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Old 12th March 2009, 00:30   #346
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Default 12th March

March 12, 1831
Clement Studebaker was born in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on this day. Clement and his brother, Henry Studebaker, founded H. & C. Studebaker, a blacksmith and wagon building business in South Bend, Indiana. The Studebaker brothers made their fortune manufacturing carriages for the Union army during the Civil War. By the end of the war, the Studebaker Brothers Manufacturing Company had become the world's largest manufacturer of horse-drawn carriages. With the advent of the automobile, Studebaker converted its business to car manufacturing, becoming one of the larger independent automobile manufacturers. Another major war would affect the company's fortune almost a century after its founders had benefited from the demand caused by the Civil War. During World War II, Studebaker manufactured aircraft engines, trucks, and amphibious vehicles for the war effort and emphasized their patriotic role by releasing cars called "The President," "The Champion," and "The Commander." Like many of the independents, Studebaker fared well during the war by producing affordable family cars. As their advertisement claimed, "Studebaker is building an unlimited quantity of airplane engines, military trucks and other material for national defense... and a limited number of passenger cars which are the finest Studebaker has ever produced." However, after the war, the Big Three, bolstered by their new government-subsidized production facilities, were too much for many of the independents, and Studebaker was no exception. Post WWII competition drove Studebaker to its limits, and the company merged with the Packard Corporation in 1954. The merger did not help matters and production of Packards ended in 1958. After a brief respite with the introduction of the popular, compact Studebaker Lark in 1959, the company again suffered financial troubles. Finally, in late 1963, Studebaker was forced to close its South Bend, Indiana, plant. An Ontario plant remained open until 1966, when Studebaker produced its last car, a blue and white Cruiser.

March 12, 1921
Gianni Agnelli, Italian industrialist and grandson of FIAT founder Giovanni Agnelli was born in Villar Perosa, near Turin He was the principal shareholder of Fiat. As the head of Fiat, he controlled 4.4% of Italy's GNP, 3.1% of its industrial workforce, and 16.5% of its industrial investment in research.

March 12, 1952
Mercedes introduced the 300SL to the press on this day. With a sleek rounded body, gull-wing doors and a detachable steering wheel, the 300SL created quite a buzz. As a race car, the 300SL enjoyed paramount success, capturing victories at Le Mans, the German Grand Prix, and the Carrera PanAmericana in Mexico. However, despite its racing success, the 300SL race car will forever be remembered for its role in car racing's greatest tragedy. Careening out of control in the 1955 race at Le Mans, the 300SL crashed into the gallery. Eighty spectators died and, in respect to the victims of the accident, Mercedes-Benz pulled its cars out of racing competition for nearly three decades. Two years after the introduction of the 300SL, Mercedes introduced the 300SL coupe to the public. A stylish sports car also characterized by its gull-wing doors, the coupe was a consumer version of the 300SL race car. With a six-cylinder engine and a top speed of 155mph, the two-door coupe created a sensation among wealthy car buyers who actually waited in line to buy it. However, because of the impracticality of the gull-wing doors, the company only manufactured 1,400 300SL coupes. Nevertheless, the 300SL coupe is widely considered one of the most impressive sports cars of the decade.

Clement Studebaker
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Five Studebaker brothers
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Gianni Agnelli (left) with the Enzo Ferrari
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Mercedes 300SL
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Last edited by SirAlec : 12th March 2009 at 00:44.
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Old 12th March 2009, 18:07   #347
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Default 13th March

March 13, 1944
Charles Sorensen resigned as the vice president of the Ford Motor Company on this day. Sorensen had been Henry Ford's longtime right-hand man. Tall and handsome, Sorensen became a darling of the national press corps during World War II. He was in charge of Ford's wartime production; and the Willow Run plant that produced B-24 Liberator bombers was Sorensen's project. Originally, Ford had been contracted to produce subassemblies for United Aircraft, but Sorensen demanded that Ford be able to produce entire planes. He promised the government 500 planes per month, a figure nearly three times as great as United Aircraft's production potential. In return, he was rewarded with a huge contract which included $200 million for the construction of the Willow Run facility. Willow Run, after a rocky beginning, became a heroic success story, a symbol of America's role as the "great arsenal of democracy." The plant eventually reached a production level of one bomber per hour. With Willow Run's success came attention for Sorensen. In 1940, he appeared in Time and Newsweek, and in 1942, Fortune Magazine ran a long adulatory article entitled "Sorensen of the Rouge." Sorensen himself admitted that his popularity may have caused his departure from Ford, "My ability to keep out of the public eye was one reason I stayed as long as I did at Ford while others left." In 1943, Henry Ford promoted Harry Bennet, his longtime labor enforcer, to a position above Sorensen. Realizing that he had fallen from favor, the graceful Sorensen resigned from Ford.

