18-24 April: Motoring Milestones

18-24 April

Cars and people in this week’s Motoring Milestones include: Pierre Curie, CLEVER car, Peugeot, Vespa scooter, Cadillac, Corvette, and Maserati

110 years ago this week, Nobel Prize winning scientist Pierre Curie (46) died as a result of a carriage accident in a storm while crossing the Rue Dauphine in Paris. One of the wheels

of the carriage ran over his head crushing his skull [19 April 1906]..…..100 years ago this week, Georges Louis Frederic Boillot (31), a mechanic by training who began automobile racing in 1908 and became a driving force behind the Peugeot Grand Prix team, died [21 April 1916]. He become a household name in 1912, winning the French Grand Prix in his Peugeot L76, the first motorcar in the world to have an engine with two overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder. The following year Boillot won the Coupe de l’Auto and became the first driver to win the French Grand Prix twice. In 1913 he was part of the Peugeot’s squad in the Indianapolis 500, setting a new speed record of 99.86 mph (160.70 km/h) in qualifying. While Peugeot dominated the event with Rene Thomas taking the win,

Boillot got frustrated with repeated tire failures. A similar fate befell the Frenchman in what would be his last race, the 1914 French Grand Prix at Lyon. His Peugeot was in trouble and finally overheated on the last lap, forcing him to relinquish a top result. When WWI broke out, Boillot became a skilled pilot the new French Air Force, receiving medals such as the Croix de Guerre and the Legion d’Honneur. Georges Boillot was shot down in a dogfight over Verdun-sur-Meuse, his plane crashing near Bar-le-Duc. and despite being taken to the military hospital at Vadelaincourt in a hurry, he didn’t survive the crash..…..70 years ago this weekGigi Villoresi drove a Maseratti 4CL to victory in the first post-World War II Grand Prix, in Nice, France. According to some sources this was the first official Formula 1 race. [22 April 1946]…… The Vespa scooter was granted a patent the following day that started the line of iconic Vespa scooters into production, starting with the Vespa 98 [23 April 1946].…..60 years ago this week, the non-Championship Aintree “200” Formula One race at Aintree was won by Jean Behra in a Ferrari 246 [18 April 1956]……The third Toyko Motor Show opened [20 April 1956]. Vehicles were exhibited by type, and the center of popularity shifted to passenger cars. These characteristics indicated the birth of a full-scale motor show. Behind this trend was the “peoples car plan” announced by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) in May of 1955. The plan envisaged a four-passenger car capable of driving 100Km/h, wholesaling for ¥150,000 and retailing for ¥250,000. This was completely unrealistic given that average per capita national income was ¥75,960 and car prices at the time were: Datsun Sedan ¥750,000, Renault ¥740,000, and Toyota Crown ¥950,000. Still, the MITI plan spurred automakers to strive to cut prices. Two days later Stirling Moss, in a privately entered Maserati 250F, won the Aintree 200, a non-championship Formula One race [22 April 1956]…… On the same day Walt Faulkner (38), the first rookie to win pole position at the Indianapolis 500, died after a qualifying crash at a USAC Stock Car event in Vallejo, California [22 April 1956]. Meanwhile, Carroll Shelby drove a Ferrari to victory in the 100 mile ‘Del Monte Trophy’ race held on the 2.1 mile Pebble Beach public road circuit. The race was marred by an accident fatal to Ernie McAfee. McAfee was running 3rd, close behind Shelby and Phil Hill when his Ferrari skidded, hit a hay bale and went broadside into a pine tree. The accident brought an end to racing on the public road circuit. In a preliminary race for Production Cars over 1500 c.c., Tony Settember drove a Mercedes 300SL to a close victory over Dick Thompson’s Corvette [22 April 1956]..…..40 years ago this week, a Cadillac convertible, the ‘last’ American-made soft-top car, rolled off the assembly line at General Motor’s Cadillac production facility in Detroit, ending a tradition that began in 1916 [21 April 1976]. However, just a few years later, Chrysler Corporation, under chairman Lee Iacocca, began production once again of soft-top cars. Then Ford brought back the convertible Mustang and GM responded with the convertible Pontiac Sunbird and a new, smaller Cadillac version..…..20 years ago this week, the “Father of the Corvette”, Belgium-born American engineer, Zora Arkus-Duntov (86), died [21 April 1996]. His ashes are entombed at the National CorvetteMuseum. Pulitzer Prize winning columnist George Will wrote in his obituary that “if… you do not mourn his passing, you are not a good American”…..10 years ago this week, Peugeot announced plans to close the 60-year-old car factory at Ryton near Coventry, which it bought from Chrysler in 1979, within a year [18 April 2006]……The Caparo T1, a British mid-engine, rear-wheel drive, two-seat supercar built by Caparo Vehicle Technologies, was officially unveiled by His Serene Highness The Sovereign Prince of Monaco, at the Top Marques auto show in Monaco [20 April 2006]. The show car unveiled was a prototype, painted orange as historic McLaren cars were due to the nature of the T1’s designers being ex-McLaren engineers, had a maximum speed of 205 miles per hour (330 km/h). From a standing start, it had an estimated 0–100 kilometres per hour (0–62 mph) time under 2.5 seconds and onto 160 kilometres per hour (99 mph) in 4.9 seconds. President. Bush declared two days later that hydrogen to be the fuel of the future in an Earth Day speech in Sacramento on the 2nd day of his visit to California [22 April 2006]. The following day Michael Schumacher won the San Marino Grand Prix driving a Ferrari 248 F1 [23 April 2006]. It was Schumacher’s seventh victory at the San Marino Grand Prix, and his fifth win at Imola in six years. It is also the last time to date that the San Marino Grand Prix has been held…….A tiny ecological car was launched in Britain after three years of research financed by the EU [24 April 2006]. The three-wheeled vehicle ran on natural gas

and consumed 2.5 liters of fuel per 100 kilometres (94 miles per gallon). Known as the CLEVER (Compact Low Emission Vehicle for Urban Transport), the car was easy to park and could transport a driver and one passenger, seated in the back.

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