7 – 13 November: Motoring Milestones

Cars, people and events in this week’s Motoring Milestones include: Hillman Hunter, Oakland Bat Bridge, US Route 66, first drive-in bank, and Spaghetti junction.

120 years ago this week, the Arnold prototype, a German-made Benz with an engine designed by William Arnold, made its initial test run from East Peckham, Kent, England to Bromley and return [13 November 1896]…… 100 years ago this week, the International Motor Company was reorganised as the International Motor Truck Corporation. Their principal business was the manufacture of Mack trucks [8 November 1916]….. The 20-year-old Errett Lobban Cord, the genius behind the Auburn, Cord, and Duesenberg family of automobiles won his first motor race in Arizona driving a Paige [13 November 1916]. From his racing beginnings, Cord moved into automobile sales, and in 1924 joined the faltering Auburn Automobile Company. A brilliant salesman, he rapidly pulled the company out of debt and was subsequently named the vice president and general manager at Auburn. Under Cord’s guidance, the Auburn line was entirely refashioned, and the new Auburns were known as some of the most luxurious and fashionable cars on the road. In 1926, Cord acquired the design skills of Fred Duesenberg, and in 1928, the Duesenberg Model J, one of the finest automobiles ever made, was introduced to the public…… 90 years ago this week, US Route 66 was established, although signs did not go up until the following year. It originally ran from Chicago, Illinois through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California before ending at the beach at Santa Monica for a total distance of 2,448 miles (3,940 km) [11 November 1926]…… 80 years ago this week, the Ford Prefect was on sale at £275 and the Ford Anglia at £229 [7 November 1936]….. Rudolf Caracciola established a series speed records driving a 5.6-litre Mercede-Benz on a stretch of autobahn between Frankfurt and Heidelberg [11 November 1936]. After 4 test runs Caracciola bettered the world record for 10 miles {207.218 mph (333.485 km/h) [2 min 53.73 s]} and took two class B records on the shorter distances at the same time {5 Miles: 209.302 mph (336.839 km/h) [1 min 26.00 s] and10 km: 206.226 mph (331.889 km/h) [1 min 48.47 s]}…… Oakland Bay Bridge, crossing San Francisco Bay was officially opened [12 November 1936]. Among those in attendance were former U.S. president Herbert Hoover, Senator William G. McAdoo, and the Governor of California, Frank Merriam. Governor Merriam officially opened the bridge by cutting gold chains across the traffic lanes with an acetylene cutting torch. The San Francisco Chronicle report of November 13, 1936, read: “the greatest traffic jam in the history of S.F., a dozen old-fashioned New Year’s eves thrown into one – the biggest and most good-natured crowd of tens of thousands ever to try and walk the streets and guide their autos on them – This was the city last night, the night of the bridge opening with every auto owner in the bay region, seemingly, trying to crowd his machine onto the great bridge. And those who tried to view the brilliantly lighted structure from the hilltops and also view the fireworks display were numbered also in the thousands. Every intersection in the city, particularly those near the San Francisco entrance to the bridge, was jammed with a slowly moving auto caravan. Every available policeman in the department was called to duty to aid in regulating the city’s greatest parade of autos. One of the greatest traffic congestions of the evening was at Fifth and Mission Streets, with downtown traffic and bridge-bound traffic snarled in an almost hopeless mass. To add to the confusion, traffic signals jammed and did not synchronize. Police reported that there was no lessening of the traffic over the bridge, all lanes being crowded with Oakland- or San-Francisco-bound machines far into the night.”….. 75 years ago this week, at 3am drivers in Budapest switched to driving on the right. Bizarrely the rest of Hungary had changed at 3am on 6 July 1941 [9 November 1941]…. 70 years ago this week, the Exchange National Bank of Chicago, Illinois, instituted the first drive-in banking service in America, and anticipated a