March 13, 1946
UAW and General Motors agreed to a settle a strike which had lasted from November 1945 until March of 1946; 175,00 strikers agreed to head back to work; walkout engineered by UAW chief Walter Reuther; agitated for higher pay for GM's 320,000 employees, looked to consolidate his power in auto union; in coming months leaders in various industries proved successful in drive for price increases, led to inflation, wiped out workers' wage gains.

March 13, 1969
On this day, the Walt Disney studio released The Love Bug. Directed by Robert Stevenson, the film starred "Herbie," a lovable Volkswagen bug with a personality. Abused by the evil race-car driver "Thorndyke" (David Thomlinson), Herbie is rescued by the young good-guy race-car driver "Jim" (Dean Jones). Grateful for his rescue, Herbie rewards the hapless Jim by winning one race after another on his driver's behalf. The excitement begins when the ruthless Thorndyke plots to get Herbie back by any means necessary. Based on a story by Gordon Buford, The Love Bug inspired several sequels, including Herbie Rides Again, Herbie Goes To Monte Carlo, Herbie Goes Bananas, and Herbie: Fully Loaded. By becoming one of the biggest grossing films of 1969, The Love Bug allayed any fears that the Disney Studio would collapse without the presence of the recently deceased Walt Disney. The movie became a children's film classic and enhanced the Volkswagen Beetle's image as a quirky car endowed with more than solid engineering.

March 13, 1980
Henry Ford II resigned as Chairman of the Ford Motor Company after naming Philip Caldwell his successor. With Ford's resignation, the era of the Ford family as an automotive dynasty temporarily ended. Henry II was, like his grandfather, a tough and formidable leader. He reorganized the company and instituted a modern bookkeeping system. His father, Edsel, had been considered a dreamer by Henry I. Edsel had spent much of his energy designing cars and improving Ford's labor relationships. He hadn't been a hard-edged businessman and often drew his father's criticism on those grounds. Like the archetypal ruling families of England, the Ford family followed its own generational legacy: Henry the Great, Edsel the Confessor, and Henry II. It sounds like Shakespeare.

Harry Fergusen, Henry Ford, Edsel Ford, Charles Sorensen, George B. Sherman, J.L. Williams, and Eber C. Sherman. (Left to right)
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Last edited by SirAlec : 12th March 2009 at 18:08.
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Old 15th March 2009, 14:24   #348
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Default 14th March

March 14, 1914
Stock-car racer Lee Arnold Petty was born near Randleman, North Carolina, on this day. Now famous as the father of Richard Petty--the all-time "winningest" racer in NASCAR history--Lee Petty was no slouch in his own day. In 1959, Lee Petty won the first Daytona 500 at the brand new Daytona International Speedway driving a new hardtop Olds 88 to a photo finish with Johnny Beauchamp. The Pettys would switch to Plymouths midway through the season that year. Lee and Richard Petty drove Plymouths, Chryslers, and Dodges for most of their remaining careers. Together the father-and-son team combined for 254 wins, including eight Daytona 500s. However, Lee and Richard also took father and son competition to its extremes. The embodiment of stock car racing's hard-nosed past, Lee Petty never lost a race on account of being too kind to his competitors, even if his competitors were family. Richard Petty remembers his quest to win his first NASCAR race at the Grand National Exposition in Toronto, "Cotton Owens was leading and daddy was second. They came up on me and I moved over to let them pass. Cotton went on, but daddy bumped me in the rear and my car went right into the wall." Richard finished in 17th place. In 1959, Richard thought he had won his first race after finishing first in the Grand National at Lakewood, Georgia. However, Lee, who finished second in the event, protested his son's victory. The protest was upheld, and Lee won the race. Before you call Richard Petty "The King," remember "The King" isn't an absolute monarch when his daddy is around. Richard's son Kyle is also a successful NASCAR racer, and no doubt benefits from the family's competitive edge.

March 14, 1962
GM produced 75-millionth US-made car.

