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1863 Jul 30
Henry Ford (d.1947), founder of the Ford Motor Company and developer of the Model T, was born in Dearborn Township, Mich. He led American war production with the gigantic facility at Willow Run.
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1867 Aug
The first recorded race of two self powered road vehicles over a prescribed route was between Ashton-under-Lyne and Old Trafford, a distance of eight miles. It was won by Isaac Watt Boulton against Daniel Adamson, each in steam cars of their own manufacture.
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1876
Nikolaus Otto (1832-1891), German inventor, first demonstrated the four-stroke engine.
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1882
James Atkinson, British engineer, invented the Atkinson cycle engine, an ultra-lean internal combustion engine.
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1891
William Fletcher authored “The History and Development of Steam.”
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1891
The first US reported car accident was in Ohio.
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1894 Jul 22
The first major automobile race with prizes and a promoter was organized as a reliability trial by Le Petit Journal of Paris. It took place on the 78-mile route between Paris and Rouen, France [see Aug 30, 1867].
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1896 May 30
The 1st car accident in NYC occurred when Henry Wells hit cyclist Ebeling Thomas on the "Western Boulevard" (Broadway).
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1897
The first self-propelled cabs appeared on NYC streets. They were battery powered and required a long recharge every 25 miles.
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1899 Sep 13
The first reported fatal car accident in the US was in Ohio when Henry H. Bliss, a "real estate dealer" was hit by an electric taxi as he exited a trolley on West 74th Street and Central Park West.
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1900
The Auto Club of California was spawned by a meeting of 11 "automobilists" at the SF Cliff House.
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1900
The Lohner-Porsche was introduced at the World’s Fair in Paris. The hybrid car relied on batteries and a generator to produce electricity for its motors. Ferdinand Porsche working for Jacob Lohner in Vienna put electric motors into the hubs of the wheels of the Lohner-Porsche.
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1900
America had some 500 carmakers at this time. By 1908 the number fell to 200.
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1901 Nov 29
Cixi (1835-1908), China’s empress dowager, received a new wood-bodied Duryea automobile to mark her 66th birthday. She is said to have fortified her driver, Sun Fuling, with a generous bowl of rice wine. Fuling promptly lost control of the car and ran over and killed a palace eunuch.
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1901
In Lanark, Illinois, Charles Cotta built the Cottamobile, a steam-powered car with individual chains driving each of 4 wheels.
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1903
Burton Westcott (1868-1926) brought his family business, the Westcott Motor Car. Co., from Richmond Ind., to Springfield, Ohio, where its cars were assembled by hand.
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1904 Jan 27
Willie Vanderbilt (1878-1944) reached 92.3 mph in his new German motorcar at the Daytona Beach Road Course at Ormond Beach, Florida, establishing a new land speed record. He was the 2nd child and first son of William Kissam Vanderbilt and Alva Erskine Smith.
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1905
Herbert Austin began making cars at Longbridge near Birmingham, England. The site later became the main factory of MG Rover.
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1905
Vaclav Laurin and Vaclav Klement, Czech bicycle makers, began making cars. They later merged with Skoda Pilsen.
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1905
Studebaker of South Bend, Indiana, produced an electric car, the Victoria Phaeton, that could be charged at home.
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1907 Jun 10
In China 11 men in five cars set out from the French embassy in Beijing on a race to Paris. Prince Scipione Borghese of Italy was the first to arrive in the French capital two months later. The 62-day race was won by an Italian built Itala.
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1907 Nov 20
The McLaughlin Motor Car Company was founded in Ontario, Canada, under Samuel McLaughlin (1871-1972). In 1910 he became a director of General Motors and sold his company in 1918 becoming president of General Motors of Canada.
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1907
The Auto Club of California changed its name to the California State Automobile Association and affiliated itself with the American Automobile Association. The club, which formed had formed in SF in 1900, began providing insurance in 1914.
