Subscribe to our Newsletter!

Automotive

October 17, 1968 – Bullitt, starring Steve McQueen and a ’68 Mustang, debuts
Automotive, This Day

October 17, 1968 – Bullitt, starring Steve McQueen and a ’68 Mustang, debuts

The film Bullitt debuted on this day in 1968. In brief, I'll let film critic Roger Ebert explain the plot, using an excerpt from his 1968 review. "McQueen plays a San Francisco cop assigned as bodyguard to a syndicate witness. The witness gets shotgunned -- in the most brutally direct 10 seconds of film I can remember -- and McQueen becomes a political football. Robert Vaughn (better than usual) is the politician who puts the heat on, and it's up to McQueen to hide the victim's body until he can untangle the case." Alright, so what does this have to do with cars? Besides McQueen being a professional race car driver and lover of all things with wheels, the movie's highlight is a 10 minute car chase. This isn't your average Hollywood burn out. It's perhaps the best chase scene to eve...
August 13, 1898 – James Packard buys a Winton – dislikes it and starts Packard
Automotive, This Day

August 13, 1898 – James Packard buys a Winton – dislikes it and starts Packard

On this day in 1898, James Packard purchased a Winton Automobile, the 12th one of the make produced. Packard found himself dissatisfied with his new vehicle, which is strange, seeing as there was hardly, if anything, to compare it to at the time. In any case, he took his complaints directly to Alexander Winton, the founder of the car company. Any suggestions for improvement that Packard may have offered were waved off with a smirk and some phrase was uttered along the lines of, “If you think you can do better, then do so.” Packard took the challenge to heart. On November 6, 1899, the first Packard automobile was completed in Warren, Ohio. Above: 1911 Packard Thirty Touring car ad. Top: William Packard driving a c.1900 Packard Model A In September 1900 James and his brother Will...
August 10, 1907 – The Peking to Paris race is won
Automotive

August 10, 1907 – The Peking to Paris race is won

On January 31, 1907, the Paris newspaper Le Matin issued a challenge to admirers of relatively newfangled machines called automobiles: drive one from China to France. The idea was to show beyond doubt that the automobile was a valuable, necessary means of transportation. The article read, "What needs to be proved today is that as long as a man has a car, he can do anything and go anywhere. Is there anyone who will undertake to travel this summer from Peking to Paris by automobile?" The editors of the paper received an astonishing 40 entries for the unimaginably difficult journey across untamed lands from what is now Beijing to the home of the Eiffel Tower. Above: One of the two DeDior cars that raced from Peking to Paris getting some assistanceTop: Auguste Pons with Oscar Foucault ...
June 7, 1992 – NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. died
Automotive, This Day

June 7, 1992 – NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. died

America’s prohibition era surely fueled the rise of NASCAR, but it took one man to make it official. Drivers who delivered illegal alcohol needed fast cars to outrun police, so they regularly tuned their vehicles for more power and better handling. Following prohibition, these drives still possessed a need for speed. They began to organize races, pitting their hopped up cars against each other, often in hopes of bringing home a cash prize. Daytona mechanic Bill France Sr., loved what the racing scene, but believed it could use more structure. With the assistance of a few partners, he developed a points system and race schedule for stock car racing. Above: The first NASCAR-sanctioned race was held on Daytona Beach in 1948 for modified-sportsman cars. (Photo by ISC Archives via Getty I...
May 30, 1911 – The first Indianapolis 500
Automotive

May 30, 1911 – The first Indianapolis 500

With more than 80,000 fans looking on from the grandstands of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and a $25,000 prize purse up for grabs, the inaugural Indianapolis 500 got underway on this day in 1911. Some figures state as many as 100,000 actually watched trackside as 40 drivers zipped around the Brickyard. Finally, after six hours, 42 minutes and 8 seconds, the checkered flag flew. Ray Harroun, driving his Marmon Model 32-based Wasp, took the victory, or so it seemed. A controversy was brewing.  Bob Burman, Louis Disbrow, Jack Tower, and Joe Grennon at the 1911 Indianapolis 500 Harroun had outfitted his car with a rearview mirror, an invention of his own, which allowed him to be the only racer to compete without a riding mechanic. He was cited as a hazard on the racetrack due to this, a...
May 22, 1969 – Racing movie “Winning,” starring Paul Newman, debuts
Automotive

