18-24 November: Motoring Milestones

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

100 years ago this week, the 20,000th Essex, a 2-passenger roadster, was produced [20 November 1919]. The Essex is generally credited with starting a trend away from open touring cars design toward enclosed passenger compartments.Originally, the Essex was to be a product of the “Essex Motor Company,” which actually was a wholly owned entity of Hudson’s. Essex Motors went so far as to lease the Studebaker auto factory in Detroit for production of the car. By 1922 the Essex Motor Company was dissolved and the Essex officially became what it was all along, a product of Hudson………. The Fox Motor Company was organised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US [21 November 1919]. The company was founded by Ansley H. Fox, inventor of the Fox shotgun. Production began in March 1921 for these cars with air-cooled engines. Claimed to get 20 mpg, the cars were bigger than the Franklins, the better known air-cooled cars of the day. The delay to get into regular production and the lack of sufficient investors caused the company to fold in 1923………90 years ago this week, the Mercer Motor Corporation was incorporated in Delaware to revive the Mercer marque but only one car, a 1931 convertible with a body by the Merrimac body Company, was built [22 November 1929]………80 years ago this week, Clarence W Spicer (64), builder of the prototype 1903 Spicer while a student at Cornell University, New York and later the inventor of the first practical driveshaft and a manufacturer of universal joints, died in Miami (US) [21 November 1939]……….60 years ago this week, Ford announced the end of the Edsel program [19 November 1959]. However, production continued until late in November, with the final tally of 2,846 model year 1960 cars.

Total Edsel sales were approximately 116,000, less than half the company’s projected break-even point. The company lost $350 million, or the equivalent of $2,800,000,000 in 2015 dollars on the venture. Only 118,287 Edsels were built, including 7,440 produced in Ontario, Canada. By U.S. auto industry standards, these production figures were dismal, particularly when spread across a run of three model years. The following day United Press International’s (UPI) wire service reported that book values for used Edsels had declined by as much as $400 based on condition and age immediately following the Ford press release. In some newspaper markets, dealers scrambled to renegotiate newspaper advertising contracts involving the 1960 Edsel models, while others dropped the name from their dealerships’ advertising entirely. Ford issued a statement that it would distribute coupons to customers who purchased 1960 models (and carryover 1959 models) prior to the announcement, valued at $300 to $400 toward the purchase of new Ford products to offset the decreased values. The company also issued credits to dealers for stock unsold or received following the announcement……….The all-new 105E Anglia was introduced in the US, the first British Ford to be marketed to Americans on a large scale [20 November 1959]. It had a brand-new overhead-valve engine and a 4-speed gearbox and, externally, it was like nothing else on the road, with its distinctive rear-sloping back window, frog-like headlights and stylish colours (eg light green and primrose yellow). Despite appreciation for the well-designed car by a few automobile enthusiasts in America, the Anglia, which was a best-seller on the world’s markets, failed to make a noticeable impact in the general US market……….40 years ago this week, Richard Petty won his record seventh series championship, a mark that would be matched in 1994 by Dale Earnhardt [18 November 1979]……….30 years ago this week, Pentti Airikkala and Ronan McNamee won the RAC RALLY with a Mitsubishi Galant VR-4 [24 November 1989]………20 years ago this week, Ford joined the US Postal Service to celebrate the issue of a special stamp honouring the Ford Mustang. The first American “pony” car was chosen for the stamp, which depicts the original 1964½ Mustang, in public balloting as one of the most enduring U.S. symbols of the 20th century [22 November 1999]………Richard Burns and Robert Reid won Great Britain Rally with a Subaru Impreza WRC [23 November 1999]……….The Lincoln LS was named Motor Trend Car of the Year [24 November 1999]. It was the first Lincoln in decades to offer an optional manual transmission (V6 model only)……….10 years ago this week, former world champion Kimi Raikkonen confirmed he was taking a one-year sabbatical from Formula One adding it was uncertain whether he would return in 2011 – he did not [19 November 2009]. He was replaced by Fernando Alonso at Ferrari and says he preferred to take a year off and wait for a place with a competitive team after failing to reach a deal with McLaren, who opted to sign Jenson Button to partner Lewis Hamilton…….Flavio Briatore’s ultimately successful appeal against his lifetime ban from motorsport as well as £1 million in damages resulting from the Crashgate scandal began in a Paris court [24 November 2009]. The controversy centred on an early crash involving Nelson Piquet, Jr.’s car during the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix of 28 September 2008, when he was still driving for Renault. At the time, Piquet Jr. described the crash as a simple mistake; however, shortly after his acrimonious departure from Renault and criticism of Briatore nearly a year later in August 2009, allegations surfaced that he had deliberately crashed to help Renault team mate Fernando Alonso, who went on to win the race. After a Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) investigation, on 4 September 2009 Renault were charged with conspiracy and race fixing, and were due to face the FIA World Motor Sport Council in Paris on 21 September 2009. In return for immunity from punishment, Piquet Jr. had reportedly stated to the FIA that he had been asked to crash by Briatore and Renault chief engineer Pat Symonds. On 11 September, following leaks of Piquet Jr.’s evidence, Renault and Briatore stated they would take legal action against Piquet, Jr. for making false allegations; however, five days later, Renault announced they would not contest the charges, and that Briatore and Symonds had left the team. The day after the Renault announcement, Renault confirmed Briatore had resigned from the team, while Briatore himself stated of his departure that “I was just trying to save the team”, “It’s my duty. That’s the reason I’ve finished.” The team issued the following official statement: The ING Renault F1 Team will not dispute the recent allegations made by the FIA concerning the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix. It also wishes to state that its managing director, Flavio Briatore and its executive director of engineering, Pat Symonds, have left the team.[29] At the same hearing, the FIA banned Briatore from FIA-sanctioned events indefinitely. The FIA also stated that it would not renew any superlicence granted to Briatore-managed drivers—effectively barring him from managing drivers who participate in any competition that is under the FIA’s authority. The FIA stated that it was coming down hard on Briatore because he denied his involvement despite overwhelming evidence, and that Renault’s actions were serious enough to merit being thrown out of F1. However, since Renault took swift action by forcing Briatore and Symonds to resign once the affair came to light, the FIA effectively placed the team on two years’ probation. If Renault committed a comparable offence between 2009 and 2011, they were to be indefinitely banned from F1. British newspaper The Daily Mirror described the ban as the harshest sanction ever imposed on an individual in the history of motorsport. Briatore later said he was “distraught” at the FIA’s action, and sued the FIA in French courts to clear his name. On 5 January 2010, the Tribunal de Grande Instance overturned the ban and granted him €15,000 in compensation.The tribunal declared in particular that “the decision of the World Council was presided over by the FIA president, who was well known to be in conflict with Briatore, with Mr Mosley having played a leading role in launching the inquiry and its investigation in violation of the principle of separation of the power of the bodies”. The FIA announced that it would appeal the decision issued by the French court, but the two parties reached an out-of-court settlement the following April. In an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport, Briatore said that he is sure that he will not return to Formula One, despite having his ban overturned.

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