cultural phenomenon that would sweep across America in the coming decade [12 November 1946]. By the early 1950s, the U.S. was a nation on wheels. With a seemingly endless reserve of cheap gas available, drive-in culture–featuring everything from drive-in movie theaters to drive-in grocery stores–flourished alongside America’s highways and main streets. In 1946, the Exchange National Bank of Chicago anticipated the rise of America’s drive-in society by several years, featuring such drive-in banking innovations as tellers’ windows protected by heavy bullet-proof glass, and sliding drawers that enabled drivers to conduct their business from the comfort of their vehicle…… 60 years ago this week, the 9 millionth Buick was produced [7 November 1936]….. The Ford Motor Company decided on the name “Edsel” for a new model, designed by Roy Brown, who had been instructed to create an automobile that was highly recognisable, and from every angle different than anything else on the road [8 November 1936]. In the autumn of 1957, with great fanfare, the 1958 Edsel was introduced to the public. With its horse collar grill in the front and its regressed side-panels in the rear, the Edsel indeed looked like nothing else on the road. However, despite its appearance, the Ford Edsel was a high-tech affair, featuring state-of-the-art innovations such as the “Tele-Touch” push-button automatic transmission. Nevertheless, buyer appeal was low, and the Ford Edsel earned just a 1.5% share of the market in 1958. After two more years, the Edsel marque was abandoned, and its name would forever be synonymous with business failure… 50 years ago this week, Rootes introduced the £838 Hillman Hunter. In its 13-year production run, its UK market contemporaries included the Ford Cortina, Morris Marina and Vauxhall Victor [9 November 1966]. The Hunter was rebadged as Chrysler from 1967 until Chrysler sold its European division to Peugeot, whereupon Hunter production was shelved….. British driver John Surtees won the final race of the inaugural Can-Am season, in the Las Vegas Valley in Nevada, driving a Chevrolet-powered Lola T70, to become the series’ first champion [13 November 1966]…… 45 years ago this week, the 10-route Spaghetti Junction motorway interchange was opened north of Birmingham city centre, incorporating the A38 (M) (Aston Expressway) and the southern section of the M6 motorway [10 November 1971]. The interchange would have a total of 12 routes when the final stretch of the M6 was opened the following year…… 40 years ago this week, Gottfried von Cramm (67), German amateur tennis champion and three time Wimbeldon finalist died. While on a business trip, Von Cramm and his driver were killed in an automobile accident near Cairo, Egypt in 1976 when the baron’s car collided with a truck [8 November 1976]. In his honor, the Gottfried-von-Cramm-Weg in Berlin-Wilmersdorf, site of the Rot-Weiss Tennis Club, was given his name…. Billy Arnold (70), winner of the 1930 Indianapolis 500 in which he became the first winner to average better than 100 mph while driving without a relief, died [11 November 1976]. His winning margin was 7 minutes and 17 seconds. He was 24 years old at the time. In 1931 he led 155 laps but crashed on lap 162 while holding a five-lap lead, becoming seriously injured along with his riding mechanic Spider Matlock. A tire came off the car, bounced over the fence and killed a young boy playing in his front yard outside the track. In 1932 Arnold led 57 laps before crashing on lap 59. He suffered a broken shoulder and riding mechanic Matlock suffered a broken pelvis…… 25 years ago this week, Max Mosley, Bernie Ecclestone, and the rest of the FIA’s Sportscar Commission met in a hotel at Heathrow Airport in London, England [11 November 1991]. When the meeting ends, the Sportscar World Championship was ended. Later, lobbying by Peugeot kept it active for one more year….. 20 years ago this week, Michael Schumacher signed a contract extension of two years to remain with Ferrari until the end of the 1999 World Championship in a deal believed to be worth in excess of $25m a year [11 November 1986]. Schumacher, however, will gain a great deal more money through his Schumacher Collection merchandising operation and from endorsements….. 15 years ago this week, Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. agreed to pay $41.5 million to head off lawsuits by states over defective

tyres [7 November 2001]….10 years ago this week, Bristol announced the Bristol Fighter T, an 8.0-litre production car with an engine capable of 1,012 hp. The £350,000 Bristol Fighter T had a theoretical top speed of 270mph [8 November 2006].

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