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November 14 – Alvis is bombed, the Brickyard is sold & GM rolls out the EV-1
This Day

November 14 – Alvis is bombed, the Brickyard is sold & GM rolls out the EV-1

Good Morning, or afternoon, or whenever you’re reading this. It’s November 14th and you’re reading This Day in Automotive History. Today we’re covering a few pivotal events that take us from across the pond, over to Indianapolis and then up to Michigan where we’ll get into GM’s first attempt at building a production electric car, way before you ever heard of Elon Musk.  1940 - The Alvis car plant in Coventry, England is bombed during a Nazi air raid The aftermath of a September 1940 bombing raid on London by the Nazis But first, we’ve got to talk about a little car company from Great Britain that just won’t quit, even after their factory was bombed by Nazis on this day in 1940. Alvis Car Company was originally founded as an engine and carburetor and engine maker under the na...
November 13, 1971 – Spielberg’s feature debut Duel starring a demonic Peterbilt premieres
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November 13, 1971 – Spielberg’s feature debut Duel starring a demonic Peterbilt premieres

Steven Spielberg's feature length directorial debut, Duel, debuted as a made for TV movie on this day in 1971. The flick starred Dennis Weaver as David Mann, a business commuter driving a Plymouth Valiant through the Mojave Desert on his way to meet a client. After passing a rusty and crusty 1955 Peterbilt 281, the unseen big rig driver chases and terrorizes Mann for the rest of the film. Duel originally aired as part of ABC's Movie of the Week series. The film's success on the small screen resulted in Universal Studios conducting additional filming after its initial airing for an international theatrical release. Richard Matheson adapted the script from his own short story, originally published in Playboy magazine. Matheson loosely based the plot on a real experience he had...
November 12, 1908 – GM buys Oldsmobile
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November 12, 1908 – GM buys Oldsmobile

On this day in 1908 the newly formed General Motors snapped up another automotive Brand. When GM buys Oldsmobile, the holding company immediately went to work to turn the struggling car company around. At the time, Oldsmobile was losing money after their latest product, a six cylinder model, failed to sell in the volume of the popular Curved Dash Runabout. The Curved Dash has received recognition as the first mass produced American automobile. Top 1909 Oldsmobile Model 20. Above: 1903 Oldsmobile Curved Dash. By Brian Corey Following the purchase of Oldsmobile, GM introduced the Model 20 for 1909, which more or less mirrored another General Motors product, the Buick Model 10. Comparatively, the Model 20 featured a longer wheelbase and had some minor differences in its exterior st...
November 11, 1978 – The Dukes of Hazzard films iconic jump
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November 11, 1978 – The Dukes of Hazzard films iconic jump

On the campus of Oxford College in Alabama, “The Dukes of Hazzard” crew filmed the iconic General Lee jump that takes place in the opening credits of the show on this day in 1978. The 16 foot high, 82 feet long jump over Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane’s cruiser totaled the orange 1969 Dodge Charger. Of course, they had plenty more Chargers in the studio lot. The stunt coordinator for the show bought as many of the cars as he could find. At the time there was no shortages, as Chrysler sold about 85,000 Chargers in 1969. The cars received roll bars, heavy duty suspension, altered brakes and other custom touches to make them safe and show ready. The cars that went airborne often received trunks full of concrete to prevent them from flipping. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eKs1iF-g...
November 9, 1960 – McNamara becomes president of Ford
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November 9, 1960 – McNamara becomes president of Ford

When Robert Strange McNamara was serving in the US Air Force during WWII, he made a strong impression on his colonel, Charles “Tex” Thornton. Following the war, Thornton recruited McNamara and eight other military men to form a consulting business. Their goal was to help big business readjust to civilian production. Ford Motor Company, then led by Henry Ford II, was losing major money in that era, and needed the help. Ford hired the group to reform its administration and turn the company around. Soon after landing at Ford, the higher ups began calling the newbies the “Quiz Kids.” The team rebranded themselves as the “Whiz Kids” as they proved their methods worked. McNamara began his career at Ford as the manager of planning and financial analysis, but quickly worked his way up the...
November 8, 1989 – Infiniti is founded
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November 8, 1989 – Infiniti is founded

