Some cool prototype sheet metal parts factory images:
Oh the joys of the open road!
Image by brizzle born and bred
Timeline of motoring history 1679 – 1939
Practical French scientist Denis Papin invents the pressure-cooker or ‘digester’.
Many before him have experimented with single charges of gunpowder as a means of moving a piston in a bore but, Denis Papin publishes his ideas for harnessing steam as an alternative, to achieve repeated cycles of movement. In doing so, he recognises the potential for a mechanical alternative to animals for mobilising carriages. He goes on to build the first steam engine, which is used to pump water to a canal running between Kassel and Karlshaven in Germany.
English military engineer Thomas Savery uses Papin’s ‘Digester’ as the basis of a crude steam engine for pumping water out of flooded mine-shafts.
Denis Papin, visiting London in the hope of finding patronage, writes to a friend reporting his failure and asking for financial support to pay for his return to Germany. Never heard of again, it is likely that Papin died in London in abject poverty and complete anonymity.
Thomas Newcomen, an "ironmonger" and blacksmith of Dartmouth, England, patents the "Atmospheric Steam Engine" and, together with John Calley starts to build and sell engines for pumping water out of mines.
James Watt, while engaged in repairing a Newcomen engine, comes up with several improvements which substantially change its method of operation and increase its efficiency. In so doing he lays a firm foundation for the design of all steam engines yet to come.
In Paris, Nicolas Joseph Cugnot, a military engineer, demonstrates a self propelled steam vehicle – the first on record. The French government requests Cugnot to design and build a larger vehicle, capable of moving large amounts of artillery.
At the French government’s immense cost, Cugnot builds ‘Fardier’ a large three- wheeled artillery carriage and creates history’s first motor accident by knocking down part of a wall.
Oliver Evans of Maryland patents a steam engine for the use in powering carts and carriages.
Richard Trevithick, an early pioneer of the Steam Railway, builds the first successful motor vehicle, and drives it through Camborne, Cornwall. Four days later it is destroyed by fire.
Trevithick builds a second steam powered carriage, which makes several successful runs through the streets of London. Unfortunately it also frightens horses and kindles considerable public hostility.
In 1804 Oliver Evans, builds the world’s first amphibious vehicle, ‘Orukter Amphibolas’, a steam powered dredger on wheels, for the Philadelphia Health Service. In July of 1805 it makes a one and a half mile journey from Central-Square to the banks of the Schuykill. It weighs 20 tons and is powered by a 5 HP twin cylinder beam engine driving both the paddle and 2 wheels. With no method of steering on land, the vehicle is much more successful as a boat.
In Switzerland, Francois Isaac de Rivaz builds, and demonstrates the first working internal combustion engine. It is fuelled by a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen and reliant on a foot-operated exhaust valve. Mounted on small trolley, travels just a few metres.
Concerned about the number of people being killed by exploding steam engines Reverend Robert Stirling invents and patents an alternative which is not only safer but also much more efficient. It runs on hot air and rotation is caused by heat differentials as it passes between various parts of the engine. It can use a number of alternative fuels to heat the air and, in spite of its improved safety and superior efficiency, it remains largely ignored for use in vehicles.
Samuel Brown patents and builds his "gas-and-vacuum" engine. It has two cylinders linked by a rocking beam, with a capacity of 8,800cc and an output of just 4hp. The engine powering a carriage successfully drives up Shooters Hill at Blackheath, on the outskirts of London.
Goldsworthy Gurney, having built his ‘London and Bath’ steam coach, sets out on the world’s first long distance coach service, a round trip from London to Bath and back. While the outward journey is marked by many breakdowns the return journey is accomplished in ten hours at an average speed of 8.4 miles per hour. Gurney is later to be the inventor of the theatrical ‘Limelight’.
A regular steam omnibus service is established between Stratford, East London, and Paddington, West London by Walter Hancock. Using ‘Infant’, his second steam carriage.
Sir Charles Dance sets up the world’s first scheduled passenger service by automobiles between Gloucester and Cheltenham, using three Gurney steam carriages. It operates for just a few months.
In London, Walter Hancock sets up a chain of garages to service his passenger carrying steam omnibuses en route between their destinations.
Robert William Thomson of Stonehaven, Scotland patents the world’s first vulcanized rubber pneumatic tyre. It is well received on trials in London but does not reach production for fear of its cost.
Belgian J. J. Etienne Lenoir builds the worlds first practicable internal combustion engine running on a mixture of coal gas and air and using a ‘jumping-spark’ ignition system. A company is formed in Paris to develop the engine further.
Le Monde Illustre. Devotes an article to J. J. Etienne Lenoir’s first gas- engined carriage.
First oil well in USA is drilled in Titusville, Pennsylvania.
French engineer Alphonse Beau de Rochas, patents the four-stroke cycle used in most modern internal combustion engines.
Lenoir demonstrates a second carriage, powered by a 1.5hp ‘liquid hydrocarbon’ engine. Several six-mile journeys are successfully completed between Paris and Vincennes.
Alexander II Tsar of Russia buys one of Lenoir’s carriages making it the first export sale of a car in history.
Britain’s government introduces the ‘Locomotives on Highways Act’ more widely known as the ‘Red Flag Act’. This requires that all mechanically powered road vehicles must have three drivers, must be limited to 4 mph on the open road and 2 mph in town and, must be preceded by a man on foot waving a red flag, to warn the public.
In Germany Nikolaus August Otto patents a "free-piston" atmospheric engine.
First steam driven vehicle ‘Cornubia’, exported to India.
Nikolaus Otto and Eugen Langen form N.A. Otto & Cie to produce the ‘free-piston’ engine.
The smooth-running "Otto silent" engine is patented in Germany as employees, Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach prepare it for production.
An initial ‘master patent’ for the automobile is filed in the United States by engineer and Patents Lawyer George B. Selden. He extends his application period for many years, by filing many amendments to delay its issue. Meanwhile he struggles to establish his own production capability.
A petroleum (gasoline) powered four stroke engine is used to adapt a horse carriage by Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach.
French inventor Ferdinand Forest, builds an opposed-piston engine with low tension magneto ignition and a spray carburettor.
Nicolaus Otto fails to obtain a patent covering his four-stroke engine because of Alphonse Beau de Rochas’ 1862 patent in France. Nevertheless we still refer to the four-stroke principle as the Otto cycle
Carl Benz’s three wheeler, makes its first successful runs. This is the first petroleum powered car to be designed from scratch, rather than adapted from a horse-drawn carriage.
John Boyd Dunlop a Scottish Veterinary Surgeon living in Belfast, re-invents and re-patents the pneumatic tyre without knowledge of the previous work and patent of fellow Scott Robert William Thomson.
In the UK, Brighton inventor Magnus Volk begins production of electric carriages. His electric Railway still runs along the coast today.
Karl Benz starts to produce three wheeled, petroleum powered cars; sales are slow.
Daimler sells rights for France to a new V configured twin cylinder engine to Panhard & Levassor
With no thought of manufacturing cars, Panhard & Levassor licence the Peugeot ironmongery business to use the engine in automotive applications.
Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft set up by Gottleib Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach in Bad Cannstatt, Germany.
M. Levassor decides to build cars after all, designing and building a rear engined car.
Frederick R. Simms acquires Daimler rights in the UK, with the intention of using the engines to power motor launches.
Ferdinand Forest produces the world’s first four cylinder petrol engine with mechanical valve operation for use in boats and goes on to build the world’s first six cylinder engine for the same purpose. The marine application ensures that his contribution to motoring history is ignored.
Levassor introduces a new design of motor car which is to become the template for the vast majority of designs for many years to come. Four wheels, front mounted engine, sliding gear transmission and rear wheel drive. At first this configuration is known as Systeme Panhard.
Brothers Charles Edgar Duryea and James Frank Duryea of Springfield, Massachussetts build their first motor buggy, Charles having an established background in the cycle trade. They are credited with being the first in America to build a practicable automobile.
Karl Benz introduces the "Viktoria", powered by a 3hp petroleum (gasoline) engine with a top speed of 11mph. Forty-five cars are in this year.
After many years of financial difficulty, Karl Benz begins ‘mass production’ of two models, the Velo and the Viktoria.
Henry G. Morris and Pedro Salom of Philadelphia open America’s first car factory to build Electrobat electric cars.
The Apperson brothers and Elwood Haynes of Kokomo, Indiana collaborate to build an automobile.
Karl Benz sells 135 motor vehicles in the year.
Sir David Salomans organises Britain’s first exhibition of motor vehicles in the open air in October at Tunbridge Wells, Kent.
In November, the first indoor exhibition of cars in Britain takes place, at the Stanley Cycle Show.
Selden’s master patent is finally granted in the USA, after years of revision.
First petrol engine produced by De Dion and Bouton.
