On 13 March 1998, Drive published its 100th issue. To celebrate the milestone, we shared our top 100 pieces of automotive trivia.
Originally published in Drive on 13 March, 1998
1 Have you driven a Ford lately?
In 1918 Ford built 642,750 Model Ts, single-handedly accounting for 50 per cent of the world’s entire car production for the year.
2 GM’s storm
In March 1966, GM Corporation built its 100 millionth car (an Oldsmobile Toronado, below).
3 The Love Bug
Walt Disney celebrated America’s affair with the VW Beetle in The Love Bug of 1968, in which a Dak-Dak nicknamed Herbie showed a winning personality – something lacking in many VWs since. Herbie starred in four movies; rumours of a fifth keep surfacing. Maybe it will star the reborn Beetle.
4 Holden steamer
The famous 1948 Holden wasn’t the first local car of that name. In 1911 one Roy H. Holden of Geelong built and put his name to a small, single-seater steam car.
5 Would an MR2 by any other name still smell as sweet?
When Toyota launched the MR2 in France, the local pronunciation (em-er-deux) sounded too close to “merde”. It was renamed it the Toyota MR.
6 The wheels on the bus go round and round
The wheels and tyres of a Formula One car revolve at approximately 2800rpm down a long straight, creating a strong gyroscopic effect.
7 Do the crime, make it big
The first car owned by rock singer Chuck Berry was a 1934 Ford V8 which cost him $35. The second was a 1937 Oldsmobile in which he and some friends committed a series of armed holdups in 1944. This landed Chuck a 10-year jail sentence. Released early, he hit the big time and bought a pink Cadillac.
8 Two wheels good, four wheels better
The Jaguar company started as SS Sidecars (making motorcycle sidecars), but graduated to cars before WWII.
9 Before Wikipedia
The term “mass-production” first appeared in the 1926 Encyclopaedia Britannica.
10 Not such an original idea
Mass-production was applied to the clock, sewing machine and gun industries before it was used to build cars.
11 What a juddering thought
What we call a speed hump, the Kiwis call a judder bar.
12 Less is less
V6s may have become fashionable in the late ’80s, but Italian maker Lancia introduced a production bent-six in 1950.
13 ‘Hello? Can you hear me?’
Car phones have been available in Australia since the late 1950s. Melbourne’s PMG Manual Public Mobile Telephone System of that era could service up to 50 subscribers. A limitation: only one of the 50 could use the system at any one time, and the others could listen in without restriction.
14 As American as Swiss cheese
The Chevrolet company was founded by Swiss racing driver Louis Chevrolet.
15 Nice one, bro
Louis Chevrolet’s brother, Gaston, won the 1920 Indianapolis 500.
16 Pretentious, moi?
The Cadillac company was named after the man who founded Detroit: Le Sieur Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, Knight of the Royal and Military Order of St Louis. There is some doubt, however, as to whether the grand title was real, or whether “Cadillac” was a humble adventurer who had upped his station in the New World.
17 You can’t ignore history
If those who ignore the lessons of history are due for a bit of repetition, then BMW can rest easy. No other car company is as scrupulously honest about its past. Its official history, The BMW Story, goes so far as to show Dachau concentration camp inmates undertaking forced work on the production line at BMW’s Allach plant. Another photo shows virtually the entire staff of the Munich BMW plant giving a Nazi salute in 1936.
18 A triumphant Summit
The 1922 Summit, built in Alexandria (Sydney) and advertised as “An Australian Triumph”, was possibly the first car in the world with a radio as standard equipment.
19 The Sound of Music
Daimler also stakes a claim; a radio was fitted to its 45 HP limousine of October 1922.
20 Now I know my A, B, D…
The follow-up to the EB Falcon was to be the EC until, at the 11th hour, it was pointed out that EC in some parts of Queensland was the expression for earth closet or toilet. It became the Falcon ED.
21 The last of the line, except…
The last German VW Beetle was built in 1978.
22 … for the millions that came after
The 20 millionth VW Beetle was built in Mexico in 1981.
23 Ground Control to Major Tom
The Lunar-Rover, the 1971 “moon car”, covered 96km and hit a top speed of just under 17km/h on the lunar surface during the Apollo 16 mission.
