24-30 September: Motoring Milestones

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

130 years ago this week, Car enthusiast William Steinway (of Steinway piano fame) concluded licensing negotiations with Gottlieb Daimler, gaining permission to manufacture Daimler in the US [29 September 1888]. He founded the Daimler Motor Company, New York and began producing Daimler engines, as well as importing Daimler boats, trucks and other equipment to the North American market………110 years ago this week, the first factory-built was completed, just one more step in Ford’s affordable revolution [27 September 1908].

Affectionately known as the “Tin Lizzie,” the Model T revolutionized the automotive industry by providing an affordable, reliable car for the average person. Ford was able to keep the price down by retaining control of all raw materials, and by employing revolutionary mass production methods. When it was first introduced, the “Tin Lizzie” cost only $850 and seated two people……..William A Besserdich and Bernard A Mosling were issued with a United States patent for their Locking Device for Differential Gears, an invention that forms the basis of modern four-wheel drive mechanisms [29 September 1908]……… 90 years ago this week, work began at the new Galvin Manufacturing Corporation in Chicago, just one day after being officially incorporated [26 September 1928]. In 1930, Galvin introduced the Motorola radio, the first mass-produced commercial car radio. The name had two parts: “motor” evoked cars and motion, while “ola” derived from “Victrola” and was supposed to make people think of music……..The first cornerstone of the Henry Ford Museum was laid in Dearborn, Michigan, US [27 September 1928]. Although the museum is named after Henry Ford, its collection extends well beyond the Ford Motor Company. The collection includes product literature, advertising and promotional materials, thousands of books, and almost 300 cars. The museum also hosts exhibits on everything from agriculture to industry……..80 years ago this week, Charles Duryea

died in Philadelphia, US at the age of 76 [28 September 1938]. Duryea and his brother Frank designed and built one of the first functioning “gasoline buggies” in the USA, although cars such as the Nadig were running on the streets of the US before the Duryea’s built their first one. For most of his life, however, Charles insisted on taking full credit for the brothers’ innovation. On the patent applications he filed for the Duryea Motor Wagon, for instance, Charles averred that he was the car’s sole inventor; he also loftily proclaimed that his brother was “simply a mechanic” hired to execute Charles’ plans. Charles Duryea was not the inventor of the first gasoline engine, nor was he the first person to build a gas-powered car. Instead, as his obituary in the NY Times put it, he “had the rare mechanical wit to see how the contributions of his predecessors could be combined into a sound invention.”…….70 years ago this week, motorcycle builder Soichiro founded the Honda Motor Company in Hamamatsu, Japan [24 September 1948]. In the 1960s, the company achieved worldwide fame for its motorcycles (in particular, its C100 Super Cub, which became the world’s best-selling vehicle); in the 1970s, it achieved worldwide fame for its affordable, fuel-efficient cars. Today, in large part because of its continued emphasis on affordability, efficiency and eco-friendliness (its internal motto is “Blue skies for our children”), the company is doing better than most. Before he founded the company that bore his name, Soichiro Honda was a drifter and a dreamer. He bounced from one mechanic’s job to another, and also worked as a babysitter, a race car driver and an amateur distiller. Even his wife said he was a “wizard at hardly working.” In 1946, he took over an old factory that lay mostly in ruins from wartime bombings, though he did not have much of a plan for what he would do there. First he tried building what he called a “rotary weaving machine”; next he tried to mass-produce frosted glass windows, then woven bamboo roof panels. Finally, after he came across a cache of surplus two-stroke motors, he had an idea: motorbikes. Honda adapted the motors to run on turpentine and affixed them to flimsy cycle frames built by workers at the Hamamatsu factory. The bikes sold like hotcakes to people desperate for a way to get around in postwar Japan, where there was virtually no gasoline and no real public transit. Soon enough, Honda had sold out of those old engines and was making his own. In 1947, the factory produced its first complete motorbike, the one-half horsepower A-Type (nicknamed “The Chimney” because it was so smoky and smelly). After the company’s incorporation, Honda produced a more sophisticated bike: the 1949 steel-framed, front- and rear-suspended D-Type that could go as fast as 50 miles per hour. At the end of the 1950s, it introduced the Cub, a Vespa clone that was especially popular with women and was the first Honda product to be sold in the United States. Starting in the 1960s, the company produced a few small cars and sporty racers, but it wasn’t until it introduced the Civic in 1973 that it really entered the auto market. The car’s CVCC engine burned less fuel and could pass American emissions tests without a catalytic converter; as a result, the car was a hit with American drivers frustrated by rising gasoline costs. The slightly larger, plusher 1976 Accord won even more fans, and in 1989 it became the most popular car in the United States. More recently, the customer base for Honda’s efficient, environmentally friendly cars has grown exponentially. Its tiny Fit car is selling well, and the company has plans to introduce a five-door hybrid model that will compete with Toyota’s Prius. Soichiro Honda was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in 1989. He died two years later at the age of 84……….50 years ago this week, the XJ6 made its public debut at the Paris Motor Show [26 September 1968]. Sir William Lyons himself

