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December 7, 1928 – Hot rodder & racer Mickey Thompson is born
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December 7, 1928 – Hot rodder & racer Mickey Thompson is born

Marion Lee "Mickey" Thompson, born on this day in 1928, set more automotive endurance and speed records during his life than any person before or since. Among those feats: becoming the first American to travel 400 miles per hour on the ground. His journey to 400 mph begins in his native California, where he worked for the Los Angeles Times. During his time as a pressman in his early 20s, a new fad took over the SoCal streets: hot rods. Mickey became infatuated with them and speed. Mickey was a active participant in the new sport, but not just from behind the steering wheel. He wrenched tirelessly to make his cars unbeatable. Mickey even had an oath to speed, exclaiming, "I hereby solemnly swear, to stand on the gas and leave all others in my dust, undisputed, forever, until the end...
December 6, 1976 – Kitty O’Neil sets a land speed record
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December 6, 1976 – Kitty O’Neil sets a land speed record

Kitty O'Neil On this day in 1976, daredevil Kitty O’Neil successfully set the women’s land speed record in Alvord Desert in Oregon. The run came after Kitty met Bill Fredrick, a stunt technology maker, when she was a stuntwoman herself. Fredrick built the SMI Motivator, and recruited Kitty to pilot it. She accepted the challenge and set out to conquer the existing women’s land speed record of 308.506 mph (496.492 km/h). It had been set in 1965 by Lee Breedlove in the Spirit of America - Sonic 1.  SMI Motivator Kitty landed a $20,000 contract to drive the vehicle, under the stipulation that she could not pursue the broader (men's) land speed record of 630.478 mph (1014.656 km/h). Stuntman Hal Needham chased that record in the same car. She agreed to the terms and put the pedal to ...
December 5, 1977 – Chrysler Corp debuts FWD compacts Omni & Horizon
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December 5, 1977 – Chrysler Corp debuts FWD compacts Omni & Horizon

The first mass produced front wheel drive cars from the Chrysler Corporation debuted on this day in 1977. The subcompact Dodge Omni and Plymouth Horizon would help save the company. They became a popular alternative to economical imports at a time when Chrysler was losing major money. Aside from being the first FWD cars from Chrysler, they're among the first from any American automaker. Previous domestic FWD cars include the Cord 810/812, introduced for 1936, followed by the Oldsmobile Toronado, first offered in 1966, and the 1967 Cadillac Eldorado. The cars remained in production for eleven years with few changes. Some 2,500,000 Omnis and Horizons left the factory by the end of their run in 1990.
December 4, 1915 – Henry Ford sets sail to end WWI on “Peace Ship”
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December 4, 1915 – Henry Ford sets sail to end WWI on “Peace Ship”

The Oscar II leaving New York Harbor on December 4, 1915 Henry Ford had a history of supporting unusual causes, often in even more unusual ways. Perhaps no attempted feat was more widely mocked than his World War I peace ship. Henry Ford chartered the ocean liner Oscar II and invited prominent peace activists to accompany him on a journey across the Atlantic Ocean in an attempt to end World War I. He hoped their mission would gain enough publicity to bring peace to the nations at the root of the war.  The ship set sail on this day in 1915. Oscar II Peace Ship with Capt. G. W. Hempel and Henry Ford Nearly 15,000 people saw the ship off as a band played "I Didn't Raise My Boy to Be a Soldier." It didn't take long a sense of failure to set in. Among the first issue was the tag...
December 3, 1979 – The last AMC Pacer
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December 3, 1979 – The last AMC Pacer

The 1970s gas crisis forced automakers to rethink their rather bulbous lineups. By the middle of the decade, consumers interest in style and power waned as focused shifted to value and fuel efficiency. AMC's answer? The Pacer. When it debuted in February 1975, AMC appeared to have an instant hit on its hands. More than 145,000 Pacers sold in their first year of production alone. Like the 70s, sales soon ran out of gas. Between 1976 and the end of 1979, the car averaged sales of about 35,000 units per year. That's good, if you're selling pet rocks. By the time Pacer production ended on this day in 1979, some 280,000 had left the assembly line in total. 1975 AMC Pacer interior and dash. By Christopher Ziemnowicz. Top: The large amount of glass used in the Pacer gave it the name ...
December 2, 1916 – Uniontown Speedway holds first race, 5 die
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December 2, 1916 – Uniontown Speedway holds first race, 5 die

