The Carnut's History of the World...of Cars
History according to a Carnut!!!

Special thanks to the History Channel
and other web sites dedicated to the history of different forgotten parts of the history of the automobile
My own comments in Italics...not the views of the History Channel

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July 01 July 2
The Highway Revenue act of 1956
Starting humbly with the first privately funded Highway in 1919, the Lincoln Highway, federally funded highways were in the works of President Franklin D Roosevelt but World War II got in the way. Dwight D Eisenhower had led a military convoy from New York to San Francisco in 1919 and new the importance of a federally funded system of highways interconnected the US. Travels through Europe and most notably the German Autobahn in WWII only strengthened his resolve and when elected President in 1952 he set in motion the Highway revenue Act. The act was not passed through Congress until 1956 with a stagerring $50 billion dollars to be spent over 13 years and 42,500 miles of new interstate highways. The total federal budget was only $70 billion in 1956. To pay for these new roads a gasoline tax was introduced and aprox. $0.18 from each gallon is still collected to pay for the highways.

More stuff to thank the German for!!!
I have driven on many highways and think we had better use more gas to pay for some badly needed road repairs. Come on people do you duty and buy Hummers to fund the highways!!!


Chevrolet celebrates 1 million Corvettes

Original Corvette engineer Zora Arkus Duntov drove the one-millionth Chevrolet Corvette off of the assembly line in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The event was monumental to both America's first sports car and the man that made the car possible. Duntov, living in Manhattan started a performance engineering firm, called Ardun, with his brother. The firm enjoyed a reputation for quality, but eventually went out of business as the result of questionable financial practices on the part of a third partner that Duntov and his brother had taken on. Duntov moved to England to work on the Allard sports car, which he co-drove at Le Mans in 1952 and 1953. After witnessing the prototype Corvette on display at the 1953 Motorama in New York City, he decided to join Chevrolet. While Duntov was visually taken by the car, he expressed dismay at what lay under the hood. He wrote Chevrolet Chief Engineer Ed Cole and offered his services to improve the Corvette, including with his note a technical paper outlining his plan to increase the Corvette's performance capabilities. Chevrolet was so impressed that engineer Maurice Olley, then in charge of the Corvette, offered Duntov a position as a staff engineer. Soon after arriving at Chevrolet, Duntov set the tone for his career at the company by distributing a paper to his superiors entitled "Thoughts Pertaining to Youth, Hot Rodders, and Chevrolet." The paper laid the foundation for a strategy to create both racing and performance parts programs for Chevy. It was his desire that the Corvette measure itself against the best sports cars in the world: Porsche, Ferrari, and Mercedes. He helped develop the small-block V-8 engine to increase the little Corvette's power; he introduced the Duntov high-lift cam-shaft; and he introduced fuel injection, seeing the Corvette through from its inauspicious beginnings to its triumphant end. He created the Corvette Grand Sport Program in 1963, making the Corvette competitive on all levels of international performance competition. Duntov also helped to build the Corvette culture, appearing at Corvette shows, clubs, and rallies all over the U.S. He retired from Chevrolet in 1975, but Duntov's legacy will stay alive as long as Corvettes roam the open road.

Although most known for his involvement with the Corvette, he was the guy behind ARDUN Overhead valve heads for Flathead V8's that ruled the Hot Rod world for years....until the Small Block V8 came along.
Although the original purpose of the ARDUN Head's design was to cure the overheating tendencies of flathead designs under heavy load in truck use (due to the long exhaust travel through the block), the new heads enabled the Ford V8 to produce over 300 horsepower.