24 Space rarity
Four examples of the Lunar-Rover were built (three of which went to the moon) at an estimated price at the time of $US4.75 million apiece.
25 Double demerits
Under the RTA’s “demerit points” system, exceeding the speed limit by 16km/h during a holiday period, even on a straight, wide and empty highway, is worth a slug of six points. Offences such as “Negligent driving”, “Not have proper control of vehicle”, “Not yield way to overtaking vehicle” and “Drive contrary to stop sign” are worth only four.
26 A sad end
James Dean had a passenger during his final outing. He was German race mechanic Rolf Weutherich, who was severely injured but survived. The driver of the other car, Donald Gene Turnupseed, was only slightly injured.
27 Green is the new black
Henry Ford may have popularised the saying, “Any colour you like as long as it’s black”, but the early Model Ts were actually delivered in brewster green.
28 Back in black
Model T Fords became universally black only after it was discovered that the resins in black japan enamel dried more quickly. From the mid-’20s, thanks to improvements in paint technology, you could again order a standard T in colours other than black.
29 ‘We’re on a mission from God’
This year’s Blues Brothers 2000 is a sequel to 1980’s The Blues Brothers. The $33 million original, with spectacular car chase carnage, became an enduring cult hit, but was initially a box-office disaster.
30 Feel the wind in your hair
The fully retractable steel hardtop (Mercedes SLK etc) may seem new but was seen on American cars of the ’50s, and even a prewar French one. The Peugeot 402 Eclipse of the mid-’30s, below, was available with a steel hood which could be electrically raised or lowered in 15 seconds.
31-39 More sad endings
Nine artists or entertainers killed on the road:
Mark Bolan (rock star and wearer of sparkly clothes, Mini-Minor, 1977)
Albert Camus (author and semi-existentialist, Facel-Vega, 1960)
Eddie Cochran (rock star and pioneer overdubber, London hire car, 1960)
Isadora Duncan (ballet dancer and wearer of long scarves, Salmson or Amilcar, 1927)
Francoise Deneuve (elder of acting Deneuve sisters, Renault R8, 1967)
Jayne Mansfield (pneumatic actress, Cadillac Sedan de Ville, 1967)
Lawrence Of Arabia (war hero and author, Brough Superior motorcycle, 1935)
James Dean (actor and maker of road safety commercial, Porsche Spyder 550, 1954)
Margaret Mitchell (author of Gone With the Wind, pedestrian, 1949)
40-51 Who’s who in the zoo
A dozen cars named after animals:
Ssangyong Musso (it means rhinoceros)
Wolf (a marque of racing cars)
Topolino (Italian for little mouse and noisy Fiat, below)
Stutz Bearcat (presumably a grizzly nine-lived feline)
52 Last words
“That guy up there’s gotta stop. He’ll see us.”
The last words of James Dean, as quoted by the passenger in his Porsche (September 1955).
53 The three-wheeler Holden
In 1915 there was an American car called Holden. This Texas-built vehicle was unusual in that its three wheels were in triangular formation: two on the left and one on the right!
54 It could have been worse
Ford paid $1 million to the Interbrand company to come up with the name Mondeo. It was derived from Mundus (Latin for world) and Mond (the German for moon). The second choice was Lyrus.
55 Way ahead of its time
Mercedes pioneered fuel-injection as standard equipment on its 1954 300SL.
56 Saudi stunts
In 1994 Saudi Arabian traffic police reported arresting more than 500 “stunt drivers” and 15 people who had been “teasing road users”.
57 Not a Peugeot
The Porsche 911 was to be known as the 901 model, until it was discovered that Peugeot had got in early and registered all the three-number designations with a zero in the middle for its model names.
58-60 Who listens to the radio?
Significant in-car entertainment dates:
Radios were not available on mainstream US models until the very late ’20s
Chrysler introduced the all-transistor radio in 1955
Pontiac introduced the cassette player (which is to say a player for standard or Compact Cassette tapes) in 1971.
61 What a showman
Before becoming a full-time race driver, Formula One driver (and two-time world champion) Mika Hakkinen graduated from circus school as an acrobat. He has been known to ride a unicycle around the F1 paddock.