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1907
The Detroit auto show began when a group of dealers held a show in a city park. The show was largely a regional event showcasing Detroit automakers until 1989, when the name was changed to the North American International Auto Show and Toyota and Nissan used it to introduce their new luxury brands.
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1908 Feb 12
The first round-the-world automobile race began in New York City. It ended in Paris the following July with the drivers of the American car, a Thomas Speedway Flyer, was declared the winner over teams from Germany and Italy. The Flyer was made by the E.R. Thomas Motor Co. of Buffalo, NY, was initially driven by Montague Roberts and George Schuster. Roberts dropped out in Wyoming. Schuster took over as captain and chief driver from San Francisco, which was reached on March 24.
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1908 Jul 30
An around the world automobile race ended in Paris. The American Thomas Speedway Flyer, was declared the winner over teams from Germany and Italy. In 1966 driver George Schuster authored “The Longest Auto Race.” The restored Flyer was later displayed at the National Automobile Museum in Reno, Nevada.
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1908 Sep 16
General Motors Holding Company was formed in Flint, Mich., by William Durant.
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1909 Jun 1
Pres. William Howard Taft touched a key in Washington, DC, sending a signal to Seattle, opening the Alaska-Yukon Pacific Expo at the Seattle World’s Fair, as well as a signal to NYC initialing the New York to Seattle Automobile Race.
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1909 Jun 23
A Ford Model T crossed the finish line in the NYC to Seattle Automobile Race after 22 days and 55 minutes to claim the Guggenheim Cup and a $2,000 first prize. A Shamut came in 17 hours later to win the 2nd-place prize of $1500. An Acme car came in on June 29 to claim a $1000 3rd prize. The Ford was later disqualified for having switched engines enroute.
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1909 Aug 7
Alice Huyler Ramsey (22) arrived in San Francisco on a ferry boat after driving a 1909 Maxwell Model DA across the country. She had left New York on June 9 on the first ever cross-country trip by a woman.
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1909
The California State Automobile Association produced its first road map. In 2008 it planned to stop production of paper maps and shift to digital technology.
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1909
John H. Eagal, manager of the automobile department of the Studebaker, San Francisco branch, said “The future of the electric automobile is assured… The past few months have seen an increase in demand for the electric cars that has been surprising to manufacturers all over the country.” Studebaker sold battery-powered cars from 1902 to 1912.
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1909
Englishman Henry Frederick Stanley Morgan (1981-1959) made his first 3-wheel car. In 1912 his company became the Morgan Motor Company Ltd.
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1909
The first roundabout, a one-way gyratory for car management not to circumvent a monument, was intoduced in England’s Letchworth Garden City. By 2013 there were some 60,000 around the world.
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1910
William Durant (1861-1947), the founder of General Motors, was turfed out by the company’s bankers. In 1911 he joined forces with Louis Chevrolet, a Swiss-born racing driver, to set up a new carmaker that was later folded into GM.
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1910
In NYC car maker Pierce-Arrow unveiled the Touring Landau at Madison Square Garden. It was later widely considered as the first motor home.
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1910
Henry Ford opened a new plant in Highland Park, Mich., the largest plant in the world. It was designed by Albert Kahn. The retail price of the Model T dropped to $780.
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1911
The first Michelin guide to the British Isles was published to help travelers and included information on how to change a tire.
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1912 Apr 6
Cadillac adopted an electric self-starter. Charles Franklin Kettering (1876-1958), as president of Delco, introduced the electric-starter on the 1912 Cadillac.
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1913 Jul 1
The Lincoln Highway Association decided to call its coast-to-coast highway the Lincoln Highway, and it was officially incorporated as the Lincoln Highway Association.
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1913 Aug
Henry Ford began his 1st large-scale automobile assembly tests. It initially took 12 hours and 30 minutes to assemble a Model T.
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1913 Sep 14
The Lincoln Highway Association announced the route of the Lincoln Highway. Its leaders, particularly Henry Joy, President of the Packard Motor Car Company, decided on as straight a route as possible and that decision dictated the course. That initial line was 3,389 miles long. Less than half of it, 1,598 miles, was improved. (Eventually, as segments of the route were improved, the length shrunk to about 3,140 miles).