The Autocar magazine founded by J. J. Henry Sturmey.
Frederick, Frank and George Lanchester build the first all-British, four-wheel, petrol driven car featuring many technical innovations. Lanchester will go on to rival Rolls Royce in their reputation for excellence, but fail to achieve long-term commercial success.
A Peugeot L’Eclair becomes the first car to run on Michelin pneumatic tyres.
The British Motor Industry is born when Harry J. Lawson launches the Daimler Motor Company in Coventry.
British Parliament repeals the Red Flag Act and raises the speed limit to l4mph; Lawson organises the first Run from London to Brighton to commemorate ‘Emancipation Day’.
Duryea brings two cars over to Europe for the Emancipation Day event.
American pioneers Henry Ford, Charles Brady King, Ransome Eli Olds and Alexander Winton all complete and test their first cars.
The first car to be sold with pneumatic tyres as standard is Leon Bollee’s Voiturette.
Harry J. Lawson forms the Great Horseless Carriage Company (later the Motor Manufacturing Company) to acquire the rights to all important Continental patents, in an effort to gain control of the British motor industry.
Emil Jellinek, financier, international diplomat and racing enthusiast, orders the first four cylinder Daimler.
The first commercially available steam cars are manufactured by twin brothers Francis and Freelan Stanley.
Alexander Winton a bicycle manufacturer of Cleveland, Ohio incorporates the Winton Motor Carriage Co.
The Pope Manufacturing Company of Hartford, Connecticut, at the time the USA’s largest cycle manufacturer, begin their attempt to build cars in large quantities.
A British-built Daimler is driven from John O’Groats to Lands End by Henry Sturmey, at the time a journalist with ‘The Autocar’ magazine.
The Automobile Club of Great Britain and Ireland is founded by F.R.Simms.
Emile Levassor dies.
R.E. Olds and a group of Lansing businessmen invest ,000 to create The Olds Motor Vehicle Company.
Leon Serpollet builds his first steam car.
James Ward Packard of Warren, Ohio, becomes one of the earliest buyers of a Winton and, immediately unsatisfied with it’s reliability and performance begins literally, to ‘pick it to pieces’.
Rudolf Diesel is granted a patent for an internal combustion engine where extremely high compression of the fuel/air mixture causes self-ignition, rather than a spark.
Using a De Dion engine and axle, Louise Renault builds his first car.
Panhard-Levassor adopt the steering wheel instead of the tiller.
De Dion Bouton introduce the Voiturette.
Coventry-Daimler release their first four cylinder model.
The first Napier power unit is built.
FIAT, Sunbeam, Wolseley, Albion and Isotta Fraschini begin production.
In the USA, the Olds Motor Vehicle Company also begins Production.
Gottlieb Daimler dies at the age of 66. One week later Emil Jellinek secures an exclusivity agreement with Wilhelm Maybach. The cars in which he has been involved and will be marketing, will now be named after his favourite daughter, Mercedes.
The Thousand Miles Trial is organised by the Automobile Club of Great Britain and Ireland to demonstrate the reliability and efficiency of the motor vehicle to the British public. Many people will see a car for the first time in their lives.
American manufacturers produce a total of 4192 cars, each selling at an average price of 00.00.
With an exclusive sales agreement and some technical input from Emile Jellinek , Daimler at Bad-Cannstatt introduces the new ‘Mercedes’. Jellinek will both race these cars with great success and sell them to a personally selected clientele.
Ettore Bugatti wins the Milan Grand Prix in his Type 2 and exhibits it at the Milan International Motorcar Exhibition. He is approached by de-Dietrich of Niederbronn in the Alsace region and offered a licensing deal to design cars for them. Since he is still legally a minor, his father Carlo signs the contract.
The Olsmobile ‘Curved Dash’ model becomes the world’s first mass-produced petroleum (gas) powered car.
John Starley dies, without seeing a Rover car go into production.
Packard patents and introduces the "H" gearshift pattern so familiar today.
Dr E C Lehwess sets out on the first attempt to drive around the world in a specially adapted Panhard Levassor bus named "Passe Partout" ("Anything Goes"). With no time-limit his intended route runs from London, through Europe to Asia, from where the bus will be shipped to California to cross the USA and return to England by ship across the Atlantic Ocean. He gets as far as Nizhni Novgorod in Eastern Russia, where "Passe Partout" and the attempt, have to be abandoned in deep snow.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders is founded by Frederick R. Simms.
The British Parliament passes the Motor Car Act, raising the speed limit from 12 to 20mph, introducing driving licences and establishing the registration and numbering of cars.
17,000 vehicles are now registered in Britain.
Henry Ford finally succeeds in raising ,000.00 to found the Ford Motor Company and begin production and sales of his Model A runabout.
In Detroit, the Cadillac Motor Car Company is founded by precision engineer Henry Martyn Leland.
In London, The Vauxhall Iron Works builds its first car.
Marcel Renault is one of 10 drivers killed in that year’s Paris-Madrid race.
Administration of George B. Selden’s ‘master patent for the automobile’ is taken over by the newly formed Association of Licensed Automobile Manufacturers, with the intention of pursuing numerous manufacturers for infringement, to gain compensation and future royalties.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders hosts its first motor show at the Crystal Palace, in South London.
The first completely new Benz, the front engined ‘Parsifal 12/18’, is designed by Marius Barbarou and introduced to compete with the very successful Mercedes Simplex.
A six cylinder, four wheel drive racing car is introduced by Dutch manufacturer Spyker.
The first six cylinder production car is introduced by Napier.
James H. Whiting, co-founder of the Flint Wagon Works, persuades his partners to buy the Buick Motor Car Company, at that time a very small car manufacturer. Whiting becomes President and David Buick is General Manager.
Mary Anderson is granted a patent for a handle-operated windshield wiper, originally intended to help the streetcar drivers of New York.
On January 1st, The Motor Car Act becomes law in Great Britain.
Having built his first motor car Henry Royce meets Charles Stewart Rolls, already successful in the sales of quality cars in London and Royce agrees to manufacture a range of cars exclusively for sale by CS Rolls & Co. They are to be known by the name Rolls-Royce.
The Sturtevant brothers of Boston, Massachusetts invent the first automatic gearbox. With two forward speeds it is dependent on rotation by the engine, of centrifugal weights which, all too often disintegrate. The unit may not be a complete success but at least it points the way for future developments.
Ford begins to export cars to Britain.
Having invented the modern bicycle 18 years earlier, Rover embarks on the manufacture of cars.
De Launay Belleville is founded in Saint Denis sur Seine, central France, with Marius Barbarou as engineer.
William Crapo Durant, Co-owner of Durant-Dort Carriage Company, the USA’s largest carriage makers, is approached by James Whiting to promote his Buick automobiles. Durant becomes Buick’s General Manager.
Having refused to pay royalties to the Association of Licensed Automotive Manufacturers for infringement of George B Selden’s master patent, Henry Ford is taken to court. Key to Ford’s defence is that Selden has never even built a car and the validity of the patent is therefore questionable. The judge orders Selden to build a car in accordance with his patent.
Herbert Austin, resigns as general manager of Wolseley to set up his own company at Longbridge, Birmingham.
The American the market for cars is enlarged by the introduction of installment finance plans.
The Automobile Association is set up to represent the interests of British motorists finding themselves easy targets for Police officers keen to gain promotion based on the numbers of speeding motorists caught and convicted!
The Royal Automobile Club (RAC) introduce a horsepower formula, largely based on the Cylinder bore of an engine.
The successful commercial collaboration between Henry Royce and C S Rolls results in the formation of the Rolls-Royce company and the launch of the 40/50hp six-cylinder ‘Silver Ghost’, soon to be hailed as ‘the best car in the world’.
Ford introduces the Model N at the New York Auto Show. Selling initially at 0,
The American car industry produces 33,500 cars.
Former Fiat test-driver Vincenzo Lancia sets up his own company in Turin with his friend and colleague Claudio Fogolin.
Britain exports a total of two cars per month to France while importing a total of 400 cars per month from France.
Otto Zachow and William Besserdich of Clintonville, Wisconsin, built the first successful 4-wheel-drive car.
A year after its announcement, the price of Ford’s Model N had already risen to 0.
King Edward VII awards the Automobile Club the Royal accolade.
Willys-Overland is formed following the purchase of the Overland Company of Indianapilolis by John Willys.
Over 60,000 Cars are now registered in Britain.
A Rolls-Royce ‘Silver Ghost’ completes a 15000 miles test under supervision of the RAC, with just one enforced stop.
Also completing a 15,000 mile test is a 45hp Hotchkiss, wearing out 46 tyres in the process.
Otto Zachow and William Besserdich begin a company called the Four Wheel Drive Auto Co.
Ford build the first Model T. This year’s production totals 8000.