July 3 July 4

Breech, former Ford chairman, dies

Ernest R. Breech, chairman of the Ford Motor Company from 1955-1960, died in Royal Oak, Michigan at the age of 81. Breech had been at the top of the accounting world when Henry Ford II had personally pleaded with him to join the ailing Ford Motor Company and take a chance at reviving one of America's historic corporations. Born in modest circumstances, the son of a blacksmith in Lebanon, Missouri, Breech excelled in school and was drafted by the St. Louis Browns baseball team. He turned down the contract in favor of college, where he earned record high marks before dropping out for financial reasons. He took correspondence courses to study for the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) examination in Chicago, and received a Gold Medal from the University of Illinois. Breech went on to create one of the greatest accounting careers in history. He went from the Checker Cab Company to General Motors (GM), where he spent nine years, before signing on with the Bendix Aviation Company, where he tripled their output in one year. In 1946, Ford had been losing an average of $68 million a year since the war, and Henry Ford II was struggling to hold onto the reins of one of America's mightiest institutions, still recovering from the retirement of its founder. Ford befriended Breech, eventually persuading him to work for Ford. Breech considered it his duty, saying "Here's a young man only one year older than our oldest son. He needs help; this is a great challenge that if I don't accept I shall always regret." Before the so-called "Whiz Kids" came on the scene, it was Breech who cleared the ground for expansion by trimming away Ford's corporate fat. He decentralized management and gave the place what Businessweek called, "the professional management savvy required to translate the concept into the elaborate organization." More importantly, Breech plowed most of the company's profits back into the company, investing heavily on future production. Breech became a mentor to young Henry Ford, who studied him carefully. While the two men were apparently inseparable at first, Ford gradually distanced himself from the man that had saved his father's company. After being the de facto ruler of Ford, from the position of chairman of the board, Breech was soon challenged by his protÉgÉ. Reportedly, in 1958, at a Ford gathering in West Virginia, Henry Ford declared, "I am the captain of this ship and I intend to remain captain as long as my name is on the bow." Breech is said to have turned pale at the remark. Two years later Breech stepped down from his position after "many months of deepest soul-searching." He left behind him a company that was earning $500 million a year with $4 billion in plants and equipment.

In 1946, Ford had been losing an average of $68 million a year since the war, and Henry Ford II was struggling to hold onto the reins of one of America's mightiest institutions, still recovering from the retirement of its founder. Round Round we go like a merry go round, round round we go....

in 1958, at a Ford gathering in West Virginia, Henry Ford declared, "I am the captain of this ship and I intend to remain captain as long as my name is on the bow." Breech is said to have turned pale at the remark.
After being rescued the saved are forever in the saviors debt...what fairy tale have you been reading? Destroy any evidence you were never as perfect and strong as you are now!!!


Petty wins 200th race

Richard Petty, the king of stock car racing, won his 200th career victory at the Firecracker 400 race in Daytona, Florida, in front of a record crowd that included NASCAR's first presidential patron, Ronald Reagan. Petty's record for wins will very likely never be broken. The Firecracker 400 win was especially dramatic, as Petty hadn't been winning regularly on the circuit and had suffered an embarrassment eight months earlier when he was found to have run too big an engine in his victory at the 1983 Miller 500 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The convergence of the king's 200th win, the presence of the president, and the date of July 4th led NASCAR critics to suggest that the win may have been arranged. NASCAR had long been suspected of aiding certain drivers in need, the most serious allegation being that it allowed Junior Johnson to run illegal engines in 1994 in order to encourage McDonald's to remain a team car sponsor. Petty fans bristle at the accusation that the king's crowning achievement wasn't courtly, and while their case is solid, a shadow of doubt remains. His supporters contend that Petty leased his car engine from Robert Yates, the headman of the Digard racing team--whose driver was Petty's lifelong rival, Bobby Allison. Why would Digard give Petty a bigger engine than Allison? Moreover, Petty had been caught running too big an engine eight months earlier, and the so-called "Pettygate" scandal had resulted in a lot of unpleasant publicity for NASCAR. Additionally, Petty's cars had been running strong all year. He'd led over 200 laps already in 1984, and he had won five weeks earlier at the Dover 500, where Daytona 500 champion Cale Yarborough had described Petty as "real strong" at the season's first event. Finally, Petty had never relied heavily on power to win him races, instead preferring to outmaneuver his opponents and preserve his car for the later stages of the race when he could take control. NASCAR's restrictor plates create fertile ground for conspiracy theories, as slight size adjustments in the plates can create an edge in horsepower that would give an insurmountable advantage to most of today's drivers. It's true that the '80s saw NASCAR trying to promote itself to a broader fan base, and that a spectacle such as an Independence Day victory for the sport's greatest racer in front of the nation's president was an irresistible lure. But there was a reason Richard Petty won his first 199 victories when his closest competition won only 105--so why question number 200?

It is interesting to note that after his 200th win they stop recording his wins...sort of like the so called "Gretsky rule" in kids hockey where one kid on any given team can only score 6 or 7 goals in one game so as not discourage teams that don't have a superstar maniac player. Oh yeah, Petty must have won a bunch of times after the magic 200, but they will not record it...what!?! You are saying that this special day actually marks the day of one of the greatest losing streake in NASCAR? Wow, who'd of thunk it?


