. This is a discussion on This Day in Automotive History within The Automotive Library. Part of The Auto Talk category; May 27th 1923
First Le Mans Grand Prix d'Endurance is concluded. Winners Andre Lagache and Renee Leonard covered 1,372.928 miles ...
May 27th 1923
First Le Mans Grand Prix d'Endurance is concluded. Winners Andre Lagache and Renee Leonard covered 1,372.928 miles in a Chenard-Walker car. Le Mans is the world's longest-running 24-hour event, a type of racing that's considered the ultimate test of sports car performance.
May 27th 1927
Production of the Ford Model T officially ended after 15,007,033 units had been built. The Model T sold more units than any other car model in history, until the Volkswagen Beetle eclipsed its record in the 1970s.
May 27th 1930
Chrysler Building in NYC. opened as world's tallest building.
Ford Model T & Henry Ford. Its named as the world's most influential car of the twentieth century after an International poll.
May 28th 1916
Barney Oldfield ran a qualifying lap in his front-wheel-drive Christie at 102.6mph. It was the first time any driver had rounded the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in excess of 100mph. But Oldfield ended up finishing fifth on race day, as Dario Resta beat the field in his Peugeot.
May 28th 1937
The Golden Gate Bridge opened to vehicular traffic on this day in 1937. One of the world's largest single-span suspension bridges, the Golden Gate Bridge was designed by Clifford Paine.
May 28th 1937
On this day in 1937, the government of Germany--then under the control of Adolf Hitler of the National Socialist (Nazi) Party--forms a new state-owned automobile company, then known as Gesellschaft zur Vorbereitung des Deutschen Volkswagens mbH. Later that year, it was renamed simply Volkswagenwerk, or "The People's Car Company."
Originally operated by the German Labor Front, a Nazi organization, Volkswagen was headquartered in Wolfsburg, Germany. In addition to his ambitious campaign to build a network of autobahns and limited access highways across Germany, Hitler's pet project was the development and mass production of an affordable yet still speedy vehicle that could sell for less than 1,000 Reich marks (about $140 at the time). To provide the design for this "people's car," Hitler called in the Austrian automotive engineer Ferdinand Porsche. In 1938, at a Nazi rally, the Fuhrer declared: "It is for the broad masses that this car has been built. Its purpose is to answer their transportation needs, and it is intended to give them joy." However, soon after the KdF (Kraft-durch-Freude)-Wagen ("Strength-Through-Joy" car) was displayed for the first time at the Berlin Motor Show in 1939, World War II began, and Volkswagen halted production. After the war ended, with the factory in ruins, the Allies would make Volkswagen the focus of their attempts to resuscitate the German auto industry.
Volkswagen sales in the United States were initially slower than in other parts of the world, due to the car's historic Nazi connections as well as its small size and unusual rounded shape. In 1959, the advertising agency Doyle Dane Bernbach launched a landmark campaign, dubbing the car the "Beetle" and spinning its diminutive size as a distinct advantage to consumers. Over the next several years, VW became the top-selling auto import in the United States. In 1960, the German government sold 60 percent of Volkswagen's stock to the public, effectively denationalizing it. Twelve years later, the Beetle surpassed the longstanding worldwide production record of 15 million vehicles, set by Ford Motor Company's legendary Model T between 1908 and 1927.
With the Beetle's design relatively unchanged since 1935, sales grew sluggish in the early 1970s. VW bounced back with the introduction of sportier models such as the Rabbit and later, the Golf. In 1998, the company began selling the highly touted "New Beetle" while still continuing production of its predecessor. After nearly 70 years and more than 21 million units produced, the last original Beetle rolled off the line in Puebla, Mexico, on July 30, 2003.
May 29th 1950
Preston Tucker's lawsuit against his former prosecutors was thrown out of court. Tucker had been indicted for stock fraud after managing to produce only 53 of his long-awaited Tucker cars. The court case ruined Tucker's chances of ever releasing the car on a grand scale. Tucker charged the Big Three with trumping up a conspiracy to ground his competitive operation. Eventually all the charges against Tucker were dropped. Hungry to clear his name, Preston Tucker sued his former prosecutors on various grounds related to the destruction of his reputation. It was generally believed that Tucker's initial acquittal was an act of charity granted to an overly-ambitious, failed entrepreneur. Tucker's case was dismissed after little consideration. It was Preston Tucker's last-gasp effort to save his name, and it failed. His reputation has fared far better in recent years with the help of the Hollywood movie Tucker: The Man and His Dream, starring Jeff Bridges, that portrays Tucker as a visionary in a practical age.
