5-11 October: Motoring Milestone

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

120 years ago this week, the prototype Black steamer was taken for its first test drive in West Chester, Pennsylvania, US by designer Stephen C Black [5 October 1900]……. 110 years ago this week, Len Zengle, driving a Chadwick, won the 200-mile Founders’s Day Cup Race at Fairmount Park in Philadelphia, US, the first race won by a car with a supercharged engine [8 October 1910]……. 100 years ago this week, the Ministry of Transport announced that compulsory hand signals would be introduced for all drivers [10 October 1920]. To signal a turn or a slowing-down, the driver had to project his arm horizontally in the manner proscribed from the right-hand side of the vehicle. The outstretched arm moved from side to side indicated ‘Stop’…… 90 years ago this week, Vauxhall announced an entirely new model, the Cadet VY, the first car in Europe with a full synchromesh gearbox [6 October 1930]. The first Vauxhall priced below £300, it was intended to supplement the existing 24 h.p. 20-60 thereafter to be known as the Vauxhall Eighty. When exported it was usually supplied with a 27 h.p. engine and named VX…… 80 years ago this week, the 1941 DeSotos were introduced, featuring an optional ‘Simplimatic’ semi-automatic transmission [8 October 1940]……70 years ago this week, at the Paris Motor Show, the Citroen 2CV Fourgonnette (AU), was premiered prior to the start of production in March 1951 [5 October 1950]. It offered a 250 kg payload and a 375 cc engine developing 9 bhp at 3,500 rpm. The van capable of 35 mph, consumed 55 miles per gallon. Between February 1951 and March 1978, 1,246,306 examples were made. Demand was so great that there was a six-year waiting list for delivery……60 years ago this week, the television program Route 66, aired its first episode, relating the roadside adventures of Buz and Tod as they cruised Route 66 in Tod’s Corvette [7 October 1960]. Americans tuned into the popular program for four years, continuing their love affair with their nation’s most celebrated Federal highway. Immortalized in John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath as the “Mother Road,” Route 66 was a symbol of opportunity, serving as an escape route from the misery of the Depression-

era Dust Bowl. Its two lanes wove in and out of Middle America, connecting hundreds of rural communities to the cities of Chicago and Los Angeles. And above all, it symbolized the open road and Americana, complete with auto camps, motels, and roadside attractions. By 1970, nearly all segments of the original Route 66 were replaced by modern four-lane interstates, and in 1985 it was officially decommissioned. But you can still find many sections designated as Historic Route 66 and enjoy some of this famous part of America……..the Sheffield Tramway closed [8 October 1960], leaving Blackpool as the only place in England with electric trams. The late Rolling Stones guitarist, Brian Jones, as a young man was among those who made the pilgrimage to the city to see the end of an era. Since 1873 they had given faithful service, condemned to under investment and making do by two world wars.Ironically the last city to say goodbye was among the first to welcome trams back. The 29 kilometre Supertram network was opened in 1994 and the last part was completed in 1995, Initially, the people of Sheffield were reluctant to have them back and the system struggled with poor riding numbers against a chorus of negative headlines.But now it carries 15 million passengers a year and there are hopes of expansion. It could also take part in an innovative Tram……40 years ago this week, Dale Earnhardt held off Cale Yarborough down the stretch to win the National 500, scoring his first Charlotte Motor Speedway (North Carolina, US victory [5 October 1980]. Earnhardt, who led 148 of 334 laps in a Rod Osterlund-owned Chevrolet, finished 1.83 seconds ahead of Yarborough at the 1.5-mile track near his hometown of Kannapolis, North Carolina, US. Pole-starter Buddy Baker finished third with Ricky Rudd fourth as the last driver on the lead lap…….British Leyland launched the Mini Metro (cover image), designed to be a slightly bigger and more modern alternative to the Mini [8 October 1980]. Yet many of the Mini’s features were carried over into the Metro, namely the 998 cc and 1275 cc A-Series engines, much of the front-wheel drivetrain and four-speed manual gearbox, and suspension subframes. The Metro used the Hydragas suspension system found on the Allegro. The hatchback body shell was one of the most spacious of its time and this was a significant factor in its popularity. Initially, the Metro was sold as a three-door hatchback. For a brief period, 1980-1982, the Metro was seen as a desirable, even groundbreaking supermini. Sadly its reputation was tarnished by the high level of warranty claims due to quality control problems that should never have occurred in a car whose running gear dated, essentially, to the Fifties……30 years ago this week, Barrie James Wilson (43), drummer with Procol Harlem, died after months in a coma following a car accident [7 October 1990]……. 20 years ago this week, the United Automobile Workers and Ford Motor Company reached a tentative agreement on a new contract, hours after a handful of workers walked off the job when a strike deadline passed [9 October 2000] and n the same day, the Series 2 Lotus Elise, a redesigned Series 1 using a slightly modified version of the Series 1 chassis and the same K-series engine with a brand new Lotus-developed engine control unit, was unveiled.

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