Weblog of Miss-Lou Motor Mafia

November 7, 2009

On This Day In Automtive History…

Filed under: History — Tags: — blasterhappy @ 7:49 pm

November 7, 1965

Green Monster sets new speed record

green_monsterIn 1964, Art Arfons, a drag racer from Ohio, built a land-speed racer in his backyard using a military surplus J79 jet aircraft engine with an afterburner. Arfons christened the vehicle Green Monster, and in September took the racer to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah to join in the race to set a new land- speed record. On October 5, the Green Monster jet powered to 434.022–a new land-speed record. However, Arfons’ record would only stand for six days, for on October 13, Craig Breedlove set his second land-speed record when he reached 468.719 in his jet-powered Spirit of America. In 1965, Arfons returned to the Bonneville Salt Flats in a revamped Green Monster, and on this day shattered Breedlove’s record from the previous year, when he raced to 576.553mph across the one-mile course.
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November 1, 2009

On This Day in Automotive History…

Filed under: History — Tags: — blasterhappy @ 8:59 am

November 1, 1927

Ford Model A production begins

For the first time since the Model T was introduced in 1908, the Ford Motor Company began production on a significantly redesigned automobile on this day–the Model A. The hugely successful Model T revolutionized the automobile industry, and over 15,000,000 copies of the “Tin Lizzie” were sold in its 19 years of production. By 1927, the popularity of the outdated Model T was rapidly waning. Improved, but basically unchanged for its two-decade reign, it was losing ground to the more stylish and powerful motor cars offered by Ford’s competitors. In May of 1927, Ford plants across the country closed, and the company began an intensive development of the more refined and modern Model A. The vastly improved Model A had elegant Lincoln-like styling on a smaller scale, and used a capable 200.5 cubic-inch four-cylinder engine that produced 40hp. With prices starting at $460, nearly 5,000,000 Model As, in several body styles and a variety of colors, rolled onto to America’s highways before production ended in early 1932.

July 25, 2009

This Day In Automotive History…

Filed under: History — Tags: — blasterhappy @ 6:41 am

July 25, 1945

Kaiser-Frazer is born

Henry Kaiser and Joseph Frazer announced plans to form a corporation to manufacture automobiles on this day in 1945. The two men formed an unlikely pair. Kaiser, raised in modest circumstances, was a true American self-made man. By 1945, he sat atop an empire of shipbuilding, cement, steel, and other basic building businesses, and had amassed a considerable fortune. His company’s shipbuilding feats had made him a media favorite during World War II, with reporters labeling him “the Miracle Man.” By contrast, Frazer was a direct descendant of Martha Washington, and he’d attended Hotchkiss and Yale. Frazer never finished his studies at Yale, opting to take a manual labor job at Packard. At Packard he rose steadily through the management structure, becoming by the mid-1940s a solid, respectable executive. The two men first encountered one another when in 1942 Kaiser urged car companies to plan ahead for postwar production; Frazer answered on behalf of Packard, labeling the suggestion “half-baked” and “stupid.” The men met again in 1945 in San Francisco, and two weeks later Kaiser-Frazer was born. With Frazer’s contacts in the auto industry, and Kaiser’s capital and experience with huge government contracts, the two men were optimistic about their chances. In addition, labor groups were encouraging competition to the Big Three and had announced a willingness to cooperate with any new entries into Detroit. Kaiser and Frazer had to generate enough capital to acquire and build full production facilities. They had to find reliable sources for raw materials and negotiate labor contracts, and they had to do it all before the Big Three could convert back from wartime production if they were to have a chance at surviving. Amazingly, they pulled it off, leasing the Ford Willow Run Plant and producing 11,000 cars in 1946. Unfortunately, their financiers gave them trouble: while losses were anticipated during their first year, the two men didn’t expect to be punished so severely by squeamish investors. The company lost $19 million, and their stock plummeted. A year later, however, Willow Run produced 100,000 cars and Kaiser-Frazer recorded $19 million in profit. Success was within their grasp, and the next year they made $10 million–but the downturn in profits and the impending release of Big Three postwar models caused the company’s stock to slip. Without money Kaiser-Frazer couldn’t afford to come up with new models, and consumers turned away from them. In 1949, the company lost $30 million and was poised to endure the fate of so many other independents after the war. The differences between the two partners manifested themselves during the bad times, and management failed to respond positively to the difficulties. Frazer left the business, and Kaiser presided until 1953 when he sold out to Willys-Overland. Ironically, in Kaiser’s last year the company turned out a few remarkable cars including, arguably, America’s first compact car.

June 17, 2009

On This Day In Automotive History…

Filed under: History — Tags: — blasterhappy @ 5:42 am

June 17, 1923

Enzo Ferrari wins first race

On this day, Enzo Ferrari, who would go on to an historic career as a driver for Alpha Romeo before being put in charge of their racing division, won his first race, a 166-mile event at the Circuito del Savio in Ravenna, Italy. After the Ravenna race, Ferrari met for the first time the Count Enrico Baracca and his wife, the Countess Paolina, who would later suggest to Ferrari that he use the prancing horse emblem of their son. “Ferrari,” remarked the Countess, “why don’t you put my son’s prancing horse on your cars; it will bring you luck.” The Countess’s son, Francesco, had been Italy’s premier flying ace in World War I before he was shot down and killed at Mount Montello. On his plane he carried a white shield bearing a prancing black stallion. Ferrari would adopt the emblem, changing the field of the shield to canary yellow in honor of his hometown of Modena.

