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July In Automotive History


Your politicians at work in 1956

Highway Revenue Act (HRA) goes into effect. This was your politicians at work in an effort to put taxation together to support the construction of over 42,500 miles of Interstate Highways.


Corvette Engineer Zora Arkus drives 1 millionth Corvette

Original Corvette engineer Zora Arkus Duntov drove the one-millionth Chevrolet Corvette off of the assembly line in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The event was monumental to both America´s first sports car and the man that made the car possible.


The Hudson “Twenty” is born

The Hudson Company quickly started production in 1909 after being formed. It´s first car driven out of a small factory in Detroit was on July 3, 1909. The new Hudson “Twenty” was one of the first low-priced cars on the American market and very successful with more than 4,000 sold the first year. The name “Hudson” came from Joseph L. Hudson, a Detroit department store entrepreneur and founder of Hudson´s department store, who provided the necessary capital and gave permission for the company to be named after him.


The King Richard Petty wins number 200

The King of Stock Car racing Richard Petty wins his 200th race. He accomplished this remarkable achievement at the Firecracker 400 race in Daytona Florida. Former President Ronald Reagan was in attendance making him NASCAR´s first ever presidential patron.


The German Autobahn

The famous German autobahn project was assigned to Fritz Todt by none other than Adolph Hitler himself.


Federal Air Pollution Act took act

The FAPCA or Federal Air Pollution Control Act was implemented.


Plymouth becomes a reality

Chrysler Corporation introduces the Plymouth, built to be affordable. The renowned aviator Amelia Earhart was behind the wheel in its debut. This brought over 30,000 people to Chicago´s Coliseum to get a glimpse of the car that would sell over 80,000 units in its first year, with a delivery price of $670.


Callaway Hunt

The designer of the License Plate Lester Callaway Hunt of Wyoming was born.


World´s largest parade of Fiat cars

In 1984, a group of enthusiasts calling themselves the “Amici della 500” (Friends of the 500) unofficially organized as the Fiat 500 Club Italia in Garlenda, in the province of Savona. Some 30 participants attended the club´s first rally on that July 15: the crowd included Dante Giacosa, the designer of the 500. The club was officially established in 1990 and today boasts more than 200,000 members and holds as many as 100 rallies per year. In July 2006, during the club´s international meeting in Garlenda, a record-high number of participants (754 teams) gathered to make up a parade of 500 Fiats, later recorded by Guinness as a world record.


U.S. Patent issued for three-point seatbelt

Driver Harry Harkness won the first Mount Washington, New Hampshire, hill-climb race driving a 60hp Mercedes Benz. In the patent, Bohlin explained his invention: “The object is to provide a safety belt which independently of the strength of the seat and its connection with the vehicle in an effective and physiologically favorable manner retains the upper as well as the lower part of the body of the strapped person against the action of substantially forwardly directed forces and which is easy to fasten and unfasten and even in other respects satisfies rigid requirements.”


President Woodrow Wilson signs Federal Aid Road Act

President Woodrow Wilson signs the Federal Aid Road Act. The law established a national policy of federal aid for highways. The first federal aid bill was submitted to Congress in 1902, proposing the creation of a Bureau of Public Roads. With the rise of the automobile--especially after Henry Ford introduced the affordable Model T in 1908, putting more Americans on the road than ever before--Congress was pushed to go even further.


First Dymaxion car produced

The first three-wheeled, multi-directional Dymaxion car--designed by the architect, engineer and philosopher Buckminster Fuller--is manufactured in Bridgeport, Connecticut, on this day. Born in Massachusetts in 1895, Fuller set out to live his life as (in his own words) “an experiment to find what a single individual can contribute to changing the world and benefiting all humanity.” After making up the world “Dymaxion” as a combination of the words “dynamic,” “maximum” and “ion,” he took the word as his own personal brand.


