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Old 9th April 2009, 22:56   #376
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Default 10th April

April 10, 1863
Adam Opel founded Adam Opel AG to make household goods namely sewing machines. He advertised his first product to general public time for the first time on this day.


April 10, 1944
Henry Ford II was named executive vice president of the Ford Motor Company. His promotion confirmed his bid to become the heir to his grandfather's throne at Ford. Henry II despised his grandfather for tormenting his father, Edsel Ford. Nevertheless Henry II went on to display many of the leadership skills of his grandfather en route to becoming the head of the Ford Empire. After an unsatisfactory academic career at Yale University—where Henry spent four years without receiving a diploma—he returned to work at the River Rouge plant. There he familiarized himself with the operation of the company, and he witnessed the bitter struggle for the succession of Henry Ford's title as president of the company. After his father Edsel Ford's death-- the result of "stomach cancer, undulant fever, and a broken heart"-- Ford Lieutenants Harry Bennett and Charles Sorensen fought a silent battle for the Ford throne. Henry Ford Sr. had reassumed the title of president, although it was clear he was too old to stay in that position for long. The irritable Henry I wasn't dead yet though, and he intervened on behalf of his violent pet Harry Bennet, who had gained power at Ford for his suppression of organized labor. After being passed up for the vice presidency of the company, Sorensen left the company after over 40 years of service. Many attributed Ford's poor treatment of Sorensen to personal jealousy. Henry the Elder was reportedly even jealous of his grandson's presence at the Rouge Plant. At the outbreak of World War II, Henry II left Ford for military service, which he carried out in Salt Lake City, Utah, until his father died on May 26, 1943. At that time he returned to Ford to take the reigns of the company at the urging of the U.S Government. His grandfather was finally too old to run the company; and if he didn't name a successor, the company would fall out of the family's control for the first time in its existence. Realizing that Henry's presence would make his own accession to the company's presidency impossible, strongman Harry Bennett attempted to bring Henry II under his influence. His efforts were of no avail, though, as Henry Ford II refused to be influenced by his tyrannical grandfather's toady. His accession to the executive vice-presidency made him the inevitable successor to the presidency of the Ford Motor Company. Henry Ford II went on to lead his family's company back to greatness from its dubious position behind both GM and Chrysler after the war.

April 10, 1969
Harley Earl, an automotive stylist and engineer and industrial designer died on this day due to a stroke in West Palm Beach, Florida. He was 75 years old. He is most famous for his time at General Motors from 1927 until 1959, where he was the first Vice President of Design. He is credited with heading the design team of Buick Y-job and Corvette.

April 10, 1972
Italian Fiat executive Oberdan Sallustro was executed by Argentine Communist guerrillas 20 days after he was kidnapped in Buenos Aires. During the '60s and '70s, Argentina was a violent ideological battleground. Communist organizers resisted the oppression of the Fascist dictator Juan Peron. The era was famous for its "desaparecidos," the inexplicable disappearances of Peron's political opponents at the hands of his security forces. Unfortunately, it was not only Peron who was guilty of atrocities. Sallustro was very likely targeted as a member of Fiat because of Peron's strong love for Italy. A symbol of the established power, Sallustro fell victim to a battle over which he had no control. His murder was regarded as a tragedy. Communist revolutionaries tried to claim that his execution was "approved" by the people of Argentina, but the argument was hollow.

