This Day

September 30, 1955 – James Dean’s last ride
Dusty & Rusty, Future Collectibles, This Day

September 30, 1955 – James Dean’s last ride

American actor and race car driver James Dean, 24, died in a wreck while driving a Porsche 550 Spyder on this day in 1955. Dean, who starred in such movies as East of Eden, Giant and Rebel Without a Cause, was already a beloved actor when he took an interest in auto racing in 1954. His first professional race would come at Palm Springs Road Races, which were held March 26-27, 1955. His skills were extremely prevalent, as he won first place in the novice and second in the main event. Dean racing his Porsche Speedster in March 1955. By Chad White CC BY-SA 3.0 His final race would come just two months later, on May 30, 1955, after which he had to halt racing to film Giant. After wrapping up his final scenes, Dean jumped right back in the driver’s seat. He was headed to Salinas, Califo...
September 29, 1913 – The mysterious disappearance of Rudolph Diesel
Automotive, This Day

September 29, 1913 – The mysterious disappearance of Rudolph Diesel

In 1870, at the age of 12, Rudolf Diesel and his family fled Paris for London due to the Franco-Prussian war. Before the conflict ended Rudolph was sent to stay with an aunt an uncle in Augsburg, Germany, a trip that would forever change his life's path. A life that ended under very strange circumstances. Diesel's first experimental engine from 1893 After becoming fluent in German and developing an extreme interest in math, thanks to sitting in on his uncle’s class, Rudolph decided to stay in Augsburg to study engineering. He would go on to land a scholarship to the Royal Bavarian Polytechnic of Munich. After graduating in January of 1880 with the highest educational honors in his class, Rudolph began to work under a former professor, Carl von Linde, in Paris. As a team they de...
September 28, 1949 – A small car with a big name comes to market
Automotive, This Day

September 28, 1949 – A small car with a big name comes to market

British company Jowett Cars debuted their first and only sports car, the Jupiter, on this day in 1949 at the London Motor Show. The Jupiter was designed in just four months by Austrian engineer Dr. Robert Eberan von Eberhorst and Jowett’s own body stylist Reg Korner. Only about 900 Jupiters had been produced when production ended in 1954, which was enough to achieve great success in auto racing. The flat four, 1486 cc powered Jupiters would take a class wins at the 1950 Le Mans 24 Hour race and the 1951 Monte Carlo International Rally, an overall win in the 1951 Lisbon International Rally, and a class one-two win in the public road race at Dundrod in Northern Ireland in September 1951, just to name a few victories. Cover image: A Jowett Jupiter, circa 1952. Photographed in Congleto...
September 27, 1925 – Building Nurburgring
Automotive, This Day

September 27, 1925 – Building Nurburgring

On this day in 1925 construction on the Nurburgring racing circuit in Nürburg, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany begins. The first races would take place on June 18, 1927 for motorcycles with sidecars, which was won by Toni Ulmen on an English 350 cc Velocette. Rudolf Caracciola took the checkers at the first automobile race, which was for the 5000 cc class the following day. He drove a Mercedes Compressor to victory. Rudolf Caracciola drives a Mercedes-Benz SSKL Rennsportwagen to victory at the German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring, July 19, 1931 with his co-driver Wilhelm Sebastian. The motorsports complex now features a Grand Prix track that was built in 1984 and has a crowd capacity of more than 150,000 people. The track’s biggest weekend of the year is the 24 Hours Nurburgring, whi...
September 25, 1725 –  The inventor of the automobile is born, and later crashes…
Automotive, This Day

September 25, 1725 – The inventor of the automobile is born, and later crashes…

Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot, the man credited with building the first known working, self-propelled mechanical vehicle capable of carrying a driver, was born on this day in 1725. At the age of 40, Cugnot, a French military engineer and inventor, began to develop a steam powered vehicle capable of transporting cannons for the French Army. This led to the 1769 debut of a scaled-down version of a “fardier a vapeur,” translated to steam dray. A fardier was a massive two wheeled, horse drawn cart used to transport heavy equipment, but Cugnot's version utilized a third wheel where the horses would normally be. Cugnot's 1770 fardier à vapeur, as preserved at the Musée des Arts et Métiers, Paris.  In 1770 a full size version was built. On paper it was designed to carry 4 tons and cover 4.8...
September 24, 1948 – Honda Motor Company incorporates
Automotive, This Day

September 24, 1948 – Honda Motor Company incorporates

In 1937 Soichiro Honda founded a manufacturing company to produce piston rings for Toyota, but during WWII one of Honda's factories was bombed and the other collapsed in an earthquake in 1945. He sold off salvageable parts and machinery directly to Toyota and used the funds he received to start the Honda Technical Research Institute in 1946. Here he and his team developed a motorized bike moved by Honda’s first mass produced engine. In the wake of the bike's success Honda founded and incorporated Honda Motor Company on this day in 1948. First generation 1958 Honda Super Cub. By Mj-bird - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Honda Motor Company would achieve international fame with the production of its Super Cub motorcycle in the 1960s, as it became one of the world’s best selling vehicles ...
September 23, 1972 – The last race at the Crystal Palace
Automotive, This Day

September 23, 1972 – The last race at the Crystal Palace

The Crystal Palace circuit, a motor racing circuit in Crystal Palace Park in south London, England, saw its final professional organized race on this day in 1972. Club events would continue through 1974 before the track officially closed. The circuit opened in 1927 with a motorcycle race on May 21. The original one mile circuit primarily followed existing paths through the lake. The road surface was made of tarmac bends and hard packed gravel straightaways. At the end of 1936 track improvements begun, which increased the track’s length to two miles. The first London Grand Prix was held at the circuit on July 17, 1937 and was won by Prince Bira in his ERA R2B with an average speed of 56.5 MPH. Later that year, during the International Imperial Trophy meeting, also won by Bira, the B...
September 22, 1893 – The first American car
This Day

September 22, 1893 – The first American car

On this day in 1893 brothers Frank and Charles Duryea debuted the first operational personal automobile in the United States on the streets of Springfield, Massachusetts. In the first attempt to publicly drive the car it came to a sudden halt after just a few hundred feet, as the belt transmission failed. Frank made a slight adjustment to the design and the car was driven more than half a mile later in the day. Charles Duryea (left) and Frank Duryea Following the debut of their automobile the brothers ended up going their separate ways. Charles went to Illinois to continue with a bicycle business he ran previous to the automotive endeavor and Frank continued tinkering with the new vehicle. A big improvement he made was replacing the belt transmission with gears and friction clutche...
September 21, 1903 – Preston Tucker is born
Automotive, This Day

September 21, 1903 – Preston Tucker is born

On this day in 1903 American car designer and inventor Preston Tucker was born in Capac, Michigan. Preston is perhaps best known for the Tucker 48, but his legacy in the auto industry reaches far beyond that revolutionary vehicle. Tucker got his start in the auto industry as an office boy for Cadillac before joining the local police force at age 19. As a copper he had his first opportunity to drive high powered police cars and motorcycles, sprouting an interest in automobile development. His mother had him removed from the force after pointing out he was below the agency’s age limit to be an officer, which led to him managing a gas station and working on the Ford assembly line. Later he would selling Studebakers from his gas station. His stints on the police force weren’t over though. Twi...