This Day

June 21, 1947 – The first post war Mille Miglia
This Day

June 21, 1947 – The first post war Mille Miglia

The Mille Miglia was an open road endurance race that took place in Italy 24 times from 1927 to 1957. It was on this day in 1947 the first post WWII race took place. The race was won by Italians Clemente Biondetti and Emilio Romano who drove an Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 B Berlinetta Touring. The races began in 1927 when Aymo Maggi and Franco Mazzotti, along with a group of investors, established the race because they were upset about the Italian Grand Prix being moved from their home town of Brescia. The designed a figure-eight type course that ran approximately one thousand miles on public roads. One thousand miles in Italian is “Mille Miglia,” although the first race was actually 1,005 miles. The first event started with 77 racers, of which 51 made it to the finish line. Coming in first was...
June 20, 1942 – Auschwitz prisoners steal uniforms, guns and a car to escape
This Day

June 20, 1942 – Auschwitz prisoners steal uniforms, guns and a car to escape

On this day in 1942 four prisoners of the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz staged a daring escape utilizing a stolen SS member’s personal vehicle, a Steyr 220 sedan, to drive right out the front gate. The escapees were three Polish prisoners, Kazimierz Piechowski, Stanisław Gustaw Jaster and Józef Lempart,  along with a prisoner who was from Czortków, now Ukraine, and a camp auto mechanic, named Eugeniusz Bendera. To pull off the escape the four men posed as a rollwagenkommando, German for haulage detail, which involved a group of men pulling a cart of items, work normally reserved for horses.  Above: Steyr 220, similar to the car used in the escapeTop: The main gate of Auschwitz They pushed the cart through the well known gate of Auschwitz, which reads Arbeit Macht Frei,...
June 19, 1966 -Ford goes 1, 2, 3 at Le Mans
This Day

June 19, 1966 -Ford goes 1, 2, 3 at Le Mans

When the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans came to an end on this day in 1966 it was a Ford GT40 in first, second and third place, marking the first time an American automobile won the race. With the three Mk. II Fords so far out in front of the rest of the field during the last pit stop, Henry Ford II decided to stage a publicity photo at the finish line, having all three cross nearly simultaneously. The leading #1 car driven by Ken Miles and Denny Hulme crossed the finish line next to the #2 car driven by Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon, with the #5 GT40 trailing shortly behind. The #1 and #2 cars had both completed 360 laps but the #2 car started farther back, meaning even though they tied, the #2 car covered more ground anad therefore received the the first place trophy. Ken Miles, who was going ...
June 18, 1923 – The first Kalamazoo Checker is built
This Day

June 18, 1923 – The first Kalamazoo Checker is built

Checker Motors Company was founded 1922 after Morris Markin, Chicago clothier and owner of an auto body repair business, loaned a friend $15,000 to support Commonwealth Motor Company. The friend was unable to pay him back, so instead gave Markin ownership of Commonwealth. The car company had been manufacturing personal passenger cars at a Joliet, Illinois facility, but Markin altered production in order to build taxis. Markin merged his existing auto body business with Commonwealth to form Checker, and he moved the production facility to Kalamazoo, Michigan. On this day in 1923, the first Checker assembled at the Kalamazoo plant rolled off the assembly line.  Checker Taxi Kalamazoo remained the home of Checker production until the last one left the factory 59 years later, in 1982. I...
June 17, 1994 – OJ flees in a white Ford Bronco – 90 million watch live
This Day

June 17, 1994 – OJ flees in a white Ford Bronco – 90 million watch live

It was this day in 1994 that a white, 1993 Ford Bronco went stampeding, rather slowly, down Interstate 405 in Los Angeles with Al Cowlings at the reigns and OJ Simpson riding along. More than 90 million people watched live on television as police gave chase. Simpson, wanted in connection with the June 13, 1994, murders of his wife Nicole Brown-Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman, sent a suspected suicide note to his defense lawyers the day he was to turn himself in. This resulted in an all points bulletin being put out in order to bring Simpson in.  At about 6:20 that evening a motorist called police saying he saw Simpson riding in the white Bronco in Orange County. A responding officer made contact with the Bronco but Cowlings told the officer to back off because Simpson wa...
June 16, 1903 –  The paperwork to incorporate Ford Motor Company is signed
This Day