Harley Earl
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Buick Y Job, the motor industry's first concept car.
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GM's Futurliner, a mega-bus designed by Harley Earl and built for GM's Motorama presentations in 1950.
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Oberdan Sallustro, Director General of FIAT Concord, Argentina
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Last edited by SirAlec : 9th April 2009 at 23:08.
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Old 10th April 2009, 21:47   #377
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Default 11th April

April 11, 1888
Henry Ford married Clara Bryant in Greenfield, Michigan, on her 22nd birthday. When Clara Bryant married Henry Ford, he was living on a 40-acre plot of land that belonged to his father. Instead of farming the land Ford had it cleared and sold the lumber. Once the lumber was gone, he took a job as an engineer at the Edison Illuminating Company. The move was the beginning of Ford's precipitous rise through the ranks of the engineering world, a career that saw he and his wife move 11 times between 1892 and 1915, always to finer circumstances. Not many wives in that day would have approved of such a migrant lifestyle, but Clara Bryant Ford did. She is credited with backing her husband in all of his endeavors. There was a time when Henry Ford's success as a maker of cars was dubious at best. Indeed, Ford spent the years between 1895 and 1901 as a virtual unknown and unpaid tinkerer. In 1896, Ford met Thomas Edison for the first time. Edison encouraged him in his car-building mission, exhorting Ford to continue his work.
The union of Clara and Henry would reach its most celebrated stages after Henry had become a success. Clara Bryant stood by her man, it's true, but there were times when she objected to his practices, and on those occasions she intervened. She is often credited with forcing her reluctant husband to finally give in to labor negotiations. In 1941, most of the workers at Ford's colossal River Rouge Plant walked out on their jobs. Even after a successful strike, Henry Ford refused to negotiate with the UAW. He believed that Ford workers were essentially loyal and that the union had bullied them into striking. The stubborn Ford said, "let the union take over," meaning he wouldn't run the company if they were a part of it. The government informed Ford that they would take over if he to choose to close the plants. Ford was immovable. He insisted the government, by backing the unions, would hurt the American auto industry and not Henry Ford. Finally, though, Henry capitulated. Apparently, Clara warned him that should he close the plants, he would have to seek a new wife.

April 11, 1913
Ettore Bugatti first proposed designing the super car that would eventually emerge as the Bugatti Type 41 Royale. Eventually called the "car of kings," Bugattis were huge hand-crafted luxury cars that were affordable only for Europe's elite.

Bugatti Type 41 Royale
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Old 11th April 2009, 22:11   #378
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Default 12th April

April 12, 1888
Cecil Kimber, the founder of MG, was born in Dulwich, England. MG stands for Morris Garages, which was the name for the Oxford distributor of Morris cars, a company owned by William Morris. When Kimber became general manager of Morris Garages in 1922, he immediately began work modifying Morris Cowleys, lowering the chassis and fitting sportier bodywork. In 1924, Morris Garages advertised the "MG Special four-seater Sports," the first car to bear the famous octagonal badge of MG. Old Number One, as the car was called, was actually the 48th body built for Morris by the manufacturing firm Carbodies, but it is still considered the grandfather of all true MG sports cars. Morris Garages outgrew its home in Oxford, and moved to Abingdon in 1929 under the name MG Car Company. The early 1930s were the glory years of MG sports cars during which time the company's road cars were promoted by its successful racing endeavors. For fiscal reasons, William Morris sold his private companies, which included MG, to the public holding company of Morris Motors. Purists contend that MG was never the same. Morris Motors diminished MG's racing activity, limited the variety of the company's products, and even placed the MG badge on company saloon cars. Cecil Kimber died in 1945 in a train crash. After his death, beautiful MG's were still produced, despite what the purists say. The Midget, the MGA, the TC, and the MGB were all good cars. Indeed, it wasn't until after Kimber's death that the MG caught on as a small sports car in the U.S. MG did, however, suffer after it was purchased by British Leyland, and the 1970s saw the company fall to pieces. Production at Abingdon stopped in 1980. In 1992, an MG revival was begun with the release of the MG RV8, a throwback to Kimber's earlier vision for MG sports cars.

April 12, 1968
Heinz Heinrich Nordhoff, a German automobile engineer died of heard failure at the age of 69. He is famous for his leadership of the Volkswagen company as it was rebuilt after World War II. Following the war, he was appointed Managing Director of Volkswagen, assuming the position on 2 January 1948. Nordhoff became legendary from turning the Volkswagen Beetle into a worldwide automotive phenomenon.