Uniontown Speedway In the early days of auto racing, death was simply a byproduct of the action. In many circumstances, watching a race could be as deadly as being a driver. Though cars grew faster and faster, little was done to curb the likelihood of being maimed on the track. By 1916, high performance racers zoomed around specially built tracks at speeds ranging from 60 to 100 mph with little or no safety measures in place. If anything, tracks designs encourage speed, not safety. Such was the case with new Uniontown Speedway just outside of Uniontown, PA, which held its first race on this day in 1916. Uniontown Speedway Construction In the days before the debut event, racers entered the track for testing and practice. During these trial runs, the new speedway claimed its first ...
December 1, 1913 – Ford starts moving assembly line
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December 1, 1913 – Ford starts moving assembly line

Look at the size of this place! The first moving assembly line in the automotive industry began to churn out Ford Model Ts on this day in 1913 at the company's Highland Park Assembly Plant. Henry Ford yearned to maximize efficiency in the production of his vehicles. His advocacy for high volume automobile manufacturing allowed him to offer inexpensive, yet reliable transportation to the masses. By combining aspects of still assembly lines from the likes of Olds, with production methods borrowed from slaughterhouses and breweries, Ford reduced the time it took to build a Model T from more than 12 hours to about 1 hour and 30 minutes.  Ford Model T assembly line Ford was not the first car company to build vehicles on an assembly line. The Curved Dash Olds was an earlier exampl...
November 30, 1960 – The first International Harvester Scout
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November 30, 1960 – The first International Harvester Scout

1961 Scout 80. International Harveter doesn't just make combines, they are are combine. What? The company was founded during the merger of McCormick Harvesting Machine Company, Deering Harvester Company, Milwaukee Harvesting Machine Co., Plano Manufacturing Co. and Warder, Bushnell, and Glessner in 1902. While IH initially focused on agricultural machinery, such as large tractors, the business began truck production in 1907 at the company’s McCormick Works factory in Chicago. While International Harvester was commercially successful building and selling large trucks and farm equipment, the launch of their Jeep competitor, the Scout, would become the company’s most successful consumer vehicle to date. The first International Harvester Scout left the assembly line on this day in 1960 for...
November 29, 1996 – Facing industrial espionage charges from GM, VW executive Jose Ignacio Lopez resigns
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November 29, 1996 – Facing industrial espionage charges from GM, VW executive Jose Ignacio Lopez resigns

VW Jetta Volkswagen purchasing chief executive Jose Ignacio Lopez resigned on this day in 1996 amid charges of corporate espionage against General Motors. According to an November 30, 1996 LA Times article, "GM contends that Lopez and three of the seven GM executives he lured away to Volkswagen with him systematically stole boxes full of factory plans, component price lists, detailed new-car plans and other valuable documents and gave them to their new employer." The following article originally appeared in the New York Times on Jan 10, 1997. VW AGREES TO PAY G.M. $100 MILLION IN ESPIONAGE SUIT Bringing to an end a four-year feud between two of the world's largest companies, Volkswagen A.G. agreed to pay $100 million to the General Motors Corporation to settle accusations that ...
November 28, 1895 – Chicago hosts the first US automobile race
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November 28, 1895 – Chicago hosts the first US automobile race

The first organized automobile race in the United States took place on this day in 1895. On July 10, earlier that year, the Chicago Times-Herald announced it would host the race and offered a winning prize of $5,000, about $143,000 in 2017. Astonishingly, the newspaper received 83 entries. When the big day came, only six vehicles managed to pull up to the starting line. The course was originally to take vehicles from Chicago to Milwaukee, but inclement weather altered the route. The final course looped 54 miles from near the current Museum of Science and Industry, up to Evanston, IL, and back. Many of the automobiles scheduled to race were either incomplete or damaged en route to the event.  A bitter storm passed through the area before the Thanksgiving day race, leaving the r...

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