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December 1, 1913 – Ford starts moving assembly line
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December 1, 1913 – Ford starts moving assembly line

Look at the size of this place! The first moving assembly line in the automotive industry began to churn out Ford Model Ts on this day in 1913 at the company's Highland Park Assembly Plant. Henry Ford yearned to maximize efficiency in the production of his vehicles. His advocacy for high volume automobile manufacturing allowed him to offer inexpensive, yet reliable transportation to the masses. By combining aspects of still assembly lines from the likes of Olds, with production methods borrowed from slaughterhouses and breweries, Ford reduced the time it took to build a Model T from more than 12 hours to about 1 hour and 30 minutes.  Ford Model T assembly line Ford was not the first car company to build vehicles on an assembly line. The Curved Dash Olds was an earlier exampl...
November 24, 1971 – 50th anniversary of D.B. Cooper hijacking
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November 24, 1971 – 50th anniversary of D.B. Cooper hijacking

On this day in 1971, a man known as Dan Cooper, later misidentified in a paper as D.B. Cooper, hijacked a plane and then disappeared after supposedly jumping out of it into a storm over the Washington/Oregon border. While not directly related to the auto industry, the use of modern transportation in the case of D.B. Cooper is quite fascinating. For those unfamiliar with the story, the gist of it involves a man ticketed as Dan Cooper boarding a plane in Portland and then claiming he has a bomb once airborne. When the plane lands in Seattle he is given the $200,000 he demanded, along with four parachutes. As the plane is refueled, everyone except the pilots and Cooper are removed from the Boeing 727. Cooper then orders the plane to be flown to Mexico. Shortly after take-off, somewhere o...
November 23, 1954 – The 50 millionth General Motors car is produced
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November 23, 1954 – The 50 millionth General Motors car is produced

At approximately 10 a.m. on this day in 1954, Chevrolet General Manager Thomas Keating drove a gold plated 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air Sport Coupe off a Flint, Michigan assembly line, marking the 50 millionth automobile produced by General Motors. Shortly thereafter it would be loaded onto a flatbed parade float and towed through downtown Flint. Thousands of people packed the streets to get a glimpse of the historic vehicle. A number of other important automobiles and people flowed through the streets that day, including the first Cadillac produced under GM ownership. To commemorate the occasion, Chevrolet built 5,000 gold painted Bel Airs, though these were four door models and their trim remained chrome. This of course was much less expensive than the 716 trim parts plated with 24-car...
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 11, 1978 – The General Lee jumps Rosco’s patrol car
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November 11, 1978 – The General Lee jumps Rosco’s patrol car

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. Every purchase supports job training for inju...
October 25, 1975 – Evel Knievel’s longest jump
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October 25, 1975 – Evel Knievel’s longest jump

American stuntman Evel Knievel, born Robert Craig Knievel, achieved his personal best in distance after jumping 133 feet over 14 Greyhound buses on this day in 1975 at Kings Island, near Cincinnati, Ohio Throughout his career as a daredevil, Evel Knievel jumped a Harley Davidson motorcycle more than 75 times, flying through the air ramp-to ramp. In doing so he suffered at least 433 bone fractures, earning him a Guinness World Record for most bones broken in a lifetime. https://youtu.be/ratqB20diYE?t=84 Video: The Kings Island Jump. Top: Evel Knievel jump at Kings Island. Via Cincinnati Enquirer. Evel came out of retirement to make the Kings Island jump, which ABC broadcast on its show “Wide World of Sports.” Evel Knievel's jump set the world record for jumping the most buses on...
September 27, 1986 – Metallica Bassist Cliff Burton dies in bus crash
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September 27, 1986 – Metallica Bassist Cliff Burton dies in bus crash

On the heels of the release of Master of Puppets, Metallica hit the road on a heavy metal world tour. As the group's rockdom hit a massive growth spurt that would see them immortalized as Gods of metal, the suffered a massive blow. While driving through Sweden the band's tour bus skidded from the road on the morning of this day in 1986, causing it to flip. Burton was thrown from his bunk out of a window, causing the bus to crush him as it tipped over. The future Rock and Roll Hall of Famer was 24 years old at the time of his death. Cliff Burton in 1986. Following the wreck, the bus driver cited black ice as the reason for losing control. However, neither band members nor investigators could find any. Furthermore, the temperature at the time of the accident was multiple degrees ...
September 19, 1932 – Driving 12 cylinders for 24 hours straight
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September 19, 1932 – Driving 12 cylinders for 24 hours straight

When Pierce-Arrow entered the cylinder wars of the late 1920s and early '30s with a V-12, they had trouble pumping any more horsepower out of it than their straight 8. Notable race car driver and engineer Ab Jenkins got a call from the automaker, hoping he could help. With his assistance, the team added 45 more HP to the engine. Then Jenkins got a wild idea. Jenkins pitched the idea of driving a new 12 cylinder car for 24 hours straight to promote its reliability and power of its new 12-cylinder. Jenkins promised he'd cover more than 2,400 miles, averaging more than 100 miles per hour, all while never leaving the driver's seat. The folks at the luxury automaker were skeptical, to say the least. This included Jenkins friend and Pierce-Arrow sales manager Roy Faulkner. In the end, Fa...
August 30, 1980 – “On the Road Again” hits the charts
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August 30, 1980 – “On the Road Again” hits the charts

On this day in 1980, Willie Nelson’s hit song “On the Road Again” entered the Billboard 100 charts at #78. Nelson wrote the tune on a barf bag while traveling on an airplane after being co-passengers director Jerry Schatzberg and executive producer Sydney Pollack asked him to write a song for their upcoming film Honeysuckle Rose. Nelson would star in the film, which followed an aging country star who had yet to achieve the fame he dreamed of. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gdlyi5mckg0 Top: Willie Nelson in 2007. By Auld Rasmie - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0 In the movie, the character spent much of his time on the road playing small venues all across the country. When the producer asked Nelson to create a song, Nelson asked what he wanted it to be about. The producer responded “Can...

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