Based on a previous, failed attempt to bring together America’s top four car manufacturers William Crapo Durant incorporates General Motors of New Jersey (GM) with a capital of ,000. Within 12 days the company has raised ,000,000 cash, enough to buy Buick and Oldsmobile in quick succession.
In London The Royal Automobile Club awards Cadillac the Dewar Trophy following the dismantling, mixing and re-assembly of components from three ‘Model K’ runabouts.
The General Motors Company acquires Cadillac and Oakland.
William Durant fails to raise the .5 million needed to buy Ford.
Louis Chevrolet drives a Buick to victory in the fifth "Indy car" race at Crown Point, Indianapolis.
Fernand Renault is dies after a long illness. Now alone at the helm, Louis Renault changes the company’s name to Les Automobiles Renault.
While still engaged by de Deutz, Ettore Bugatti and good friend Felix Kortz build the ‘Type 10’ in the cellar of his house, probably as an expression of his imminent intention to establish his own production.
Joseph Sankey & Sons of Bilston, near Woverhampton, specialists in steel pressings, commence production of stamped body panels for Arrol-Johnston cars.
Joseph Sankey & Sons develop the first detachable pressed-steel artillery wheel, a considerable improvement over the wooden carriage wheels which most vehicles had used previously.
Louis Coatalen is appointed as chief engineer at Sunbeam and starts to design cars capable of achieving records at Brooklands race track in Surrey.
H.F.S. Morgan builds his first car, a three-wheeler with a twin cylinder 8hp engine, seating for one, tiller steering and patented ‘sliding pillar’ independent front suspension.
Charles Franklin Kettering, having already invented, designed and developed the electric cash register, bank accounting machines and a superior ignition system for cars while working for NCR, sets up Dayton Engineering Laboratories Company (Delco). 8000 ignition systems are supplied to Cadillac in his first year of production.
De Dion-Bouton introduces the first "mass-produced" V8 engine in the world.
Automobile production in the Untied States reaches 181,000.
The proposal to place a tax on petrol is rejected by the British Parliament.
Charles Stewart Rolls is killed at the age of 33, when his biplane crashes during a flying competition in Bournemouth.
The RAC devises the horsepower ratings by which cars in Britain are taxed.
Wireless radio is installed in a car with considerable effect although the equipment is very bulky.
Having spent the past 9 years designing cars for deDeutz and Mathis-Hermès, Ettore Bugatti sets up his own factory at Molsheim in the Alsace region (German territory until 1919, French thereafter) and starts production of his ‘Type 11’.
Crossley, Arrol Johnston, Argyll and Isotta Fraschini offer four wheel braking.
Burley Swiss racing driver and talented engineer Louis Chevrolet drives a Buick for Willam Durant in the first Indianapolis 500. A broken camshaft forces early retirement. Louis’s brothers, Arthur and Gaston, are also keen racing drivers.
Having been ousted from General Motors William Durrant hires Louis Chevrolet as a consultant to develop a high quality car and forms the Chevrolet Motor Company.
Ford opens its first factory outside the USA at Trafford Park, Manchester, UK. With an annual output of 3000 Model Ts, Ford soon becomes Britain’s biggest car maker.
Cadillac 20/30hp model comes with ignition, electric lighting and electric self-starting developed by Charles F. Kettering’s Dayton Engineering Laboratories Company (Delco).
The Selden Patent Case finally ends in victory for Henry Ford when the car built to Selden’s patent is a technical failure. The patent is found to be ‘valid but not infringed’ releasing Americas car manufacturers to sell their products without further interference from Selden.
Prominent figure S. F. Edge resigns from the Napier company following a dispute. He agrees to stay out of the motor industry for 7 years in exchange for a £160,000.00 pay-off. Instead he turns to pig farming, cattle breeding and film production, all with considerable success.
Delco electric self-starters and electric lighting come as standard on all Cadillac models.
The first Chevrolet, the big, powerful and very expensive Classic Six, reaches production but its price places it well out of reach of the mass market which Durant needs to attract to build his new business.
Sunbeam causes a sensation by simultaneously entering two team of 3 litre cars in French races running at the same time. They come in 1st, 2nd and 3rd in Coupe de l’Auto for touring cars at Dieppe and 3rd, 4th, and 5th in the French Grand Prix against cars with engines of vastly greater cubic capacity. As a result, the virtually identical touring models sell very well.
Brothers W O and H M Bentley buy the London agency for French DFP cars from their employers and call their new business Bentley and Bentley.
Packard achieves a significant step in the development of the differential by introducing the spiral-bevel ring and pinion set. This cuts noise levels dramatically.
Henry Ford trials moving conveyor belt techniques for magneto production.
Ford’s sales rise to 182,809 vehicles.
The Royal Automobile Club awards the Dewar Trophy to Cadillac for a second time, in recognition of the introduction of the electric self-starter and electric lighting.
William Morris introduces his I0hp Morris Oxford light car.
Congress is lobbied by the Lincoln Highway Association who want a transcontinental highway to be constructed across America.
Mechanical direction indicators begin to appear on some models.
Fiat builds 3251cars.
Renault build 9338 cars.
Louis Chevrolet falls out with William Durant, wanting his name to be associated with prestigious cars and resigns. By selling his stock Chevrolet has thrown away the opportunity to become a multi millionaire. Durant continues to grow Chevrolet sales by moving the range downmarket.
W O Bentley develops the aluminium-alloy piston for use in automotive engines and achieves a class record at Brooklands in an alloy-pistoned DFP.
De Dion-Bouton’s V8 engine is now available in 3.5 litre, 4.6 litre and 7.8 litre capacities.
Ford introduces conveyor assembly line techniques to chassis production reducing unit production times from 12½ to 1½ hours.
Ford raises the daily pay of its production workers to an industry record of .
Ettore Bugatti designs and manufactures the world’s first series-produced 16-valve 4 cylinder engine.
British buyers can now choose between 200 makes of car.
The German Army’s advance on Paris is repulsed by troops ferried to the front line in Renault taxis.
W O Bentley is commissioned into the navy to develop aero-engines for the Royal Naval Air Service. The BR1 and BR2 radial engines, built at the Humber factory, prove extremely effective and Bentley passes his knowledge of alloy piston technology on to Ernest Hives who is also developing aero-engines at Rolls-Royce.
Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford set up a small sports-car manufacturing business in West London. Bamford’s early departure leaves Martin with the need for a new name. Success achieved at the Aston-Clinton Hill Climb course in the prototype car provides the ideal name. Aston-Martin is born!
British Chancellor of the Exchequer Reginald McKenna introduces a ‘temporary’ 33.33 % levy on luxury imports to contribute to the cost of the war. Commercial vehicles are excluded, as they are needed for the war effort. This levy becomes known as the "McKenna Duties".
Catillac introduces the first successful V8 engine in the United States.
Inspired by Sunbeam aero-engine designs, Packard introduce the Vl2 Twin Six.
Banker Nicola Romeo takes over Anonima Lombardo Fabbrica Automobili of Milan to create Alfa Romeo.
Ford give a .00 refund to every Model T customer in recognition of annual sales exceeding their target.
The British Admiralty Landships Committee, charged with development of an armoured fighting vehicle capable of crossing trenches and barbed wire to attack an enemy, appoint a Lincoln agricultural machinery manufacturers William Foster & Co. Ltd, to design and develop it. For the sake of secrecy the factory workers are told to refer to the project as ‘a water carrier for Mesopotamia’. Their nick-name for the project is still with us today – ‘The tank’.
Windscreen wipers powered by vacuum from the engine’s inlet manifold begin to replace the manual version originally patented by Mary Anderson in 1903. Because inlet manifold vacuum varies with engine speed so does wiper speed.
C F Kettering’s Delco is sold to United Motors Corporation for ,000,000.00.
Herbert Austin receives a knighthood.
Having founded Cadillac and stayed at the helm since the 1909 sale to General Motors, Henry Martyn Leland resigns and leaves with his son Wilfred C Leland, to found the Lincoln Motor Company and build Liberty aero-engines for use in WW1 fighter planes.
Engineer William Rootes is demobilised from the British Armed to set up a new plant at Maidstone, Kent to repair aeroplane engines instead of scrapping them. The war ends before the plant is fully operational.
Emil Jellinek dies.
Car registrations in America exceed five million for the first time.
The Thomas B Jeffery Company is bought by Charles Nash and renamed Nash Motors.
United Motors Corporation is acquired by General Motors. As a result, C F Kettering is invited to organise direct General Motors Research Corporation and insists that its headquarters are established in Dayton.
Andre Citroen, having decided the future lies in simple reliable cars for the mass market, begins production of his Model A.
Henry Ford pays out $l00 million to buy-out all the other stockholders in the Ford Motor Company.
S. F. Edge returns to the British motor industry by taking over AC cars.
The first straight eight production engine is introduced by Isotta Fraschini.