Lee Arnold Petty
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Lee Petty's #42 Dodge Coronet
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Last edited by SirAlec : 15th March 2009 at 14:33.
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Old 15th March 2009, 14:52   #349
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Talking 15th March

March 15, 1906
On this day, Rolls-Royce Ltd. was officially registered with Charles S. Rolls and F. Henry Royce as directors. In 1904, Henry Royce, the founder of his self-titled electrical and mechanical engineering firm, built his first car. In May of that year, he met Charles Rolls, whose company sold cars in London. The two men agreed that Royce Limited would manufacture a line of cars to be sold exclusively by C.S. Rolls & Co. The cars bore the name Rolls-Royce. Success with their partnership led to the formation of the Rolls-Royce Company. In 1906, just after the company was
organized, it released the six-cylinder 40/50 horsepower Silver Ghost. The car was enthusiastically heralded by the British press as "the best car in the world." From its formation to the start of World War I in 1914, Rolls-Royce focused on one product--the Silver Ghost. The war forced new demands on the British economy, and Rolls-Royce shifted its manufacturing emphasis to airplane engines. Henry Royce's designs are credited with having provided half of the total horsepower used in the Allies' air war against Germany, and World War II transformed Rolls-Royce into a major force in aerospace engineering. In 1931, Rolls-Royce absorbed Bentley, and, since then, it has produced all cars bearing that name. Together Rolls-Royce and Bentley are synonymous with luxurious handmade cars.

March 15, 1911
On this day, Gustave Otto, the son of internal combustion engine pioneer Nikolaus Otto, organized Gustav Otto Flugmaschinenfabrik Muchen. Otto's Munich-based aero-engineering firm would later merge with Karl Rapp's firm to form the Bayerische Motoren-Werke, or BMW.

March 15, 1990
The Ford Explorer was introduced to the public on this day. One of the first generation sports utility vehicles released by the Big Three in the early 1990s, the Ford Explorer became one of the company's best-selling models almost immediately. Like sports cars before them, "Sport Utility Vehicles" (SUVs) became the chosen automobiles for the glamorous world of entertainment, and their virtues were even extolled in pop music. Ice Cube rapped, "I put the petal to the floor of my two-tone Ford Explorer," in his song "Down For Whatever." However, SUVs have come under fire recently for the relatively high proportion of deaths resulting from accidents involving them and their fuel guzzling habits.

Charles S. Rolls and F. Henry Royce
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Midland Hotel in Manchester where Rolls and Royce met.
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'91 Ford Explorer Sport two door.
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Old 15th March 2009, 14:58   #350
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Default 16th March

March 16, 1958
On this day in 1958, the Ford Motor Company produced its 50,000,000th car, a Thunderbird. Ford averaged nearly a million cars each year since the company's inception. Ford and General Motors (GM) are the largest car manufacturers in the United States. To put their relative sizes in perspective, on this day in 1966, General Motors produced its 100,000,000th car, an Oldsmobile Toronado. GM's larger production is the result of always having been a conglomeration of automotive companies, while Ford was, for a very long time, a centrally run, vertically administered family business.

March 16, 1961
Jaguar Cars Ltd. introduced the XK-E, or E-Type, at the Geneva Auto Show. Th E-Type was the successor to the C- and D-Type Jaguar that had earned the company's reputation for racing excellence. The D-Type, with a top speed of 170mph, captured first place at the 24-hour race at Le Mans in 1955, 1956, and 1957. In 1956, Queen Elizabeth II knighted Sir William Lyons, Jaguar's founder, to recognize his achievement in bringing Jaguar to the heights of the international sports-car world. In 1957 a massive fire at the Jaguar factory halted the further development of Jaguar race cars. The disaster left many wondering whether Jaguar Motors had not already seen its best days in the successful 1950s. The release of the E-Type in 1961 signaled an impressive return by the British racing giant. The E-Type did everything the D-Type had done and more. With a top speed of 150mph and a 0 to 60 time of 6.5 seconds, the E-Type engine growled loudly. What's more, the E-Type averaged an unheard of 17 miles per gallon. By the mid 1960s, the E-Type had become the most famous sports car in the world; today the E-Type is cherished as a car of beautiful lines and precision engineering.

Jaguar XK-E
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Old 16th March 2009, 22:54   #351
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Default 17th March

March 17, 1929
General Motors acquired 80% of German auto manufacturer Adam Opel AG for just under $26 million.