April 12, 1977
General Motors (GM) announced it had dropped plans to produce a Wankel rotary engine on the grounds that its poor fuel economy would hurt sales.

Cecil Kimber, founder of MG.
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Heinz Heinrich Nordhoff
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Old 13th April 2009, 01:08   #379
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Default 13th April

April 13, 1925
Elwood Haynes died in Kokomo, Indiana, at the age of 67. Haynes, the founder of the Haynes Automobile Company, led a remarkable life that began in Portland, Indiana. The son of pioneer farmers Judge Jacob and Hillinda Haynes, Elwood thirsted for education at an early age. He eventually received degrees in engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and from Johns Hopkins. He returned to Portland to become a high school teacher in his subjects. His career and life turned around as the result of the discovery of vast natural gas deposits near Portland. Forever curious, Haynes familiarized himself with natural gas containment and piping methods. He became the architect for the Indiana Natural Gas Company's pipe network that provided most of Chicago with natural gas. Haynes was the first man to suggest that natural gas should be dehydrated before it was piped, a principle still in use today. From his laboratory at the Indiana Natural Gas Company, Haynes began tinkering with internal combustion engines. He completed his first car in 1894, one year after Charles Duryea is credited with having built the first American car. Such was the dissemination of information at the time that Haynes, even until his death, was credited with building the first American car. After creating his prototype, Haynes started his own car company, which he ran for nearly three decades. He is credited with a number of automotive innovations, including the rotary engine. But Haynes' greatest achievements came as a metallurgist. He was the first American to pioneer the oxidization of steel and the use of chromium to retard nature's oxidization process. He eventually received a U.S. patent for "stainless steel," although the invention first surfaced in England under the name "rustless iron."

April 13, 1931
Daniel Sexton Gurney, an American racing driver was born in Port Jefferson, New York. Gurney is the first driver to win races in Formula One (1962), NASCAR (1963), and Indy Car (1967). The other two are Mario Andretti and Juan Pablo Montoya.


April 13, 1956
Peter Raymond George "Possum" Bourne, a three time APRC rally champion was born in in Pukekohe, Auckland. He died tragically under non-competitive circumstances while driving on a public road, that was to be the track for an upcoming race.
Bourne was best known for his exploits behind the wheel of Subaru, initially the RX, the turbocharged version of the Leone, then the Legacy. But it would be the Impreza WRX that he would become most associated with, driving for the Prodrive Subaru World Rally Team in Rally New Zealand, Australia and also in Indonesia, partnered by Kenneth Eriksson in the mid 1990s, before going on to win multiple Australian titles with his own team.
Subaru Japan even awarded him a black limited edition STi version of the Impreza for personal use.

April 13, 1974
Darren Turner, an English racing driver was born in Reading, Berkshire. He was McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year in 1996. He was also a former test driver for the McLaren Formula One team, but has raced primarily in touring cars and sportscars since 2000.


A 1916 Haynes on display at the Central Texas Museum of Automotive History.
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Dan Gurney
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Possum Bourne
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Darren Turner in his SEAT at the Oulton Park round of the 2007 British Touring Car Championship.
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Old 14th April 2009, 02:29   #380
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Default 14th April

