Subscribe to our Newsletter!

This Day

May 17, 1994 – Al Unser Sr. retires
This Day

May 17, 1994 – Al Unser Sr. retires

Al Unser Sr. raced his way into the record books with four Indy 500 wins, as well as becoming the oldest person to win the race when he did so in 1987, five days before his 48th birthday. His incredible career started in 1957 at age 18 when he began racing modifieds. In 1965 he found his way into his first Indy 500, a race he first won five years later. He would win a USAC National Championship, a 1978 Triple Crown of Ovals - IndyCar Championship, and was crowned PPG IndyCar World Series Champion in 1983 and 1985. After being unable to qualify for his 28th Indy 500 he announced his retirement from racing on this day in 1994, just shy of his 55th birthday.
May 16, 1952 – Studebaker & Porsche sign development deal
Business

May 16, 1952 – Studebaker & Porsche sign development deal

An unusual automotive partnership formed on this day in 1952 when Studebaker and Porsche signed a contract to co-develop a new model for the American automaker. The partnership began with the help of famed importer Max Hoffman, who suggested the Indiana based car maker could use a facelift with the help of Dr. Ferdinand Porsche. Ensuing conversations led to an official deal. Porsche soon delivered its first idea, essentially a four door Porsche 356. The Indiana boys were less than thrilled with the concept, but not totally dissuade. They sent Porsche back to the drawing board. Their next attempt, code named by Porsche as the Type 542 and by Studebaker as the Z-87, saw delivery of three prototypes in 1953. The timing could not have been worse. Porsche 542 and 1953 Studebaker Whil...
May 15, 1962 – Chrysler Turbine car prototype is introduced
This Day

May 15, 1962 – Chrysler Turbine car prototype is introduced

A Chrysler Turbine car silhouetted by light coming through garage door windows. By Brian Corey (author). A pre-production version of the Chrysler Turbine Car, an experimental coupe powered by a turbine engine, debuted on this day in 1962 at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. It certainly was not the first Turbine car from Chrysler, and it wouldn't be the last. Over the next two years, a new version would be introduced and would actually end up on the production line. In total, 55 cars of this new design would be manufactured. This included five prototypes and a limited run of 50 cars for a public user program. Each of these received a "turbine bronze" paint job on its bodywork by Italian design studio Carrozzeria Ghia. Final assembly took place in Detroit where it received pow...
May 14, 1969 – The last Chevrolet Corvair is built, then vanishes
This Day

May 14, 1969 – The last Chevrolet Corvair is built, then vanishes

The idiosyncratic Chevrolet Corvair hit the market for 1960, marking a major departure from common automobile production practices in the United States. The air-cooled rear-engined compact more closely resembled a Volkswagen than the land yachts rolling off most US assembly lines at the times. While its unique design attracted curious consumers, the car also attracted unwanted attention. Ralph Nader famously targeted the Corvair in his book Unsafe at Any Speed, which called out automakers for failing to implement known safety equipment. Eventually lawsuits rose surrounding the Corvair's alleged flaws. While General Motors intended to scrap the Corvair in 1967 before the book ever went to press, the little car's life earned an extension to make it appear that Nader didn't bully GM into...
May 13, 1975 – Inventor of drive-in dies
This Day

May 13, 1975 – Inventor of drive-in dies

In the early 1930s, one Richard Hollingshead supposedly came to know a familiar complaint from his plump mother, “Movie theater seats are too small for my frame,” she’d exclaim, probably. To provide his mother with a more enjoyable movie going experience, something that was still relatively new at the time, and to save her from the embarrassment surely associated with breaking chairs, Richard built an at home theater just for her. Ever the good son, Richard nailed bed sheets between two trees on their family property in Camden, New Jersey. He then aimed a Kodak movie projector at it. He changed the world when he parked the family car in front of it so his mother could watch the show through the windshield from the comfort of the large front bench seat. As soon as Richard flipped on the pr...
May 12, 1988 – The Ford Probe, the car that could have been the next Mustang, debuts
This Day

