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Old 25th March 2009, 20:47   #361
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Default 26th March

March 26, 1932
Henry Martyn Leland, the founder of Cadillac and Lincoln, died in Detroit, Michigan at the age of 89. Leland was born in Vermont, the 8th child of New England farmer Leander Barton Leland and his wife Zilpha Tifft Leland. He began his industrial career as an apprentice engineer at Knowles Loom Works in Worcester, Massachusetts. With the outbreak of the Civil War, Leland began work at the U.S. Armory in Springfield, Massachusetts. After the war, Leland served as an engineer and mechanic in a series of manufacturing firms in New England. He distinguished himself as a tireless worker and an exacting supervisor only satisfied with his own high standard of quality. Leland was a real New Englander, a Presbyterian stickler with good manners and a titan's work ethic. He moved to Detroit to run a company with his old partner Charles Norton that was to be financed by Detroit lumber mogul Robert Faulconer. After successfully runnning, for a few years, as a supplier of various machine-shop products, Leland and Falconer gained entrance into the automobile industry at the request of Ransom Olds. Olds needed a supplier of transmissions for his Olds Runabouts. Leland wasn't the only major player in the automotive industry to get his start with Olds. Olds also hired the Dodge brothers to manufacture the bodies for his cars. After a successful run supplying Olds transmissions, Leland was asked by the Detroit Automobile Company to appraise their holdings, which they were preparing to liquidate. Leland surprised them by recommending that they hang on to their facilities; he offered to run their car company for them and revealed to them an engine design he had come up with which produced three times the horsepower of Olds' engines. The Cadillac Car Company was born, named after Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, the founder of Detroit. The first Cadillacs came on the market as low-priced cars, but soon, due to Leland's high standards, the car was marketed as a luxury item. The car company that became a symbol of excess and ostentation in the 1950s began as the product of a puritanical perfectionist. Cadillac distinguished itself further by becoming the first car company to introduce a self-starting mechanism. Charles Kettering invented the system at the urging of Leland, who was said to be distraught over the death of a friend caused when an errant crank-shaft broke the man's arm and jaw. In 1908, William Durant and GM bought the Cadillac Motor Car Company for $4.4 million in cash. Leland continued to run Cadillac, and it became GM's most successful marque. Eventually, Leland and Durant fell out over GM's participation in World War I. Leland had been to Europe just before the war, become convinced that the war was inevitable, and that it would decide the future of Western Civilization. Durant's disinterest in the war cause infuriated Leland so much that he quit. He went on to found Lincoln, which he named after the man he admired most and for whom he had cast his first vote as a 21-year-old, Abraham Lincoln. Leland was never able to escape financial trouble with Lincoln, and he ended up selling the company to Henry Ford. Ford eventually ran Leland out of the business, most likely as a result of some personal jealousy on Ford's part. Nevertheless, Leland was responsible for creating the luxury marques for America's two largest automotive manufacturers.

March 26, 1934
Driving tests was introduced in Britain.

March 26, 1984
The Ford Escort was named the best-selling car in the world for the third year in a row. The Escort was the result of Ford's attempt to design a "world car," a car that could be sold with minor variations all over the world. It was Ford's first successful sub-compact car and its features have become standard for cars in that class all over the world. The Escort was one of the first successes of Ford's dramatic resurgence in the 1980s.

March 26, 1989
Boris Yeltsin was elected to the Soviet Parliament, defeating Communist Party candidate Yevgeny Brakov, manager of the Zavod Imieni Likhacheva, manufacuterers of the ZIL car. In spite of Brakov's close brush with history, he was destined to remain a car maker.

March 26, 2008
Ford Motor Company agreed to sell its Jaguar line (acquired in 1989 for $2.38 billion) and Land Rover line (acquired in 2000 for $2.73 billion) of luxury cars to Tata Motors for $2.3 billion. Ford ended first modern-day cross-border acquisition between United Kingdom.


Henry Martyn Leland at his office.
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Old 26th March 2009, 22:14   #362
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Default 27th March

March 27 1863
Sir Frederick Henry Royce, was born in Alwalton, Huntingdonshire, near Peterborough.

March 27, 1925
Cecil Kimber registered his first modified Morris, the prototype of the MG. Kimber's car is now known as "Old Number One", though design differences lead some to maintain that "Old Number One" was a different species from the MG. However you look at it, Kimber's modified Morris was the first in a line of successful automobiles known for their style and performance. Known for their zippy overhead cam engine's, MG's were hugely popular in the U.S. as sports cars.