29th May 1971
Al Unser became the first racer to win a single-day purse of over $200,000 at the Indy 500. The only racer besides A.J. Foyt to win four Indy 500s, Al Unser, too, has a legitimate claim to the title of Indy's greatest.
29th May 2005
On this day in 2005, 23-year-old Danica Patrick becomes the first female driver to take the lead in the storied Indianapolis 500.
Preston Tucker with his Tucker Sedan, Only 51 plus one prototype were ever build, but its impact is even felt today.
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PS: Akash! Will do that when activity on this forum increases a bit. As i mostly reply to auto related query.
May 30th 1911
Ray Harroun won the inaugural Indianapolis 500, averaging 74.6mph in the Marmon Wasp. The Indy 500 was the creation of Carl Fisher. In the fall of 1909, Fisher replaced the ruined, crushed-stone surface of his 2.5-mile oval with a brand-new brick one. It was the largest paved, banked oval in the United States. Fisher then made two decisions vital to the success of the Indy 500. First, he determined to hold only one race per year on his Indianapolis Motor Speedway; second, he elected to offer the richest purse in racing as a reward for competing in his annual 500-mile event.
May 30th 1896
First recorded auto accident occurred: Duryea Motor Wagon, driven by Henry Wells from Springfield, MA, collided with bicycle ridden by Evylyn Thomas of New York City.
May 30th 2002
Trabant filed for insolvency protection.
Ray Harroun's Marmon "Wasp" on display at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum
May 31st 1870
Professor Edward Joseph De Smedt of the American Asphalt Pavement Company, New York City, received two patents for his invention known as "French asphalt pavement." De Smedt had invented the first practical version of sheet asphalt. On July 29 of the same year, the first road pavement of sheet asphalt was laid on William Street in Newark, New Jersey.
May 31st 1898
Thomas A. Edison received a patent for a "Governor for Motors", a "means for adjusting the governor for any desired speed, and with the means, such as centrifugal governor-*****, for regulating the friction members to maintain a constant speed."
May 31st 1904
Byron J. Carter, of Jackson, MI, received a U.S. patent for "Transmission-Gearing"; "friction-drive" mechanism replaced conventional transmission to provide more precise control of a car's speed; never really caught on, proved susceptible to poor road conditions; technology involved in the friction-drive is, however, related to today's disc brakes.
May 31st 1929
After two years of exploratory visits and friendly negotiations, Ford Motor Company signs a landmark agreement to produce cars in the Soviet Union on this day in 1929.
The Soviet Union, which in 1928 had only 20,000 cars and a single truck factory, was eager to join the ranks of automotive production, and Ford, with its focus on engineering and manufacturing methods, was a natural choice to help. The always independent-minded Henry Ford was strongly in favor of his free-market company doing business with Communist countries.
Signed in Dearborn, Michigan, on May 31, 1929, the contract stipulated that Ford would oversee construction of a production plant at Nizhni Novgorod, located on the banks of the Volga River, to manufacture Model A cars. An assembly plant would also start operating immediately within Moscow city limits. In return, the USSR agreed to buy 72,000 unassembled Ford cars and trucks and all spare parts to be required over the following nine years, a total of some $30 million worth of Ford products. Valery U. Meshlauk, vice chairman of the Supreme Council of National Economy, signed the Dearborn agreement on behalf of the Soviets. To comply with its side of the deal, Ford sent engineers and executives to the Soviet Union.