March 17, 1930
John North Willys of the Willys-Overland Corporation became the first U. S. ambassador to Poland. Willys had rescued the ailing Overland firm from its woeful production of 465 cars in 1908. By 1916, Willys-Overland produced over 140,000 cars per year. Willys subsequently left the day-to-day operations of the company, moving his personal offices to New York in order to pursue work related to World War I. During his absence, mismanagement nearly buried the company he had worked so hard to build up. Massive strikes, bloated inventories, and other troubles had cost Willys-Overland dearly. By 1920, the company was $46 million in debt. The briefly retired Walter Chrysler was called on to rework the company's daily operations, and in no time at all, he had cut the debt by nearly two-thirds to $18 million. Chrysler claimed, however, that without the release of a new model of automobile, the debt would decrease no further. Willys, who remained president of Willys-Overland, disagreed. He maintained that through the improvement of the existing models, the company could regain its original profit margins. Chrysler left. Continuing to pursue his political interests, Willys became the U.S. ambassador to Poland on this day in 1930. Eight years later Poland would be absorbed into the Third Reich. Three years after that, in 1941, Willys-Overland began mass production of the Willys Jeep, the "General Purpose" vehicle of the U.S. Army. In 1944, Willys' political and manufacturing legacies merged symbolically as Willys Jeeps carried U.S. troops across liberated Poland.

March 17, 1949
The first car to carry the Porsche family name was introduced at the 19th International Automobile Show in Geneva, Switzerland. After serving a two-year prison sentence for his participation as an engineer in Hitler's regime, Ferdinand Porsche and his son Ferry went to work on a car that would carry the Porsche name. The Porsche prototype, named the 356, was a sports-car version of the Volkswagen that Porsche had designed at Hitler's request. Its rounded lines, rear engine, and open two-seater design set the standard for all Porsches to come. The classic design and the incomparable engineering of Porsche cars attracted loyal customers at a record pace. In 1950, Ferdinand Porsche celebrated his 75th birthday. He had risen to fame as an engineer for Mercedes; he had developed the Volkswagen; and he had finally put his name to his own automobile. One year later, Porsche suffered a stroke from which he would never recover. He died in January of 1952. Ferry Porsche, Ferdinand's son, built the Porsche Company into the empire it is today.

John North Willys with the 100,000th Whippet
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Old 18th March 2009, 00:46   #352
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Default 18th March

March 18, 1938
Legendary Timo Mäkinen was born in Helsinki, Finland. He was one of the original "Flying Finns" of motor rallying. He is most famous for his hat-trick of wins in the RAC Rally, at the wheel of a Ford Escort, preceded only by Erik Carlsson (Saab 96) in that feat.

March 18, 1947
William C. Durant, the founder of General Motors, died in New York City at the age of 85. Economic historian Dana Thomas described Durant as a man "drunk with the gamble of America. He was obsessed with its highest article of faith--that the man who played for the steepest stakes deserved the biggest winnings." General Motors reflected Durant's ambitious attitude toward risk-taking in its breathtaking expansionist policies, becoming in its founder's words "an empire of cars for every purse and purpose." But Durant's gambling attitude had its downside. Over a span of three years, Durant purchased Oldsmobile, Oakland (later Cadillac and Pontiac), and attempted to purchase Ford. By 1910, GM was out of cash, and Durant lost his controlling interest in the company. Durant would get back into the game by starting Chevrolet, and he would eventually regain control of GM--only to lose it a second time. Later in life, Durant attempted to start a bowling center and a supermarket; however, these ventures met with little success.

March 18, 1958
Plastone Company Inc. registered "Turtle Wax 'Hard Shell Finish' Auto Polish" trademark first used January 11, 1955 (automobile polish).

Timo Makinen and Paul Easter in the famous AJB 44B mini after winning the Monte Carlo Rally.
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Turtle Wax
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Old 18th March 2009, 01:01   #353
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Default 19th March