June 16, 1903 – The paperwork to incorporate Ford Motor Company is signed

At approximately 9:30 am on this day in 1903, in Detroit, Michigan, Henry Ford and 12 investors met to sign the paperwork necessary to form a new corporation to be called Ford Motor Company. The documents were notarized and sent to the office of the Michigan Secretary of State. The papers were dated June 16, 1903, however they were not received until the next day, which is when the company was legally incorporated. Within a month, the company had its first order for the company's new Model A. It had a two-cylinder engine that pumped out 8 horsepower and could hit speeds of up to 30 mph. His-"T"-ory Drives Me Crazy - Get it here! Ford Motor Company soon earned a reputation for affordable, reliable, and mass produced automobiles that effectively changed the United States and many othe...
June 15, 1911 – The electric starter is patented
This Day

June 15, 1911 – The electric starter is patented

The name Charles Kettering may not ring any bells unless you went to Kettering University in Flint, Michigan, but this US inventor is the man you can thank for your car being so easy to start. It was on this day in 1911 he filed for US Patent #1150523, the electric starting motor for the automobile.  Kettering didn’t exactly invent the automatic starter, but he did make it work for cars of the era. Early automobiles required a person to hand crank the motor in order to get it started. Incidents often led to broken hands, wrists or even shoulders, but one accident was much worse. Byron Carter, the founder of Cartercar, came across a stranded motorist in Detroit during the winter of 1908. When the driver forgot to retard the spark the crank kicked back and broke Carter’s jaw. Due to...
June 14, 1959 – The Disneyland monorail opens
This Day

June 14, 1959 – The Disneyland monorail opens

On this day in 1959 the Disneyland Monorail System opened at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, during the rededication of Tomorrowland. The original trains, the Mark I Red and Blue, were each three cars long. In 1961 the Disneyland Hotel station was lengthened to connect with the monorail track. At that point it could accommodate a new four car train, the Mark II, improving ridership and usability of the system as transportation to and from the park. These days, the cars are often outfitted with decals representing Disney movies or park expansions. For example, in 2012 the cars were dressed as characters from the movie “Cars.” Monorail Red became Manny Monorail, Monorail Blue became Mandy Monorail, and Monorail Orange became Mona Monorail. The track features two stops, one ...
June 13, 1996 – Mercedes 300SL designer dies
This Day

June 13, 1996 – Mercedes 300SL designer dies

German automobile designer Friedrich Geiger, responsible for some of Mercedes’ most memorable cars, passed away on this day in 1996 at the age of 88. Geiger joined Daimler-Benz’s special vehicles manufacturing department in 1933. Within the decade he would head development of the Mercedes 500K and 540K.  Above: Friedrich Geiger at workTop: Design sketches of the Mercedes 300SL He would leave the company in 1948, but make a return just two years later. After designing the iconic 300SL gullwing coupe, he earned a promotion to head of styling. From there he oversaw the development of the late 1950s and early 1960s iconic “Fintails,” the Mercedes SL coupes and convertibles, and numerous other wonderful models. He retired from Mercedes in 1973. Mercedes 500K, designed by Friedric...
June 12, 1971 – The last Lincoln Mark III
This Day

June 12, 1971 – The last Lincoln Mark III

When Ford president Lee Iacocca told Design Vice President Gene Bordinat to "put a Rolls Royce grille on a Thunderbird" for Lincoln’s next top luxury model, the Continental Mark III was born. It would be three years before the Cadillac Eldorado competitor would hit the market, but it did so with great success. Introduced in April 1968 as a 1969 model, the Mark III outsold the Eldorado that year, and for multiple years after. The car was developed for only $30 million, and sold high volumes, making it one of the greatest successes of Iacocca’s career at Ford. The last Mark III left the factory on this day in 1971, succeeded by the Mark IV, which continued the same successful sales pattern.