Walter P. Chrysler resigns his position as vice president of General Motors.
New aero influenced post war models introduced by Hispano Suiza, Guy, Enfield Allday.
WO Bentley, awarded an £8,000 gratuity for his wartime work on the design of aero-engines, uses it to establish Bentley Motors Ltd and develop his first sports-car.
Charles F Kettering’s Dayton Metal Products Co. is absorbed into General Motors, forming the core of GM’s new research division.
William and Reginal Rootes re-establish the family car sales business, Rootes Ltd. in Maidstone Kent.
Enzo Ferrari finishes ninth at the Targa Florio bringing him to the notice of Alfa Romeo.
Half of all the motor vehicles in the world are Model T Fords.
The American car industry is hit hard by a sudden post-war sales slump – Most companies struggle, many go out of business and some are absorbed into the larger corporate conglomerates.
The merger of Sunbeam and Talbot-Darracq creates the STD group. The new organisation will fail to rationalise development programmes and share components, missing out on financial opportunities, building cars which compete with each other for market share.
William Durant is ousted from his position at the head of General Motors for a second and final time, when DuPont/Morgan banking interests gain a controlling interest. Alfred P. Sloan is placed in charge of the group’s affairs.
Duesenberg introduce the first production car with a straight eight engine and four-wheel hydraulic brakes.
Work starts on Britain’s first bypass roads, The Great West Road from Chiswick, West London and The Purley Way near Croydon.
350 French companies manufacture cars.
Louis Chevrolet’s Monroe racer wins the Indianapolis 500 with his brother Gaston at the wheel.
Gaston Chevrolet is killed in a racing accident on a boardwalk raceway in Beverly Hills, California.
C F Kettering, inventor and outstanding engineer and head of General Motors Research Corporation becomes a vice-president and GM board member.
Driving a modified Alfa Romeo production car in the Targa Florio, Enzo Ferrari finishes in second place.
Ferodo introduces a dry-plate clutch using asbestos friction materials that do not burn out every few hundred miles.
The Motor Car Act taxes cars in Britain at £I per RAC horsepower. Because of the RAC formula this favours small-bore, long stroke engines used by British manufacturers. Sales of cheaper American imports which tend to use large-bore, short stroke engines are crippled. A Morris Cowley, rated at 11.9hp costs just £12 to tax, whereas a Model T is rated at 22.5hp and costs £23 per year. One variation is that pre 1914 cars pay only half the horsepower. One oddity is a complete exemption for cars used solely for taking servants to church or voters to the polling station!
Bentley Motors Ltd start production of the new Bentley 3 litre sports car at a factory in Cricklewood, London and the three racing Bentleys entered in the Tourist Trophy Race win the team prize.
Lincoln introduce theirV8.
To counteract a drop in sales Morris cuts prices by up to £I00. The ploy works effectively, with sales increasing from 1932 cars in 1920 to 3077 cars this year.
William Durant establishes Durant Motors, having raised million in loans.
Tommy Milton drives a straight-eight Frontenac, designed and built by Louis Chevrolet, to victory at Indianapolis. Two different Louis Chevrolet-developed machines have now won at Indianapolis in consecutive years.
Ford buys financially troubled Lincoln.
In Britain Herbert Austin introduces the Seven.
Clyno begin car production in Wolverhampton.
Marconi begin experiments with wireless receivers in Daimler cars.
Ford produce over one million Model Ts.
Inspired by the strength of a ship’s hull in a storm Vincenzo Lancia devises the first car to feature a sheet metal unitary body structure. The Lancia Lambda also featured a V4 engine with twin overhead camshafts, independent front suspension and brakes on all four wheels.
Trico (USA) introduce electric windscreen wipers as a more speed-consistent alternative to vacuum-driven wipers.
Leslie Hounsfield’s Trojan Ltd of Croydon Licence production of his low-cost 2 stroke, four cylinder car to Leyland Motors.
Charles F. Kettering, (previously responsible for the electric starter) and his assistant T. H. Midgley develop tetraethyl leaded petrol to improve the quality of fuels available in the USA. This alone encourages the development of more powerful and efficient high-compression engines.
21 year old Motor Cycle enthusiast William Lyons meets motorcycle sidecar maker William Walmsley in Blackpool, England. Together they set up the Swallow Sidecar Company.
De Dion-Bouton cease production of their V8 engine range.
Cecil Kimber builds his first MG, a Morris Cowley with flattened springs, a sports body and a rebuilt engine.
Coventry bicycle manufacturer Triumph, builds their first car, the 10/20hp.
Over 2,000,000 Model Ts leave Ford’s production lines.
Sunbeams came 1st, 2nd and 4th in the French Grand Prix.
While racing at the Circuit of Sivocci at Ravenna Enzo Ferrari is approached by Count Enrico and Countess Paolina Baracca, parents of deceased national hero Francesco Baracca. They give Ferrari Francesco’s squadron badge, a prancing horse on a yellow shield.
Former General Motors Vice President, Walter P Chrysler, begins production of his own cars.
Car production times are cut dramatically when DuPont develop quick-drying enamels.
Napier give up the production of cars and concentrate on aero-engines.
The "McKenna Duties" on luxury imports are removed.
Sunbeam win the Spanish Grand Prix. No other British car will win a Grand Prix in the first half of the 20th century. Twin cam OHV engines become standard on the 3 litre Super Sports models.
Malcolm Campbell achieves an official Land Speed Record d 146mph in an 18 litre 12 cyl Sunbeam developing 350hp.
A Bentley Sport, driven by Sammy Davis and John Benjafield, wins the Le Mans 24 Hours endurance race for the first time.
The "McKenna Duties" on luxury imports are reinstated and extended to include commercial vehicles.
Morris production of ‘Bullnose’ Oxfords and Cowleys hits 54,131.
Vauxhall Motors at Luton becomes a part of General Motors.
The 250,000th Ford Model T rolls out of Ford’s British factory and begins a celebratory tour.
Rolls Royce introduce the Phantom 1, their first new model since the introduction of the 1906 Silver Ghost.
The Triumph 13/30 becomes Britain’s first family car with hydraulic braking on all four wheels.
Malcolm Campbell raises the official Land Speed Record to 150mph, again in a Sunbeam car.
Sunbeam enters their new 3 litre Super Sports car for the Grand Prix d’Endurance (24 hours) at Le Mans. It is the only British car to finish, winning 2nd place overall and coming first in the 3 litre class. The parent company (The STD Group) takes out a large loan.
General Motors Research Corporation and its boss C F Kettering, move to Detroit.
Cadillac introduce shatter-resistant glass.
Long retired from racing, Louis Chevrolet drives the official pace car for his last laps of Indianapolis Speedway. As a driver he has achieved 10 career Indy car wins and won over 27 major events, making him the most successful of the three racing Chevrolet brothers.
Following a trip to America William Morris is convinced that the future of the car revolves around all-steel construction and works with Edward G Budd to set up the Pressed Steel Company.
In Germany, Daimler Benz AG is formed by the long-planned (since 1911) merger between Benz and Daimler companies.
A 7136cc V12 sleeve valve engine is the main feature of the Coventry Daimler Company’s new Double Six model.
In London, the General Strike and resultant marches bring traffic to a halt.
London’s motorists see electric traffic lights for the first time.
Production of 300 cars a week makes Clyno of Wolverhampton Britain’s third largest car manufacturer.
Packard further refines the differential by introducing hypoid gears, virtually eliminating rear axle whine.
Major Henry Segrave sets a new Land Speed Record of 152mph in a 4 litre 12 cyl Sunbeam.
The Swallow Sidecar Company starts to build special bodies for the Austin Seven and changes its name to the Swallow Sidecar and Coachbuilding Company. Beyond the Austin seven it also offers coach-built bodies on chassis by Morris, Fiat, Standard, Swift and others.
William and Reginald Rootes move their business from Kent to offices and showrooms at Devonshire House, Picadilly, in the heart of London’s West End. Within a matter of months they have built a network of branches across the UK, in the process, becoming Europe’s largest motor distributing company.
Ford’s Model T comes to the end of the road after 19 years and fifteen million vehicles.
The first British all-steel body is produced by the Pressed Steel Company for the Morris Isis Six, a medium sized saloon.
William Morris acquires the failed Wolseley company.
Chevrolet becomes the top selling manufacturer in America as Ford reorganizes its production facilities for the Model A.
Chromium plating is pioneered by Studebaker and Oldsmobile.
Stanley brings production of its steam cars to an end.
Major Henry Segrave, sets a new World Land Speed Record of over 200mph driving a twin-engined 1000 hp Sunbeam.
By now Britain’s largest car distributors, William and Reginald Rootes begin to acquire manufacturers, starting with Humber, Hillman and Commer.