March 19, 1952
In 1939, the American Bantam Car Company submitted its original design for an all-terrain troop transport vehicle--featuring four-wheel drive, masked fender-mount headlights, and a rifle rack under the dash to the U.S. Armed Forces. The Army loved Bantam's design, but the development contract for the vehicle was ultimately awarded to the Willys-Overland Company for its superior production capabilities. Bantam wound up fulfilling a government contract for 3,000 vehicles during the war; but the Jeep, as designed by Willys-Overland, would become the primary troop transport of the U.S. Army. Mass production of the Willys Jeep began after the U.S. declaration of war in 1941. The name "Jeep" is reportedly derived from the Army's request that car manufacturers develop a "General Purpose" vehicle. "Gee Pee" turned to "Jeep" somewhere along the battle lines. Another story maintains that the name came from a character in the Popeye cartoon who, like the vehicle, was capable of incredible feats. The Willys Jeep became a cultural icon in the U.S. during World War II, as images of G.I.'s in "Gee Pees," liberating Europe, saturated newsreels in movie theaters across the country. Unlike the Hummer of recent years, the Jeep was not a symbol of technological superiority but rather of the courage of the American spirit--a symbol cartoonist Bill Mauldin captured when he drew a weeping soldier firing a bullet into his broken down Willys Jeep. By 1945, 660,000 Jeeps had rolled off the assembly lines and onto battlefields in Asia, Africa, and Europe. Many remained abroad after the war, where their parts were integrated into other vehicles or their broken bodies were mended with colorful impromptu repairs. Wherever the Jeep roamed, it lived up to its design as a vehicle for general use. During the war, Jeep hoods were used as altars for field burials. Jeeps were also used as ambulances, tractors, and scout cars. After the war, surplus Jeeps found their way into civilian life as snowplows, field plows, and mail carriers. Willys-Overland released its first civilian Jeep model, called the CJ (Civilian Jeep) in 1945. On this day in 1952, the 1,000,000th Jeep was produced.

March 19, 2005
John Zachary DeLorean, an American engineer and and founder of the DeLorean Motor Company died on this day at Overlook Hospital in Summit, New Jersey from a stroke, aged 80.
At the time of his death, DeLorean was working on a business venture project known as DeLorean Time, a company that would sell high-end wristwatches. DeLorean's death caused the dissolution of the company, and no DeLorean Time products were ever offered to the public. His ashes are buried at the White Chapel Cemetery, in Troy, Michigan. At the request of his family, and in keeping with military tradition, he was interred with military honors for his service in WWII.

John DeLorean and the prototype of the DMC-12
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Old 19th March 2009, 22:52   #354
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Default 20th March

March 20, 1920
Bugatti delivered its first 16-valve car to a customer in Basel, Switzerland. Bugatti, a Swiss-based luxury car company, was famous for its exquisite, powerful vehicles. In the 1920s and 1930s, the Bugatti car was a symbol of wealth and status, and its cars were equipped with massive racing engines. A bizarre footnote in Bugatti history, the renowned American dancer Isadora Duncan was driving in a 16-valve Bugatti when her trademark long scarf caught in the rear wheel of the vehicle, and she was instantly strangled to death.

March 20, 1928
James Ward Packard, founder of the Ohio Automobile Company and the Packard Motor Car Company, died in Cleveland, Ohio, on this day, at the age of 64. A native of Warren, Ohio, James Packard and his brother, William, started their industrial careers manufacturing electric lamps. They entered the automobile business after James Packard purchased a Winton Motor Carriage. He was so dissatisfied with Winton's machine that he decided to build his own. Using the shops of a Packard Electric Company subsidiary, J.W. Packard completed his first automobile in 1899, driving through the streets of his hometown of Warren. Wishing to keep their automotive and electrical interests separate, the Packard brothers, along with fellow engineer George Weiss, started the Ohio Automobile Company in September 1900. That year the Packards boosted their company's profile by selling two cars to William D. Rockefeller. In 1901, an Ohio Automobile Company employee was arrested for speeding through the streets of Warren at 40mph. The nationally publicized speeding arrest also raised the company's profile. A shrewd promoter, Packard developed one of the car industry's first widely recognized slogans. Responding to a customer's inquiry about the performance of his car, Packard said, "Ask the man who owns one." Packard's deft promotion left the company with more customers than cars. A Detroit financier named Henry Joy volunteered his services to raise capital in order to raise the company's production capabilities. In 1902, the reorganized Ohio Automobile Company was incorporated as the Packard Motor Car Company. Packard cars would be the first to carry a steering wheel in the place of a tiller and the first to utilize the H-gear-shift configuration.