April 14, 1927
The first regular production Volvo, nicknamed "Jakob," left the assembly line in Goteborg, Sweden. Volvo was the result of a collaboration between Assar Gabrielsson and Gustaf Larson. Gabrielsson was an economist and a businessman who began his career at SKF Manufacturing in Goteborg. As head of SKF's subsidiary in France, he discovered that, due to the comparative labor costs, it was possible to sell Swedish ball bearings in France more cheaply than American ones. The realization planted the seed that it was also possible to supply cars to continental Europe at a lower cost than American car companies could. Enter Gustaf Larson, engineer and designer. He had been a trainee at White & Poppe in Coventry, England, where he had helped design engines for Morris. The two men met in 1923, and by the next year they already had plans to build cars. Larson gathered a team of engineers, and began work on a car design in his spare time. By July of 1926, the chassis drawings were complete. Meanwhile Gabrielsson had aroused the interest of SKF in his project, and he obtained guarantees and credit form the parent company to build 1,000 vehicles, 500 open and 500 covered. SKF provided the name, AB Volvo. Volvo is Latin for "I Roll." It wasn't until the 1930s that Volvo made a mark on the international automotive world. Volvo purchased its engine supplier, Pentaverken, and began production on a variety of car models, including the PV651 that enjoyed great success in the taxicab market. After weathering the lean years of the early '30s, Volvo released its first "streamlined car" the PV36, or Carioca, a car heavily influenced by American designs, in 1936. Also in line with American marketing strategies was Volvo's decision to release new car models in the autumn, a tradition it began in 1938. Volvo's fortunes would mirror those of the American car companies after the war. Because of Sweden's neutrality during the war its production facilities were left undamaged, allowing Volvo to meet the demand for cars in Sweden and Europe after the war.

Volvo 'Jacob', the first Volvo.
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Jacob being assembled at the Volvo factory, Gothenberg, Sweden
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Old 15th April 2009, 00:45   #381
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Default 15th April

April 15, 1912
Washington Augustus Roebling II, car racer and designer, perished in the RMS Titanic when the ship sank in the North Atlantic Ocean. Roebling was the son of John A. Roebling, president of Roebling and Sons Company of Trenton, New Jersey. Washington's namesake, Colonel Washington A. Roebling, had been one of the builders of the Brooklyn Bridge. Young Washington began work as an engineer at the Walter Automobile Plant, which was later taken over by the Mercer Automobile Company. While working for Mercer, Washington designed and built the Roebling-Planche race car that he raced to a second-place finish in the 1910 edition of the Vanderbilt Cup Race. In early 1912, Washington embarked on a tour of Europe with his friend Stephen Blackwell. Roebling's chauffeur Frank Stanley brought with him the Roebling's Fiat in which the group began their continental adventure. A week before the completion of their tour, Stanley fell ill, and returned to America with the family Fiat. Roebling and Blackwell booked passage on the RMS Titanic in the first-class cabin. On the night of April 14, according to Titanic survivor Edith Graham, Roebling alerted her and her daughter to the danger. He helped them to a lifeboat making no attempt to save his own life and reportedly remarked to them cheerfully, "You will be back with us on the ship again soon." Both Roebling and Blackwell perished.
April 15, 1924
Rand McNally released its first comprehensive road atlas on this day in 1924. Today Rand McNally is the world's largest maker of atlases in print and electronic media.

April 15, 1943
An Allied bomber attack misses the Minerva automobile factory and hits the Belgian town of Mortsel instead, killing 936 civilians.

April 15, 1965
The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel opened. Connecting Kiptopeke and Chesapeake Beach, Virginia, the bridge-tunnel hybrid spans the entire mouth of the great Chesapeake Bay. It is the longest such structure in the world at 17.65 miles in length. The bridge-tunnel is essentially an artificial causeway raised on platforms. At the north end of the bay, a high extension bridge crosses a shipping lane. At the south end of the structure, two mile-long tunnels cross commercial shipping lanes.

Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel
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Old 15th April 2009, 23:59   #382
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Default 16th April

April 16, 1908
The first Oakland car was sold to a private owner. Oakland Car Company was the creation of Edward Murphy, the founder of the Pontiac Buggy Company. Murphy was one of the most respected designers in the carriage industry. He decided to enter the car industry, and he invited Alanson Brush, the designer of the Brush Runabout to join him. Brush had been a chief engineer at Cadillac. His contract with Cadillac included a no-competition clause that had just ended when he met Murphy. Anxious to get back into the design race, Brush built a car for Murphy that was ready in 1908. Oakland ran independently for less than a year before it was purchased by William C. Durant and absorbed into Durant's holding company, General Motors. Durant's purchase of Oakland is often regarded as mysterious, considering the company had enjoyed little success and had produced less than a 1,000 cars at the time Durant purchased it. Often accused of "intuitive" business practices, Durant claimed that his purchase of Oakland, while exhausting his cash flow, provided GM with a more impressive portfolio on which to base their stock interest. Nevertheless, his decision to purchase Oakland, later called Pontiac, forced Durant out of control of GM.

April 16, 1946
Arthur Chevrolet, brother of Chevrolet namesake Louis Chevrolet, committed suicide at age 60 in Slidell, Louisiana. Louis and Arthur made their names as car racers in the first decade of the century. Known for their fearless driving styles, both brothers raced against American racing legend Barney Oldfield. The brothers came into contact with General Motors founder William Durant when Durant, impressed by their racing talents invited the brothers to audition for the job of chauffeur. He reportedly took the brothers to a track and raced them. Louis won the race, but Durant gave Arthur the chauffeur job. He offered Louis a position on GM's elite Buick Racing Team. Chevrolet raced and designed for Buick during the years of Durant's GM presidency. When Durant stepped down, new GM President Charles Nash took the money away from the Buick Racing Team. Durant asked Louis and Arthur to start a new venture. Born racers, Louis and Arthur designed a performance car that became the first Chevrolet. Durant wanted something to compete with GM's lower-priced models. Disappointed with Durant's demands for an economy car, Louis and Arthur eventually left Chevrolet to pursue their own racing and design endeavors. The brothers worked closely together for their entire careers. They designed aircraft engines, car engines, and continued to race. In spite of designing many successful engines, the Chevrolet brothers had little gift for finance, and they often were pushed out of their endeavors before they could reap the rewards due to them. By 1933, both men were broke, and their racing careers were over. Louis returned to Detroit to work as mechanic in GM's Chevrolet division. In the late '30s, he suffered a series of strokes which incapacitated him and finally killed him. With his brother dead and no fortune to speak of, Arthur was a broken man.

Oakland Car
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Old 16th April 2009, 00:14   #383
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376 posts, 655 Images, 1 video, 20 minutes daily. This thread has completed a whole year.
Thanks people for taking time to read this lengthy thread. I hope members enjoyed it reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them.

The informations were extensively double checked from multiple sources. I apologize for any historical or typo errors that may have occured.

Thanks moderators and owner of this forums for their extensive support for this endevour. Especially GTO for the encouragement and Rehaan, who is the defacto cleaner of most of my thread, and keep them clutter and error free.

Last edited by SirAlec : 16th April 2009 at 00:16.
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Old 7th September 2009, 13:00   #384
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This posting should have been on September 1, 2009 but anyway here it goes:

Ward’s Auto World has recently posted an article on 20 years of Lexus. In the Sep 2009 issue it has noted that when Toyota launched Lexus in the US on Sept. 1, 1989, most industry watchers were skeptical whether Lexus could compete with the Germans or the Americans. In fact, Eberhard von Kuenheim (managing director) from BMW (AG) back then had regarded (Lexus) a mere poseur in the marketplace. He basically sniffed and said, "They have no heritage." A lot of people sort of considered them overreaching." Ross Roberts, then vice president and general manager of Ford Motor Co.'s Lincoln-Mercury Div., told Ward's in 1989, "We don't expect to lose many buyers to (Lexus)." Even some Toyota dealers weren't convinced a luxury brand was the smartest investment for the company at the time. "Not everybody thought this was a good idea to split out the resources of the company; (they thought) that we should concentrate on growing Toyota," Dave Illingworth, Lexus' first general manager, says of dealers' reservations.