Dodge is acquired by Chrysler for $I75,000,000.
In the face of fierce price competition from William Moris, Clyno introduce a £I00 8hp model and ‘hits the rocks’.
Cadillac introduces the synchromesh gearbox.
Britain’s first front wheel drive production car is introduced by Alvis.
A Bentley wins the Le Mans 24 Hours driven by Woolf Barnato and Bernard Rubin.
As a result of slumping sales many UK companies are become vulnerable
The Rootes brothers acquire a substantial interest in The Hillman Car Company and then take over Humber Ltd and it’s commercial vehicle brand, Commer.
Karl Benz dies, aged 85.
David Dunbar Buick dies.
US car production reaches 5,337,087, a record that will stand until the I950s.
26.5 million cars are now registered in the USA.
Clyno ceases trading and its assets liquidated.
Armstrong Siddeley offer a Wilson pre-selector gearbox as an option.
Sir Dennistoun Burney, the man behind the development of R100 airship, applies his aerodynamic expertise to car design and starts to make his Burney ‘Streamlines’ at his factory in Maidenhead. Each car features teardrop styling, space-frame construction, rear engine, all-round independent suspension and hydraulic brakes.
Bentley win the Le Mans 24 Hours for the second year in succession with a Speed Six driven by Woolf Barnato and Henry Birkin.
While continuing to work for Alfa Romeo, Enzo Ferrari forms the Scuderia Ferrari, a club/team for gentlemen-racers with the aim of organizing racing for members.
Daimler fit fluid flywheels in conjunction with pre-selector gearboxes to produce semi automatic transmission.
Cadillac introduces a 7.4 litre VI6.
Economic depression causes a fall in car sales.
Henry Royce receives a knighthood.
In the bar of the Old Ship Hotel in Brighton following the annual ‘London to Brighton Run’, three participants decide to form the Veteran Car Club to help its members preserve the veteran and Edwardian cars which form a record motoring’s early history.
The 20mph speed limit, which has been ignored by motorists and police alike for many years, is abolished by the British Parliament.
In Britain, third party insurance becomes compulsory.
Larger Morris cars come with hydraulic brakes.
Walter Wilson introduces the Wilson Preselector gearbox based on a planetary manual transmission system like that used in the Ford Model T.
Bentley wins the Le Mans 24 Hours for the fourth year in succession with a Speed Six driven by Woolf Barnato and Glen Kidston.
The Vauxhall Cadet 2 litre six, is the first car in Europe to feature a synchromesh gearbox.
Bentley Motors goes into liquidation. Napier are interested in buying, but are outbid by Rolls Royce who form Bentley Motors (1931) Limited.
Daimler acquire Lanchester Britain’s oldest motor manufacturer.
The Swallow Sidecar and Coachbuilding Company introduces its first cars, the SS1 and SS2. The larger SS1 is based on a modified Standard chassis and Standard six-cylinder engine. The smaller SS2 has a four-cylinder engine.
As the first fruit of the Rootes Group acquisition, Hillman introduces the Wizard with a choice of either 2.1 or 2.8 litre engines. It is not a great sales success.
After years of struggling to survive De Dion-Bouton goes out of business.
Oldsmobile and Packard models feature automatic chokes.
Ford of Britain moves it’s plant and machinery from Trafford Park, Manchester to its new factory at Dagenham on the Eastern outskirts of London over one weekend without losing any production.
Ford design their first car for the European market, the 8hp model Y, in Dearborn.
Ford facelift the Model A and offer it with a mass-produced V8 engine. Sales in the first year exceed 300,000.
Hillman introduces the Minx, small family saloon, which proves to be extremely popular.
William Lyons Changes the name of the Swallow Sidecar and Coachbuilding Company to SS Cars Limited, taking on the role of managing director.
Ford looses its grip on the American market, dropping to third place behind General Motors and the Chrysler Corporation.
REO introduce the Reo Self-Shifter, actually two transmissions connected in series. The first shifts automatically due to the engagement of a multi-disc centrifugal clutch mechanism. The second transmission is shifted manually to engage a lower gear.
Under both the Chrysler and DeSoto brands Chrysler introduces the revolutionary ‘Airflow’ ‘streamline’ family saloons with aerodynamic unitary sheet-steel body construction and an automatic overdrive.
In Britain a 30mph limit is imposed in built-up areas by Transport Minister Leslie Hore Belisha, pedestrian (Zebra) crossings are introduced, illuminated by a flashing orange (Belisha) beacon and new drivers are required to pass a test.
Morris Motors’ first conveyor assembly line is installed at Cowley and Sir William Morris becomes Baron Nuffield.
General Motors put the successful racecar designer and financial failure, Louis Chevrolet on their payroll in recognition of their use of his name.
Ferdinand Porshe approaches the German Reich government with proposals for a car for the German masses – a Volkswagen. Massive government investment follows.
Construction of the German Autobahn system commences, conceived by Adolph Hitler as a productive way of harnessing the unemployed masses.
British cars are now available with Metallic finishes.
Andre Citroen’s ambition gets the better of him as development of the ‘traction avant’ becomes so expensive that the company is virtually bankrupted. Michelin step in to prop up the business and Citroen looses control.
At SS Cars Limited, William Lyons boosts his company’s technical capabilities with the arrival of renowned engine specialist Harry Weslake. Soon after his arrival overhead valve cylinder heads become available.
The depression of the 1930s means STD Motors are unable to sustain repayments of the large loan taken out in 1925 and are forced into receivership. The Rootes brothers outbid the smaller SS Cars Limited and the proud Sunbeam and Talbot names are destined to become up-market badge-engineered versions of Hillmans.
Ford of Britain introduces a cut price version of the 8hp Model Y saloon to sell at £I00.00.
There are now 35 million motor vehicles on the world’s roads according to an international census.
Triumph offer a screen wash system.
William Heynes joins SS Cars Ltd as chief engineer and the SS Jaguar is announced.
Morgan, specialists in economical three-wheelers since 1909 introduce their first four wheeler, thanks to changes in tax and market readiness for ‘a fourth wheel’.
Fiat introduce the budget-priced 500A, featuring an aerodynamic shape, a ‘570cc engine and a full length sunroof. Its appearance earns it the nick-name ‘Topolino’ (Mickey Mouse) while a 55mph top speed and 55mpg economy makes it very popular, particularly in its home country.
Ferdinand Porsche begins development and construction of prototype ‘Volkswagens’ to demonstrate his concept to Adolf Hitler. The declared intention is that they will sell for £50.00 on a special finance plan.
At SS Cars Limited, William Lyons buys out William Walmsley and anounces the SS 100 and SS Jaguar models.
There are still 45 British car manufacturers.
Fifty-four percent of families in the United States now own a car.
The first London Motor Exhibition is held at Earls Court, rather than Olympia, where it has been since 1905.
Buick and Oldsmobile introduce the Automatic Safety Transmission, using a conventional clutch for engaging forward or reverse and shifting automatically once underway.
800 miles of autobahn have been built in Germany at a cost of £56,000 a mile.
Chrysler perfects the fluid coupling, a major advance towards the fully automatic gearbox, but does nothing with it for the moment.
The Volkswagen goes into production in Nazi Germany.
The British government raises the petrol tax from 8d to 9d per gallon and horsepower tax to £1.25d per hp.
The first small British saloon to feature independent front suspension is the Standard Flying Eight.
Riley is taken over by The Nuffield Group.
Morris launches the Series E 8hp Saloon at £128, the cheapest car in Britain.
As another War begins to look inevitable British car manufacturers are requested to set up Shadow Factories next to small-scale specialists who’s products, in much larger quantities, would be crucial to any war effort.
GM offer the Hydra-Matic hydraulically operated gearbox.
SS Cars Ltd, like many other British manufacturers turns production over to the war effort.
Britain, France, Australia and New Zealand declare war on Germany on September 3rd.
The British Government introduces petrol rationing. Petrol is exchanged for coupons allowing each motorist about 200 miles of motoring per month.
There are now two million cars on Britain’s roads.
The customized Lincoln Continental and the lower priced Mercury are introduced by Ford.
Triumph has to cease trading and is put into receivership.
See Timeline 1940 – 2008
Ford GT 40
Image by pedrosimoes7
Cascais Classic Motor Show, Cascais, Portugal
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This article is about the 1960s Le Mans winning racing car.
ManufacturerFord Advanced Vehicles
John Wyer Automotive Engineering
AssemblySlough, UK (Mk I, Mk II, and Mk III)
Wixom, Michigan, USA (Mk IV)
Body and chassis
ClassGroup 4 Sports Car
Group 6 Sports Prototype
Engine4181 cc (255 CID) V-8
4737 cc (289 CID) V-8
6997 cc (427 CID) V-8
4942 cc (302 CID) V-8
Wheelbase95 in (2,413 mm)
Length160 in (4,064 mm)
Width70 in (1,778 mm)
Height40.5 in (1,029 mm)
Curb weight2,002 lb (908 kg)
SuccessorFord P68 and Ford GT
Henry Ford II along with Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon celebrates the first victory for an American manufacturer at the 24 Hours of Le Mans on the podium in 1966.
