4-10 November: Motoring Milestones

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

150 years ago this week, the Holborn Viaduct in the City of London was opened by Queen Victoria [6 November 1869]. It links Holborn, via Holborn Circus, with Newgate Street, in the City of London financial district, passing over Farringdon Street and the subterranean River Fleet. The viaduct spans the steep-sided Holborn Hill and the River Fleet valley at a length of 1,400 feet (430 m) and 80 feet (24 m) wide. City surveyor William Haywood was the architect and the engineer was Rowland Mason Ordish. It was built between 1863 and 1869, as a part of the Holborn Valley Improvements, which included a public works scheme which, at a cost of over £2 million (over £167 million in 2015), improved access into the City from the West End, with better traffic flow and distribution around the new Holborn Circus, the creation of Queen Victoria Street, the rebuilding of Blackfriars Bridge, the opening of the Embankment section into the City, the continuation of Farringdon Street as Farringdon Road and associated railway routes with Farringdon station and Ludgate Hill station. It was opened by Queen Victoria at the same time as the inauguration of the other thoroughfares with a formal coach drive procession. The viaduct effected a more level approach on the crossing of this section of the Holborn/Fleet valley from east to west, across Farringdon Street……..120 years ago this week, William Collins Whitney and Col. Albert A Pope reached an agreement with George B Selden to manufacture automobiles using the Selden patent with royalties of $15 per vehicle (minimum $5000 per year) [4 November 1899]………Only three months after work on his first automobile began, the first Packard was completed and test-driven through the streets of Warren, Ohio, US [6 November 1899]. James Ward Packard was an electrical-wire and incandescent carbon arc lamp manufacturer and a 1884 graduate of Lehigh University. He first demonstrated his interest in automobiles when he hired Edward P. Cowles and Henry A. Schryver to work on plans for a possible Packard automobile in 1896. Although a functional engine was completed in 1897, it would take another two years, and James Packard’s purchase of a Winton horseless carriage, before his company fully flung itself into the burgeoning automobile industry. In 1898, James Packard purchased an automobile constructed by fellow Ohio manufacturer Alexander Winston, and Packard, a first-time car owner, experienced problems with his purchase from the start. Finally, in June of 1899, after nearly a year of repairing and improving the Winston automobile on his own, Packard decided to launch the Packard Motor Company leading to the road test on this date. The Model A featured a one-cylinder engine capable of producing 12hp. Built around the engine was a single-seat buggy with wire wheels, a steering tiller, an automatic spark advance, and a chain drive. Within only two months, the Packard Company sold its fifth Model A prototype to Warren resident George Kirkham for $1,250. By the 1920s, Packard was a major producer of luxury automobiles, and this prosperity would continue well into the late 1950s………110 years ago this week, Joe Nikrent drove a Buick to victory in the Los Angeles-to-Phoenix road race. Nikrent covered the 480 miles in 19 hours and 13 minutes at an average speed of 24.98 mph [7 November 1909]……..on the same day [6 November 1909], Victor Héméry set a new speed record at the Brooklands circuit of 202.691 km/h (125.946 mph) driving the famous 200hp “Blitzen Benz” (Lightning Benz)……..80 years ago week, the Packard Motor Company exhibited the first air-conditioned car at the Automobile Show in Chicago, Illinois, US [4 November 1939]. The “Weather Conditioner” was a $279 option that required the Packard One-Eighty to visit a second factory for installation, since the unit connected to the engine and took up half the trunk space; Packard pitched it as not just for comfort but privacy, since riders could finally arrive without having the windows down. Air in the car was cooled, dehumidified, filtered and recirculated, and heat was provided for use in the winter. Refrigerating coils were located behind the rear seats in an air duct, with heating coils in another compartment of the same duct. The capacity of the unit was equivalent to 1.5 tons of ice in 24 hours when the car was driven at 60 mph. The huge evaporator left little room for luggage in the trunk, and the only way to shut it off was to stop, raise the hood, and remove the compressor belt. The option didn’t sell well (there was no way to moderate the air from the unit) and Packard dropped it after 1942………70 years ago this week, Rex Mays (36), AAA Championship Car driver was killed in a crash during the only Champ Car race held at Del Mar Fairgrounds race track in Del Mar, California, US [6 November 1949]. Mays swerved to miss a car that had crashed in front of him. The car went out of control and flipped, throwing Mays to the track surface, where he was hit by a trailing car………60 years ago this week, a sit-down strike was held at the Rover car plant after a shop steward was refused permission to take his private car to be serviced in firm’s time [4 November 1959]. The strike ended two days later…….the following day [5 November 1959], one of the two founders of telecommunications company Motorola and inventor of the first car stereo, Paul Voncent Galvin (64),

died…….Two lorry drivers died in the first fatal crash on the recently opened M1 in England [6 November 1959]……….50 years ago this week, the 250,000th Corvette (a Riverside Gold convertible) rolled off the assembly line [7 November 1969]……….New Zealander Bruce McLaren drove his McLaren M8B-Chevrolet to victory in the final Can-Am race of the year, in College Station, Texas, to clinch the Drivers Championship [9 November 1969]. Amazingly, the McLaren team won all 11 races that season……..30 years ago this week, on a rainy day in Adelaide the Australian Grand Prix was stopped after only one lap due to excessive rain [5 November 1989]. On the restart, Ayrton Senna led the field from pole, but retired after 13 laps. His buddy Thierry Boutsen gained the lead after starting 3rd on the grid and scored his second Grand Prix win. Boutsen had earned his first win in Canada earlier that season………20 years ago this week, Claude Ballot-Lena (63) died from cancer [9 November 1999]. He won the 1984 24 Hours of Daytona and 24 Hours of Spa and was one of the first Europeans to race in the NASCAR Winston Cup series…….The £140,000 plus 5.9-litre Bristol Blenheim 3 (cover image) was introduced [10 November 1999]. Like its predecessor, it was available in various states of tune, to customer requirements……..10 years ago this week, it was revealed the 20 top Formula One drivers pocketed $134.8 million even though four of them went unpaid, and that did not include sponsor income [4 November 2009]. According to Tom Rubython of Sports Pro magazine, Jenson Button might have been forgiven for feeling a little hard done by though. He took home $5 million, taking a pay cut to help his Brawn team make it to the grid, while his Ferrari rival Kimi Raikkonen made $45 million.

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