But Lexus quickly proved naysayers wrong. By the close of 1991, Lexus had overtaken BMW and Mercedes in US sales, and by 2000 Lexus became the No.1 selling luxury brand in the US. However, it should be noted that amongst the super-luxury segment ($50K+), Merc still rules.

About 75% of the first crop of Lexus dealers also were Toyota dealers, chosen based on their customer-service scores. Whether he was a competitive dealer or Toyota dealer, he had to have exceptional customer satisfaction. Property and necessary funds to build a Lexus store, at the time $3-5 million, were important but secondary. In comparison, a new 2009 Lexus store in Miami is setting back one dealer $75 million.

However, 2008-09 have not been kind to Lexus. Ward’s data for Jan-Jul 2009 shows Lexus sales down 34.1% to 90,060 units, placing it behind BMW (93,563 units) for the first time in 12 years. To expand sales, Lexus studied BMW's playbook and introduced in recent years variants of existing models, trying to carve out a niche in luxury hybrid-electric vehicles, for example. Lexus now is launching the HS 250h dedicated HEV, an entry-level luxury sedan geared toward fuel economy rather than performance. Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda has also recently confirmed a supercar based on the LF-A concept. It reportedly will start at more than $200,000. This is more to create a halo than generate sales.
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Old 10th September 2009, 16:44   #385
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This site seems to have history events for each date with a section on automotives.
For example, 9/11:

September 11, 1970: Pinto competes with imports
The Ford Pinto was introduced on this day at a cost of less than $2,000, designed to compete with an influx of compact imports. But it was not the Pinto's low cost that grabbed headlines. Ford's new best-selling compact contained a fatal design flaw: because of the placement of the gas tank, the tank was likely to rupture and explode when the car was involved in a rear end collision of over 20mph. In addition, it was eventually revealed that Ford knew about the design flaw before the Pinto was released. An internal cost-benefit analysis prepared by Ford calculated that it would take $11 per car to correct the flaw at a total cost of $137 million for the company. When compared to the lowly estimate of $49.5 million in potential lawsuits from the mistake, the report deemed it "inefficient" to go ahead with the correction. The infamous report assigned a value of $200,000 for each death predicted to result from the flaw. Ford's irresponsibility caused a public uproar, and it 1978, a California jury awarded a record-breaking $128 million to a claimant in the Ford Pinto case.


September 10, 1897: First DWI arrest is made

Even without Breathalyzers and line tests, George Smith's swerving was enough to alarm British police and make him the first person arrested for drunken driving. Unfortunately, Smith's arrest did nothing to discourage the many other drunk drivers who have taken to the road since. Although drunk driving is illegal in most countries, punished by heavy fines and mandatory jail sentences, it continues to be one of the leading causes of automobile accidents throughout the world. Alcohol-related automobile accidents are responsible for approximately one-third of the traffic fatalities in the United States--16,000 deaths each year, and also account for over half a million injuries and $1 billion of property damage annually.


September 9, 1966: No longer unsafe at any speed?
In response to the national uproar over automobile safety prompted by Ralph Nader's book Unsafe at Any Speed, the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act was signed into law on this day. Nader's book targeted the American automobile industry's neglect of safety issues, using General Motors' dangerous Corvair model as a focus for his criticism. Congress responded to the nation's concern by passing a new bill, which established federal safety standards with strict penalties for violations. At the signing of the bill, President Johnson assured Nader and a crowd of several hundred that safety was "no luxury item, no optional extra."

Quite US-centric but still interesting.

Last edited by vasudeva : 10th September 2009 at 16:48.
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Old 15th September 2009, 09:29   #386
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Exactly 1 year ago on September 15, 2008, Lehman Brothers went into bankruptcy. Result: credit froze, people lost their jobs, and growth and trade plunged. One consequence: automotive sales and production declined sharply. For India, this is the growth (see after Sep 2008).
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Old 17th April 2010, 12:05   #387
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April 17, 1964:

Exactly this day, 46 years ago, Lee Iacocca unveils the legendary Ford Mustang to the world.
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Old 24th May 2010, 01:26   #388
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^^^^^

Its here!

