18-24 January: Motoring Milestones

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

120 years ago this week, the first Paris Motor Show was held at Grand Palais [21 January 1901]. It marked the start of a long tradition and the public’s unfailing attachment to an event that soon became emblematic of the Grand Palais. At the end of 1900, the automotive industry was flourishing: in France 2,884 four-seater cars, 5,286 2-seaters and 11,252 motor bikes were on the road, i.e. almost half of all the world’s motor vehicles at the time……..

The Irish Automobile Club (later the Royal Irish Automobile Club) was founded in Dublin [22 January 1901]…….110 years ago this week, twenty-three cars from 11 different locations around Europe converged on the tiny Principality of Monaco to compete in the first Monte Carlo car rally [21 January 1911]. Organised by the Automobile Club de Monaco, the challenging race took place along the French Riviera. Results depended not on driving time alone, but on judges’ assessments of the automobiles’ design and passenger comfort, as well as the condition the vehicles were in after covering the 1,000 kilometres (621 miles) of roads not really made for the horseless carriage. The arbitrary system provoked a minor outrage, but the judges’ decision stood. French car dealer Henri Rougier won first place in a Turcat-Méry 45-bhp model. Second place went to a driver named Aspaigu in a Gobron and third to Jules Beutler in a Martini. The rally was held again the following year, but then not again until 1924. World War II and its aftermath interrupted the annual event, with no rallies from 1940 through 1948……..100 years ago this week, Ralph Mulford, driving a Paige roadster at Daytona Beach, Florida, set a new Class B stock car record by covering a mile at 102.3 mph [21 January 1921]…….90 years ago this week, Montague Stanley Napier, English automobile and aircraft engine manufacturer, died aged 60 [22 January 1931]. Following a meeting with businessman and racing driver Selwyn Edge in 1899, Napier diversified his engineering business into automobile manufacturer, and for a time his company was the leading supplier of luxury cars in the British market. His focus switched from cars to aircraft engines after the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, and he developed the very successful Lion engine…..70 years ago this week, Bill Holland, winner of the 1949 Indianapolis 500, was suspended from AAA Indy Car racing [22 January 1951]. Holland, who had never finished worse than second in four starts in the Memorial Day classic, was kicked out of AAA for one year for competing in a three-lap Lion’s Charity race at Opa Locka, Florida, on November 14, 1950. The AAA had a strict rule forbidding its drivers to participate in any race other than its own……. A German patent was issued to Bela Barenyi for his chassis design that was quickly adopted by Mercedes Benz and is considered to be the first conceived primarily with safety in mind [23 January 1951]…….50 years ago this week, the Ford GT70, a limited production sports car designed by Ercole Spada, made by Ford of Britain in 1970 and intended for rallying, debuted at the Brussels Salon Motor Show [19 January 1971]. It was powered by a Capri based V6 engine with a 5-speed ZF transmission, and was mid-

engined like the Lancia Stratos. Only six GT70s were ever built. The GT70 program ended in 1973, as the Escort had been developed to the point where it was capable of winning rallies….. the following day [20 January 1971], the Jaguar XJ13 prototype was taken to MIRA for some publicity filming with Jaguar test driver Norman Dewis at the wheel. Unfortunately, a rear tyre (which had been plugged to cure a slow leak) deflated at speed, the car rolled heavily and was nearly destroyed although Norman Dewis was fortunately unharmed. The wreck of the car was put back into storage and later restored by the company……. The Argentine Grand Prix in Buenos Aires was won by Chris Amon in a Matra MS120 [24 January 1971]…….40 years ago this week, the first DeLorean 150-bhp DMC-12 rolled off the production line at the DMC factory in Dunmurry, Northern Ireland [21 January 1981]. About 9,000 DMC-12s, which could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 8.8 seconds, were made before production stopped in late 1982. Today, about 6,000 DeLoreans are believed to still exist……20 years ago this week, the Baldock services on the A1(M) motorway near Baldock in Hertfordshire, England opened [22 January 2001].

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