8-14 March: Motoring Milestones

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

120 years ago this week, fire destroyed the Olds Motor Works factory in Detroit, Michigan [9 March 1901]. According to legend Olds employee James Brady pushed a Regular Runabout, affectionately called the Curved Dash, out of the building to safety. Over the course of the previous year, Olds had developed over 11 models for cars, all of which varied greatly in price and design. He had reportedly not decided which Olds models on which to focus the company’s production capability, but, as the fire destroyed all but one prototype, fate decided that

the Runabout would be the first major production Olds. The Runabout, a small buggy with lightweight wheels and a curved dashboard powered by a one-cylinder engine, not dissimilar from today’s lawnmower engines, became the Olds Motor Company’s primary automobile. The Runabout maxed out at 20mph. Olds later viewed the fire as a miracle, a sign that the Runabout would make his fortune. He expressed his enthusiasm for the little car, “My horseless carriage is no passing fad. It never kicks, never bites, never tires on long runs, never sweats in hot weather, and doesn’t require care when not in use. It eats only when it’s on the road. And no road is too tough for the Olds Runabout.” In preparation for his success, Olds contracted other companies for parts to comprise his Runabout and, in doing so, he revolutionised the automobile industry. Previously, all cars had been built from start to finish on one site. Olds’ methods allowed for an assembly line in which parts were produced outside his factory and systematically assembled in his own factories. Among Olds subcontracted partners were the Dodge Brothers; Henry Leland, who founded Lincoln and Cadillac; and Fred Fisher, whose family produced bodies for General Motors. The Olds Runabout sold for $650………110 years ago this week, Ford Motor Co. (England) Ltd was established, Henry Ford’s first overseas company [8 March 1911]. Vehicle manufacture began later that year with the assembly of Model Ts in a former tramworks in the Manchester suburb of Trafford Park. Car bodies from an outside supplier were wheeled to the factory by handcart. By 1914, Ford was the largest vehicle producer in Europe, a position it held until the mid-1920s. company…….90 years ago this week, the Marmon-Herrington Company, Inc. was incorporated in Indiana, US [13 march 1931]. It was the successor to the Marmon Motor Car Company, a maker of automobiles from 1902 to 1933. The Marmon-Herrington Company, Inc. was an American-based manufacturer of axles and transfer cases for trucks and other vehicles, built military vehicles and some tanks during World War II, and until the late 1950s or early 1960s was a manufacturer of trucks and trolley buses. The company may be best known for its all-wheel-drive conversions to other truck maker’s units, especially to Ford ones. Based originally in Indianapolis, Indiana, with a plant in Windsor, Ontario, Marmon-Herrington is now based in Louisville, Kentucky…….70 years ago this week, three years after the launch of the pretty XK120 Roadster, Jaguar unveiled another version of its XK120, the Fixed Head Coupe at the Geneva Motor Show [8 March 951]  cover image.The new hardtop coupe featured an elegant roof section, which closely reflected the lines of the much larger Jaguar Mk VII Saloon. The XK120 Fixed Head Coupe doors carried proper wind-up windows in bright finished surrounds with small rear 1/4 windows behind them. External door handles and locks gave the Fixed Head Coupe a more civilised image than the rakish Roadster. Mechanically the car differed little from the open versions and made use of the powerful six cylinder 3442 cc, 160bhp (5000 rpm) XK engine. It was capable of 0-60 mph in 9.9 seconds…… Ak Miller, Marvin Lee, and Wally Parks created the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) in a booth in the Tam-O-Shanter restaurant in Los Angeles, California [13 March 1951]……… Plymouth introduced its XX500 prototype showcar [14 March 1951]. Designed by Virgil Exner, director of the department design of Chrysler, it was made in Italy by Ghia of Turin . With the XX-500 was inaugurated a collaboration between Chrysler and Ghia that led to the production of a number of concept cars………60 years ago this week, Fireball Roberts lapped the field twice to win the final NASCAR Grand National race at Marchbanks Speedway in Hanford, California, US [12 March 1961]. Roberts, driving the only Pontiac in the 36-car field, led all 178 laps on the 1.4-mile asphalt track. Eddie Gray finished two laps down in second place with Danny Letner three laps back in third………50 years ago this week, Maserati launched the Bora, a two-seater, mid-engined Grand Tourer at the Geneva Motor Show [11 March 1971]. Produced from 1971

to 1978, it had a top speed of 171 miles per hour (275 km/h). Classified as a supercar, it is considered by some to be the pinnacle of Maserati performance. Other vehicles unveiled at the show included the Citroen SM, Lamborghini Countach, and Monteverdi 375………30 years ago this week, the United States Grand Prix in Phoenix, the opening race of the 1991 season, saw Ayrton Senna take it to the streets in his McLaren in just over 2 hours [. He started from pole ahead of second man, Alain Prost in his Ferrari and finished ahead of the Frenchman by 16.3 seconds…….20 years ago this week, Dirk Piz (45) became the second motorcycle racing casualty in a year at Daytona International Speedway when he collided with another rider during a turn out of a straightaway [11 March 2001]….. on the same day [11 March 2001] Kevin Harvick, replacement driver for the late Dale Earnhardt, won the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway in only his third career NASCAR Winston Cup start……… Former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell was banned from driving for six weeks and fined £400 for speeding in her Aston Martin DB7 [14 March 2001]. Geri had been snapped on a speed camera doing 60mph in a 30mph zone.

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