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Tag: German

January 21, 1862 – Opel is founded
This Day

January 21, 1862 – Opel is founded

At the time of Opel's founding on this day in 1862 by Adam Opel, the business manufactured sewing machines in a cow shed. The business remained there until 1888, when bicycles became a part of their production catalog. After Adam’s passing in 1895, his sons took over the business. They soon created a partnership with a locksmith named Friedrich Lutzmann who had been working on automobile designs. Their relationship led to the development of the first Opel vehicles in 1899.  above: Opel Patent Motor Wagen circa 1899. Top: Opel GT (red) with a 1974 VW Karmann Ghia The cars were a hardsell to local consumers, resulting in the partnership dissolving. In 1901 the brothers signed a licensing agreement with Automobiles Darracq France to produce cars with Opel bodies on a Darracq chassi...
October 4, 1928 – Mercedes straight 8 debuts
This Day

October 4, 1928 – Mercedes straight 8 debuts

If you visited the Paris Motor Show on this day in 1928 you would have had the joys of seeing the Mercedes Nurburg 460, the first straight 8 powered automobile from the company. Designated as the Wo8 for factory output, the original car had a 4,622cc straight-8 engine had an output of 79 hp at 3,400 rpm, which allowed for a top speed of only 63 mph. Variations of the car would remain in production through the 1930s, making it Mercedes longest running model of the era. Cover: Mercedes-Benz Nurburg 460
July 5, 1933 – The Autobahn constructor
This Day

July 5, 1933 – The Autobahn constructor

On this day in 1933 Fritz Todt was appointed Inspector General for German Roadways. Todt had received a degree in construction engineering from Technische Hochschule Karlsruhe, and later, in 1931, his doctorate from the same school after writing his thesis titled “Sources of failure in building state roads from tar and asphalt.” The same year he earned his doctorate he was made a senior colonel in the Nazi party, which he had joined almost a decade prior. Two years later, Hitler appointed Todt as Inspector General for German Roadways. His main task was to develop a series of comprehensive highways, which developed into the controlled-access road system that crisscrosses Germany and is collectively known as the Autobahn. Fritz Todt
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 front gate of Auschwitz that reads Arbeit Mac...
October 19, 1987 – A controversial Grand Prix winner dies
This Day

October 19, 1987 – A controversial Grand Prix winner dies

German racer Hermann Lang was a promising 30 year old Mercedes driver in 1939 when World War II broke out as Germany invaded Poland, an event that may have handed him a championship trophy. The hostile action took place just two weeks after the 1939 AIACR European Drivers’ Championship held its final event of the season in Switzerland. Due to the outbreak of war, the AIACR never had the chance to officially name the winner, a title that is still disputed because that season began without a clear points distribution system in place. The old points system, which was well known at the time, was to be replaced by the French maximum points system, a relative of the current Grand Prix scoring method.   Lang, who died at age 78 on this day in 1987, was named the the season winner by the presi...
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...
The founding of Volkswagen
Business

The founding of Volkswagen

Volkswagen was founded under the Nazi party on this day in 1937. Adolf Hitler wanted to develop a vehicle that would be affordable for the German people, his target was to have it be sold for less than 1,000 Reich marks, which is about $140 today. The state owned company was originally known as Gesellschaft zur Vorbereitung des Deutschen Volkswagens mbH, but was later renamed Volkswagenwerk, translating to “The People’s Car Company.” In order to develop the vehicle Hitler brought Austrian automotive engineer Ferdinand Porsche on board. The original VW went on display at the 1939 Berlin Motor Show, shortly before the outbreak of WWII. The war resulted in a production cease. After the war the allies, helping to rebuild Germany, focused on Volkswagen and reconstructing the factory in order to...

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