appeared in the advertisements for the car, declaring it to be the finest saloon Jaguar had ever made. The 4.2-litre automatic with power steering cost only $6,465 in the US. it had a top speed of 127mph and could accelerate from 0 to 60mph in a respectable 8.8 seconds…….. Pedro Rodriguez and Lucien Bianci won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in a Gulf Ford GT40 [29 September 1968]. The race was originally planned for June 15 and 16, but had to be delayed until September due to massive protests in France during May……..The 1969 Mercury Marquis was introduced as the new top-of-the-line series with a full range of body styles [30 September 1968]………on the same day [30 September 1968] Austin 1100 models with all-synchromesh gearbox were launched……..40 years ago this week, Car & Driver Editor Don Sherman set a Class E record of 183.904 mph at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, driving a Mazda RX7 which was the standard-bearer for the rotary engine in the U.S. market [28 September 1978]. The RX7’s unique rotary engine has two rounded “rotors” which spin

to turn the engine’s flywheel instead of the standard pistons in most internal combustion engines. Although the rotary engine was not a new concept, the Mazda RX7 was one of the first to conquer the reliability issues faced by earlier rotary engines. Light and fun to drive, with 105hp from its 1.1 liter rotary engine, the RX7 was extremely popular…….30 years ago this week, Six-time IMSA champion, Al Holbert (41) died when his privately owned propeller driven Piper PA-60 aircraft crashed shortly after takeoff near Columbus, Ohio (UK) when a clamshell door was not closed [30 September 1988]. Holbert successfully diverted his aircraft away from a group of houses it was heading toward. At the end of the season, the team was disbanded and IMSA would retire his race number 14…….20 years ago this week, Jaguar’s Heritage Museum opened [24 September 1998]. The purpose-built centre boasts a large display of Jaguars, Daimlers, Lanchesters and Swallows which date back to 1897. The museum, based at Jaguar’s Brown’s Lane site in Coventry (UK), also includes an art gallery with works relating to Jaguar’s illustrious

history……..Land Rover Discovery Series II was launched at the Paris Motor Show [29 September 1998]……..10 years ago today, Top 1 Oil Ack Attack reached the blistering speed of 360.913 mph to reclaim the absolute world speed record for motorcycles [26 September 2008]. Owned by Mike Akatiff and driven by Rocky Robinson, the 20-foot-long Ack Attack was powered by 900 hp 2600cc heavily-modded Suzuki Twin Hayabusa engines. A carbon fibre skin held in a chromoly tube frame linking the wheels, cockpit and powertrain. Mickey Thompson ultra-high-speed tyres—7” in front and 9” in back—provided the traction. Two years earlier, the Ack Attack had broken the 16-year-old record of 322.149 mph with a 342.797 run, but only held onto that one for two days before the BUB Seven stole the show.

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