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Old 01-10-2004, 11:01 AM   #1
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Default Little Known Facts and Trivia

About the Automobile Business

Chronological evolution

1782 - James Watt builds the first engine crank.
1792 - The first U.*. toll roads opened in PA and CT.
1860 - Jean Lenoir invents the spark plug.
1887 - The Benz became the first car offered for sale.
1896 - The Duryea became the first production motor vehicle in the U.*.
1897 - The first auto insurance policy is purchased in Westfield, MA.
1900 - The first Guide Michelin published mostly containing a list of gas stations in France.
1901 - The first Grand Prix race was won with an average speed of 46 mph.
1901 - The first American car manufactured in any quantity, the "Curved Dash" Olds is offered for $650.
1913 - More than one million cars registered in the U.*.
1914 - The Chevrolet bow-tie emblem first appears.
1914 - The first electric traffic light was installed in Cleveland.
1923 - Powered windshield wipers became standard equipment on many cars.
1923 - A radio was first offered as an accessory.
1939 - Buick introduces turn signals as standard equipment.
1946 - The first power windows were introduced.
1948 - Harley Earl introduces the tail fin on the Cadillac. Fins don't go away for over a decade.
1953 - Chevrolet introduces its Harley Earl-designed Corvette.
1954 - Padded dashboards introduced for safety.
1956 - Electric door locks introduced on several luxury models.
1958 - The first remote adjusted side view mirror.
1958 - Ford introduces the first electric trunk release.
1958 - Chrysler introduces the day-night rearview mirror.
1960 - All-weather antifreeze plus coolant introduced.
1963 - Seat belts first offered as standard equipment.
1965 - Rear seat belts became standard on most cars.
1974 - National 55 mph speed limit enacted after oil shortages.
1984 - Chrysler introduces the Dodge Caravan and Plymouth voyager minivans.
1972 - Cars traveled along LA freeways at an average speed of 60 mph. In 1982 the average was only 17 mph!
1974 - The average American family spent 33 percent of their yearly income for a new car. In 1995 the average was 50 percent.
1995 - the Big Three sold a whopping 97,000 cars in Japan.

Big Names in the Automotive History

Buick, David - A plumbing inventor and manufacturer built his first car in 1900.

Cadillac, Antoine - Founded the City of Detroit in the 17th century.

Chevrolet, Louis - A Swiss race car driver and engineer built his first car in 1911 with financing by William Durant.

Chrysler, Walter - A locomotive mechanic who got into the automobile business in 1912 and publicly displayed his own first car at the 1924 NY Auto Show and selling an amazing 32,000 car in his first year.

Cord, E.L. - As General Manager of Auburn Auto Company he produced some of the most advanced (front-wheel drive, supercharged V8'*) and beautiful cars ever under his own name. Unfortunately, they were expensive and came along during the start of the Depression.

Daimler, Gottlieb - Can be considered as the founder of the automobile industry when he formed Daimler Motor Company in 1890.

Dodge, John & Horace - Their first car came off the assembly line in 1914. Both brothers died within less than a year of each other during the influenza epidemic in 1920.

Durant, William - A businessman, finance man, and salesman who was a self-made millionaire before ever joining the auto business. He was called on by the owners of the failing Buick Motor Company to help. He soon bought Oldsmobile, Pontiac and Cadillac and formed General Motors. He almost bought Ford, but didn't come up with enough cash to suit Henry. Durant always kept himself stretched thin with his money in stocks and other businesses. He lost everything in the Depression.

Duryea, Charles & Frank - Built the first successful American automobile and the first to offer a production model for sale to the public.

Earl, Harley - Designed the La Salle in 1927, the beginning of a trend towards lower and wider cars. As head of GM'* styling department he invented the tail fin and designed the Corvette.

Ferrari, Enzo - A mechanic, race car driver then race car team owner. His cars dominated racing for many years after WWII.

Firestone, Harvey - His tires went on the first mass-produced Fords.

Ford, Henry - In creating the assembly line for automobiles he also created jobs for thousands and affordable cars for millions. What Henry did for automobiles spilled over into other consumer good.

Gale, Tom - A Chrysler designer largely responsible for the current crop of Chrysler'* design of cab-forward and curved styling on everything from the minivan to the Viper.

Goodrich, BF - The company started in 1896 has many firsts: First synthetic rubber tire, first tubeless tire, first American-made radial tire, the first space saver spare and the first "run flat" tire.

Goodyear, Charles - Accidentally discovered the rubber vulcanizing process. He patented the process, but couldn't come up with any practical uses for it and died penniless in 1860. The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company was named after him.