62 Stop-start technology Mk 1
Lightburn’s infamous Zeta, the too-ugly-to-be-true, Adelaide-built mini-car of the early ’60s had many quirks. One was that you had to stop the engine and restart it to engage reverse gear.
63 That didn’t take long
The millionth T Model Ford was built in 1915.
64 Tops Oz
The millionth car produced by Ford Australia came off the line in 1967.
65 Mass production
In 1916 the US became the first country to build a million cars during a single year.
66 And most of them were crap
The second country to achieve the million-cars-a-year feat was Britain in 1954.
67 Just add water
When the original VW Polo was launched in Europe the slogan “concentrate of VW” was used. The same phrase was reworked here for the Audi A3.
68 Colour our world
During the ’70s, the decade that style forgot, American Motors offered a range of “Big Bad Colours”.
69-78 Bring back the colour
Australian tint atrocities from the ’70s included:
Bondi Bleach White (Chrysler)
Candy Apple Red (Ford)
Kanga Blue (Chrysler)
Little Hood Riding Red (Chrysler)
Monaco Maroon (Holden)
Strike Me Pink (Holden)
Tan Fantastic (Chrysler)
Thar She Blue (Chrysler)
Verdro Green (Holden)
Zircon Green (Ford)
79 Twice as big
If a V8 is good, a V16 must be twice as good! The Cadillac 452, with a V16 engine, was launched in 1930. Although the Depression was not the best time for such a prodigal vehicle, the model survived until 1940.
80 The limping cat
In the mid-’80s, the Jaguar XJS, a premium priced sports car, was rated as the single worst quality car in the US.
81 More leaks than the Titanic
One of the many put-downs of Ford’s famously unsuccessful Edsel was that the name was an acronym of Every Day Something Else Leaks.
Legend has it that the famous Chevrolet “bow-tie” emblem was taken from a wallpaper design seen in a French hotel.
83 Turn the lights on
The Twilight Sentinel – which on the VT Commodore turns the lights on and off automatically at dusk and dawn – was introduced under the same name (though without microchip control) on the 1963 Cadillac.
84 Safety first
A French inventor, Gustav Lebeau, took out a patent for automotive seat belts in 1903.
85-88 Clever stuff
Other early adopters:
Wind-up windows (1919, Pierce Arrow and Packard models)
Self-cancelling indicators (1933, Singer)
“Mechanical refrigeration” or air-conditioning (1939, Packard)
Electric windows (1948, Cadillac)
89 Burnin’ rubber
F1 tyre temperatures can exceed 120 degrees Celsius.
90 The company of one
Henry Ford was the only American mentioned in Hitler’s Mein Kampf.
91 Hitler’s Ford model
Mein Kampf wasn’t the only connection between Hitler and Henry Ford. Nor was anti-Semitism. Hitler borrowed a novel Ford system of selling cars, whereby would-be motorists bought stickers, stuck them into “savings books” and, when they had collected enough, exchanged them for a car. Ford used this to sell the T, Hitler later tried it with the VW. The difference was that those who put their faith in Nazis never actually received their cars.
92 They queued to buy these
Lada cars come from Togliatti, a Russian city named after an Italian socialist. More than 10 million cars have been built there, none of them well. An aside: a group of well-lubricated Russians at the 1988 Australian launch of the Lada Samara seriously boasted that people at home queued to buy their products. They didn’t add that Russians queued to buy everything.
93 The ‘Cream of Crashes’
In the early days of home video, one of the most rented tapes was Havoc. This was a compendium of spectacular motor racing crashes but, to ward off accusations of bad taste, it was thinly disguised as a documentary on safety advancements in motor sport. The pretence was quickly stripped away, and through the 15 (yes, 15!) Havoc sequels the word “safety” has taken a back seat to “awesome” and “cream of the crashes”.
94-99 F1 eponyms
Six F1 teams named after drivers:
“It’s got nothing to do with Vorsprung durch Technik, you know.”
Audi slogan “Vorsprung durch Technik” (progress through technology) ends up as a lyric in the title track of British pop band Blur’s mega-hit album, Parklife (1994), below.
The post Trivial Pursuit, 100 pieces of automotive trivia you (maybe) didn’t know | Drive Flashback appeared first on Drive.