Buggati 16 valve engine
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James Ward Packard
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Old 20th March 2009, 22:23   #355
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Default 21st March

March 21, 1950
Preston Tucker filed suit against his former prosecutors. Tucker, made famous by the 1988 film Tucker starring Jeff Bridges in the title role, was one of the car industry's most spectacular postwar failures. Having built a reputation as an engineer during WWII, when he served as general manager of his company Ypsilanti Machine & Tool Company, Tucker looked to capitalize on the high demand that the postwar conditions offered. No new car model had been released since 1942, so the end of the war would bring four years worth of car buyers back to the market. Tucker intended to meet the new demand with a revolutionary automobile design. His 1945 plans called for an automobile that would be equipped with a rear-mounted engine as powerful as an aircraft engine, an hydraulic torque converter that would eliminate the necessity of a transmission, two revolving headlights at either side of the car's fender along with one stationary "cyclops" headlight in the middle, and a steering wheel placed in the center of the car and flanked by two passenger seats. In the end, only 51 Tuckers were produced, and none of them were equipped with the features Tucker had initially advertised. Still, loyal fans of Tucker claim that Tucker was the victim of industrial sabotage carried out by the Big Three. Tucker was indicted by the Securities and Exchange Commission before he could begin to mass-produce his automobiles. He was eventually acquitted of all charges. Emboldened by his acquittal, Tucker filed suit against his prosecutors. Historians who argue against the conspiracy theory maintain that post-war manufacturing conditions left small manufacturers little room for success. They suggest that, if anything, Tucker's acquittal was merciful. Tucker failed to meet the requirements for capital and production capability that his project demanded. After raising almost $15 million from stockholders, Tucker defaulted on federal deadlines for the production of car prototypes. When he finally did produce the cars, none of them were equipped with the technological breakthroughs he promised. Still, the Tucker was a remarkable car for its price tag. Whether as an innovator silenced by the complacent authorities or a charlatan better fit to build visions than cars, Preston Tucker made a personal impact in a post-war industry dominated by faceless goliaths.

March 21, 1960
Ayrton Senna da Silva was born in Sao Paolo, Brazil. Senna was first given a 1 cc car by his father when he was only four years old. He raced throughout his childhood and began to compete at the age of 13 in local Brazilian KART races. Senna rose from the anonymity of KART racing to become one of the greatest Formula-1 drivers in history. He was worshipped in Brazil to an extent nearly unimaginable in the U.S. Senna, known for his belligerent competitive spirit, won 41 Grand Prix events, and remains second all-time to Alain Prost in Formula-1 victories. He was a key player in the golden years of F-1 racing when he, Nigel Mansel, Alain Prost, and Nelson Piquet battled for the top position in car racing's most glamorous circuit. Senna died in a crash in 1994 during the Grand Prix of San Monaco. A manslaughter investigation still shrouds Senna's death in mystery. It is presumed that Senna's fatal crash may have been caused by a faulty steering column on his Williams-Renault automobile. However, the cause of Senna's death has become a point of contention among Brazilian racing fans who hold the Williams team responsible for the death of their national hero.

Ayrton Senna da Silva
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Old 22nd March 2009, 16:43   #356
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Default 22nd March

March 22, 1926
The Ford Motor Company renamed its massive River Rouge facility the Fordson Plant. The name River Rouge, synonymous with Ford history, would continue to be used. River Rouge was established in response to the massive demand for the Model T. In the spring of 1915, Henry Ford began buying huge tracts of land along the Rouge River, southwest of Detroit. He later announced his plans to construct a massive industrial complex which would include its own steel mills. Ford proclaimed he would no longer be "at the mercy of his suppliers." Ford Lieutenant William Knudsen disagreed with his boss's notion that bigger was better. The pugnacious Ford responded to his advice with typical urbanity, saying, "No, William, no. I want the Ford business all behind one fence so I can see it." The outbreak of war in Europe brought with it a scarcity of steel that threatened to halt production of the Model T. Ford ordered Knudsen to buy up all the steel he could. Henry Ford, a proclaimed pacifist, objected to the idea of preparing for war. He likened a war-ready nation to a man carrying a gun: bound for trouble. Nevertheless, once war was declared, Ford stood behind President Wilson and River Rouge became an "arsenal of democracy." The largest industrial complex of its day, River Rouge looked like a small city. After the war, the factory remained a primary character in the Ford drama. By 1937, General Motors (GM) and Chrysler recognized the United Auto Workers (UAW) as a labor union. But, despite the fact that the federal government, with the New Deal, guaranteed a worker's right to belong to a union, Ford refused to negotiate with the UAW. Instead, he ordered his strongman, Harry Bennett, to keep the workers in check. On May 26, 1937, union leader Walter Reuther led a group of men through the River Rouge Plant to distribute literature to the workers. Upon leaving the plant, Reuther and his companions were attacked by Bennett and his men. The event, named the "Battle of the Overpass," received national attention. Ford's reputation as a labor negotiator, already bad, grew worse. Amazingly, though, Bennett's fear tactics postponed the inevitable triumph of labor leaders for almost four years, when a massive sit-down strike finally succeeded in shutting the River Rouge plant down. The Ford River Rouge plant is also well-known for a Ford family controversy over a series of murals by artist Diego Rivera, which were commissioned by Edsel Ford on behalf of the Detroit Art Institute. Henry Ford objected strongly to the communist aesthetic of the murals and ordered their production ceased. Edsel, in a rare moment of defiance, refused his father's demands and the murals remained on display at the River Rouge Plant. Today, just as Henry Ford desired, the Fordson Plant at River Rouge really is "the Ford business all behind one fence," where we can see it.