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1913
The E.R. Thomas Motor Co. of Buffalo, NY, failed. In 1908 its Thomas Speedway Flyer had won an around the world automobile race.
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1914
Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford founded Aston Martin. They produced their 1st car in 1915. Ford bought a controlling interest in 1987 and acquired full ownership in 1994. In 2007 Ford sold a controlling stake to a consortium of investors that included racing mogul David Richards, car collector John Sinders, and the Kuwaiti companies Investment Dar and Adeem Investment Co.
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1916
The Four Wheel Drive Auto Co. of Clintonville, Wis., got a boost from WW I demand for its trucks.
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1916
Joe Saunders of Nebraska launched the first car hire business when he began lending his ford Model T to traveling salesmen.
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1918
Walter Jacobs opened a rental business in Chicago that grew to become the Hertz car rental firm. In 1923 he sold his business to John Hertz. GM owned Hertz from 1826 to 1953. Ford acquired Hertz in 1985 and in 2005 announced plans to sell it to a consortium of 3 private equity firms in a deal valued at $15 billion.
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1919
General Motors established General Motors Acceptance Corp. (GMAC) to handle loans for its sales. In 2006 Cerberus Capital Management moved to acquire a 51% controlling stake.
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1920
Britain introduced a tax on motor vehicles and the first tax discs appeared a year later. In 2013 the discs were replaced by an electronic system for paying road tax.
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1923
Alfred P. Sloan Jr. (1875-1966), a ball-bearing magnate, became president of a troubled GM and brought in corporate management and tight financial controls. He introduced the ideas of model changes and offering a car "for every purse and purpose."
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1925
Burton Westcott (1868-1926) was forced to close his Westcott Motor Car. Co. in Springfield, Ohio.
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1926
Charles Stewart Mott (1875-1973) established a family foundation that focused on social enterprises around Flint, Mich. He had earlier sold the family’s wheel and axle business to General Motors and become its largest shareholder.
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1927
Henry Ford obtained a Connecticut-sized land in the Brazilian jungle and began creating his Fordlandia factory town for the creation of a rubber plantation and processing facility to supply his factories with tires and gaskets. A strike in 1930 wrecked Fordlandia. It was rebuilt and struggled on for a decade until succumbing to leaf blight and insects. In 2009 Greg Grandin authored “Fordlandia: The rise and Fall of Henry Ford’s Forgotten Jungle city.”
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1929 Mar 17
General Motors purchased an 80% stake in Opel, a German car manufacturer, for $33.3 million. GM raised the stake to 100% in 1931.
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1929 May 17
Edsel Ford cut the first sod of Ford's new British manufacturing plant in the Dagenham marshes. The first cars at Dagenham were produced in October, 1931. This was Ford’s first expansion outside the US.
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1929
In Russia the Gorky Automobile Plant (GAZ) in Nizhny Novgorod was founded. Henry Ford was asked to help set up the Soviet car plant.
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1930
In Italy Battista “Pinin” Farina founded Pininfarina SpA, a car design firm.
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1933
Automatic shifting was introduced by the Reo Car Co. (1904-1936).
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1934 May 2
In Germany a Chancellery meeting took place between Adolph Hitler and executives of General Motors Corp. and its German division (Opel). Opel quickly became an essential element in German rearmament. Over the next 4 years GM’s workforce in Germany grew from 17,000 to 27,000.
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1934 Jun 22
"Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche GmbH, Konstruktionen und Beratung für Motoren- und Fahrzeugbau" received the go-ahead from the "Reichsverband der Automobilindustrie (RDA)" (the Association of the German Reich of the Automotive Industry) to construct and build the Volkswagen. Hitler had asked Ferdinand Porsche Sr., owner of a consulting and design firm, to build a "people’s car," from which resulted the Volkswagen. Porsche took the design from the Tatra T97 of Czechoslovakia’s Hans and Erich Ledwinka.
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