Henry Ford II fires Lee Iacocca

Ford Motor Company chairman Henry Ford II fires Lee Iacocca as Ford´s president, ending years of tension between the two men. Born to an immigrant family in Pennsylvania in 1924, Iacocca was hired by Ford as an engineer in 1946 but soon switched to sales, at which he clearly excelled. By 1960, Iaccoca had become a vice president and general manager of the Ford division, the company´s largest marketing arm. He successfully championed the design and development of the sporty, affordable Ford Mustang, an achievement that landed him on the covers of Time and Newsweek magazines in 1964. In December 1970, Henry Ford II named Iacocca president of Ford, but his brash, unorthodox style soon brought him into conflict with his boss. According to Douglas Brinkley´s history of Ford “Wheels for the World,” Henry authorized $1.5 million in company funds for an investigation of Iacocca´s business and private life in 1975.


First pilot to fly a plane onto the White House

Harry N. Atwood flew in to accept an award from President William Taft. There wasn´t a National Airport at the time, you see. Today, if you land a plane on the White House lawn, you do so at your own risk. If you don´t get shot out of the sky first, you´ll probably receive a hail of bullets from the Secret Service as a welcoming salute. It´s not that people don´t keep trying. In 1994, a small plane crashed on the lawn and slammed into the White House, killing the pilot.


Ford Motor Company takes its first order

The newly formed Ford Motor Company takes its first order from Chicago dentist Ernst Pfenning. Mr. Pfenning´s order was for an $850 two-cylinder Model A automobile with a tonneau (or backseat). The car, produced at Ford´s plant on Mack Street (now Mack Avenue) in Detroit, was delivered to Dr. Pfenning just over a week later.


World´s first parking meter gets installed

The world´s first parking meter, known as Park-O-Meter No. 1, was installed on the southeast corner of what was then First Street and Robinson Avenue in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on this day in 1935. The parking meter was the brainchild of a man named Carl C. Magee, who moved to Oklahoma City from New Mexico in 1927.


Three-point seatbelt inventor Nils Bohlin born

Nils Bohlin, the Swedish engineer and inventor responsible for the three-point lap and shoulder seatbelt--considered one of the most important innovations in automobile safety--is born on July 17, 1920 in Härnösand, Sweden. Before 1959, only two-point lap belts were available in automobiles; for the most part, the only people who regularly buckled up were race car drivers.


Juan Manuel Fangio makes Formula One debut

Juan Manuel Fangio--the Argentine race car driver dubbed “the Maestro”--makes his European racing debut at the Grand Prix de l´Automobile Club de France in Reims, France on this day in 1948. Born in San Jose de Balcarce, Argentina, in 1911, Fangio left school at the age of 11 and began working as an automobile mechanic. With financial support from the town of Balcarce, he won his first major racing victory driving a Chevrolet in the Gran Premio Internacional del Norte of 1940, a grueling road race between Buenos Aires and Lima, Peru


George Washington Carver partners with Ford

The agricultural chemist George Washington Carver, head of Alabama´s famed Tuskegee Institute, arrives in Dearborn, Michigan at the invitation of Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motor Company. Carver managed to get a high school education while working as a farmhand in Kansas in his late 20s. Turned away by a Kansas university because he was an African American, Carver later became the first black student at Iowa State Agricultural College in Ames, where he obtained his bachelor´s and master´s degrees.


U.S. govt. disputes Nader´s charges against Corvair

The results of a two-year study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation are released; the study concludes that 1960-63 Chevrolet Corvair models are at least as safe as comparable models of other cars sold in the same period, directly contradicting charges made by the leading consumer advocate Ralph Nader.


Germany passes controversial “Volkswagen Law”

the German government passes the “Law Concerning the Transfer of the Share Rights in Volkswagenwerk Limited Liability Company into Private Hands,” known informally as the “Volkswagen Law.” Founded in 1937 and originally under the control of Adolf Hitler´s National Socialist (Nazi) Party, Volkswagen would eventually grow into Europe´s largest car manufacturer and a symbol of Germany´s economic recovery after the devastation of World War II.