Ford GT40 Mk II front. This car took second place overall (all three top finishers were Ford GT40s) in the 1966 24 Hours of Daytona. The #1 car was driven by Ken Miles and Lloyd Ruby, and together with the #2 car driven by Bruce McLaren/Chris Amon (1st overall) and #5 car driven by Bucknum/Hutcherson (3rd overall) gave Ford its first victory in a 24-hour race. The photo shows the livery as used at Le Mans in 1966. (Serial Number GT-40 P 1015 Mk. II)
The Ford GT40 is a high performance American-British endurance racing car, designed and built in England (Mk I, Mk II, and Mk III) and in the United States (Mk IV), and powered by a series of American-built engines.
The GT40 won the 24 Hours of Le Mans four consecutive times, from 1966 to 1969 (1966 being the Mk II, 1967 the Mk IV, and 1968-1969 the oldest chassis design, the Mk I), including a 1-2-3 finish in 1966.
In 1966, with Henry Ford II himself in attendance at Le Mans, the Mk II GT40 provided Ford with the first overall Le Mans victory for an American manufacturer and the first victory for an American manufacturer at a major European race since Jimmy Murphy´s triumph with Duesenberg at the 1921 French Grand Prix.
The Mk IV GT40 that won Le Mans in 1967 is the only car designed and built entirely in the United States to achieve the overall win at Le Mans.
The GT40 was originally produced to win long-distance sports car races against Ferrari (who won at Le Mans six times in a row from 1960 to 1965). FORD/Shelby Chassis # P-1075, which won in 1968 and 1969, is the first car in Le Mans history to win the race more than once, with the same chassis.
Using an American Ford V-8 engine originally of 4.7-litre displacement capacity (289 cubic inches). It was later enlarged to the 4.9-litre engine (302 cubic inches), with custom designed alloy Gurney-Weslake cylinder heads.
The car was named the GT (for Grand Touring) with the 40 representing its overall height of 40 inches (1.02 m, measured at the windshield) as required by the rules. Large displacement Ford V8 engines (4.2 litre, 4.7 litre and 7 litre) were used, compared with the Ferrari V12 which displaced 3.0 litres or 4.0 litres.
Early cars were simply named "Ford GT". The name "GT40" was the name of Ford’s project to prepare the cars for the international endurance racing circuit, and the quest to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The first 12 "prototype" vehicles carried serial numbers GT-101 through GT-112. The "production" began and the subsequent cars—the MkI, MkII, MkIII, and MkV (with the exception of the MkIV, which were numbered J1-J12)—were numbered GT40P/1000 through GT40P/1145, and thus officially "GT40s". The name of Ford’s project, and the serial numbers dispel the story that "GT40" was "only a nickname."
The contemporary Ford GT is a modern homage to the GT40.
Henry Ford II had wanted a Ford at Le Mans since the early 1960s.
In the spring of 1963, Ford reportedly received word through a European intermediary that Enzo Ferrari was interested in selling to Ford Motor Company. Ford reportedly spent several million dollars in an audit of Ferrari factory assets and in legal negotiations, only to have Ferrari unilaterally cut off talks at a late stage due to disputes about the ability to direct open wheel racing.
Ferrari, who wanted to remain the sole operator of his company’s motor sports division, was angered when he was told that he would not be allowed to race at the Indianapolis 500 if the deal went through since Ford fielded Indy cars using the company’s engine, and didn’t want competition from Ferrari. Enzo cut the deal off out of spite and Henry Ford II, enraged, directed his racing division to find a company that could build a Ferrari-beater on the world endurance-racing circuit.
To this end Ford began negotiation with Lotus, Lola, and Cooper. Cooper had no experience in GT or prototype and its performances in Formula One were declining.
Lotus was already a Ford partner for their Indy 500 project, but Ford executives doubted the ability of Lotus to handle this new project. Colin Chapman probably had similar views as he asked a high price for his contribution and insisted that the car (which became the Lotus Europa) should be named a Lotus-Ford.
The Lola proposal was chosen, since Lola had used a Ford V8 engine in their mid-engined Lola Mk6 (also known as Lola GT). It was one of the most advanced racing cars of the time, and made a noted performance in Le Mans 1963, even though the car did not finish, due to low gearing and slow revving out on the Mulsanne Straight.
However, Eric Broadley, Lola Cars’ owner and chief designer, agreed on a short-term personal contribution to the project without involving Lola Cars.
The agreement with Broadley included a one-year collaboration between Ford and Broadley, and the sale of the two Lola Mk 6 chassis builds to Ford. To form the development team, Ford also hired the ex-Aston Martin team manager John Wyer. Ford Motor Co. engineer Roy Lunn was sent to England; he had designed the mid-engined Mustang I concept car powered by a 1.7 litre V4. Despite the small engine of the Mustang I, Lunn was the only Dearborn engineer to have some experience with a mid-engined car.
Overseen by Harley Copp, the team of Broadley, Lunn and Wyer began working on the new car at the Lola Factory in Bromley. At the end of 1963 the team moved to Slough, near Heathrow airport. Ford then established Ford Advanced Vehicles Ltd, a new subsidiary under the direction of Wyer, to manage the project.
The first chassis built by Abbey Panels of Coventry was delivered on March 16, 1963, with fibre-glass mouldings produced by Fibre Glass Engineering Ltd of Farnham. The first "Ford GT" the GT/101 was unveiled in England on April 1 and soon after exhibited in New York. Purchase price of the completed car for competition use was £5,200.
It was powered by the 4.2 L Fairlane engine with a Colotti transaxle, the same power plant was used by the Lola GT and the single-seater Lotus 29 that came in a highly controversial second at the Indy 500 in 1963. (An aluminum block DOHC version, known as the Ford Indy Engine, was used in later years at Indy. It won in 1965 in the Lotus 38.)
The Ford GT40 was first raced in May 1964 at the Nürburgring 1000 km race where it retired with suspension failure after holding second place early in the event.
Three weeks later at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, all three entries retired although the Ginther/Gregory car led the field from the second lap until its first pitstop. After a season-long series of dismal results under John Wyer in 1964, the program was handed over to Carroll Shelby after the 1964 Nassau race.
The cars were sent directly to Shelby, still bearing the dirt and damage from the Nassau race. Carroll Shelby was noted for complaining that the cars were poorly maintained when he received them, but later information revealed the cars were packed up as soon as the race was over, and FAV never had a chance to clean, and organize the cars to be transported to Shelby.
Shelby’s first victory came on their maiden race with the Ford program, with Ken Miles and Lloyd Ruby taking a Shelby American-entered Ford GT to victory in the Daytona 2000 in February 1965. The rest of the season, however, was a disaster.
The experience gained in 1964 and 1965 allowed the 7-litre Mk II to dominate the following year. In February, the GT40 again won at Daytona. This was the first year Daytona was run in the 24 Hour format and Mk II’s finished 1st, 2nd, and 3rd.
In March, at the 1966 12 Hours of Sebring, GT40’s again took all three top finishes with the X-1 Roadster first, a Mk. II taking second, and a Mk. I in third. Then in June at the 24 Hours of Le Mans the GT40 achieved yet another 1-2-3 result.
The Le Mans finish, however, was clouded in controversy: in the final few hours, the Ford GT of New Zealanders Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon closely trailed the leading Ford GT driven by Englishman Ken Miles and New Zealander Denny Hulme.
With a multimillion-dollar program finally on the very brink of success, Ford team officials faced a difficult choice. They could allow the drivers to settle the outcome by racing each other – and risk one or both cars breaking down or crashing. They could dictate a finishing order to the drivers – guaranteeing that one set of drivers would be extremely unhappy. Or they could arrange a tie, with the McLaren/Amon and Miles/Hulme cars crossing the line side-by-side.
The team chose the last and informed McLaren and Miles of the decision just before the two got in their cars for the final stint.
Then, not long before the finish, the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO), organizers of the Le Mans event, informed Ford that the geographical difference in starting positions would be taken into account at a close finish – meaning that the McLaren/Amon vehicle, which had started perhaps 60 feet (18 m) behind the Hulme-Miles car, would have covered slightly more ground over the 24 hours and would therefore be the winner.
Secondly, Ford officials admitted later, the company’s contentious relationship with Miles, its top contract driver, placed executives in a difficult position. They could reward an outstanding driver who had been at times extremely difficult to work with, or they could decide in favour of drivers (McLaren/Amon) with less commitment to the Ford program but who had been easier to deal with.