July 5 July 6

Hitler appoints Todt to build autobahn

Fritz Todt was appointed general inspector for German highways on this day in 1933. His primary assignment: to build a comprehensive autobahn system. Todt, a civil engineer who was a proponent of a national highway system as a means of economic development, was handpicked for the position in 1932 by Adolf Hitler. The two men were close friends, and Todt remained a Nazi party member throughout World War II. By 1936, 100,000 kilometers of divided highways had been completed, leaving Germany with the most advanced transportation system in the world. Todt estimated in a 1936 speech that "170,000,000 cubic meters of earth have been moved. This would fill a line of trucks extending around the earth four times." He concluded his speech with an exhortation to the German people typical of Nazi party propaganda. "They are roads unequaled anywhere else in the world in their technical excellence and beauty. Is this a work of technology? No! Like so much else, it is the work of Adolf Hitler!" The autobahns were, in fact, the envy of the industrialized world and a source of both anxiety and awe for Europeans. A Danish newspaper declared, "They are the expression of a national energy that compels the greatest admiration." What few suspected was that the German road system was the first step to their conquest of Western Europe, as the autobahns allowed the Germans to move troops and personnel faster and in greater numbers than anyone could have imagined. The ease with which the German army moved into France owes much to its facility to mobilize and shift troops faster than the French could. Todt became a national hero for his creation, and the autobahn inspired U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower to foster a similar American interstate highway system. Having been in Germany during the war, he returned to the United States deeply convinced that good highways were directly linked to economic prosperity.

I give you the worlds fastest and the safest highway system....crowds roar and zalute...and I give you the world's slowest car to taunt you!!!


Government researches auto emissions

The Federal Air Pollution Control Act was implemented on this day in 1955, providing federally allocated funds for research into causal analysis and control of car-emission pollution. Concern over the effects of air-pollution had mounted steadily in the U.S. as urban sprawl increased. In 1952, a "killer fog" enveloped London, causing an estimated 4,000 deaths. Though both the cause and the precise effects of the fog were unclear, the phenomenon sparked an international hysteria about the effects of emissions pollution. The following year, Dr. Arie Haagen-Smit discovered the nature of photochemical smog, determining that nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons combined with ultraviolet radiation from the sun created smog. He also discovered that ozone played a key role in the bonding process that created smog. It was at this time that the U.S. began a rapid shift from coal as an energy source, replacing it with natural gas. It would not be until 1960 that the government specifically addressed car-emissions pollution as a legal issue, with the Federal Motor Vehicle Act of 1960, calling for further research and development into the control of car emissions. The next year, the first automotive emissions control technology--positive crankcase ventilation (PCV)--was mandated by the California Motor Vehicle Board. PCV technology limited hydrocarbon emission by returning blow-by gases from the crankcase back to a car's cylinders, where they were burned with fuel and air. In 1963, the first Federal Clean-Air Act was passed, allocating research money for local and federal institutions to combat air pollution.

So all you guys in the suburbs are getting nice clean burning cars to drive home so you can fire up your gas lawnmower and choke out the long did it take for clean burning lawnmowers to appear? Spend a week running a car producing less that 45 minutes cutting the lawn.

July 7

Chrysler Plymouth debuts

The Chrysler Corporation introduced the Plymouth as its newest car on this day in 1928. The Plymouth project had taken three years to complete, as Chrysler engineers worked to build a reliable and affordable car to compete with the offerings of Ford and General Motors (GM). The Plymouth debuted with great fanfare in July of 1928, with renowned aviator Amelia Earhart behind the wheel. The publicity blitz brought 30,000 people to the Chicago Coliseum for a glimpse of the new car. With a delivery price of $670, the Plymouth was an attractive buy, selling over 80,000 units in its first year and forcing Chrysler to expand its production facilities drastically. Chrysler was still negotiating its purchase of Dodge at the time, and the Plymouth played a key role in winning over the confidence of Dodge shareholders. When Chrysler released the DeSoto Six later in the year, it scored another important coup in the mid-range market, assuring its position as a competitor to Ford and GM. Chrysler's great success in the late twenties, along with its purchase of Dodge, gave the company momentum that would carry it through the Depression. Chrysler was the only car company to pay dividends to its shareholders throughout the Depression. While other companies were drowning from stifled cash flow, Chrysler managed to increase sales. In 1933 Chrysler became the only car company to best its sales of the 1929 boom year. All the while Chrysler continued to allocate resources to research and development, and by 1935 Chrysler had surpassed Ford to become the nation's second largest car company.

Chrysler was the only car company to pay dividends to its shareholders throughout the Depression.

All the while Chrysler continued to allocate resources to research and development

Paying Dividends and Continued Research and development? Come on Fellows, pick one...only can't have it both flash forward 80 more dividends or research for the forseeable that's how to run a car company!!!