March 22, 1958
South Carolina police pulled over Alabama boat and car racer J. Wilson Morris for exceeding the speed limit, as Morris attempted to race across the state in record time. The police held the 19-year-old Morris in jail for two days, scaring him so badly that he finished his trip on the bus.

March 22, 2006
General Motors announced one of largest employee buyout plans in U.S. corporate history, agreed to finance buyouts, early-retirement packages offered to as many as 1,31,000 employees of GM, Delphi Corp., removed whole generation of workers hired in 1960's, 1970's from assembly line.

Interior of the Ford's River Rouge Plant, 1944
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Source:
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Last edited by SirAlec : 22nd March 2009 at 16:46.
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Old 22nd March 2009, 17:00   #357
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Default 23rd March

March 23, 1909
Wilhelm and Karl Maybach formed Luftfahrzeug-Motoren GmbH in Bissingen, Germany, to produce engines for the Zeppelin airships. The Maybach Motoren-Werke, a subsidiary of the aviation company, would produce the luxurious Maybach automobile between 1921 and 1941. Wilhelm Maybach designed the internal expanding brake in 1901. The internal brake operated by pressing shoes against the interior of the wheel or drive shaft. Maybach's design remained the model for most braking systems until the disc brake emerged as an alternative in the 1970s.

March 23, 1921
Donald Malcolm Campbell, a British car and motorboat racer was born in Horley, Surrey. He broke eight world speed records in the 1950s and 60s. He remains the only person to set both land and water speed records in the same year (1964). His father Sir Malcolm Campbell is also the holder of 13 world speed records in the 1920s and 30s in the famous Bluebird cars and boats.

March 23, 1956
The Studebaker-Packard Corporation halted merger talks with the Ford Motor Company to pursue talks with the Curtiss-Wright Corporation. Studebaker-Packard itself was the result of a merger in which the large Studebaker firm merged with the small and successful Packard line. After World War II the independent car manufacturers had a difficult time keeping pace with the production capabilities of the Big Three, who were able to produce more cars at lower prices to meet the demands of a population starved for cars. Independents began to merge with one another to remain competitive. Nash-Kelvinator and Hudson Motors merged successfully to become American Motors (AMC). Paul Hoffman, the manager of Studebaker, realized his company would have to merge or perish. He negotiated an arduous merger between his company and Detroit-based Packard Motors. The merger took over five months to come through, as unionized labor on both sides balked at the proposal. Finally, in October of 1954, Studebaker and Packard merged to become the country's fourth largest car company. Hoffman chose Packard President James Nance to lead the new operation. Nance, spiteful of the inefficiency that Studebaker brought to his company, generally ignored the input of his colleagues, instituting his own policies in an attempt to turn around the fortune of his new company. His policies failed, and renewed labor problems brought Studebaker-Packard to its knees. In 1956, Curtiss-Wright purchased Studebaker-Packard. The failed merger between Studebaker, which had been in operation since the 1890s, and Packard was emblematic of the post-war independent manufacturers' scramble to consolidate. While Studebaker-Packard failed, AMC was able to stay alive into the 1970s, when it was bought by French giant Renault.

March 23, 1986
Andrea Dovizioso, an Italian professional motorcycle road racer was born in born in Forlì. He won the 125cc World Championship in 2004.

Donald Campbell, CBE
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Andrea Dovizioso
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Old 23rd March 2009, 20:11   #358
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Default 23rd March

March 23, 2009
Most awaited car of this planet, Tata Nano is launched to public at Parsi Gymkhana Ground, Mumbai. This dreamchild of Ratan Tata was first presented at the 9th annual Auto Expo on 10 January 2008, at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi, India.

Ratan Tata with his dream project
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Old 23rd March 2009, 20:14   #359
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Default 24th March

March 24, 1898
Winton Motor Carriage Company made first commercial sale of an American-built automobile in the U.S.