First generation Infiniti Q45 Nissan's luxury car division Infiniti launched on this day in 1989, the same year that Toyota launched its upscale Lexus brand. The original lineup debuted under founding general manager Bill Bruce who introduced two cars in November of 1989, the Infiniti Q45 and M30. Both of these had previously been sold under Nissan in Japan. The Japanese domestic market (JDM) Nissan President acted as the base for the Q45, although The Q45 had a wheel base about two inches shorter in its first few years of production. The Q45 featured a 278 hp, four wheel steering, and an active suspension system. It's primary compeition at the time would have included the Mercedes S-Class, BMW 7 Series, Jaguar XJ and Cadillac Fleetwood. 1990 Infiniti M30 The two-door M30 was bas...
November 7, 1940 – The Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapses
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November 7, 1940 – The Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapses

The grand opening of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge on July 1, 1940. When the Tacoma Narrows Bridge opened to traffic on July 1, 1940, it was the world's third longest suspension bridge by main span. Within a short time the bridge earned the nickname Galloping Gertie due to the fierce movements of the roadway that occurred during high wind events. Just a few months later, on this day in 1940, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapsed amid windy conditions, crashing into the Tacoma Narrows Straight down below. There were no human fatalities in the event, but one dog died when the abandoned car he was in fell into the water during the collapse. Why did the Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapse? Soon after the bridge opened in the summer of 1940 people noticed that even relatively mild wind caused t...
November 6, 1988 – The first Polish Victory Lap
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November 6, 1988 – The first Polish Victory Lap

The car Alan Kulwicki drove to victory at the 1988 Checker 500 and performed the first Polish Victory Lap. NASCAR racer Alan Kulwicki, who is of Polish decent, introduced the world to the Polish victory lap on this day in 1988 after winning the Checker 500 at Phoenix International Raceway, his first NASCAR Winston Cup win. The victory lap, now a tradition in many forms of auto racing, usually involves the winning driver turning their car around and driving it the opposite way of the race around the track. They often will take the checkered flag and wave it to the fans.  Alan Kulwicki Kulwicki, nicknamed the “Polish Prince,” died in a light aircraft accident in 1993. Following his passing the the victory lap name was solidified. Kulwicki had won the Rookie of the Year title in 198...
November 5, 1895 – Selden patents the automobile
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November 5, 1895 – Selden patents the automobile

George B. Selden driving an automobile in 1905 When patent lawyer George B. Selden first filed with the US Patent Office for an internal combustion engine on May 8, 1879, it included the application of the device on a four wheel vehicle. Selden named it the Road Engine. He developed this idea some eight years before the introduction of the Benz Patent Motorwagen in Germany. He continued to file many amendments to his application, which delayed the process 16 years. He finally received a patent for his engine and car on this day in 1895.  Selden found inspired for his invention after viewing a huge engine developed by George Brayton on display at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876. In 1878 he succeeded in producing a one-cylinder, 400-pound version of an inte...
November 4, 1938 – Ford Motor Company debuts Mercury
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November 4, 1938 – Ford Motor Company debuts Mercury

1939 Mercury. By Sicnag - CC BY 2.0 Ford Motor Company unveiled its new mid-priced automobile brand Mercury on this day in 1938 at a public showing in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. Championed by Edsel Ford, Mercury sought to fill the gap between more affordable Fords and luxury Lincolns. The market for this type of car had been proven by its primary competitors, such as Oldsmobile, Buick and Chrysler. In its debut year nearly 66,000 Mercurys went home to new buyers, who could have one for as little as $916 about $18,000 in 2022. While Mercury received unique bodies in its early years, it soon began to share lines with its Ford and Lincoln kin. Following WWII, the brand received an all new body in 1949, kicking off what would become a relatively successful decade. In 1950 the 1,000,000th...

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