Motoring Milestone: 13-19 December

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

230 years ago today, a traffic regulation in New York City established the first street to go in one direction only, or “One Way,” as the signs said [17 December 1791]……..90 years ago this week, Rolls-Royce acquired the much smaller rival car maker Bentley after the latter’s finances failed to weather the onset of the depression [14 December 1931]. From soon after World War II until 2002 standard Bentley and Rolls-Royce cars were often identical apart from the radiator grille and minor details……. Following successful London experiments, it was announced that traffic lights were to be installed throughout Britain [15 December 1931]…….. The 1932 Cadillacs and LaSalles were introduced at the Cadillac National Convention for dealers and sales personnel in Detroit, Michigan [17 December 1931]………80 years ago this week, the Nazi-occupation government in France ordered that all automobiles registered before December 1925 had to be destroyed to supply material for the armaments industry [14 December 1941]…….the following day [15 December 1941], the American Federation of Labor Council adopted a no-strike policy in war industries, which included car plants being converted to military production. Domestic car manufacturing stopped completely in the US from 1941 to 1944………40 years ago this week, Cornelius Cardew (47), English avant-garde composer, and founder (with Howard Skempton and Michael Parsons) of the Scratch Orchestra, an experimental performing ensemble, died the victim of a hit-and-run car accident near his London home in Leytonstone [13 December 1981]. The driver was never found……. Ford announced plans to begin production of the first propane-fuelled passenger cars in the US [17 December 1981]. The Ford Granada and Mercury Cougar were made available to fleet operators at the start of production in February, 1982, and to retail customers when the dedicated propane system joined the 1983 new car line-up the following autumn…….30 years ago this week, the last Rolls Royce Phantom VI – cover image – was completed, a Mulliner Park Ward laudaulette that was later sold to His Majesty Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, the Sultan of Brunei [17 December 1991]. Based on the Phantom V, the Phantom VI had a re-styled fascia (dashboard) and was powered by an engine derived from the current Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow. Most of the coachwork was created by Mulliner Park Ward, usually in limousines form, though a few landaulettes were made……20 years ago this week, a £2m prototype supercar was reported stolen by Allard Marx, chairman and founder of the company behind the unique Delfino Feroce after it went missing from outside a friend’s home in Fulham, west London[14 December 2001]. It was found a week later in a police compound. Mr Marx had to pay more than £200 to get the car out of the pound……… Toyota finally launched their racing car, after one of the longest development processes in Formula One history [17 December 2001]. The Japanese team had an entry for the 2001 F1 season but chose not to compete, instead spending the year setting up the team and testing the car. Panasonic Toyota Racing’s F1 car, TF102, was a successor to the team’s 2001 test car, TF101, and came with a brand new livery…… 10 years ago this week, Sweden’s Saab Automobile filed for bankruptcy, giving up a desperate struggle to stay in business after previous owner General Motors Co. blocked takeover attempts by Chinese investors [19 December 2001].

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