CA governor signs new auto emissions legislation

On July 22, 2002, over the strenuous opposition of the United Auto Workers (UAW) and the auto industry, Governor Gray Davis of California signs a stringent law regulating emissions from automobiles. California--which represents 10 percent of the nation´s automobile market and is known for its struggles with air pollution--took the lead early in setting stricter fuel emissions standards than the federal government´s


Honda produces 6 millionth Civic in North America

During the week ending on July 23, 2007, Honda Motor Company Ltd. produces its 6 millionth Civic in North America, according to an article in Automotive News. The first-generation Honda Civic, a subcompact, two-door model, made its debut in July 1972, followed by a three-door version that September. As suggested by its name, Honda saw the Civic as its car for the people; in this way, it was similar to the original “people´s car,” the Volkswagen Beetle. The Civic was an immediate success in its home country, winning Japan´s Car of the Year award for three consecutive years in 1972, 1973 and 1974. Honda began exporting the car to the United States in 1972, and to Canada the following year.


Bidding starts on South Korea´s Kia Motors Corp.

South Korea´s government opens the bidding for the Kia Motors Corporation, the country´s third-largest car company, which went bankrupt during an economic crisis that gripped much of Asia. Founded on the outskirts of Seoul in 1944, Kia began as a small manufacturer of steel tubing and bicycle parts. The name of the company was derived from the Chinese characters “ki” (meaning “to arise” or “to come out of”) and “a” (which stood for Asia).


Henry Kaiser and Joseph Frazer unite

Kaiser partnered with veteran automobile executive Joseph Frazer to establish a new automobile company from the remnants of Graham-Paige, of which Frazer had been president. It would use a surplus Ford Motor Company defense plant at Willow Run, Michigan originally built for World War II aircraft production by Ford. Kaiser Motors produced cars under the Kaiser and Frazer names until 1955, when it abandoned the U.S. market and moved its production plants to Brazil and Argentina. In the late 1960s, these South American operations were sold to a Ford-Renault combine.


Duesenberg dies from accident 1932

Fred Duesenberg died of pneumonia on July 26, 1932, resulting from injuries sustained in an automobile accident in which he was driving a Murphy SJ convertible. His brother, Augie, took over Fred´s duties as chief engineer. In 1913, brothers Fred and August Duesenberg founded Duesenberg Automobile & Motors Company, Inc. on 915 Grand Avenue in Des Moines, Iowa to build sports cars. Born in 1876 and 1879 respectively in Kirchheid (Lemgo), Germany, the two brothers were self-taught engineers and built many experimental cars. Duesenberg cars were considered some of the very best cars of the time, and were built entirely by hand.


Last Citroen 2CV rolls off the line in Portugal

The last Citroen 2CV, also known as the “Tin Snail” rolls off the production line at the company´s plant in Mangualde, Portugal at four o´clock on the afternoon of July 27, 1990. Since its debut in 1948, a total of 5,114,959 2CVs had been produced worldwide


Original Bonnie and Clyde Ford sold at auction

On April 29, 1934, Bonnie and Clyde had stolen the car that they eventually died in. In the last months of their lives, the telephone calls, to and from the home of Henry Barrow were being monitored by the Dallas Police. A log had been made of these conversations. The car was auctioned off for 175,000 at the Bay State Antique Automobile Exposition auction to Peter A Simon. The car has 160 bullet holes, blood stained seats and shattered windows. The car has since changed hands and moved all over the country. It currently resides At Terrible´s Gold Ranch Casino, along I-80 westbound side west of Verdi and Reno.


Cadillac now a part of General Motors

The Buick Motor Company acquired the Cadillac Motor Company on behalf of General Motors for $4.5 million. Cadillac was born from the ashes of the Henry Ford Company, a business organized by William Murphy to produce a car by Henry Ford. Murphy had been one of the original backers of the Detroit Automobile Company, which had dissolved in 1901 after Ford had failed to build a car he was willing to put to market.


The Volkswagen beetle is no more

On this day in 2003, the last of 21,529,464 Volkswagen Beetles built since World War II rolls off the production line at Volkswagen´s plant in Puebla, Mexico. One of a 3,000-unit final edition, the baby-blue vehicle was sent to a museum in Wolfsburg, Germany, where Volkswagen is headquartered. The car produced in Puebla that day was the last so-called “classic” VW Beetle, which is not to be confused with the redesigned new Beetle that Volkswagen introduced in 1998. (The new Beetle resembles the classic version but is based on the VW Golf.)

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