March 27, 1939
Racer Cale Yarborough was born in Timmonsville, South Carolina. Yarborough became famous on the NASCAR circuit racing Mercury "fastback" Cyclones. In 1968 he won four races including the Daytona 500, tallying record annual winnings of $136,786. Yarborough remained a giant in NASCAR racing through the 1970s, becoming the first racer ever to win three consecutive Winston Cup Championships by winning the title in 1976, 1977, and 1978 driving for Chevy. Yarborough also holds the distinction of being the first man to qualify for the Daytona 500 at a speed of over 200 miles per hour, a feat he accomplished in 1984. He is a member of the Motor Sports Hall of Fame.

March 27, 1947
Nanjing Automobile Group Corp. (NAC), a state-owned company was founded as military garage in Jiangsu. Its the oldest and currently fourth largest Chinese automobile manufacturer with 16,000 employees and annual production capacity of about 200,000 vehicles. Coincidently also on March 27, 2007 NAC revived MG brand and began production of MG sports cars.

Frederick Henry Royce
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Cecil Kimber at his desk at Abingdon
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Returning from a Road Test in Oxford.
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MG factory
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Nanjing Automobile Group Corp logo
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Foundation laying ceremony of MG plant in Pukou, Jiangsu Province.
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Cale Yarborough
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Last edited by SirAlec : 26th March 2009 at 22:20.
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Old 27th March 2009, 19:16   #363
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Default 28th March

March 28, 1892
Charles Duryea and Erwin Markham signed a contract to design and finance the construction of a gasoline-powered automobile.

March 28, 1900
The British Royal family receives its fist motor car, a Daimler Mail Phaeton.

March 28, 1941
Construction of Ford's Willow Run Plant began. Due both to his admiration of the German people and his philosophical alignment as a pacifist, Henry Ford was reluctant to convert all of his production facilities to war manufacturing. Compounding his anxiety was the fact that one of his former employees, William Knudsen, who had defected to General Motors headed the bureau in Washington in charge of administrating Detroit's war effort. But with the U.S. declaration of war in 1941, Ford had no choice but to participate. He contributed with his usual sense of competitive ambition. Before the war, Ford had boasted nonchalantly that Ford could produce 1,000 airplanes per day provided there was no interference from stockholders or labor unions. So when Ford was asked by Knudsen to build subassemblies for Consolidated Aircraft, it was no surprise that Ford Lieutenant Charles Sorensen pushed for a deal that would allow Ford to construct the entire B-24 Liberator bomber. The contract included $200 million toward the construction of a new production facility. In exchange, Sorensen promised Ford would manufacture 500 planes per month, a quote nearly 10 times what Consolidated Aircraft was then capable of producing. Ground was broken on a vast piece of land in Ypsilanti, Michigan, to begin a plant called Willow Run. Over the course of the next few years, Willow Run would be a source of problems for the Ford Motor Company. Squabbling within Ford over control of the company, government interference, the loss of much of the company's labor force to the draft, and other problems deterred Ford's war effort. By the end of 1942, Willow Run had only produced 56 B-24 bombers, and the plant had been saddled with the nickname "Willit Run?" The government considered taking over the operations at Willow Run. Just when it seemed that Sorensen's project would fail, Willow Run began rolling out B-24's at a remarkable rate. The plant produced 190 bombers in June of 1943, 365 in December. By the middle of 1944, Willow Run churned out a plane every 63 minutes. "Willow Run looked like a city with a roof on it," remembered Esther Earthlene, one of the many women who worked there during the war. Willow Run was the largest factory of its day. Its workers built planes around the clock, rotating three eight-hour shifts. They were provided with housing and entertainment. Willow Run had a 24-hour movie theater. By the end of the war, Willow Run had produced more than 8,500 bombers, and it had become a symbol of the American economy's successful response to war.

Daimler Mail Phaeton
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Old 28th March 2009, 22:23   #364
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Default 29th March

March 29, 1806
US Congress appropriated $30,000 for Army's Corps of Engineers to begin surveying for construction of Great National Pike, also known as Cumberland Road, first highway funded by national treasury. The road stretched from Cumberland, MD through Appalachian Mountains to Wheeling, VA, on Ohio River.

