9-15 October: Motoring Milestones

Momentous motoring events that took place during this week in history  …….

120 years ago this week, the editor of Autocar, Henry Sturmey, began the first Land’s End to John o’ Groats motor journey, which took 11 days to complete [9 October 1897]. The actual running time was 93.5 hours over 929 miles, to average nearly 10 mph. The car was a 4.5-bhp Coventry Daimler and the journalist described the trip as trouble-free. Clearly activities such as putting in new valves, wiring loose solid tyres back on and taking links out of the worn drive chains were just part of the sport!……Evelyn Ellis and his daughter Mary, James Critchley and Johann van Toll drove a Daimler motor car to the top of Worcestershire Beacon (1,395 ft) in the Malverns, England [12 October 1897]……. Emil Jellinek of Nice, France took delivery of a belt-driven Daimler, leading to his association with the marque and its name change to Mercedes [14 October 1897]…… 110 years ago this week, the Pierce Great Arrow won the Chicago Motor Club’s 200-Mile Economy Run, to win the Knight Trophy [10 October 1907]……. 90 years ago this week, Frank Elliott and George Scott won a $1,000 bet after arriving at Canada’s Pacific coast, having persuaded 168 passing motorists in 89 days to tow their engineless Ford Model T from their home town of Halifax, Nova Scotia, a distance of 4,759 miles – the longest tow on record [15 October 1927]……. Britain’s first Veteran Car Rally, organised by the Daily Sketch took place in London, with 43 starters. [13  October 1927]…… 80 years ago this week, Lord Nuffield (William Morris) gave £1,000,000 to Oxford University for a new College [12 October 1937].

The founder of Morris Motors Limited he also founded the Nuffield Foundation and the Nuffield Trust as well as Nuffield College, Oxford. He took his title, Lord Nuffield, from the village of Nuffield, Oxfordshire where he lived. On his death in August 1963 the ownership of his former Oxfordshire home, Nuffield Place and its contents, passed to the Nuffield College who opened it to the public on a limited basis. Although a sale had been mooted, it has now passed to the National Trust and is open to the public on a regular basis. He is also commemorated in the Morris Motors Museum at the Oxford Bus Museum. Morris also has a building named after him at Coventry University, at Guy’s Hospital London and a theatre at the University of Southampton. The baronetcy and two peerages died with him as he was childless. He was cremated, and his ashes lie in Nuffield churchyard, beside his wife’s….. On the same say [12 October 1937], Samuel Arbuckle (52), inventor of double filament headlight and tail light bulbs, died in New York City…….60 years ago this week, the Edsel Show, a one-hour TV special to promote the Ford Edsel range of cars, hosted by Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong and Rosemary Clooney was aired on CBS in the US [13 October 1957]. Ratings were enormous. But in spite of the popularity of The Edsel Show and the unprecedented publicity preceding the launch, the Ford Edsel quickly lost favour as the new model failed to live up to the hype. The styling, while unique and interesting, was not widely accepted by the masses, and the car quickly became the butt of jokes. In November 1959, Ford Motor Company discontinued the Edsel and all remaining Edsel dealerships were either shuttered or converted to sell Ford’s other brands…….the Lotus Elite (Type 14) was its highly innovative fibreglass monocoque construction, made its debut at the