May 31, 2009

On This Day In Automotive History…

Filed under: History — Tags: — blasterhappy @ 4:16 am

May 31, 1904

“Friction-drive” is introduced

Byron J. Carter received a U.S. patent for his “friction-drive” mechanism. The friction-drive replaced the conventional transmission to provide more precise control of a car’s speed. A newspaper at the time of the device’s release explained that the friction-drive mechanism “used friction discs, instead of gears, so arranged as to be instantly changed to any desired speed. The discs also change to forward or backward movement, and can be used as a brake to stop the machine by reversing the lever.” Carter’s friction drive never really caught on, however. Conventional transmissions served their purpose adequately, and the friction discs proved to be susceptible to poor road conditions. Carter’s ingenious design did, however, attract the attention of William Durant, General Motor’s megalomaniac expansionist leader. He bought the Carter-car design thinking it might turn into something big; it never did. The technology involved in the friction-drive is, however, related to today’s disc brakes.

May 27, 2009

Custom Promotional Vehicles

Filed under: Cars, Customizing, History — Tags: — blasterhappy @ 3:00 am

I was always fascinated by the custom promotional vehicles I would see as a kid growing up.  I can remember seeing the Weiner Mobile at a grocery store and getting the treasured Weiner Whistle.  Here is a small gallery of vehicles from the past to the present.  Like they say…It’s all in the presentation!

weinermobilemr-peanut-hot-rodgoldfishspammobilekissmobilepep-o-mint-carthermos2zippo-carpeeps_fun_busmeow-mix-mobileeckrich-funhouse-carcadburycar

83679723_4ba6c65032

I know I’m missing some so I plan to revisit this post later on.  Feel free to submit any that you know.

May 18, 2009

On This Day In Automotive History…

Filed under: History, Racing — Tags: — blasterhappy @ 4:52 am

May 18, 1958

Lotus makes Formula One debut

The Lotus made its Formula One debut at the Monaco Grand Prix with Cliff Allison finishing in fifth place. The Lotus Engineering Company was founded by Colin Chapman in 1952 as a result of Chapman’s great success in building and racing trial cars. Located in Norfolk, England, Lotus has become over the last few decades one of racing’s most dominant teams. Currently limited to Formula One competition, Lotus was initially a diverse racing team. Lotus dominated Le Mans in the ’50s. The mid-1960s saw the Golden Age of Lotus racing as its British drivers Jim Clark and Graham Hill enjoyed great success. Jim Clark won the first World Driver’s Championship for Lotus in 1963. Lotus has in recent years been represented by such virtuoso drivers as Emmerson Fittipaldi and Alessandro Zanardi.

May 6, 2009

On This Day In Automotive History…

Filed under: History — Tags: — blasterhappy @ 6:36 pm

May 6, 1991

Gant breaks own record

442px-harrygantNASCAR racer Harry Gant broke his own record to become the oldest man to win a NASCAR race when he won the Winston 500 at the Alabama Superspeedway in Talladega. At age 51, Gant ran the fastest on the circuit’s fastest track. The year 1991 would turn out to be a banner one for Gant. En route to finishing a personal record fourth place in the Winston Cup Series point race, Gant earned a new nickname by winning four straight events in the month of September. After he won consecutive races at Darlington, Richmond, Dover Downs, and Martinsville, the stock-car press started calling Gant–previously known as “Handsome” Harry–Mr. September. The four-race string also tied the NASCAR record for most wins over a one-month span.

April 22, 2009

On This Day In Automotive History…

Filed under: History — Tags: — blasterhappy @ 5:16 am

April 22, 1970

First Earth Day is celebrated

The first Earth Day was held in communities all across the country. Earth Day was the creation of Senator Gaylord Nelson. As he describes it, a number of senators were concerned about the state of the country’s environment in the early 1960s. In a move intended to bring national visibility to the issue of environmental deterioration, the Senators persuaded President Kennedy to take on a nationwide conservation tour, “spelling out in dramatic language the serious and deteriorating condition of our environment.” The tour was a failure. Senators Hubert Humphrey, Gene McCarthy, Joe Clark, and Nelson himself accompanied Kennedy on the first leg of his trip to Pennsylvania, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Though the tour failed to rouse interest of any significant level in the environment as a political issue, Nelson credits the mission with being the seed from which Earth Day would eventually flower. The idea for a grassroots effort gestated in Nelson’s head until July of 1969, when, according to Nelson, the anti-war teach-ins of the Vietnam era inspired him to conceive of a nationwide environmental “teach-in.” Nelson returned to Washington and began to raise funds for the event. In addition, he and his staff sent letters to 50 governors, and to the mayors of all major cities requesting them to make Earth Day proclamations. In a speech in Seattle in September of 1969, Nelson formally announced that a nationwide environmental teach-in would take place in the spring of the coming year. All of the major wire services ran the story, and the response was dramatic. From that point on, says Nelson, Earth Day was the product of the populace. By December, the response of inquiries had so overwhelmed Nelson’s Senate office that an Earth Day Clearing House was set up in Washington to plan for the event. In the end, an estimated 20 million people participated in Earth Day events of some kind. Ten thousand grade schools and high schools, 2,000 thousand colleges, and 1,000 thousand communities across the country held official events. Earth Day is responsible for establishing the efficacy of grassroots environmental advocacy. A by-product of Earth Day that directly effected the automobile industry was the public’s heightened awareness of the environmental dangers of gasoline exhaust emissions.

April 18, 2009

On This Day In Automotive History…

Filed under: History — blasterhappy @ 6:16 am

April 18, 1882

Daimler and Maybach reach agreement

Gottlieb Daimler and his protege Wilhelm Maybach reached an agreement to work towards the creation of a high-speed internal combustion engine for the purpose of propelling vehicles. Working in Daimler’s greenhouse, the two men finished their first gas-powered engine in 1883. Four years later the two men achieved a major breakthrough when they constructed the first water-cooled, gas-powered internal combustion engine

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