March 29, 1919
The First Tatra vehicle, a TL4 truck, was completed. The truck was Tatra's first offering to the automotive world but it was the Tatra car that had inspired engineer Hans Ledwinka to found Tatra. Just after the war, Hans Ledwinka began construction of a new automobile to be marketed under the marque Tatra, a division of the newly named Koprivnicka Wagenbau of Czechoslovakia. The Tatra High Mountains are among the highest in the Carpathian Mountain Range, the legendary home of Bram Stoker's Dracula. Ledwinka settled on the name Tatra in 1919, when an experimental model of his car with four-wheel brakes passed a sleigh on an icy mountain road, prompting the sleigh riders to exclaim, "This is a car for the Tatras." In 1923, the first official Tatra automobile, the Tatra T11, was completed, and Ledwinka's hope for an affordable "people's car" was realized. The reliable, rugged T11, like Ford's Model T, gave many Czechoslovakians their first opportunity to own an automobile. In 1934, Tatra achieved automotive press with the introduction of the Tatra 77, the world's first aerodynamically styled automobile powered by a rear-mounted air-cooled engine.

March 29, 1927
Major Henry O'Neil de Hane Segrave became the first man to break the 200mph barrier. Driving a 1,000 horsepower Mystery Sunbeam, Segrave averaged 203.79mph on the course at Daytona Beach, Florida. Segrave and his contemporary, British racer Malcolm Campbell, battled for land-speed supremacy throughout the 1920s. Segrave won the most historic victory in the long-standing competition when he broke the 200mph barrier and went on to set many more land-speed records. Between his efforts and Campbell's, Great Britain dominated the land-speed record books until jet engines usurped supremacy from internal combustion engines. Segrave died in 1930, attempting to set a new water speed record.

Tatra TL4, the first Tatra
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Old 30th March 2009, 00:31   #365
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Default 30th March

March 30, 1947
Preston Tucker announced his concept for a new automobile to be named "the Tucker". 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 for cars that post-war conditions offered. No new car model had been released since 1942, and so the end of the war would bring four years worth of car-buyers back to the market. Tucker intended to meet the 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 carÝs fender, one stationary "cyclops" headlight in the middle, and a steering wheel placed in the center of the car and flanked by two passenger seats. However, a series of financial difficulties forced Tucker to tone down his own expectations for the cars. Production costs rose above his projections and investors became more cautious as the Big Three continued their astounding post-war success. To raise money for his project, Tucker sold franchises to individual car dealers who put up $50 in cash for every car they expected to sell during their first two years as a Tucker agent. The deposit was to be applied to the purchase price of the car upon delivery. The SEC objected to TuckerÝs strategy on the grounds that he was selling unapproved securities. It was just one intervention in a continuous battle between Tucker and federal regulatory bodies. Tucker loyalists espouse the theory that Tucker was the victim of a conspiracy planned by the Big Three to sabotage independent manufacturers. More likely, though, Tucker was the victim of an unfriendly market and his own recklessness. Unfortunately for his investors, the SEC indicted Tucker before he could begin mass production of his cars. He was acquitted on all counts, but his business was ruined. In the end, only fifty-one Tuckers were produced and 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 30, 1998
German automaker BMW bought Rolls-Royce for $570 million.
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Old 31st March 2009, 00:19   #366
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Default 31st March

March 31, 1900
The first car advertisement to run in a national magazine appeared in the Saturday Evening Post. The W.E. Roach Company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania ran an ad featuring its jingle, "Automobiles That Give Satisfaction."

March 31, 1931
Knute Rockne, famed Notre Dame football coach and the namesake of the Studebaker Rockne, was killed in a plane crash near Bazaar, Kansas at the age of 43.

March 31, 1932
Ford Motor Company publicly unveiled its "V-8" (eight-cylinder) engine.

March 31, 1956
Ralph DePalma died in South Pasadena, California at age 72. DePalma, one of the premier racers of the century's second decade and winner of the 1915 Indy 500, is most famous for his rivalry with fellow racing legend Barney Oldfield. During World War I, car racing on a grand scale was not allowed because of the war effort. However, match races pitting two rivals against each other were deemed appropriate as they provided maximum entertainment with a relatively minimal allocation of resources. Race promoters naturally realized the appeal of starting DePalma and Oldfield on the same line with the same end in mind. Beyond their ordinary competitive relationship, Oldfield and DePalma embodied two contrasting archetypes of the champion. Brash and crude, Oldfield talked as much as he raced, cheated as much as he played fair. He ran his car with an unlit cigar clamped in the back of his teeth. DePalma, on the other hand, was a true gentleman, gracious both in victory and defeat, but no less competitive than his abrasive rival. The match race was originally set for June 23, 1917, but heavy rains postponed the event by a day. This gave the race promoters an extra day to magnify the publicity accompanying the personal rivalry between DePalma and Oldfield that had flared up after DePalma won an appeal for calcium chloride to be laid on the track to keep the dust down. An outraged Oldfield claimed dust was "part and parcel of dirt-track racing." Later he said, "I've been waiting a long time to get DePalma on a dirt track. I'll show him what racing is all about." Not to be outdone, DePalma in his characteristic style explained, "Modesty is a word Greek to Oldfield and he's probably been telling everybody how he is going to make me eat his dust." Following the heavy rains on the 23rd, the racetrack was pronounced to be in excellent condition. An estimated 15,000 fans turned out to watch the two men race. Unfortunately, the race didn't live up to its hype. Oldfield won all three heats. His car, the Golden Submarine, was so much lighter than DePalma's Packard that its speed through the turns more than made up for DePalma's bigger engine. Perhaps a credit to Oldfield's unconventional quest for victory, he had chosen to drive a car designed by Harry Miller. Miller's all-aluminum car had been mocked in the public, but he and Oldfield got the last laugh at the match races. Miller would go on to revolutionize race-car design, as his cars dominated the Indy 500 for over a decade.

