT, and production began in 1963 using the same mechanical components as the PL 17. Initially, production was slow but picked up in 1964. Sales, though, were modest, and by 1965 the Panhard car business was failing. Taken over by Citroën in 1965, it was the end of the line for Panhard automobiles as Citroën did not want to build a car that competed with the Citroën GSA. Panhard car sales ceased in 1967. Panhard also made armored cars for the military, and production of these cars continued until 2005……. 40 years ago this week, Chrysler Europe launched the Sunbeam, a three-door rear-wheel drive small hatchback similar in concept to the Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Chevette [23 July 1977]………30 years ago this week, Dale Earnhardt nudged past Alan Kulwicki in the final stages to win the Summer 500 at Pocono Raceway, Pennsylvania (US) denying Kulwicki his first win in NASCAR’s top series [19 July 1987]. Earnhardt led 85 of the 200 laps, including the final two after the last-ditch contest for the lead. Kulwicki held on for second place, one second behind Earnhardt at the finish. Buddy Baker came home third. The race was also notable for Tim Richmond, who scored his final pole position in the Cup series — Richmond led 14 laps and finished 29th with engine failure……… The Ferrari F40 was unveiled at the factory in Maranello,

Italy by Enzo Ferrari, in a ceremony commemorating his company’s 40th year [21 July 1987]. Speaking through an interpreter, the 89-year-old Ferrari announced, “A little more than a year ago, I expressed my wish to the engineers. Build a car to be the best in the world. And now the car is here.” Ferrari’s engineers had designed the F40 to be the fastest road vehicle ever built. The F40 came with no floor mats, no stereo, no power locks or windows. Its only frill was a vanity window displaying its massive V8 engine, but this too was a part of the remarkably light composite body, molded of plastic, ceramic, and metal. While the car had no electronic braking system, it was capable of 0-60 mph in 3.5 seconds and could hold a top speed of 201 mph, making the F40 the first production sports car to top the 200 mph barrier. While the car had no electronic braking system, it was capable of 0-60mph in 3.5 seconds and could hold a top speed of 201mph, making the F40 the first production sports car to top the 200mph barrier. Like all of Ferrari’s great cars, the F40 has enjoyed a successful career in sports car racing around the world……. 20 years ago this week, J.J. Lehto and Steve Soper drove a McLaren-BMW F1 to victory in the FIA GT race at Spa, Belgium [20 July 1997]……. 10 years ago this week, the £200k Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren Roadster was unveiled to the press. [17 July 2007] Powered by a supercharged (Kompressor) 5.5-litre, 617-bhp, AMG V8 engine, the SLR McLaren Roadster had a top speed of 207 mph and could accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in 3.8 seconds……. Rolls-Royce delivered

the first five customer Phantom Drophead Coupés ($443,000). The platform is based on the 2003 Rolls-Royce Phantom and has styling heavily derived from the 100EX, a concept car unveiled to celebrate the company’s centennial in 2004. Several Drophead Coupés were featured red in the 2012 Summer Olympics closing ceremony [20 July 2007] ……. The overall Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (PPIHC) record, also known as ‘The Race to the Clouds’, an annual automobile and motorcycle hill climb to the summit of Pikes Peak in Colorado, a distance of 19.99 km, was set by Nobuhiro “Monster” Tajima from Japan who clocked a time of 10:01.408 driving the 1000 hp mid-engined Suzuki XL7 Hill Climb Special [21 July 2007]. He broke the previous record (set in 1994 by Rod Millen) by less than three seconds. The winning time in 1916 was 20:55.40, set by Rea Lentz….. On the same day [21 July 2007], Lewis Hamilton was involved in a spectacular 170mph smash in qualifying for the European Grand Prix. 

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