July 15 July 15
1939 From Indy To Miami

Carl Fisher, the founder of both the Indy 500 and Miami Beach, died in Miami at age 65. Born in Greensburg, Indiana, Fisher grew up racing cars and bicycles and aspired to be a successful inventor. He turned out to be a better businessman than an inventor, and left his first imprint on the business world when he partnered with Fred Avery, who held the patent for pressing carbide gas into tanks. Together, they manufactured car headlamps as the Presto-O-Lite Corporation. By 1910, six years after starting the business, Fisher was a multimillionaire. He bought land and built a track in Indianapolis, paving the track with local brick. By offering the largest single day purse in sport, Fisher guaranteed interest in his epic 500-mile race, and in less than five years "Indy" had become one of the premier car races in the world. In 1915, Fisher led the development effort for the Lincoln Highway, the nation's first continuous cross-continental highway from New York to California. Later, in the 1920s, Fisher developed the Dixie Highway, a road that ran from Michigan to Miami. Fisher fell in love with Miami, and in 1910 he bought a house there. It became his project to develop Miami Beach into a city. Fisher gave $50,000 of his own money to complete the longest wooden bridge in the state, stretching between Miami and Miami Beach. At that time Miami Beach was wild, and Fisher set about cleaning up the beach. He built lavish facilities near the water and invited the rich and famous to check out his creation. The Florida land bust of 1926 and the subsequent stock market crash of 1929 left Fisher penniless, and he lived in a small home on Miami Beach until his death.

Some guys are just blessed with great vision to make a fortune no matter what they start. Too bad he did not live to see the success of Miami Beach...and the IRL take over the Indy 500... and the Formula One return to America at his hallowed track.....well maybe somethings ignorance is bliss*!!!

(*Works for NASCAR...strictly editorial comment)

1908 : Fisher Body Company is established

Albert Fisher and his nephews, Frederic and Charles Fisher, established the Fisher Body Company to manufacture carriage and automobile bodies. Albert Fisher personally supplied $30,000 of the company's total of $50,000 in initial capital. Charles and Frederic had been trained in their father's carriage building shop and supplied the technical know-how required at the company's inception. Fisher Body quickly abandoned carriage building to concentrate on car frames. By 1910, Fisher supplied some car bodies for General Motors (GM), and in 1919 GM purchased controlling interest in the company to shore up a supplier for its car bodies. At that time, Fisher was the largest supplier of car bodies in the world. The Fisher brothers were early advocates of closed-body, steel and wood frames, and they pre-empted their competition by creating more closed-bodied cars than open-bodied. They were also early in their adoption of aluminum and steel frames. Fisher Body completed a total merger in 1924 after their initial contracted agreement to supply bodies to GM had expired. On June 30, 1926, GM traded 667,720 shares of its own stock, at a market value of $136 million, for the remaining 40 percent of Fisher Body. The firm became the Fisher Body Division of GM, and was still headed by the Fisher family. The Fisher family remained in control of the Fisher Body Division until 1944, though brothers Lawrence and Edward were on the board of directors until 1969. The Fisher family's impact on the automotive industry is second only to that of the Ford family. Every GM body between 1919 and 1944 passed the approval of a Fisher man.

Talk about the Prodigal sons...
Old man Fisher gives his boys a job in his carrage factory and teach them the trade. Along comes the Uncle $30,000 to invest in another carriage building company...and then turn their back on the business that made them the money in the first place to produce that flash in the pan "Automobile thing"??? $30,000 in 1908 was a kin to Daimlers $36 Billion nowadays.(Technically now $9 Billion)

The adoption of aluminum and steel frames is wonderful unless you factor in the nightmare of dissimilar letals and rust...

I guess they got theirs with the expiration of the contract in 1926 they were bought out by GM and then they did not have the smarts to get out, they hung on till 1969 and proudly passed their seal of approval on each body GM made from 1919 to 1944. I just can't imagine a scenario where I would get $136 million dollars worth of shares in 1926 and I would still punch a time clock and churn out Chevys!!!! I am pretty sure the Uncle was retired!!!!

July 16
1955 Moss' First F1 Win

Although Stirling Moss favoured driving British cars, his first Formula One victory came while driving a Mercedes Benz W196 on this day at the British Grand Prix in Aintree. Although he never won a World Driving Championship he finished second to Juan Manual Fangio four years in a row. Having won 16 of 66 Grand Prix starts and more than 190 races in other major events there is no doubt of Moss' skill. Although Moss' Father raced twice at the Indy 500, his parents were not in favour of Moss racing. Moss started racing in 1946 with a Formula 3 Cooper and was also successful at Hillclimbs.
"Better to lose honorably in a British car than to win in a foreign one," he was once heard saying. Moss was proud to race British cars and often they were not the strongest cars in the field. In the 1961 Monaco Grand Prix, driving an underpowered Lotus, he held off the Ferraris and won the race.
Left partially paralysed on his left side from a crash at Goodwood in 1962, he rehabilitated himself well enough to get back in a racecar by May of 1963. The effect of the previous years crash had been devastaing and after a 30 minute test session Moss relized his racing career was over.