March 31, 1998
Julius Timothy "Tim" Flock died of lung and liver cancer on 73. He is one of NASCAR's early pioneers, and a two time series champion. He was a brother to NASCAR's second female driver Ethel Mobley and NASCAR pioneers Bob Flock and Fonty Flock.

Tim Flock
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Tim Flock's Ford
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Old 1st April 2009, 00:35   #367
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Default 1st April

April 1, 1826
Samuel Morey of New Hampshire received a patent for the internal combustion engine.

April 1, 1970
AMC, the company that first introduced the compact car in the 1950s, introduced the Gremlin, America's first sub-compact car. AMC was the only major independent car company to survive into the 1970s. AMC's success relied heavily on the vision of the company's first President George Romney, who strongly believed that to compete with the Big Three his company must offer smaller, more fuel-efficient alternatives to their cars. The AMC Rambler, a compact car, accounted for nearly all of AMC's profits through the 1950s, the era during which the company enjoyed its most substantial success. AMC's fortune faded rapidly after Romney left the company in 1962, and by the end of the ' 60s, the company's output had dropped to a dismal 250,000 sales per year. The release of the Gremlin in 1970 marked the company's return to Romney's vision. Designed to compete with the imported Volkswagens and Japanese sub-compacts, the Gremlin was essentially the AMC Hornet with its back end cut off. AMC President Roy Chapin attempted to re-create the vigorous personal campaign that Romney had used successfully to market the Rambler in the 50s. He appeared before the American public in advertisements to extol the virtues of the "first sub-compact" car. Unfortunately for AMC, the Gremlin was out on the market for only a short time before the Big Three released their own sub-compact models.

April 1, 1993
Alan Kulwicki, 1992 Winston Cup Champion, died in a plane crash near Bristol, Tennessee. Alan, son of USAC mechanic and engine builder Jerry Kulwicki, grew up in Milwaukee. His father didn't approve of his son racing cars, but Alan raced all the same. He became the youngest racer to start a late-model stock- car race in Wisconsin when, at the age of 18, he started a race at the Hales Corners Speedway. He took home $27. Little by little, Alan worked his way up the ranks of American stock-car racing. Continuing to pursue his dream to race on the NASCAR circuit, Alan owned, maintained, and raced his own cars throughout his career. He became the Winston Cup Circuit's "Rookie of the Year" in 1986, a remarkable feat considering he raced without heavy corporate sponsorship. Alan went on to win the Winston Cup Circuit in 1992, becoming the greatest stock-car racer in the world. His untimely death prevented him from defending his title. In an era of stock-car racing dominated by family dynasties, Alan Kulwicki was a self-made champion.

AMC Gremlin
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AMC Gremlin advertisement
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Alan Kulwicki
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Kulwicki's 1992 Driver's championship trophy with his driving uniform hanging in background
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Old 1st April 2009, 23:51   #368
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Default 2nd April

April 2, 1875
Walter Percy Chrysler, founder of the Chrysler Corporation was born in Wamego, Kansas.

April 2, 1926
Grand Prix racer Jack Brabham was born in Hurstville, New South Wales, Australia. Brabham is credited with having rung in the "green decade" of Formula One racing. Between 1962 and 1973 British Formula One teams won 12 World Championships in cars painted British "racing green." Brabham won back-to-back championships in 1959 and 1960 driving the Cooper Team car equipped with a 2500 CC Coventry Climax engine and a revolutionary rear-engine design. Winning the World Championship for the third time in 1966, Brabham raced alongside British greats like Scotsmen Jim Clark and Jackie Stewart, Englishman Graham Hill, and Kiwi Denny Hulme. Jack's son Geoff Brabham is also an F1 racer.