March 24, 1954
Stockholders of the Nash-Kelvinator Corporation and the Hudson Motor Car Company approved the proposed merger of the two firms. The companies would form the American Motors Corporation (AMC). AMC is recognized as the most successful postwar independent manufacturer of cars.

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Old 24th March 2009, 22:29   #360
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Default 25th March

March 25, 1899
Herbert (Burt) James Munro, a New Zealand motorcycle racer, was born in Invercargill. He is famous for setting an under-1000cc world record, 183.586 mph (295.453 km/h), at Bonneville in 26 August 1967. This record still stands today. Burt Munro was 68 and was riding a 47-year old machine when he set his last record.
Working from his home in Invercargill, he worked for 20 years to highly modify the 1920 Indian motorcycle which he had bought in 1920. Munro set his first New Zealand speed record in 1938 and later set seven more. He travelled to compete at the Bonneville Salt Flats, attempting to set world speed records. During his ten visits to the salt flats, he set three speed records, one of which still stands today. His efforts, and success, are the basis of the motion picture The World's Fastest Indian (2005), starring Anthony Hopkins, and an earlier 1971 short documentary film Burt Munro: Offerings to the God of Speed– both directed by Roger Donaldson.

March 25, 1901
The Mercedes was introduced by Gottlieb Daimler at the five-day "Week of Nice" in Nice, France. The car, driven by Willhelm Werner, dominated the events at the competition. Mercedes cars were conceived at the same venue in Nice two years earlier. After seeing a Daimler car win a race there, businessman Emile Jellinek approached Gottlieb Daimler with an offer. Jellinek suggested that if Daimler could produce a new car model with an even bigger engine then he would buy 30 of them. Jellinek also requested that the cars be named after his daughter, Mercedes. Daimler died before the Mercedes was released, but the car carried his name to the heights of the automotive industry. In 1904, a Mercedes clocked 97mph over a one-kilometer stretch, an astonishing feat in its day. Mercedes cars dominated the racing world for half a decade before Karl Benz's car company could catch up.

March 25, 1920
Walter P. Chrysler resigned as executive vice president in charge of automotive operations for General Motors. Born in the western Kansas railroad town of Wamego, Chrysler grew up around Union Pacific engineers. Early in life, he formed the idea of becoming a locomotive engineer himself. Working his way up from the position of janitor, he achieved his lifelong engineering dream by the time he was 20. Chrysler's attention gradually shifted to the automotive industry. In 1912, while employed by the American Locomotive Company, Chrysler was offered a position in Flint, Michigan by Buick President Charles Nash. The job promised only half of his current salary, but he took it anyway. As a manager at Buick, Chrysler revolutionized the company's mass production capabilities, and distinguished himself as an irreplaceable part of the GM team. However, in 1916, William C. Durant regained control of the company he had founded and Chrysler's mentor, Charles Nash, was forced out. Recognizing Chrysler's value, Durant offered him the presidency of Buick, a title worth $500,000 a year. Chrysler had previously made $25,000 a year. Heeding warnings from Nash that Durant was a micro-managing tyrant, Chrysler did not immediately accept the offer. Eventually, though, the money was too good to turn down. Among his many accomplishments as head of Buick, Chrysler's greatest achievement may have been initiating GM's purchase of the Fisher Body Plant, on which the company relied for its products. GM purchased 60 percent of Fisher's stock, and gained control over one of its most important components. Eventually, William Durant lived up to Nash's warnings. He began to meddle in Buick's affairs, infuriating Chrysler to the point of despair on numerous occasions. One day, Chrysler reached the boiling point during a board meeting and walked out. Longtime GM President Alfred Sloan later recalled, "I remember the day. He (Chrysler) banged the door on the way out, and out of that bang came eventually the Chrysler Corporation."

March 25, 1982
Danica Sue Patrick, American auto racing driver was born in Beloit, Wisconsin. She is currently competing in the IndyCar Series. Patrick was named the Rookie of the Year for both the 2005 Indianapolis 500 and the 2005 IndyCar Series season. Patrick became the first woman to win an Indy car race.

Herbert (Burt) James Munro
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Burt Munro's highly modded Indian motorcycle
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Anthony Hopkins reprising the role of Burt Munro in World's Fastest Indian (2005)
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Emil Jellnek with his daughter Mercedes
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Danica Patrick after qualifying for the 2007 Indianapolis 500
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Source:
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