30 September – 6 October: Motoring Milestones

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

100 years ago this week, 21-year-old Enzo Ferrari made his racing debut, finishing 11th in the Parmo-Poggia di Berceto hill climb in a Costruzioni Meccaniche Nazionali (CMN) vehicle [5 October 1919]. Ferrari became a professional driver after World War I, and joined the CMN in Milan as a test and racing-car driver in 1919. The following year, Ferrari moved to Alfa Romeo, establishing a relationship that lasted two decades and a career that took him from test driver to the director post of the Alfa Racing Division. In 1929, he founded the Scuderia Ferrari, an organization that began modestly as a racing club, but by 1933 had entirely taken over the engineering-racing division of Alfa Romeo. In 1940, Ferrari transformed the Scuderia into an independent manufacturing company, the Auto Avio Costruzioni Ferrari, but construction of the first Ferrari vehicle was delayed until the end of World War II. In 1947, the Ferrari 125S was introduced to the racing world, and it won the prestigious Coppa Enrico Faini in the same year. Thus began an impressive 40 years of racing success under the leadership of Enzo Ferrari, a tradition that saw Ferrari vehicles earn more than25 world titles, and win over 5,000 events at race tracks around the world…………90 years ago this week, the 1930 Nash Motor Company’s model range were introduced, including the new top-of-the-line Series 490 [1 October 1929]. It was powered by the company’s first eight-cylinder motor, a twin-ignition eight, that developed 100 hp. The wheelbase of the senior series Nash automobiles was lengthened to 124 and 133 inches making them the largest Nash’s built to date. Standard equipment included: automatic radiator shutters, central lubrication system, electric clock, safety glass, an oil filter and an automatic fan clutch. Optional equipment on the car included dual side-mounted spares, 6.50 x 19 wire wheels and a rear-mounted trunk……..Peugeot unveiled the car which quickly became known simply as the 201, at the Paris Show, under the name 6 hp Type 201 [3 October 1929]. It was the first Peugeot car to have an ‘0’ in the middle of its name – a policy still followed today. Peugeot registered a trademark based on having 3 digits with a central zero……..80 years ago this week, the Lincoln Continental
was introduced [3 October 1939]. The first Lincoln Continental was developed as Edsel Ford’s one-off personal vehicle, though it is believed he planned all along to put the model into production if successful……..70 years ago this week, the seventh race of the inaugural NASCAR Strictly Stock season was held at Heidelberg Raceway, near Pittsburgh (US) [2 October 1949]. Al Bonnell won the pole.In the first Strictly Stock event in Charlotte in June, Lee Petty entered a bulky Buick Roadmaster. The enormous automobile was fast on the straights, but it wobbled like a tank through the turns. Just past the halfway point, petty rolled the Buick a number of times. After dismounting the mangled mass of metal, the North Carolina speedster vowed never to drive a heavy vehicle in competition again. In the 100-mile event at Heidelberg Speedway, Petty driving his number 42 lightweight Plymouth, was five full laps ahead of his nearest competitor. “We figured the lighter car would get through the turns better,” said Petty. “It would also be easier on the suspension parts.We knew we could win one with the Plymouth.” The big triumph at Heidelberg was the largest winning margin of any NASCAR Strictly Stock race in 1949. Dick Linder’s Kaiser finished second, but was in no position to challenge the fleet Petty. Bill Rexford finished third, Sam Rice’s Chevrolet was fourth with relief driver Glenn Dunnanway at the helm. Fifth place went to Sara Christian, the first time a female driver has cracked the top five in a premier NASCAR event. She was 10 laps off the pace in her 1949 Ford. Al Bonnell, a driver of open wheel fame, qualified for the pole with a speed of 61.475 mph. However, Bonnell’s Olds was the first car out of the race, and we placed at the end of the 23 car field in the final rundown. Bonnell then relieved Don Rogalla and carried his Ford to 10th and the finish. Petty averaged 57.458 mph……..The first Ferrari grand tourer car (166 Inter), an elegant coupe designed by Carrozzeria Touring of Milan debuted at the Paris Motor Show. Customer sales soon started, with 166 Inter models becoming the first Ferraris to be purchased for the road rather than the race track. As was typical at the time, a bare chassis was delivered to the coachbuilder of the customer’s choice……..The first Ferrari grand tourer car (166 Inter), an elegant coupe designed by Carrozzeria Touring of Milan debuted at the Paris Motor Show [6 October 1949]. Customer sales soon started, with 166 Inter models becoming the first Ferraris to be purchased for the road rather than the race track. As was typical at the time, a bare chassis was delivered to the coachbuilder of the customer’s choice. Why not rent Ferrari and discover the joys driving one of the world’s most popular marques for yourself……..60 years ago this week, US actress Jayne Mansfield clutching a pair of gold scissors opened the Chiswick flyover – a short elevated section of the M4 motorway in west London [30