April 2, 1956
Alfred P. Sloan stepped down after 19 years as chairman of General Motors, with Albert Bradley elected as his successor. Sloan is recognized as the creator of the GM Corporation as it exists today. Brought on by William Durant by way of the purchase of the Hyatt Roller Bearing Corporation, Sloan worked his way into the position of vice president of GM. At that time, the company was a poorly planned and loosely configured extension of William Durant's vision. Sloan, with Durant's approval if not his undivided attention, set about centralizing GM. His first major step was to build a new corporate headquarters on the outskirts of Detroit. Methodical and calculating, Sloan was the model for the late twentieth century corporate leader in that he did not allow his ego, or his genius, to interfere with his shareholders' interests. When Durant was bought out of GM in 1920 by the DuPont family, Pierre DuPont, at the urging of Sloan, took his place as the company's head. The recession of the early 20s had damaged GM stock, and Sloan believed that DuPont's name at the head of the company would help to restore its investors' confidence. DuPont was not interested in running the company, and so the Sloan Era of General Motors began. Alfred Sloan reorganized the company and trimmed its financial sails, and before long GM was making headway. Gone were the days of Durant's mercurial and reckless expansionist policies. Sloan focused on consolidation and profit margin. He would effectively rule GM with an invisible hand for over three decades.

April 2, 1959
Juha Matti Pellervo Kankkunen, a Finnish rally driver was born in Laukaa, Finland. He made his name principally as a rally car driver. Aided partly by his record of 23 career victories on individual world rallies, he went on to drive Peugeot (1986), Lancia (1987 and 1991) and Toyota (1993) cars to four World Rally Championship driver's titles. He is currently 6th in the rankings of all time individual rally victories. However, only 2004-2008 World Champion Sébastien Loeb has thus far been successful in besting his tally of driver's world titles over the course of an entire career in the sport.

Walter P. Chrysler, posing next to a Chrysler Six, (circa 1924)
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Jack Brabham
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A rear-engined Cooper T51, Brabham used to win his first world championship.
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GM's 25,000,000th production car ceremony, a 1940 Chevrolet Special Deluxe Sedan.
M. E. Coyle, (general manager of Chevrolet), William S. Knudsen (president of General Motors), Alfred P. Sloan, Jr. (chairman of the board) and C.E. Wilson, (executive vice president of GM), and later president. {Left to right}
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Juha Kankkunen
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Old 2nd April 2009, 23:01   #369
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Default 3rd April

April 3, 1885
Gottlieb Daimler was granted a German patent for his 1-cylinder water-cooled engine design. Daimler's invention was the breakthrough that other engine builders had been waiting for. Previously no one had been able to efficiently solve the problem posed by the tremendous heat produced by internal combustion engines. In Daimler's engine, cool water circulated around the engine block, preventing the engine from overheating. Today's engines still employ Daimler's basic idea. Before the water-cooled engine, cars were practical impossibilities, as the parts on which the engine was mounted could not sustain the heat generated by the engine itself. Daimler built himself his first whole automobile in the fall of 1896, and in doing so, took the first step in his self-named company's storied car-building history.

April 3, 1996
The Museum of Modern Art in New York City placed a Jaguar E-Type in its permanent exhibit. The E-Type was just the third car to be honored by the curators of the museum's permanent exhibit. Released in 1961, the E-Type was the first model released by Jaguar Motors after a disastrous fire destroyed the company's production facilities in 1957. The car's sleek lines made it an immediate success. Jaguar founder Sir William Lyons first made an impact in the automobile industry when he bolted a care body he designed onto the frame of an Austin Seven Car. His car, the Austin Swallow, was so successful that Lyons determined to manufacture his own automobiles. The E-Type is the epitome of Jaguar's exquisite feel for body design. The car is literally a work of art.

Jaguar E type at The Museum of Modern Art, New York (Image: Flickr User WallyG)
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Old 4th April 2009, 01:37   #370
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Default 4th April

April 4, 1929
Karl Benz died at his home in Ladenburg, Germany at the age of 84 from a bronchial inflammation. Until her death on May 5, 1944 his wife, Bertha Benz continued to reside in their last home. Members of the family resided in the home for thirty more years. The Benz home now has been designated as historic and is used as a scientific meeting facility for a nonprofit foundation, the Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz Foundation, that honors both Bertha and Karl Benz for their roles in the history of automobiles.