Honda, Soichiro - After WWII with $3,300 he started making motorcycles.

Iacocca, Lee - Responsible for the Mustang in the early 1960'* and bailing out Chrysler in early 1980'*.

Jellinek, Emile - In 1900, while a Daimler Motor Works board member, Jellinek convinced Gottlieb Daimler to build a race car and name it after Emile'* daughter, Mercedes.

Murphy, Edward - Founded the Pontiac Buggy Company in Pontiac, MI in 1893. At the turn of the century he decided to switch to making "those noisy, smelly, unreliable automobiles."

Olds, Ransom - His highly successful "Curved Dash" runabout put Michigan on the map as a source of motor vehicles. He soon left his namesake company. Later he produced the first gasoline lawn mower.

Porsche, Ferdinand - A design engineer who never created a car carrying his name. That was left to his son, Ferry, to accomplish.

Royce, Frederick & Rolls, Charles - Engineer Royce and car dealer Rolls introduced their first car in 1904.

Sloan, Alfred - Led GM to become the world'* largest corporation. Responsible for the idea of yearly styling changes.

Tucker, Preston - After WWII Tucker designed, built and promoted an innovative car with features, power, and aerodynamic design never before seen and at a very good price. His company folded after building 51 cars.`

Famous People Killed in Car Accidents

Marc Bolan, guitarist & vocalist for rock band T.Rex.
Harry Chapin, singer
James Dean, actor
Di, Princess
Sam Kinison, comedian
Ernie Kovacs, comedian
Desmond Llewelyn, "Q" in the James Bond movies
Jayne Mansfield, actress
Bill Martin, baseball manager
Margaret Mitchell, author
Tom Mix, actor
George Patton, general
John D Rockefeller III, rich guy

Some Movies About Cars

American Graffiti - Directed by George Lucas. Starring Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard, Cindy Williams, MacKenzie Phillips, Charles Martin Smith, Suzanne Somers, Harrison Ford, Wolfman Jack

Back to the Future - Stars a DeLorean

Blues Brothers - They destroy dozens of '70s sedans. Good for them.

Bullit - Contains the most famous car chase scene in the movies. Stars Steve MacQueen, Robert Vaughn, Jacqueline Bisset, Robert Duvall

Cadillac Man - Robin Williams as a sleazy car salesman.

Cannonball Run - Based on an actual race across the country. Stars Burt Reynolds, Farrah Fawcett, Roger Moore, Dom DeLuise, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr, Peter Fonda

Car Wash - Comedy based at an L.A. car wash

Christine - From a Stephen King novel about a possessed car

Days of Thunder - Top Gun meets stock cars

Death Race 2000 - Futuristic tale where drivers score points by running over people.

Detour - One of those cross-country trips where the star picks up strangers along the way.

Dirty Mary Crazy Larry - It'* got Peter Fonda and fast driving

Driven - Sylvester Stallone, Burt Reynolds (can't have a car movie without Burt), CART, crashes and women.

Duel - An early Spielberg film where Dennis Weaver is attacked by unmanned tractor-trailer rigs.

Fast and the Furious - Turbochargers, gangs, crime, undercover cop, romance, special effects.

Ferris Bueller'* Day Off - Matthew Broderick borrows a Ferrari

Gone in 60 Seconds - A 40 minute chase scene that destroys 90 vehicles (in the original movie).

Grand Prix - Lots of track footage

Greased Lightning - Story of the first black racing champ, starring Richard Pryor

The Great Race - Long story about a 1908 NY to Paris race

Heart Like a Wheel - The story of drag racer Shirley Muldowney.

The Last American Hero - Story of moonshiner turned stock car racer Junior Johnson

Le Mans - Good race footage

Mad Max (and Road Warrior) - Mel Gibson in futuristic hot rods driving around looking for gas.

Race for Life - Good racing scenes

The Racers - European racing footage

Roger & Me - Michael Moore makes auto execs look bad.

Smokey and the Bandit - Burt Reynolds, a black TransAm, a dumb Southern cop, a girl, beer and CB radios.

Thelma & Louise - A buddy-highway movie

Thunder Road - Robert Mitchum in a moonshine vs. Feds story

Tucker, a Man and His Dream - Nostalgic look at idealist Preston Tucker

Used Cars - More sleazy used car salesmen

Vanishing Point - Denver to *.F. in 15 hours in a muscle car. Will he make it?

White Lightning (and sequel Gator) - Burt Reynolds, moonshine and chase scenes.

Winning - Paul Newman does his own driving in trying to win at Indy.
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