At the time the U.S. government did not formally recognize the USSR in diplomatic negotiations, so the Ford agreement was groundbreaking. (A week after the deal was announced the Soviet Union would announce deals with 15 other foreign companies, including E.I. Du Pont de Nemours and RCA.) As Douglas Brinkley writes in "Wheels for the World," his book on Henry Ford and Ford Motor, the automaker was firm in his belief that introducing capitalism was the best way to undermine communism. In any case, Ford's assistance in establishing motor vehicle production facilities in the USSR would greatly impact the course of world events, as the ability to produce these vehicles helped the Soviets defeat Germany on the Eastern Front during World War II. In 1944, according to Brinkley, Stalin wrote to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, calling Henry Ford "one of the world's greatest industrialists" and expressing the hope that "may God preserve him."
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June 1st 1917
Henry Leland, the founder of the Cadillac Motor Car Company, resigned as company president on this date in 1917. Ever since William Durant had arranged for General Motors (GM) to purchase Cadillac, Leland and Durant had endured a strained relationship. But Leland's electric starter had made Cadillac so successful early on that Durant had avoided meddling with the autonomy of his company. Leland's next great achievement at Cadillac was his supervision of his son's proposal that Cadillac should introduce a V-8 engine.
June 1st 1934
On this day in 1934, the Tokyo-based Jidosha-Seizo Kabushiki-Kaisha (Automobile Manufacturing Co., Ltd. in English) takes on a new name: Nissan Motor Company.
Jidosha-Seizo Kabushiki-Kaisha had been established in December 1933. The company's new name, adopted in June 1934, was an abbreviation for Nippon Sangyo, a "zaibatsu" (or holding company) belonging to Tobata's founder, Yoshisuke Aikawa. Nissan produced its first Datsun (a descendant of the Dat Car, a small, boxy passenger vehicle designed by Japanese automotive pioneer Masujiro Hashimoto that was first produced in 1914) at its Yokohama plant in April 1935. The company began exporting cars to Australia that same year. Beginning in 1938 and lasting throughout World War II, Nissan converted entirely from producing small passenger cars to producing trucks and military vehicles. Allied occupation forces seized much of Nissan's production operations in 1945 and didn't return full control to Nissan until a decade later.
In 1960, Nissan became the first Japanese automaker to win the Deming Prize for engineering excellence. New Datsun models like the Bluebird (1959), the Cedric (1960) and the Sunny (1966) helped spur Nissan sales in Japan and abroad, and the company experienced phenomenal growth over the course of the 1960s.
The energy crises of the next decade fueled the rise in exports of affordable, fuel-efficient Japanese-made cars: The third-generation Sunny got the highest score on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's tests of fuel economy in 1973. Success in the United States and other markets allowed Nissan to expand its foreign operations, which now include manufacturing and assembly plants in as many as 17 countries around the world. Today, Nissan--which dropped the Datsun name in the mid-1980s--is the third-largest car manufacturer in Japan, behind first-place Toyota and just behind Honda. After struggling in the late 1990s, the company turned itself around by building an alliance with French carmaker Renault; overhauling its luxury car line, Infiniti; and releasing the Titan pickup truck as well as revamped versions of the famous Z sports car and mid-size Altima sedan.
June 2nd 1970
Car racer, designer, and manufacturer Bruce McLaren was killed when his McLaren M8D lost its back end at high speed and collided with an earthen embankment at the Goodwood racetrack in England.
June 2nd 1988
Consumer Reports called for ban on Suzuki Samurai automobile.
June 3rd 1864
Ransom Eli Olds, founder of Old Motor Vehicle Company was born to Pliny and Sarah Olds in the northeastern Ohio town of Geneva.
June 3rd 1921
Mack adopted Bulldog as symbol for Mack trucks.
June 3rd 1957
On this day in 1957, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that the chemical company E. I. Du Pont de Nemours & Co. must give up its large stock interest in the Detroit-based automobile company General Motors on the grounds that it constituted a monopoly, or a concentration of power that reduced competition or otherwise interfered with trade.
Between 1917 and 1919, Du Pont invested $50 million in GM, becoming the automaker's largest stockholder, with a 23 percent share. The chemical company's founder, Pierre S. Du Pont, served as GM's president from 1920 to 1923 and as chairman of the company's board from 1923 to 1929. By that time, GM had passed Ford Motor Company as the largest manufacturer of passenger cars in the United States, and had become one of the largest companies in the world, in any industry.
