26 February – 4 March: Motoring Milestones

Discover the momentous motoring events that have taken place this week in history …….

100 years ago this week, the Fruehauf Trailer Company was incorporated in Michigan by company founder August Charles Fruehauf [27 February 1918]. A blacksmith and carriage builder in the Detroit area, he built a boat trailer at the request of a merchant in 1914 who subsequently asked Fruehauf to build additional trailers to haul lumber and wood products. The company was acquired via assets-in-bankruptcy by the Wabash National Corporation in 1997……. 90 years ago this week, the  (cover image) was introduced [1 March 1928]……. 70 years ago this week, the US Federal Trade Commission issued a restraining order, preventing the Willys-Overland Company from stating that it had developed the Jeep. Willys-Overland did end up producing the Army vehicle that would come to be known as the Jeep; but it was the Bantam Motor Company that first presented the innovative design to the Army [27 February 1948]…….60 years ago this week, one of worst bus accidents in US history occurred after a school bus plunged into a river after a

collision in wet weather near Prestonsburg, Kentucky [28 February 1958]. A Floyd County school bus loaded with 46 elementary and high school students bound for school at Prestonsburg on U.S. Route 23 struck the rear of a wrecker truck and plunged down an embankment and into the swollen waters of the Levisa Fork of the Big Sandy River, where it was swept downstream and submerged. Sixteen children escaped from the bus in the first few minutes as it became fully submerged in the raging flood waters and made it safely out of the river. However, 26 other children and the bus driver drowned. The bus was finally located by divers, and removed from the river 53 hours later……provisional British driving licences became valid for 6 months [1 March 1958]…….Four days after the race [2 March 1958], Lee Petty was declared the winner of the 100-mile NASCAR Grand National at Concord Speedway despite protests from Curtis Turner and Speedy Thompson, the apparent top two finishers. Scorecard data indicated that Petty finished the 200 laps first although Turner started on the pole and led the entire ­distance……The first Subaru , the Subaru 360 was launched [3 March 1958]. At that

time, Japanese automobile manufacturers were working on developing small cars according to a plan calling for the production of a “people’s car” as advocated by Japan’s Ministry of International Trade and Industry. The Subaru 360 was developed in line with this concept. In those days, passenger cars were too expensive to be within the reach of most people. Building a small, affordable car that could perform well proved to be technologically tough, and many manufacturers were reluctant to tackle the problem. However, with its roots in aircraft manufacturing, the Company took up the challenge backed by its pride and prodigious technological strength. It beat the other manufacturers in developing a four-passenger, four-wheel minicar, the Subaru 360, which became a milestone in the history of Japan’s automobile industry. Because of its ladybug shape, the Subaru 360 was affectionately referred to as the Ladybird. For 11 years after its debut, the Subaru 360 enjoyed tremendous popularity. It finally went out of production in May 1970…….50 years ago this week, the first bus lane in London (UK) was put into service on Vauxhall Bridge [26 February 1968]…….England’s Piers Courage splashed to victory in the rainy final round of the Tasman Cup series, held on the public road Longford circuit in Tasmania [4 March 1968]. Jim Clark finished 5th, two spots ahead of title rival Chris Amon, and won the Tasman Cup championship, his 2nd straight and 3rd of his career. Clark won the pole, turning a record lap of 122 mph over the fast, tricky 4.47 mile circuit. For winning the pole, Clark received 100 bottles of champagne from a local vineyard. Rain delayed the start of the race almost two hours and the distance was shortened from 28 laps to 15…….40 years ago this week, the Renault 18 and Toyota Starlet were launched

at the Geneva Motor Show [2 March 1978]…… Ronnie Peterson won the South African Grand Prix from 11th on the grid in his Lotus, ahead of Patrick Depailler in a Tyrrell and John Watson in his Brabham [4 March 1978]. Mario Andretti set the fastest lap of the race but finished one lap down in seventh. Lauda was on pole for that race, but his engine expired 53 laps in…… 30 years ago this week, Pontiac announced the end of the Fiero automobile [1 March 1988]…. On the same day [1 March 1988] the UK Government announced that British Aerospace (BAe) was negotiating to buy the Rover Group. The price was subsequently agreed at £150 million. But, approval for the deal had to be sought from the European Commission and although this was obtained, BAe was later required by the European Court to repay £48 million of illegal ‘sweeteners’…… 20 years ago this week, Ford employees earned record profit sharing averaging $4,400 [4 March 1998]……. 10 years ago this week, the classic car auction held at The Centaur Complex at Cheltenham Racecourse (UK), grossed in excess of £1,500,000 [26 February 2008]. Two red Jaguar E-types sold well with a beautifully restored 1962 3.8 litre Series 1 ‘Flat Floor’ Fixed Head Coupe making £38,500 and the 18,000 miles from new 1973 5.3 litre Series 3 Roadster fetching £37,400. A rare right-hand drive 1967 Ferrari 330 GTC exceeded its top estimate at £110,000. Among the road-going rarities, the right-hand drive 1960 Facel Vega HK500 took £34,925, the 1961 / 1962 Lazenby ‘Lotus 17’ Special £26,000 and the 1939 Raymond Mays Special Tourer £23,100….. On the same day [26 February 2008], production of the all-new Ford Kuga, Ford of Europe’s first entry into the highly competitive crossover market began at the Ford plant in Saarlouis, Germany……. Boyd Coddington (63), hot rod designer, the owner of the Boyd Coddington Hot Rod Shop and star of American Hot Rod on TLC, died in southern California, US [27 February 2008].

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