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/intern...e-history.html (This Day In Automotive History)

this was the very reason that inspired me to started this thread.
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Old 24th May 2010, 22:54   #389
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Default 25th May! Unusal Petrol Head and Car Lover

May 25, 1994
On this day in 1994, the ashes of 71-year-old George Swanson are buried (according to Swanson's request) in the driver's seat of his 1984 white Corvette in Hempfield County, Pennsylvania.
Swanson, a beer distributor and former U.S. Army sergeant during World War II, died the previous March 31 at the age of 71. He had reportedly been planning his automobile burial for some time, buying 12 burial plots at Brush Creek Cemetery, located 25 miles east of Pittsburgh, in order to ensure that his beloved Corvette would fit in his grave with him. After his death, however, the cemetery balked, amid concerns of vandalism and worries that other clients would be offended by the outlandish nature of the burial. They finally relented after weeks of negotiations, but insisted that the burial be private, and that the car be drained of fluids to protect the environment.

According to the AP, Swanson's widow, Caroline, transported her husband's ashes to the cemetery on the seat of her own white 1993 Corvette. The ashes were then placed on the driver's seat of his 10-year-old car, which had only 27,000 miles on the odometer. Inside the car, mourners also placed a lap quilt made by a group of women from Swanson's church, a love note from his wife and an Engelbert Humperdinck tape in the cassette deck, with the song "Release Me" cued up and ready to play. The license plate read "HI-PAL," which was Swanson's go-to greeting when he didn't remember a name. As 50 mourners looked on, a crane lowered the Corvette into a 7-by-7-by-16-foot hole.


George Swanson's Grave
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Old 12th September 2010, 22:26   #390
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Default Oprah gives away nearly 300 new cars

September 13, 2004
On this day in 2004, TV talk-show host Oprah Winfrey gives a brand-new Pontiac G-6 sedan, worth $28,500, to everyone in her studio audience: a total of 276 cars in all.) Oprah had told her producers to fill the crowd with people who “desperately needed” the cars, and when she announced the prize (by jumping up and down, waving a giant keyring and yelling “Everybody gets a car! Everybody gets a car!”), mayhem--crying, screaming, delirium, fainting--broke out all around her. It was, as one media expert told a reporter, “one of the great promotional stunts in the history of television.” Alas, scandal wasn't far behind. For one thing, the gift wasn't really from Oprah at all. Pontiac had donated the cars, paying the hefty price tag out of its advertising budget, because the company hoped that that the giveaway would drum up some enthusiasm for its new G-6 line. (To this end, during the segment, Winfrey herself took a tour of a Pontiac plant, gushing over the cars' satellite radios and fancy navigation systems.) The car company also paid the state sales tax on each of the automobiles it donated. However, that still left the new-car recipients with a large bill for their supposedly free vehicles: Federal and state income taxes added up to about $6,000 for most winners. Some people paid the taxes by taking out car loans; others traded their new Pontiacs for cheaper, less souped-up cars. “It's not really a free car,” one winner said. “It's more of a 75 percent-off car. Of course, that's still not such a bad deal.”
Two months later, Oprah hosted another giveaway episode, this one for teachers from around the country. Their gifts were worth about $13,000 and included a $2,249 TV set, a $2,000 laptop, a $2,189 washer/dryer, sets of $38 champagne glasses and a $495 leather duffel bag. This time, the show’s producers had learned their lesson: they also gave each audience member a check for $2,500, which they hoped would cover the tax bill for all the loot. Unfortunately, it didn't quite--most people in the audience owed the Internal Revenue Service between $4,500 and $6,000--but the PR gimmick worked: Oprah’s giveaways have earned some of the highest ratings in the program’s history.


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