Motoring Milestones: 6-12 December

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

140 years ago this week, Vincent Hugo Bendix, the American inventor and industrialist who founded the Bendix Corporation of Chicago in 1907 to manufacture Bendix Buggies, was born [12 December 1881]. The company failed two years later after producing 7000 vehicles, but in 1910, Bendix invented and patented the Bendix drive, that allowed the development of practical starter motors for internal combustion engines. The device allows the pinion gear of the starter motor to engage or disengage the flywheel of the engine automatically when the starter is powered or when the engine fires, respectively…….100 years ago this week, Citroën presented the second model in its range: the B2 (cover image) – a more powerful and advanced version of the Type A [7 December 1921]. It was the second European car to have been constructed according to modern mass production technologies. The new car offered more power, the size of its 4-cylinder engine now being increased to 1,452 cc. The car was sometimes known as the Citroën 10HP (or 10CV), the HP in the suffix being a reference to its fiscal horsepower, a number computed according to the cylinder diameters and used to define its taxation class. In terms of engine power, maximum output was listed as 20 bhp at 2,100 rpm, which translated into a claimed top speed of 72 km/h (45 mph). Power reached the rear wheels via a three speed manual transmission: there was no synchromesh. Advertised fuel consumption of 8 litres per 100 km converts into a remarkable 26 MPG (using US gallons) or more than 31 MPG (British gallons). The car quickly gained a reputation for robustness and economy. The car was manufactured, just five minutes from the Eiffel Tower, in the 15th arrondissement of central Paris at the famous factory in the Quai de Javel (subsequently renamed Quai André-Citroën), which by 1925 was producing at the rate of 200 cars per day, applying techniques then known as “Taylorism” which André Citroën had studied personally and in depth during a visit to Dearborn that he had undertaken during the war in order to master the techniques being applied by Henry Ford for the production of the Model T….. The 1.25 mile board oval San Carlos Board Speedway in San Francisco, California staged its first race – the 250 mile main event was won by Jimmy Murphy in a Duesenberg [11 December 1921]…….90 years ago this week, Robert C Hupp (55), a cofounder of Hupmobile in 1908 who was later with the R.C.H., the Hup-Yeats electric, and the Monarch, died in Detroit, US [7 December 1931]……. Carroll A Hochwalt created tetraethyl lead (TEL) by combining zinc ethyl and lead chloride, leading to the development of ‘ethyl’ gasoline (leaded petrol) [8 December 1921]……..80 years ago this week, the Automobile Racing Drivers Club of America closed its doors due to World War II, which created shortages of fuel, tires, and other automotive necessities–including men to drive the cars [9 December 1941]. After the war, the ARDCA never got started again…… US marque Buick lowered its prices to reflect the absence of spare tires or inner tubes on its new cars [11 December 1941]. The widespread shortages caused by World War Two had led to many quotas and laws designed to conserve America’s resources. One of these laws prohibited spare tyres on new cars…….70 years ago this week, Hudson announced their intent to produce a ‘light car’, the Jet [9 December 1951]. The Jet was the automaker’s response to the popular Nash Rambler and the costs of developing and marketing the Jet ultimately led to Hudson’s merger with Nash. The Hudson Motor Car Company was one of several independent firms competing with the much larger Big Three U.S. automakers (General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler) that produced mainly “standard” large-sized models. Hudson had limited financial resources, and management decided to develop a compact-sized model instead of refurbishing its line of full-size cars and developing a V8 engine. The Hudson Jet had exclusive engineering that included a roomy, comfortable, and solid welded unibody, as well as featuring excellent performance for the era along with good fuel economy and low cost maintenance. The Jet was introduced in the middle of the 1953 model year and achieved some success in the crowded compact segment. However, Hudson was unable to foresee the dramatic decline in overall compact car sales during the 1952-1954 period which already included three other makes. As a result, they were only able to produce a little more than 20,000 units for the 1953 model year. It was a car with no real vices, but it effectively destroyed the Hudson Motor Car Company. Consequently, the company was forced to merge with Nash-Kelvinator (forming American Motors Corporation) because of the losses resulting from the Jet project and the falling sales of Hudson’s senior line…….60 years ago this week, the Auto-Magic Car Park, Lee Circle, Leicester (UK), one of the oldest multi-storey car parks in Europe, was opened [12 December 1961]. Providing spaces for 1050 cars, it was among the first automated public car parks, using coin-operated barriers. Its design made no attempt to hide its purpose of storing as many vehicles as possible within the space available, using a complex interleaved spiral or double-helix system to maximise space……40 years ago this week, Mitsubishi Motors Corporation, the automotive division of the huge Mitsubishi conglomerate of Japan, began selling cars in the U.S. under its own name [8 December 1981]. Previously, Mitsubishi had done business in the States only in partnerships with American car manufacturers.

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