In 1949, the U.S. Justice Department brought suit against Du Pont, charging that the chemical giant's close relationship with GM gave it an illegal advantage over competitors in the sale of its automotive finishes and textiles. This advantage, according to the suit, violated the 1890 Sherman Antitrust Act, Congress' first attempt to regulate monopolies. The case dragged on for five years before Chicago's U.S. District Court Judge Walter J. LaBuy dismissed the government's suit, ruling that it had "failed to prove conspiracy, monopolization, a restraint of trade, or any reasonable probability of a restraint."
The Justice Department appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, and on June 3, 1957, the Court handed down its decision. It based its reversal of LaBuy's verdict not on the Sherman Act but on Section 7 of the Clayton Act, which had been passed in 1914 to clarify and support the Sherman Act. This section, to which government lawyers had dedicated only a tiny portion of their case, prohibited any corporation from purchasing stock in another "where the effect of such acquisition may be to restrain commerce or tend to create a monopoly of any line of commerce."
The four justices in the majority were Chief Justice Earl Warren, William Brennan, Hugo Black and William Douglas; Brennan wrote the majority opinion, which stated that the "inference is overwhelming that Du Pont's commanding position [in the sale of automobile finishes and fabrics to GM] was promoted by its stock interest and was not gained solely on competitive merit." Justices Harold Burton and Felix Frankfurter dissented from the majority, while two justices--Tom Black and John Marshall Harlan--disqualified themselves from the case: Black had been attorney general in 1949, when the Justice Department brought the case, and Harlan had previously represented Du Pont as a lawyer.
Ransom E. Olds in the Olds Pirate racing car in 1896-97
June 4th 1896
At approximately 4:00 a.m. on June 4, 1896, in the shed behind his home on Bagley Avenue in Detroit, Henry Ford unveils the "Quadricycle," the first automobile he ever designed or drove.
Ford was working as the chief engineer for the main plant of the Edison Illuminating Company when he began working on the Quadricycle. On call at all hours to ensure that Detroit had electrical service 24 hours a day, Ford was able to use his flexible working schedule to experiment with his pet project--building a horseless carriage with a gasoline-powered engine. His obsession with the gasoline engine had begun when he saw an article on the subject in a November 1895 issue of American Machinist magazine. The following March, another Detroit engineer named Charles King took his own hand-built vehicle--made of wood, it had a four-cylinder engine and could travel up to five miles per hour--out for a ride, fueling Ford's desire to build a lighter and faster gasoline-powered model.
As he would do throughout his career, Ford used his considerable powers of motivation and organization to get the job done, enlisting friends--including King--and assistants to help him bring his vision to life. After months of work and many setbacks, Ford was finally ready to test-drive his creation--basically a light metal frame fitted with four bicycle wheels and powered by a two-cylinder, four-horsepower gasoline engine--on the morning of June 4, 1896. When Ford and James Bishop, his chief assistant, attempted to wheel the Quadricycle out of the shed, however, they discovered that it was too wide to fit through the door. To solve the problem, Ford took an axe to the brick wall of the shed, smashing it to make space for the vehicle to be rolled out.
With Bishop bicycling ahead to alert passing carriages and pedestrians, Ford drove the 500-pound Quadricycle down Detroit's Grand River Avenue, circling around three major thoroughfares. The Quadricycle had two driving speeds, no reverse, no brakes, rudimentary steering ability and a doorbell button as a horn, and it could reach about 20 miles per hour, easily overpowering King's invention. Aside from one breakdown on Washington Boulevard due to a faulty spring, the drive was a success, and Ford was on his way to becoming one of the most formidable success stories in American business history.
June 4th 1959
Kihachiro Kawashima selected as Executive Vice President, General Manager of American Honda Motor Company (seven employees, operating capital of $250,000.); opened shop in small storefront office on Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles to serve consumers wanting small, light, easy to handle and maintain two-wheeled vehicles.
Henry Ford on his Quadricycle
1896 Ford Quadricycle with Henry Ford, Clara Ford and Henry Ford Jr.
June 5th 1937
Henry Ford initiated 32 hour work week.
June 5th 1951
Gordon M. Buehrig, of South Bend, IN, received a patent for "Vehicle Top Construction", vehicle top with removable panels; appeared as "T-top" on 1968 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray.