April 4, 1944
Actor and car racer Craig T. Nelson was born in Spokane, Washington. Nelson is most famous for his title role in the long-running television show Coach, in which he portrayed Coach Hayden Fox of the struggling Minnesota State football team. Nelson, whose TV show was cancelled in 1997 after nine years, has been racing in Sports Cars premier division since 1994. "Coach" has been essentially footing the bill for his Nelson's Screaming Eagles Race Team. He refuses to accept the sponsorships of tobacco or alcohol companies. Having enjoyed limited success thus far on the circuit, Nelson consoles himself with the fact that he loves both the racing of the cars and the perspective the sport provides him. Nelson has not yet given up his career as an actor. He's appeared in Hollywood films such as The Devil's Advocate, stage productions like Eugene O'Neill's Ah, Wilderness!, and he continues to do work on television miniseries.

April 4, 1973
Loris Capirossi, an Italian Grand Prix motorcycle racer, was born in Castel San Pietro Terme, Bologna. He currently rides for the factory Suzuki MotoGP team. He is a former 250cc World Champion for Aprilia.

April 4, 1980
Björn Karl Michael Wirdheim is a racing driver born on in Växjö, Sweden. Wirdheim is son of Örnulf Wirdheim, a Swedish racing driver. He began racing karts competing in his first race at the age of 10. His main achievement to date is becoming the International Formula 3000 Champion in 2003.

April 4, 1996
Jaguar introduced its new SK8 convertible at the New York International Auto Show. The SK was the sports car version of the XK car released a few months before. The two models were Jaguar's first entirely new designs since the company became a Ford subsidiary in 1989. Powered by the Advanced Jaguar V-8 coupled with a five-speed automatic gearbox, the SK lives up to Jaguar's historic line of powerful sports cars. However, Jaguar purists argue that the lines of the car body itself are not Jaguar lines. Ford executives claim that they have not meddled with the integrity of the Jaguar marque, and so any lines that don't look like they came from Jaguar designs still came from Jaguar designers.

April 4, 2001
Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, an artist and cartoonist who created the hot-rod icon Rat Fink and other extreme characters died on this day at the age of 69. As a custom car builder, Roth was a key figure in Southern California's "Kustom Kulture" and Hot-rod movement of the 1960s. He grew up in Bell, California, attending Bell High School, where his classes included auto shop and art.


Karl Benz
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Last home of Karl and Bertha Benz, now the location of the Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz Foundation in Ladenburg, Germany
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Craig T. Nelson
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Loris Capirossi
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Björn Karl Michael Wirdheim
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Ed "Big Daddy" Roth
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Old 4th April 2009, 20:26   #371
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Default 5th April

April 5, 1923
Firestone Tire and Rubber Company of Akron, Ohio, began balloon-tire production. The company had previously experimented with large-section, thin-walled tires with small bead diameters for special purposes, but none had been put on the commercial market. Firestone had become the largest producer of tires when it received the contract to supply Henry Ford's Model T's with tires. The company remained on top of the tire industry, challenged for supremacy only by Goodyear. Balloon tires provided better handling and a smoother ride for car drivers. In balloon tires an inner tube is fitted inside the tire and inflated. With Firestone's innovation came the era of the flat tire.

April 5, 1988
Tracy Chapman released the single "Fast Car" from her self-titled first album Tracy Chapman. The album went multi-platinum largely on the strength of the enormous popularity of "Fast Car." Chapman grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, and attended private school in Connecticut. She eventually attended Tufts University, where she graduated in 1986. She started her musical career, as did Rick Von Schmidt, playing the bars and coffeehouses of Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Chapman is often thought of in relation to human and civil rights issues. Many of her songs contain messages dealing with equality and/or the estrangement of minorities and women. Chapman was the only female performer listed on Amnesty International's Human Rights Tour, and she was also on the bill at Freedomfest, London, a concert that honored Nelson Mandela. In "Fast Car" Chapman follows in the tradition of American balladeers, singing the praises of the freedom afforded by the open road.

April 5, 2000
Lee Arnold Petty, one of the early pioneers and superstar of NASCAR died on this day at the age of 86 due to complication of stomach aneurysm.

First Firestone Baloon Tires.
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Early Firestone tire advertisement for Baloon Tyre.
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Tracey Chapman's Fast Car on Youtube.