Ford stuck with the orchestrated photo finish but Miles, deeply bitter over this decision after his dedication to the program, issued his own protest by suddenly slowing just yards from the finish and letting McLaren across the line first. Miles died in a testing accident in the J-car (later to become the Mk IV) at Riverside (CA) Raceway just two months later.
Miles’ death occurred at the wheel of the Ford "J-car", an iteration of the GT40 that included several unique features. These included an aluminum honeycomb chassis construction and a "breadvan" body design that experimented with "kammback" aerodynamic theories.
Unfortunately, the fatal Miles accident was attributed at least partly to the unproven aerodynamics of the J-car design, as well as the experimental chassis’ strength. The team embarked on a complete redesign of the car, which became known as the Mk IV.
The Mk IV, a newer design with a Mk II engine but a different chassis and a different body, won the following year at Le Mans (when four Mark IVs, three Mark IIs and three Mark Is raced). The high speeds achieved in that race caused a rule change, which already came in effect in 1968: the prototypes were limited to the capacity of to 3.0 litre, the same as in Formula One. This took out the V12-powered Ferrari 330P as well as the Chaparral and the Mk. IV.
If at least 50 cars had been built, sportscars like the GT40 and the Lola T70 were allowed, with a maximum of 5.0 L. John Wyer’s revised 4.7 litre (bored to 4.9 litres, and o-rings cut and installed between the deck and head to prevent head gasket failure, a common problem found with the 4.7 engine) Mk I.
It won the 24 hours of Le Mans race in 1968 against the fragile smaller prototypes. This result, added to four other round wins for the GT40, gave Ford victory in the 1968 International Championship for Makes.
The GT40’s intended 3.0 L replacement, the Ford P68, and Mirage cars proved a dismal failure. While facing more experienced prototypes and the new yet still unreliable 4.5 L flat-12 powered Porsche 917s, the 1969 24 Hours of Le Mans winners Jacky Ickx/Jackie Oliver managed to beat the remaining 3.0 litre Porsche 908 by just a few seconds with the already outdated GT40 Mk I (in the very car that had won in 1968 – the legendary GT40P/1075).
Apart from brake wear in the Porsche and the decision not to change pads so close to the race end, the winning combination was relaxed driving by both GT40 drivers and heroic efforts at the right time by (at that time Le Mans’ rookie) Ickx, who won Le Mans five more times in later years. In 1970, the revised Porsche 917 dominated, and the GT40 had become obsolete.
In addition to four consecutive overall Le Mans victories, Ford also won the following four FIA international titles (at what was then unofficially known as the World Sportscar Championship) with the GT40:
1966 International Manufacturers Championship – Over 2000cc
1966 International Championship for Sports Cars – Division III (Over 2000cc)
1967 International Championship for Sports Cars – Division III (Over 2000cc)
1968 International Championship for Makes
The Mk I was the original Ford GT40. Early prototypes were powered by 4.2 litre (255 cu.in) alloy V8 engines and production models were powered by 4.7 litre (289 cu.in) engines as used in the Ford Mustang. Five prototype models were built with roadster bodywork, including the Ford X-1.
THE MK.I was modified and run by John Wyer in 1968 and 1969, winning Le Mans in both those years and Sebring in 1969. The Mk.II and IV were both obsolete after the FIA had changed the rules to ban unlimited capacity engines; but the Mk.I, with its smaller engine, was legally able to race.
The X-1 was a roadster built to contest the Fall 1965 North American Pro Series, a forerunner of Can-Am, entered by the Bruce McLaren team and driven by Chris Amon. The car had an aluminum chassis built at Abbey Panels and was originally powered by a 4.7 liter (289ci) engine. The real purpose of this car was to test several improvements originating from Kar Kraft, Shelby and McLaren. Several gearboxes were used: a Hewland LG500 and at least one automatic gearbox. It was later upgraded to Mk II specifications with a 7.0 liter (427ci) engine and a standard four ratio Kar Kraft (subsidiary of Ford) gearbox, however the car kept specific features such as its open roof and lightweight aluminum chassis. The car went on to win the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1966. The X-1 was a one-off and was later ordered to be destroyed by customs officials.
The Mk.II was very similar in appearance to the Mk.I, but it actually was a bit different from its predecessor. It used the 7.0 litre FE (427 ci) engine from the Ford Galaxie, which was an engine used in NASCAR at the time—but the engine was modified for road course use. The car’s chassis was more or less the same as the British-built Mk.I chassis, but it and other parts of the car had to be re-designed and modified by Carroll Shelby’s organization in order to accommodate the larger and heavier 427 engine. A new Kar Kraft-built 4 speed gearbox (same as the one described above; Ford-designed, using Galaxie gearsets) was built to handle the more powerful engine, replacing the ZF 5-speed used in the Mk.I. This car is sometimes referred to as the Ford Mk.II.
In 1966, the Mk.II began dominating the world famous 24 Hours of Le Mans race in France. In 1966 the Mk.II took Europe by surprise and beat Ferrari to finish 1-2-3 in the standings. Ford GT40’s went on to win the race for four consecutive years (1966-1969).
For 1967, the Mk.II’s were upgraded to "B" spec; they had re-designed bodywork and twin carburetors for an additional 15 hp. A batch of wrongly heat treated input shafts in the transaxles sidelined virtually every Ford in the race at Daytona, however, and Ferrari won 1-2-3. The Mk.IIB’s were also used for Sebring and Le Mans that year, and also it won the Reims 12 Hours in France. For the Daytona 24 Hours, two Mk II models (chassis 1016 and 1047) had their engines re-badged as Mercury engines. Mercury was a Ford Motor Company division at that time, and Mercury’s 427 was exactly the same engine as Ford’s with different logos. Ford saw a good opportunity to advertise that division of the company.
The Mk III was a road-car only, of which 7 were built. The car had four headlamps, the rear part of the body was expanded to make room for luggage, the 4.7 litre engine was detuned to 335 bhp (250 kW), the shock absorbers were softened, the shift lever was moved to the center and the car was available with the steering wheel on the left side of the car. As the Mk III looked significantly different from the racing models many customers interested in buying a GT40 for road use chose to buy a Mk I that was available from Wyer Ltd. Of the 7 MK III that were produced 4 were left hand drive. One of these examples is currently on display at the Petersen Automotive Museum.
1967 Ford GT40 Mk IV, which was developed from the J-car. This particular car, J-4, won the 1967 12 Hours of Sebring.
In an effort to develop a car with better aerodynamics and lighter weight, it was decided to retain the 7 litre engine, but redesign the rest of the car and ditch the Mk.I/Mk.II chassis. In order to bring the car more "in house" and lessening partnership with English firms, Ford Advanced Vehicles was sold to John Wyer and the new car was designed by Ford’s studios and produced by Ford’s subsidiary Kar Kraft under Ed Hull. There was also a partnership with the Brunswick Aircraft Corporation for expertise on the novel use of honeycomb aluminium panels bonded together to form a lightweight but rigid "tub". The car was designated as the J-car, as it was constructed to meet the new Appendix J regulations which were introduced by the FIA in 1966.
The first J-car was completed in March, 1966 and set the fastest time at the Le Mans trials that year. The tub weighed only 86 lb (39 kg), and the entire car weighed only 2,660 lb (1,210 kg), 300 lb (140 kg) less than the Mk II. It was decided to run the MkIIs due to their proven reliability, however, and little or no development was done on the J-car for the rest of the season.
Following Le Mans, the development program for the J-car was resumed, and a second car was built. During a test session at Riverside International Raceway in August 1966, with Ken Miles driving, the car suddenly went out of control at the end of Riverside’s high-speed, 1-mile-long back straight. The honeycomb chassis did not live up to its design goal, shattering upon impact, bursting into flames and killing Miles. It was determined that the unique, flat-topped "bread van" aerodynamics of the car, lacking any sort of spoiler, were implicated in generating excess lift. Therefore, a more conventional but significantly more aerodynamic body was designed for the subsequent development of the J-car which was officially known as the GT40 Mk IV. A total of nine cars were constructed with J-car chassis numbers although six were designated as Mk IVs and one as the G7A.
The Mk IV was built around a reinforced J chassis powered by the same 7.0 L engine as the Mk II. Excluding the engine, gearbox, some suspension parts and the brakes from the Mk.II, the Mk.IV was totally different from other GT40s, using a specific chassis and specific bodywork.
It was undoubtedly the most radical and American variant of all the GT40’s over the years. As a direct result of the Miles accident, the team installed a NASCAR-style steel-tube roll cage in the Mk.IV, which made it much safer, but the roll cage was so heavy that it negated most of the weight saving of the then-highly advanced, radically innovative honeycomb-panel construction.