Buehrig was one of 25 candidates for Car Designer of the Century, an international award given in 1999 to honor the most influential automobile designer of the 20th century.
June 5th 1998
On this day in 1998, 3,400 members of the United Auto Workers (UAW) union walk out on their jobs at a General Motors (GM) metal-stamping factory in Flint, Michigan, beginning a strike that will last seven weeks and stall production at GM facilities nationwide.
June 6th 1925
Walter Percy Chrysler renamed Maxwell Motor Company as the Chrysler Corporation.
June 6th 1932
The first gasoline tax levied by US Congress was enacted as a part of the Revenue Act of 1932. The Act mandated a series of excise taxes on a wide variety of consumer goods. Congress placed a tax of 1¢ per gallon on gasoline and other motor fuel sold.
June 6th 1933
On this day in 1933, eager motorists park their automobiles on the grounds of Park-In Theaters, the first-ever drive-in movie theater, located on Crescent Boulevard in Camden, New Jersey.
Park-In Theaters--the term "drive-in" came to be widely used only later--was the brainchild of Richard Hollingshead, a movie fan and a sales manager at his father's company, Whiz Auto Products, in Camden. Reportedly inspired by his mother's struggle to sit comfortably in traditional movie theater seats, Hollingshead came up with the idea of an open-air theater where patrons watched movies in the comfort of their own automobiles. He then experimented in the driveway of his own house with different projection and sound techniques, mounting a 1928 Kodak projector on the hood of his car, pinning a screen to some trees, and placing a radio behind the screen for sound. He also tested ways to guard against rain and other inclement weather, and devised the ideal spacing arrangement for a number of cars so that all would have a view of the screen.
The young entrepreneur received a patent for the concept in May of 1933 and opened Park-In Theaters, Inc. less than a month later, with an initial investment of $30,000. Advertising it as entertainment for the whole family, Hollingshead charged 25 cents per car and 25 cents per person, with no group paying more than one dollar. The idea caught on, and after Hollingshead's patent was overturned in 1949, drive-in theaters began popping up all over the country. One of the largest was the All-Weather Drive-In of Copiague, New York, which featured parking space for 2,500 cars, a kid's playground and a full service restaurant, all on a 28-acre lot.
Drive-in theaters showed mostly B-movies--that is, not Hollywood's finest fare--but some theaters featured the same movies that played in regular theaters. The initially poor sound quality--Hollingshead had mounted three speakers manufactured by RCA Victor near the screen--improved, and later technology made it possible for each car's to play the movie's soundtrack through its FM radio. The popularity of the drive-in spiked after World War II and reached its heyday in the late 1950s to mid-60s, with some 5,000 theaters across the country. Drive-ins became an icon of American culture, and a typical weekend destination not just for parents and children but also for teenage couples seeking some privacy. Since then, however, the rising price of real estate, especially in suburban areas, combined with the growing numbers of walk-in theaters and the rise of video rentals to curb the growth of the drive-in industry. Today, fewer than 500 drive-in theaters survive in the United States.
The reverse side of the world's first drive-in movie screen, in Camden, New Jersey.
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June 7 1954
Ford Motor Company formed styling team to design entirely new car, later named Edsel. The car brand is best known as one of the most spectacular failures in the history of the United States automobile industry.
More than sixty years after its spectacular failure, Edsel has become a highly collectible item amongst vintage car hobbyists. A mint 1958 car can sell up to $100,000, while rare models, like 1960 convertible, may price up to $200,000. While the design was considered "ugly" fifty years ago, many other car manufacturers, such as Pontiac and Alfa Romeo, have employed similar vertical grille successfully on their car designs.
June 7 1962
On this day in 1962, the banking institution Credit Suisse, then known as Schweizerische Kreditanstalt (SKA), opens the first drive-through bank in Switzerland at St. Peter-Strasse 17, near Paradeplatz (Parade Square) in downtown Zurich.