May 12, 1988 – The Ford Probe, the car that could have been the next Mustang, debuts

1991 Ford Probe The Ford Probe may have a funny name, but it could have been worse: Mustang. As front-wheel-drive platforms became more popular with consumers in the 1980s, the brass at Ford had a vision; an all new FWD Ford Mustang. Furthermore, intentions saw the all American Pony Car receiving Japanese underpinnings courtesy of Ford's relationship with Mazda. This of course meant no V8 option. Oh, the misery! To add to the excitement, the car would be built on the Mazda G Platform. This being the base for Mazda's gutless sedan known as the 626 in North America. While internal disagreements at Ford had been raging for some time as to weather the car should be the next Mustang, the buying public would put the final nail in the coffin. After Ford's plan ended up on the cover of Aut...
May 11, 1978 – 2 millionth Camaro is built
This Day

May 11, 1978 – 2 millionth Camaro is built

Depending on who you ask, Camaro could be a French word for friendship, or an animal that eats Mustangs. The most likely meaning behind the name? A typo, or possibly French slang. Keeping in line with other C-names of the era, such as Chevelle, Corvette and Corvair, Chevrolet suits were on the hunt for the perfect name for their Mustang compeitor. The story goes that Chevrolet merchandising manager Bob Lund and General Motors vice president Ed Rollett discovered the word Camaro in Heath's French and English Dictionary by James Boïelle and by de V. Payen-Payne, printed in 1936. The French-English dictionary supposedly listed the word as a slang term that meant friend, pal, or comrade. In contemporary French, the term doesn't exist. Regardless, they picked the name and introduced t...
May 10, 2012 – Carroll Shelby dies
This Day

May 10, 2012 – Carroll Shelby dies

The automotive world lost a giant on this day in 2012 when Carroll Hall Shelby passed away at the age of 89 in Dallas, Texas. Shelby is best known for his role in the creation of the Shelby AC Cobra and the Shelby Mustangs of the 1960s, but his career spanned decades of racing, engineering and production feats. Shelby’s need for speed was present as far back as the 1930s when he toted around his high school town in Texas driving a modified Willys. After his graduation he served in the Air Army Corps in WWII, where he earned his wings as a test pilot and flight instructor. Upon discharge, he held positions in the oil fields and on a poultry farm before finally getting a chance to grab the wheel of his passion, auto racing. Above: Shelby racing an Aston Martin DBR1/300 at the 12 H...
May 9, 1980 – Skyway Bridge disaster
This Day

May 9, 1980 – Skyway Bridge disaster

Richard Hornbuckle's car rests where it skidded to a stop just 14 inches from the edge of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, which was struck by the freighter Summit Venture on May 9, 1980. The freighter rammed the southbound span of the bridge, collapsing a 1,200 foot length of the bridge and sending several cars and a Greyhound bus into the water. Thirty-five people died. Tampa Bay Times photo by Dick Bell. The original Sunshine Skyway Bridge, spanning more than four miles between St. Petersburg, Florida to Terra Ceia, opened in 1956 as a two lane road. In 1971, a second section opened, bringing the lane count to four. To many, it represented an engineering marvel, for ship captains, it became a hazard in Tampa Bay. That hazard proved deadly on this day in 1980 when the freighter MV Summit ...
May 8, 1956 – HFII resigns as Ford Foundation chairman
This Day

May 8, 1956 – HFII resigns as Ford Foundation chairman

Henry Ford II The Ford Foundation was founded in 1936 with a mission statement that claimed it was created “for scientific, educational and charitable purposes, all for the public welfare.” On this day in 1956 Henry Ford II resigned as its chairman. Until the founding of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000, The Ford Foundation continually ranked as the highest giving US non-profit.  A few highlights of the Foundations work include its first grant to support the development of the public broadcasting system, then known as National Educational Television (NET), which went on the air in 1952. In 1969 the Foundation gave US$1 million to the Children's Television Workshop to help create and launch Sesame Street. In 1972, the Foundation provided a three-year, $1.2 million g...

Enjoying This Day in Automotive History?

How about you buy me a coffee?