Tracey Chapman's Fast Car's lyrics.
Fast Car lyrics - Tracy Chapman lyrics

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Old 5th April 2009, 22:50   #372
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Default 6th April

April 6, 1898
Thirteen days after selling its first car, the Winton Motor Carriage Company became an international marque, selling a car to John Moodie of Hamilton, Ontario. The international sale was a testament to Alexander Winton's pioneering enthusiasm for car advertising. The Scotch-born Winton had undertaken the industry's first "publicity stunt" a year earlier when he and one of his mechanics had driven a 2-cylinder Winton Motor Carriage 800 miles from Cleveland, Ohio to New York City. Winton managed to gain enough attention for a small article in Horseless Age, the leading motor-car journal of the day. Over the next few years, Winton launched an advertising campaign that included regular print ads in Scientific American and the Saturday Evening Post. In 1899, Winton undertook his second publicity-oriented motorized trek to New York City, this time achieving his goal of reaching a broad audience of potential car buyers. In addition to the estimated 1,000,000 people who saw Winton drive into the city, the Cleveland Plain Dealer ran a series of articles covering the journey.

April 6, 1909
Hermann Lang, a German champion race car driver was born in the Bad Cannstatt district of Stuttgart, Germany.

April 6, 1934
The Ford Motor Company announced white sidewall tires as an option on its new vehicles at a cost of $11.25 per set. Whitewalls soon became associated with style and money. By the 1950s, whitewalls were standard on many cars, and it would be hard to imagine a '55 Corvette without a corresponding set of whitewall treads. The popularity of whitewalls continued well into the 1960s. Car companies offered different width white bands in a race to make their whitewalls whiter.

Hermann Lang (Image Courtesy: jamd.com)
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77 year old Hermann Lang with Mercedes-Benz W154 at the Nürburgring in 1986.
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Old 6th April 2009, 23:10   #373
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Default 7th April

April 7, 1925
Rolls Royce of America, Inc. registered "Rolls Royce" trademark first used on January 1, 1905 for automobiles and chassis.

April 7, 1922
Racer Sig Haugdahl drove the Wisconsin Special over 180mph on a one-way run at the Daytona Beach racing oval. Haugdahl's speed was a remarkable 24mph faster than the previous world-land speed record. A Norwegian immigrant who settled in Minnesota, Sig Haugdahl began his racing career in 1918. He became the IMCA champion but was considered an outsider by the more influential USAC governing body. Eager to prove he could outrace anybody, Haugdahl built his own car with the specific aim of unseating then USAC champion Tommy Milton. The fruit of Haugdahl's endeavor was the Wisconsin Special, so named because of its massive 836 cubic-inch Wisconsin Airplane engine. Antique car restorer Paul Freehill explained the mechanics of the Wisconsin Special's engine, "It's World War I technology that's leftover. There wasn't a clutch or anything; the engine was hooked directly to the rear axle." But however primitive the propulsion system may have been, Haugdahl had to be an innovator to make the car stay on the ground. He tapered the exposed parts of his car to cut drag. Where structural tapering was impossible, he wrapped parts in tape to cut drag. Haugdahl was also the first man to balance the wheels and tires on his race car. It was essential that Haugdahl pay attention to the smallest details, as the size of his engine left little room for error. The Wisconsin Special was only 20 inches wide. Even the 5'3" Haugdahl had to squeeze to fit in. Imagine the thrill of racing at 180mph on a sand course with the Wisconsin Special roaring a few feet from your back. Haugdahl was the first man to travel three miles in a minute, but his record was never observed by the USAC governing body as none of its members were present to witness the event. Those who were present witnessed a veritable miracle. Haugdahl's unofficial record would go untouched for over a decade.

April 7, 1947
Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company and father of modern assembly lines died due to cerebral hemorrhage at age 83 in Fair Lane, his Dearborn estate. He is buried in the Ford Cemetery in Detroit.

April 7, 1968
Jim Clark, one of the greatest grand prix racers of all time, died in a tragic accident during a Formula 2 race in Hockenheim, Germany. Clark, widely regarded as the most naturally gifted F1 racer of all time, competed his entire career on behalf of Colin Chapman's Team Lotus. He won two World Championships, in 1963 and in 1965. Clark's 1965 season is undoubtedly the sport's greatest individual achievement. Clark led every lap of every race he finished, and he won the Indy 500. Known for his soft-spoken manor, Clark was known for his ability to win on all types of courses, including those that he personally detested. He won four straight Belgian GPs at his least favorite course, the arduous Spa-Francorchamps circuit. Clark died in a meaningless race at Hockenheim, when his car mysteriously left the track and collided with a tree. His death shocked the racing world.