May 22, 1969 – Racing movie “Winning,” starring Paul Newman, debuts

Action racing drama "Winning" starring Paul Newman and directed by James Goldstone debuted on this day in 1969. Also starring Joanne Woodward and Robert Wagner, the film is about a race car driver who aspires to win the Indianapolis 500 at any cost. A number of professional drivers and racing industry people appear in the film, including Bobby Unser,Dan Gurney, Roger McCluskey, and Bruce Walkup. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPxZSodp3fc The plot, according to Wikipedia, is "Professional racecar driver Frank Capua (Paul Newman) meets divorcee Elora (Newman's real-life wife Joanne Woodward). After a whirlwind romance they are married. Charley (Richard Thomas), Elora's teenage son by her first husband, becomes very close to Frank, and helps him prepare his cars for his races. ...
May 7, 1998 – Daimler-Benz purchases Chrysler Corporation
Automotive, This Day

May 7, 1998 – Daimler-Benz purchases Chrysler Corporation

On this day in 1998 Daimler-Benz purchases Chrysler Corporation for $36 billion. This deal is the largest acquisition of a US company by a foreign buyer. The sale proved to be quite beneficial in the short term, as stock prices rose quickly on the New York Stock Exchange, but the sweetness soon turned sour. In 2006, following a $1.5 billion loss on the year, Daimler sold Chrysler to Cerberus Capital Management for a measly $7.4 billion. Photo: Plymouth Prowler
May 5, 1914 – Cannonball Baker starts his first cross country run
Automotive

May 5, 1914 – Cannonball Baker starts his first cross country run

Erwin “Cannonball” Baker, the winner of the first race everz at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (a motorcycle race in which he rode an Indian), took off from San Diego on this day in 1914 in his first of many runs across America. He reached his destination, New York City, riding an Indian Motorcycle in just 11 days, smashing the old record by 9 days. After the incredibly quick run a journalist stated that Baker was faster than the Cannonball express train. The name stuck. To this day cross-country races, usually unsanctioned and outlawed, are known as cannonball runs all across the world. In the 1970s Car and Driver sponsored five Cannonball Runs, none were official races, yet they each gathered quite a crowd and allowed for numerous records to be set. They were conducted in protest ...
April 22, 1870 – Mitsubishi is founded with 3 old steam ships
Automotive, This Day

April 22, 1870 – Mitsubishi is founded with 3 old steam ships

After purchasing three agin steam ships, including the Golden Age (above), Yataro Iwasaki founded Mitsubishi Group on this day in 1870 as a shipping company. Iwasaki grew his business quickly by becoming the first Japanese business to offer overseas mail delivery to China. Over the next few years competition heated up on the seas, including with government rivals, but Mitsubishi was playing several other fields ashore during this time. Aside from shipping, the company expanded into mining copper and coal, and shipbuilding. In 1893, Yataro’s son Hisaya, a graduate of University of Pennsylvania, became president of the company. He set up different divisions within the company, including banking, real estate, and marketing. Eventually, an automotive development group came about.  Above: M...
April 15, 1964 – Gail Wise is first to buy a Ford Mustang
Automotive

April 15, 1964 – Gail Wise is first to buy a Ford Mustang

On this day in 1964, two days before the Ford Mustang was officially supposed to go on sale, one mistakenly left the dealership. The lucky new owner, the first person to buy a Mustang , was Gail Wise, a 22 year old school teacher from Chicago. Her parents let her the money after she landed her new job, but had no way to get to and from the school she was to teach at. She head to a local dealership in search of a convertible. When she expressed her desires she was disheartened to learn no drop tops were in stock. Perhaps seeing her dismay, the salesman told her he had a special surprise and led her to a backroom. Not sketchy at all... History is Driven. $19.99 Much to her relief she found a baby blue Ford Mustang convertible. The car had yet to be released to the public, and the sale...