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September 26, 1957 – The Vespa 400 is launched; gets 48 MPGs, is inconvenient
Features, This Day

September 26, 1957 – The Vespa 400 is launched; gets 48 MPGs, is inconvenient

Vespa 400 French scooter company ACMA introduced the Vespa 400 microcar in Monaco on this day in 1957. Company execs created much fanfare for the launch, as ACMA had invited three celebrity racing drivers to the press event. In its first year more than 12,000 were sold, but that number dropped significantly to 8,717 in 1959. Sales continued to slump until 1961 when popularity fell so far production ceased. Many people believe the fuel efficient, space saving car failed due to the minor inconvenience drivers went through to mix oil with the gasoline when filling up the car’s two stroke engine. You ever see Jerry Seinfeld in Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee? It’s really good. Seinfeld owns a bunch of crazy cars. He might even have one of these, I’m not sure, haven’t had a chance to as...
June 26, 1906 – The first French Grand Prix
This Day

June 26, 1906 – The first French Grand Prix

The Grand Prix de l'Automobile Club de France, the first Grand Prix event in France, started on this day in 1906 and would come to an end the following evening. Each day of the race had the drivers completing six laps of a 103.18-kilometre (64.11 mi) circuit composed of closed public roads outside the city of Le Mans with the driver’s daily times being combined for their total time. The Grand Prix was won by Ferenc Szisz driving a Renault, followed by Felice Nazzaro in a FIAT, and in third was Albert Clément and his Clément-Bayard. Both images from the first French GP
May 27, 1923 – The winner of the first 24 Hours of Le Mans is…
This Day

May 27, 1923 – The winner of the first 24 Hours of Le Mans is…

The inaugural 24 Hours of Le Mans ended on this day in 1923. This first of its kind automobile endurance race, held in Le Mans, France, began the day before with 33 cars on the track. All but three would still be driving when the race came to an end. The winners of the first 24 Hours of Le Mans race were Frenchmen André Lagache and René Léonard, who drove a Chenard-Walcker Sport. They completed 128 laps, while second place finished at 124.  Above: The #10 Chenard-Walcker of Dauvergne and BachmannTop: The start of the 1923 24 Hours of Le Mans The winner of the race was originally to be determined after three years of competition, combining the distance traveled at the race each year. This idea was abandoned after the first three year period. The race has been held every year sin...
February 26, 1725 – The inventor of the automobile is born
Automotive, This Day

February 26, 1725 – The inventor of the automobile is born

French inventor Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot, born on this day in 1725, receives credit as the creator of the first self-propelled, land based vehicle. Cugnot, a captain in the French army, had long relied on two wheeled horse drawn fardiers to carry heavy equipment across great distances. This included items such as artillery and arms. As the horses tired, his pace slowed and eventually stopped. He desired to create a vehicle that would move along steadily, uninterrupted by fatigue.  This problem led to the development of his first vehicle. To do so, he created a mechanism that turned the reciprocating motion of a steam piston into rotary motion by means of a ratchet system. His efforts resulted in a small scale “fardier à vapeur,”  a steam powered fardier, in 1769, which had three wheels. T...
December 18, 1898 – The first automobile land speed record is set
This Day

December 18, 1898 – The first automobile land speed record is set

Cover: Count Gaston de Chasseloup-Laubat in his record setting Jeantaud. Count Gaston de Chasseloup-Laubat of France set the first official automobile land speed record on this day in 1898 when he completed the flying kilometer in an electric Jeantaud in 57 seconds, an average speed of 63.13 km/h (39 mph). The record was set during a competition in France hosted by a relatively new magazine, La France Automobile. The record would kickoff a fierce speed contest between Chasseloup-Laubat and another car builder and driver, Camille Jenatzy of Belgium.  Between January and March of 1899 the two battled for the highest speed and Chasseloup-Laubat remained victorious. His reign as the speed king would come to an end on April 29, 1899 when Jenatzy crossed the 100 km/h mark in his...
January 16, 1853 – Co-founder of Michelin Tire Company is born
This Day

January 16, 1853 – Co-founder of Michelin Tire Company is born

Andre Michelin, founder of Michelin Tire Company, was born on this day in 1853 in Paris, France. At the age of 33 he took over his grandfather’s farm and agricultural equipment business, that also dealt in rubber products. It was there that he encountered a cyclist that needed assistance with a flat tire. That interaction would inspire Andre and his brother Edouard to develop the first detachable pneumatic tire for bicycles, making changing a flat much easier. This event closely coincided with the founding of the tire company that bears the brothers’ name in 1889. These tires were used by Charles Terront to win the world's first long distance cycle race, the 1891 Paris–Brest–Paris.  Andre Michelin After the brothers passed, Michelin Tire Company would continue to find success in th...