The Official Stirling Moss Website
An online Biography of Stirling Moss
July 17
1964 His Father's Son

Donald Campbell, the son of Britain's most prolific land-speed record holder, Sir Malcolm Campbell, drove the Proteus Bluebird to a four-wheel, gasoline-powered land-speed record with two identical runs of 403mph at Lake Eyre, South Australia. Campbell contracted rheumatic fever as a child while accompanying his father to South Africa for the elder Campbell's assault on the 300mph barrier. The fever nearly cost Campbell his life, and reshaped his childhood, confining him to a wheel chair for almost three years. Young Campbell lived in his father's dark shadow, as Sir Malcolm was said by some to be a proponent of tough love, and by others to be a cruel-hearted disciplinarian.
After the war, Sir Malcolm continued to pursue speed records until his death. It wasn't until after his father had passed away that Donald considered pursuing speed records. When it became known his father's water-speed record was in danger, Donald asked his father's long time chief mechanic and close family friend, Leo Villa, to help him set a new mark. He broke 200mph, a barrier man thought unbreakable on water, and then proceeded to raise the mark to over 260mph.
But when American Craig Breedlove set an unofficial land record of 404mph in a rocket car, Donald knew he had to act. His record run at Lake Eyre, in the face of so many doubters, was his defining moment. Still he wasn't satisfied. Worried by Breedlove's record and his father's ghost, he decided to go for the double, holding both land and water speed records at once. Months later on Lake Dumbleyung in Western Australia, Donald tested his own limits for the last time. "Full power... tramping like hell... I can't see much and the water's very bad indeed. I can't get over the top... I'm getting a lot of bloody row in here... I can't see anything.. I've got the bows up... I've gone." His last words.

More form the History Channel...

More info...

Online photogallery of BlueBird

July 18

1948 Maestro's First Class

Juan Manuel Fangio, a.k.a. "the Maestro," made his Formula One debut finishing 12th at the Grand Prix de l'ACF in France. Fangio was 37 years old at the start of his first Formula One race, but his late appearance onto the racing scene did not diminish his impact. Born to an Italian immigrant family outside of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Fangio learned to race on the death-trap tracks of Argentina for little reward. Finally, his excellence was recognized by Argentine dictator Juan Peron, who agreed to sponsor Fangio's racing career. Formula One Grand Prix racing began in 1950, and Fangio took second place in the World Driver's Championship driving for Alpha Romeo. The next year he won. He spoke always with the quiet confidence that comes from a specific talent. Said Fangio, "great drivers can do their best times in two or three laps of a circuit, while others take 10, 20, or 30."
Juan Manuel Fangio died on July 17, 1995, and was buried in Balcarce, Argentina.

Read more at the History Channel website...

Online Biography...

1934 Retractable Headlights

Harold T. Ames filed a patent application for his retractable headlamps. The design would later become one of the defining details on Ames' most triumphant project, the Cord 810. Ames, then the chief executive at Duesenberg, asked Cord designer Gordon Buehrig to make a "baby version" of the Duesenberg car. Buehrig's response, the Cord 810, is widely held to be one of the most influential cars in American automotive history. "Many of the Cord's lines are borrowed form aerodynamics... The Cord suggests the driving power of a fast fighter plane. It is, in fact, a most solemn expression of streamlining."

Not an important part of Auto history, but an important part of Auto design....until they freeze shut!!!

1935 Parking Meters Debut

The first automatic parking meter in the U.S., the Park-O-Meter invented by Carlton Magee, was installed in Oklahoma City by the Dual Parking Meter Company. Twenty-foot spaces were painted on the pavement, and a parking meter that accepted nickels was planted in the concrete at the head of each space. The city paid for the meters with funds collected from them. Today parking meters are big business. Companies offer digital parking meters, smart parking meters, and, even more remarkably, user-friendly parking meters. The user-friendly parking meters are an attempt to stem the tide of "violent confrontations" between users and their meters.

User Friendly Parking Meters??? Parking Meters are like a trip to the Proctologists for an exam...neccesary but never enjoyable.

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