1957 London Motor Show, Earls Court [15 October 1957]. The 75 hp 1.2 litre Coventry Climax all aluminium straight-four-engined Elite had spent a year in development, aided by “carefully selected racing customers”, A road car tested by The Motor magazine in 1960 had a top speed of 111.8 mph (179.9 km/h) and could accelerate from 0–60 mph (97 km/h) in 11.4 seconds. A fuel consumption of 40.5 miles per imperial gallon (6.97 L/100 km; 33.7 mpg) was recorded. The test car cost £1966 including tax…….50 years ago this week, Rootes announced its new 1725cc Sunbeam Rapier Fastback [9 October 1967]. The Rapier used the Rootes four-cylinder, five-bearing 1,725 cc (105.3 cu in) engine, which was tilted slightly to the right to enable a lower bonnet line. With its twin Stromberg 150CD carburettors the engine produced 88 hp (66 kW; 89 PS) at 5200 rpm. Overdrive was standard with the manual gearbox, and Borg-Warner automatic transmission was an optional extra. Between 1967 and 1969, the Rapier was built at Ryton-on-Dunsmore, but from 1969 until its demise in 1976, it was built at Rootes’ Hillman Imp factory at Linwood in Scotland. In all, 46,204 units were built. Maximum speed of the Rapier was 103 mph (166 km/h) and it could reach 60 mph (97 km/h) from rest in 12.8 seconds. In the United States, it was marketed as the Sunbeam Alpine GT…….. The Triumph 13/60 was launched [12 October 1967]. The 13/60 was offered in saloon, convertible and estate-bodied versions. The sun-roof remained available for the saloon as an optional extra rather than a standard feature. It was powered by a 1296 cc engine, essentially the unit employed since 1965 in the Triumph 1300, fitted with a Stromberg CD150 carburettor, offering 61 bhp (45 kW) and much improved performance. In this form (though the 1200 saloon was sold alongside it until the end of 1970) the Herald Saloon lasted until December 1970 and the Convertible and Estate until May 1971, by which time, severely outdated in style if not performance, it had already outlived the introduction of the Triumph 1300 Saloon, the car designed to replace it and was still selling reasonably well but, because of its labour-intensive method of construction, selling at a loss……. 40 years ago this week, British Leyland Chairman, Sir Richard Dobson resigned after a speech in which he referred to “bribing wogs”, was published. [9 October 1977]……Only 900 spectators watched Fireball Roberts wheel his Ford to victory in the 100-mile NASCAR Grand National race at Newberry Speedway in South Carolina, US [12 October 1977]. To this day, it remains the smallest trackside attendance in NASCAR history……. The US Supreme Court ruled that communities had a right to prevent commuters from parking in residential neighbourhoods [12 Pctober 1977[……. 30 years ago this week, the song “Here I Go Again” by English hard-rock group Whitesnake tops the Billboard pop singles chart in the United States [10 October 1987]. Today, what most people remember about the song is its racy video: The actress Tawny Kitaen spends a great deal of it in a white negligee, writhing and cartwheeling across the hoods of two Jaguars parked next to one another…… 20 years ago this week, the Alfa Romeo 156 was launched in Lisbon [20 October 1997]. The appearance of this car, a medium-sized sports saloon that encapsulated Alfa Romeo’s proud sporting and engineering heritage in a clean, stylish and obviously Italian package, set the company on a fast-track to rejuvenation. The new 156 was voted Car of the Year 1998; this award being followed by some 35 further accolades ……. Toyota launched the Prius, a hybrid-powertrain vehicle combining a 1.5-litre petrol engine with a generator that halved emissions, cut smog chemicals by up to 90% and went twice as far as a standard car on one

litre of fuel [14 October 1997].…….. Less than three weeks after breaking the elusive 700mph land-speed barrier, British fighter pilot Andy Green set a new land-speed record in the Thrust SuperSonic vehicle, jet-powering through the sound barrier along a one-mile course in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert [15 October 1997]. Coached by previous land-speed record-holder and Thrust team leader Richard Noble, Green roared across Black Rock Desert at 764.168 mph, or 1.007 percent above the speed of the sound. An hour later, Green flashed across the dusty desert floor again, moving 1.003 percent faster than the speed of sound. The second run was required before the feat could be officially entered into the record book, a requirement that may have prevented past records. In 1979, at Edwards Air Force Base, American Stan Barrett is reputed to have reached 739.666 mph, or Mach 1.0106, in a rocket-engined three-wheeled car called the Budweiser Rocket. But the speed was unsanctioned by the United States Air Force, and the official record remained unbroken until Green’s historic run. Appropriately, the first official breaking of the sound barrier by a land vehicle came on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the first supersonic flight, achieved by American pilot Chuck Yeager in 1947……. 10 years ago this week, British sportscar manufacturer, Marcos announced it would cease production and go into voluntary liquidation [9 October 2007].

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