Like many developments in automotive culture--including drive-through restaurants and drive-in movies--drive-through banking has its origins in the United States. Some sources say that Hillcrest State Bank opened the first drive-through bank in Dallas, Texas, in 1938; others claim the honor belongs to the Exchange National Bank of Chicago in 1946. Regardless of when exactly it began, the trend didn't reach its height until the car-crazy era of the late 1950s and early 1960s. Around that time, California-based Wells Fargo Bank introduced the "TV Auto Banker Service," where an image of the teller was broadcast to the customer in their car on a special closed-circuit television. Deposits, withdrawals and other transactions were completed using an underground pneumatic tube that whisked money and paperwork between the car and the teller station.
The SKA branch that opened in Zurich in June 1962 featured eight glass pavilions, seven outfitted for left-hand drive cars and one for vehicles with right-hand drive (such as those used in the United Kingdom and Ireland). Upon the opening of the large and modern facility, Zurich daily newspaper Neue Zurcher Zeitung advised motorists on how to enter the drive-through portion: "At the entrance to the bank, approaching cars trigger a sensor on the ground, activating a light trail that directs the driver to the next available counter."
The Paradeplatz drive-through was well received by the press, and in its first year of operation, the bank handled around 20,000 customers. By the 1970s, however, the automobile's popularity had led to a major traffic problem in downtown Zurich, and fewer and fewer drivers opted to stop to do their banking from their cars. After years without a profit, SKA closed the drive-through in 1983.
In the United States, by contrast, drive-through banking never lost its popularity. Nearly all major banks nationwide offer some type of drive-through option, from regular teller service to 24-hour automated teller machines (ATMs). In recent years, drive-through banking reached the previously untapped Asian market: Citibank opened China's first drive-through ATM at the Upper East Side Central Plaza in Beijing in August 2007.
Ford vice president of design George Walker, right, talks to I.B. "Bud" Kaufman, a member of the E-Car design team, in the mid-1950s.
June 8th 1948
On this day in 1948, a hand-built aluminum prototype labeled "No. 1" becomes the first vehicle to bear the name of one of the world's leading luxury car manufacturers: Porsche. Dr. Ferdinand Porsche test drove first Porsche two-seat roadster sports car, Project 356-1, built in a sawmill in Gmund, Austria (Tyrolean Alps).
Dr. Ferdinand Porsche debuted his first design at the World's Fair in Paris in 1900. The electric vehicle set several Austrian land-speed records, reaching more than 35 mph and earning international acclaim for the young engineer. He became general director of the Austro-Daimler Company (an outpost of the German automaker) in 1916 and later moved to Daimler headquarters in Stuttgart. Daimler merged with the Benz firm in the 1920s, and Porsche was chiefly responsible for designing some of the great Mercedes racing cars of that decade.
Porsche left Daimler in 1931 and formed his own company. A few years later, Adolf Hitler called on the engineer to aid in the production of a small "people's car" for the German masses. With his son, also named Ferdinand (known as Ferry), Porsche designed the prototype for the original Volkswagen (known as the KdF: "Kraft durch Freude," or "strength through joy") in 1936. During World War II, the Porsches also designed military vehicles, most notably the powerful Tiger tank.
At war's end, the French accused the elder Porsche of war crimes and imprisoned him for more than a year. Ferry struggled to keep the family firm afloat. He built a Grand Prix race car, the Type 360 Cisitalia, for a wealthy Italian industrialist, and used the money to pay his father's bail. When Porsche was released from prison, he approved of another project Ferry had undertaken: a new sports car that would be the first to actually bear the name Porsche. Dubbed the Type 356, the new car was in the tradition of earlier Porsche-designed race cars such as the Cisitalia. The engine was placed mid-chassis, ahead of the transaxle, with modified Volkswagen drive train components.
The 356 went into production during the winter of 1947-48, and the aluminum prototype, built entirely by hand, was completed on June 8, 1948. The Germans subsequently hired Porsche to consult on further development of the Volkswagen. With the proceeds, Porsche opened new offices in Stuttgart, with plans to build up to 500 of his company's own cars per year. Over the next two decades, the company would build more than 78,000 vehicles.
June 8th 1986
Tim Richmond won the first of his seven Winston Cup Series races in 1986, a total that would vault him to third place in the Series point race and solidify his reputation as one of NASCAR's greatest drivers. He had his career cut short when he contracted HIV and died of complications from AIDS on 19th Aug 1989.