Sig Haugdahl
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Detriot Times Extra on Ford's death
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Jim Clark
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Old 7th April 2009, 20:49   #374
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Default 8th April

April 8, 1910
The Los Angeles Motordome, the first speedway with a board track, opened near Playa Del Rey, California, under the direction of Fred Moskovics and Jack Prince. The track was made of wood and ran a circumference of 5,281 feet. Board tracks used the same engineering technology as the smaller wood velodromes used in France for bicycle racing. The tracks were paved with 2x4's and were steeply banked at angles as high as 45 degrees. On such a track, a car-racing daredevil could reach speeds up to 100mph with his hands off the steering wheel. The L.A. Motordome, affectionately known as "The Boards," was a huge success. By 1915, nearly a half-dozen board tracks had popped up around the country. By 1931, there were 24 board tracks in operation including tracks in Beverly Hills, Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, and Atlantic City. Incidentally, the Beverly Hills track stood approximately where the prime-time shopping blocks of Rodeo Drive are located now. No tracks have ever approximated the speeds allowed on the heavily banked boards. Board tracks began to fade from existence during the Depression. The lifetime for 2x4's exposed to racing tires is approximately five years after which deadly splinters and potholes begin to dot the track's smooth surface. During the Depression, the expensive upkeep of the board tracks made them impractical. The last decade of board racing was a sight to behold. Cars tore down straightaways at 120mph while carpenter's patched the tracks from beneath. It wasn't unheard of for mischievous children to peek their heads up through holes in the board tracks to watch their favorite racers with a squirrel's eye view. Entertainment just isn't what it used to be.

April 8, 1916
Racer Bob Burman crashed through a barrier into the crowd at the last Boulevard Race in Corona, California. Burman, his riding mechanic Eric Scroeder, and a track policeman were killed, and five spectators were badly injured. The boulevard race started in 1913 as part of the AAA national championship schedule. The race was run on Grand Boulevard, a street that formed a perfect three-mile circle. Bob Burman was coming off an attempt at the world land-speed record at Brighton Beach, New York, where he had run 129mph. Burman led most of the race at Corona before his blue Peugot broke a wheel, sending the car over the curb and into a pole. The tragedy ended racing in inland Southern California for almost 40 years.

April 8, 2005
MG Rover Group collapsed under debts of $1.7 billion with a loss of more than 5,000 jobs.

Los Angeles Motordome, Playa Del Rey, CA.
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Bob Burman
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Bob Burman's car after the crash
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Old 8th April 2009, 20:51   #375
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Default 9th April

April 9, 1905
The first aerial car ferry was put in operation over the ship canal from Lake Avenue, Duluth, Minnesota, to Minnesota Point, Minnesota. The car was suspended in the air from a superstructure that loomed 135 feet clear of Lake Superior. The truss in the center of the structure was 51 feet high, placing the highest point of the superstructure 186 feet off of the surface of Lake Superior. The aerial ferry spanned 393 feet in length while its car platform measured 34 feet by 50 feet. The ferry could accommodate six cars and two glassed-in passenger cabins with a carrying capacity of 125,000 pounds. The platform itself hung 12 feet above the water line. A round trip on the aerial car ferry from Duluth to Minnesota Point lasted 10 minutes.

April 9, 1971
Jacques Joseph Charles Villeneuve, Canadian automobile F1 racing driver was born in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec. He is the son of Formula One driver Gilles Villeneuve, and is the namesake of his uncle (also a racer).

April 9, 1986
The French government ruled against the privatization of leading French carmaker Renault. The privatization of Renault, France's second largest carmaker to PSA Peugot-Citroen, has remained a highly debated issue since the 1986 decision. In 1994, the government sold shares of Renault to the public for the first time at 165 francs per share. The sale dramatically increased the company's revenue, but the French government remained the majority shareholder. Between 1996 and 1997, the market for cars in Europe grew precipitously, with the most marked increases in France. Renault, often scorned for its "public sector" policies, failed to capitalize on the growing markets. Instead foreign competitors like Volkswagen and Fiat took advantage. In 1995, Renault lost over $800 million. Renault and Peugot were the two weakest of Europe's Big Seven carmakers. Economists blame the French carmakers lack of success on its protectionist policies, and more specifically on the unwillingness of PSA Peugot and Renault to merge, a maneuver that would radically lower production costs for both auto-making giants.
It was eventually decided in 1996 that the company's state-owned status was detrimental to its growth, and Renault was privatized. This new freedom allowed the company to venture once again into Eastern Europe and South America, including a new factory in Brazil and upgrades for the infrastructure in Argentina and Turkey. It also meant the end of the aforementioned successful Formula 1 campaign. In 1999 Renault merged with Nissan Motor Campany.

Aerial Car Ferry on Lake Avenue, Duluth, Minnesota
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Jacques Villeneuve
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