September 1959]. Wearing a skintight crimson dress this ‘blond temptress’ had driven down from MGM Studios in Boreham Wood where she making “Too Hot to Handle” with Christopher Lee and Leo Genn. To a chorus of wolf whistles from the gathered workmen Miss Mansfield cut the official red ribbon, patted ‘Humble’ engineer of the flyover, Mr J. E Dayton’s 7 year old bulldog on the head -“Sweet!” she said – and then clambered into a car described in one report as a ‘beat up old crock’ for a brief tour of the concrete megalith. The Chiswick Flyover was officially open! Letters to the Brentford and Chiswick Times published on October 2nd criticized the use of an American film star. “Surely a suitable British one would have been more appropriate for the opening of this wonderful piece of British engineering” was the general drift of complaint. Mr. J. E Dayton replied in the same edition that his company had approached both Donald Campbell and Stirling Moss, celebrities as stiff upper lipped and ‘appropriate’ as they come, but they were unavailable. “We felt… that 30 months work and the completion of Britain’s first flyover deserved a little celebration”, he explained. “We could see no reason why any politician or fuddy-duddy should be invited. We feel that Miss Mansfield did a first-class job in a very charming manner”…which was one in the eye for politicians and fuddy duddies like Messrs Adams and Watkinson. David Webster , the MP for Weston Super Mere agreed with him. In Parliament on 3rd Nov. 1959 he said… “I welcome … all that is being done in the development of transport and the building of roads…It is, I consider, altogether a good thing that Miss Jayne Mansfield opened the Chiswick flyover. It gave the occasion a bit of publicity and introduced a controversial note.”….on the same day [30 September 1959], the Ford Motor Company announced plans to produce the compact ‘Comet’………General Motors stylists began developing the XP-727, a clay mock-up that would evolve into the front wheel drive 1967 Cadillac Eldorado sport coupe [1 Ocober 1959]……..Chevrolet debuted the Corvair [2 October 1959]. The 1960 Corvair 569 and 769 series four-door saloons were conceived as thrift cars offering few amenities in order to keep the price competitive, with the 500 (standard model) selling for under $2,000. Powered by the Turbo Air 6 engine 80 hp (60 kW; 81 PS) and three-speed manual or optional extra cost two-speed Powerglide automatic transmission, the Corvair was designed to have comparable acceleration to the six-cylinder full-size Chevrolet Biscayne. The Corvair’s unique design included the “Quadri-Flex” independent suspension and “Unipack Power Team” of engine, transmission and rear axle combined into a single unit. Similar to designs of European cars such as Porsche, Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz and others, quadri-flex used coil springs at all four wheels with independent rear suspension arms incorporated at the rear. Specially designed 6.5 in by 13 in. 4-ply tyres mounted on 13 inch wheels with 5.5 in. width were standard equipment. Available options included RPO 360, the Powerglide two-speed automatic transmission ($146), RPO 118, a Gasoline Heater ($74), RPO 119, an AM tube radio ($54), and by February 1960 the rear folding seat (formerly $32) was standard. Chevrolet produced 47,683 of the 569 model and 139,208 769 model deluxe sedans in 1960………. The Jaguar Mark 2 saloon was introduced [2 October 1959]. The Mk2 of 1959 was a logical development to the original sports saloon, which then became known as the Mk1. While the shell was basically the same, clever refreshing by William Lyons with a broader grille, re-contoured rear end and more glass area modernised the looks, which still delight to this day. Inside the instruments were sited in front of the driver, there were new seats (with those famous picnic tables), a better heater (well, sort of) and a raft of other improvements. Mechanically, the biggest change was to the rear suspension where a wider track went a long way to counter the skittish behaviour of the original while it’s often forgotten that the front end used re-angled wishbones at the same time to further tighten handling. The 2.4 and 3.4 models were quickly joined in 1960 with the now iconic 3.8-litre model, using the legendary engine that was to soon feature in the E-Type, albeit in lower 220bhp tune for the saloon. But the car did have a limited slip diff plus the option of a higher-geared power steering system. The Mark 2 gained a reputation as a capable car among criminals and law enforcement alike; the 3.8 Litre model being particularly fast with its 220 bhp (164 kW) engine driving the car from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 8.5 seconds and to a top speed of 125 mph (201 km/h) with enough room for five adults. Popular as getaway cars, they were also employed by the police to patrol British motorways. The Mark 2 is also well known as the car driven by fictional TV detective Inspector Morse played by John Thaw; Morse’s car was the version with 2.4 L engine, steel wheels and Everflex vinyl roof. In November 2005, the car used in the television series sold for more than £100,000 following a total ground-up rebuild (prior to this, in its recommissioned state in 2002 after coming out of storage, it had made £53,000 at auction – £45,000 more than an equivalent without the history). In the original novels by Colin Dexter, Morse had driven a Lancia but Thaw insisted on his character driving a British car in the television series………Mickey Thompson, driving the Challenger I, set a land speed record for automobile engine-powered vehicles of 363.67 mph [6 October 1959]……50 years ago this week, and Morris 1300GT were both launched (OTR £910) in Britain [1 October 1969]……..The Renault 12 was officially launched in Paris [2 October 1969]. It was initially only available as a four-door