The Mk. IV had a long, streamlined shape, which gave it exceptional top speed, crucial to do well at Le Mans in those days (a circuit made up almost entirely of straights)- the race it was ultimately built for. A 2-speed automatic gearbox was tried, but during the extensive testing of the J-car in 1966 and 1967, it was decided that the 4-speed from the Mk.II would be retained. Dan Gurney often complained about the weight of the Mk.IV, since the car was 600 pounds (270 kg) heavier than the Ferrari 330 P4’s. During practice at Le Mans in 1967, in an effort to preserve the highly stressed brakes, Gurney developed a strategy (also adopted by co-driver A.J. Foyt) of backing completely off the throttle several hundred yards before the approach to the Mulsanne hairpin and virtually coasting into the braking area. This technique saved the brakes, but the resulting increase in the car’s recorded lap times during practice led to speculation within the Ford team that Gurney and Foyt, in an effort to compromise on chassis settings, had hopelessly "dialed out" their car. The car proved to be fastest in a straight line that year thanks to its streamlined aerodynamics- it did 212 mph on the 3.6 mile Mulsanne Straight.
The Mk. IV ran in only two races, the 1967 12 Hours of Sebring and the 1967 24 Hours of Le Mans and won both events. Only one Mk.IV was completed for Sebring; the pressure from Ford had been amped up considerably after Ford’s humiliation at Daytona 2 months earlier. Mario Andretti and Bruce McLaren won Sebring, Dan Gurney and A.J. Foyt won Le Mans (Gurney and Foyt’s car was the Mk.IV that was apparently least likely to win), where the Ford-representing Shelby-American and Holman & Moody teams showed up to Le Mans with 2 Mk.IV’s each.
The installation of the roll cage was ultimately credited by many with saving the life of Andretti, who crashed violently at the Esses during the 1967 Le Mans 24 Hours, but escaped with minor injuries. Unlike the earlier Mk.I – III cars, which were built in England, the Mk.IVs were built in America by Kar Kraft. Le Mans 1967 remains the only truly all-American victory in Le Mans history – American drivers, team, chassis, engine and tires. A total of 6 Mk IVs were constructed. One of the Mk IVs was rebuilt to the Ford G7 in 1968, and used in the Can-Am series for 1969 and 1970, but with no success. This car is sometimes referred to as the Ford Mk.IV.
Peter Thorp had searched years looking for a GT40 in good condition. Most of the cars had problems including the dreaded rust issue. His company, Safir Engineering, was building and fielding Formula 3 race cars, in addition had a Token Formula
One car purchased from the Ron Dennis Company, Rondell Racing. Formula One events in which Safir Engineering competed included Brands Hatch and Silverstone. Safir was also redesigning Range Rovers modifying the unit to six wheel drive, and exporting them to foreign markets. Safir technical capabilities were such that they could rebuild GT40s. It was with this in mind that Thorp approached John Willment for his thoughts. Wilment was of the same mindset, and discussions between the two were positive. It was soon decided that there would be a limited, further run of the significant GT40. JW Engineering would oversee the build, and Safir was to do the work. The continued JW Engineering/Safir Engineering production would utilize sequential serial numbers starting at the last used GT40 serial number, and move forward. Maintaining the GT40 Mark nomenclature, this continued production would be named GT40 MkV. These cars would carry JW Engineering chassis plates identical to those on all the GT40s produced by JW Engineering.
JW Engineering wished to complete the GT40 chassis numbers GT40P-1087, 1088 and 1089. This was supposed to take place prior to the beginning of Safir production, however the completion of these three chassis’ was very much delayed.
Ford’s Len Bailey was hired to inspect the proposed build and engineer any changes he thought prudent to ensure the car was safe, as well as minimize problems experienced in the past. Baily changed the front suspension to Alan Mann specifications, which minimized nose dive under breaking. Zinc coated steel replaced the previous uncoated rust prone sheet metal. The vulnerable drive donuts were replaced with CV joints and the leak prone rubber gas tanks were replaced with aluminum tanks. The GT40 chassis was upgraded without making any major changes.
Tennant Panels supplied the roof structure and the balance of the chassis was completed by Safir. JW Engineering employees were used where ever possible. Bill Pink, noted for his electrical experience and the wiring installation of previous GT40 automobiles, was brought in. Also, Jim Rose was hired for his experienced with working at both Alan Mann and Shelby. After the manufacture of chassis 1120, John Etheridge of JW Engineering was hired to manage the GT40 build. The chassis was supplied from Adams McCall Engineering and parts supplied from Tennant panels. For the most part, the MkV resembled very closely the MkI car, although there were a few changes, and, as with the 60s production, very few cars were identical.
The first car, GT40P-1090, had an open top in place of roofed doors. Most motors were Ford small block, Webers or 4 Barrel Carburetor. Safir produced five Big Block GT40s, serial numbers GT40P-1128 to GT40P-1132. These aluminium big block cars all had easily removable door roof sections. Most GT40s were high performance street cars however some of the MkV production can be described as full race. Two road cars GT40P-1133 (roadster) and GT40P-1142 (roofed doors) were built as lightweights which included an aluminium honeycomb chassis and carbon fiber bodywork. Complete files on each of these forty cars have been forwarded to authors and journalists known for maintaining accurate records on the GT40 automobile.
GT40/R COMPETITION AT ROAD AMERICA
A "Roaring Forties" replica of a 1965 Ford GT40 in Shelby livery on display at the 2005 United States Grand Prix
Several kit cars and replicas inspired by the Ford GT40 have been built. They are generally intended for assembly by the enthusiast in a home workshop or garage. There are two alternatives to the kit car approach, either continuation models (exact and licensed replicas true to the original GT40), or modernizations (replicas with upgraded components, ergonomics & trim for improved usability, drivability and performance).
GT40/R Competition, United States: Authentic GT40 built by Superformance and co-designed with Pathfinder Motorsports. A GT40/R (GT40P/2094) campaigned by Pathfinder Motorsports with an engine built by Holman Moody won both the 2009 US Vintage Grand Prix and the 2009 Governor’s Cup at Watkins Glen.
CAV GT: Originally designed for customers to build as a kit, the CAV GT has evolved into a modernized replica that is now factory-built in Cape Town, South Africa.
Holman Moody: GT40 Mark II won third at Le Mans in 1966, and can still manufacture a Holman GT from 1966 blueprints.
GT40 Spyder, United States: Built by E.R.A. Replica Automobiles in New Britain, CT, the Spyder is a MK2 Canadian American (CAN-AM) racing replica.
2005 Ford GT
Main article: Ford GT
At the 1995 Detroit Auto Show, the Ford GT90 concept was shown and at the 2002 show, a new GT40 Concept was unveiled by Ford.
While similar in appearance to the original cars, it was bigger, wider, and three inches taller than the original 40 inches (1.02 m). Three production prototype cars were shown in 2003 as part of Ford’s centenary, and delivery of the production Ford GT began in the fall of 2004. The Ford GT was assembled in the Ford Wixom plant and painted by Saleen, Incorporated at their Saleen Special Vehicles plant in Troy, Michigan, USA.
A British company, Safir Engineering, who continued to produce a limited number of GT40s (the MkV) in the 1980s under an agreement with Walter Hayes of Ford and John Wilment of J.W. Automotive Engineering, owned the GT40 trademark at that time, and when they completed production, they sold the excess parts, tooling, design, and trademark to a small American company called Safir GT40 Spares, Limited based in Ohio. Safir GT40 Spares licensed the use of the GT40 trademark to Ford for the initial 2002 show car, but when Ford decided to make the production vehicle, negotiations between the two failed, and as a result the new Ford GT does not wear the badge GT40. Bob Wood, one of three partners who own Safir GT40 Spares, said: "When we talked with Ford, they asked what we wanted. We said that Ford owns Beanstalk in New York, the company that licenses the Blue Oval for Ford on such things as T-shirts. Since Beanstalk gets 7.5 percent of the retail cost of the item for licensing the name, we suggested 7.5 percent on each GT40 sold." In this instance, Ford wished to purchase, not just license the GT40 trademark. At the then-estimated 5,000 per copy, 7.5% of 4,500 vehicles would have totalled approximately ,187,500. It was widely and erroneously reported following an Automotive News Weekly story that Safir "demanded" the million for the sale of the trademark. Discussions between Safir and Ford ensued. However, in fact, the Ford Motor Company never made an offer in writing to purchase the famed GT40 trademark. Later models or prototypes have also been called the Ford GT but have had different numbering on them such as the Ford GT90 or the Ford GT70. The GT40 name and trademark is currently licensed to Superformance in the USA.
A second-generation Ford GT was unveiled at the 2015 North American International Auto Show. It features a 3.5L twin-turbocharged V6 engine, carbon fiber monocoque and body panels, pushrod suspension and active aerodynamics. It will compete in the FIA World Endurance Championship and the United SportsCar Championship.