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September 13, 2004 – Oprah gives away 276 free cars
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September 13, 2004 – Oprah gives away 276 free cars

(Oprah/Motor1) "You get a car! And you get a car! Everybody gets a car!" The moment Oprah gave away 276 Pontiac G6 sedans to her studio audience on this day in 2004 certainly ranks among the most memorable TV moments in history, but it's not all it's cracked up to be. Yes, the announcement solicited real screams and cheers, but when the dust settled, recipients found themselves stuck with a tax bill totaling about $6,000. So, while Oprah had asked producers to fill the audience with people who really needed a new ride, more than a handful couldn't afford to keep the car. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pviYWzu0dzk Furthermore, it was certainly charitable, but the giveaway didn't come out of Oprah's pocket. Pontiac footed the bill for the whole event. The automaker donated the ...
September 12, 1912 – The introduction to the first transcontinental highway
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September 12, 1912 – The introduction to the first transcontinental highway

Lincoln Highway running through Philadelphia in 1920 On this day in 1912 Carl Fisher and James Allison announced their vision to open a transcontinental rock (gravel) highway. They planned to acquire the necessary funding of $10 million from private sources, but failed to gain support from Henry Ford, which left them short. An acquaintance stated that they could name the highway after President Abraham Lincoln and apply for a government grant. They dubbed it the Lincoln Highway and in doing so received $1.7 million from the federal aid for construction of the road. The fully paved highway was designated a little over a year later on October 31, 1913. The original highway spanned from Time Square in New York City to San Francisco. It stretched through 13 states, New York, N...
September 11, 1987 – BMW Z1 introduced
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September 11, 1987 – BMW Z1 introduced

The first of the BMW Z car coupes debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show on this day in 1987. Development of the BMW Z1 began in 1985 at BMW Technik GmbH, with oversight by Ulrich Bez and lead design work by Harm Lagaay. A road going prototype appeared just one year later and BMW unveiled the project publicly. At the start of 1987 BMW announced it would bring the car to market, showing off the production model that fall at Frankfurt. It would finally reach the assembly line in 1989. BMW Z1 Doors and Body Above: Rear view of a BMW Z1. By ilikewaffles11 - CC BY 2.0. Top: Front view of BMW Z1. By Karrmann - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0 The most obvious design feature of the Z1 are its unique doors, which retract downward. However, the car has many other distinctive traits. For one, BMW d...
September 10, 1950 – A new diesel speed record
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September 10, 1950 – A new diesel speed record

Jackson at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in his Cummins Special in 1950. (IMS) Jimmy Jackson drove his #61 Cummins Diesel Special to a new diesel land speed record of 165.23 mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah on this day in 1950. Nicknamed the Green Hornet by Jackson, the car had a 401ci (6.6L) six-cylinder Cummins JBS 600 truck engine. It was outfitted with supercharger mounted in front of the engine that was coupled directly to the crankshaft. Jackson ran the same car in the 1950 Indianapolis 500, but was forced to drop out after 50 laps due to mechanical issues. Like diesel? Check out this story about the first diesel road trip.
September 9, 1982 – Henry Ford II (sort of) leaves Ford Motor Company
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September 9, 1982 – Henry Ford II (sort of) leaves Ford Motor Company

Henry Ford II (Ford) On this day in 1982 Henry Ford II announced he would remove himself from any involvement at the Ford Motor Company. Ford II, grandson of Henry Ford, became president of FMC following the death of his father Edsel in 1943 and the realization that Henry Ford I was no longer capable of running Ford due to his ailing health.  At the time Edsel passed away, Ford Motor Company was losing millions of dollars per month, in large part due to its destroyed European factories. When Ford II took the reins he acquired the mighty task of saving the family business.  Through reorganization of Ford’s manufacturing processes and restructuring its staff, Ford II got things back on track. A huge component of the success starting in the late 1940s was his hiring of the Whiz Kids. M...
September 8, 1963 – A master engineer passes away
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September 8, 1963 – A master engineer passes away

Maurice Wilks, fften regarded as one of the most forward thinking automotive engineers the industry had ever known, passed away on this day in 1963. Wilks began his engineering career at Hillman in 1922. He went on to spend two years with General Motors in the mid 1920 before returning to Hillman. After another brief stint he accepted a position as chief engineer at Rover Company in 1930. His accomplishments at Rover include the introduction of the first gas turbine automobile. He then headed development of the Land Rover alongside his brother Spencer. A series of promotion between the end of WWII and 1962 would lead to Wilks to being named chairman of Rover, a position he held at the time of his death. Above: Maurice Wilks Top: Rover gas turbine powered car developed by Wilks....
September 7, 1954 – Ford Thunderbird production begins
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September 7, 1954 – Ford Thunderbird production begins

Ford's answer to the Corvette, the Thunderbird, began rolling down the assembly line on this day in 1954 for the 1955 model year. The first complete car would leave the factory two days later. While designed to compete with Chevrolet's sports car, Ford marketed the Thunderbird as a personal luxury vehicle. The Blue Oval emphasized its new car's comfort and convenience, letting shoppers discover its sportiness during the test drive. The plan worked. T-Bird sales rose above Corvette some 17 to 1 in 1955. Though successful, executives believed expanding the two-seat T-Bird would also expand sales. They weren't wrong. Above: 1965 Ford Thunderbird By F.G.Bendiks. Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0. Top: First generation Ford Thunderbird by nakhon100 CC BY 2.0 Though the two-seater found continue...
September 6, 1891 – Peugeot debuts the Type 3 Quadricycle
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September 6, 1891 – Peugeot debuts the Type 3 Quadricycle

On this day in 1891 the Peugeot Type 3 Quadricycle debuted. The company manufactured 64 of these internal combustion powered vehicles between 1891 and 1894. It marked the second attempt by Peugeot to build a petrol powered auto, though multiple steam powered prototypes had come first. After company founder Armand Peugeot consulted with early automobile engineers Gottlieb Daimler and Emile Levassor, he became convinced internal combustion was the future of transportation. His Type 3 featured an engine designed by Daimler that produced 2hp, giving the vehicle an approximate top speed of 11 mph. To debut the Type 3 Armand Peugeot ran a demonstration model in the inaugural Paris-Brest-Pariscycle race beginning on this day in 1891. The car ran for 2,045 kilometres (1,271 miles), from...
September 5, 1930 – A backwards trip comes to an end
This Day

September 5, 1930 – A backwards trip comes to an end

The names Charles Creighton and James Hargis probably doesn’t ring any bells, but they may put a kink in your neck. These two completed a New York to Los Angeles -- and back journey -- in a Ford Model A on this day in 1930. Oh, and they did it all in reverse gear. The nearly 7,200 mile journey across unpaved roads took 42 days, but if doing it backwards wasn't strange enough they never once turned off the Ford. This includes during a 48 hour rest in Los Angeles! Who is ready for a road trip?
September 4, 1891 – The Autobahn designer is born
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September 4, 1891 – The Autobahn designer is born

The head designer of the German Autobahn, Fritz Todt, was born on this day in 1891. He would receive a degree in construction engineering from Technische Hochschule Karlsruhe and later obtain a doctorate in 1931 from Technische Hochschule München after authoring a thesis titled “Sources of failure in building state roads from tar and asphalt.” The same year he received his doctorate he was made a senior colonel in the Nazi party, which he had joined almost a decade prior. Two years later Hitler appointed Todt as Inspector General for German Roadways. Todt would then go on to oversee the development and construction of the Autobahn, a series of controlled-access highways that crisscross Germany. Autobahn logo Todt was killed in 1942 after his plane crashed shortly after takeoff. ...

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