saloon, in L and TL specifications, both of which were powered by a 1289cc engine rated at 40kW. The more expensive TL featured two separate reclining front seats instead of one front bench seat, armrests on the doors, lights in the boot and glovebox, a heated rear window, and extra warning lights…….Jochen Rindt, driving a Lotus 49B-Ford, won his first Grand Prix, the US Grand Prix at Watkins Glen, New York [5 October 1969]…….40 years ago this week, Alan Jones in a Williams recorded his fourth win in five races at the Canadian Grand Prix, successfully fighting off a determined challenge from Gilles Villenenuve in a Ferrari [30 September 1979]. Jones said afterwards his strategy was to let Villenenuve set the pace and then challenge “if everything felt OK with my car”. On the 44th lap Jones outbraked Villeneuve at a hairpin and was never headed. Only ten of the 24 starters completed a race in which Ricardo Zunino made an unexpected debut after Niki Lauda had suddenly retired on the Friday…….Rear fog lamps become mandatory in Britain for most vehicles manufactured after this day and used from 1 April 1980 [1 October 1979]………30 years ago this week, a new accompanied motorcycle test was introduced in Britain [1 October 1989]. Prompted by alarming accident figures, the old-style ‘part 2’ motorcycle test, where the examiner stood by the roadside, was replaced by the new, more demanding ‘pursuit test’. The examiner now followed the candidate on a motorcycle and maintained radio contact during the test……..meanwhile, on the same day [1 October 1989],  Dick Johnson and John Bowe drove a Ford Sierra to victory in the Toohey’s 1000 at Mount Panorama in Bathurst, New South Wales, Australia…….A flag-to-flag victory for Ayrton Senna in a McLaren at the Spanish Grand Prix only came after he held of a determined challenge from the Ferrari of Gerhard Berger. Alain Prost, who took third, still held a commanding lead in the drivers’ championship, but team-mate Senna’s victory kept him in the hunt [1 October 1989]. “It was Mission Impossible,” Prost said. “I just sat back and drove my taxi home for third place.”…….20 years ago this week, using its famed muscle cars, interactive exhibits and a head-turning concept car tower, DaimlerChrysler unveiled its American heritage to the world at the opening of the Walter P. Chrysler Museum in Auburn Hills, Michigan (US) [5 October 1999]. A 125-seat theatre featured three brief films: The Early Years: The Life and Times of Walter P. Chrysler; Speed And Power: Chrysler’s Cars Burn Up Road And Track, Inside the Tech Center: Tour the DaimlerChrysler Technology Center. The museum received an average of 90,000 visitors annually and was profitable initially. However, the facility lost nearly $1.5 million from 2010 to 2011, and it closed to the public due to low attendance on December 31, 2012………10 years ago this week, the Penske Automotive Group Inc. announced it was walking away from a deal to acquire the Saturn brand from General Motors, after being unable to find a manufacturer to make Saturn cars when General Motors stops producing models at the end of 2011 [30 September 2009]. The brand was set up in 1990 to fight growing Japanese imports.

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