February 8th-14th | This Week in Automotive History

February 8th, 1956

AEC Routemaster double-decker bus

Unveiled in 1954, the AEC Routemaster double-decker bus went into service in London.The first bus route to be operated by the Routemaster was the 2, with RM1.The Routemaster was developed between 1947 and 1956 by a team directed by AAM Durrant and Colin Curtis, with vehicle styling by Douglas Scott. The design brief was to produce a vehicle that was lighter (hence more fuel-efficient), easier to operate and that could be maintained by the existing maintenance practices at the recently opened Aldenham Works, but with easier and lower-cost servicing procedures. The resulting vehicle seated 64 passengers despite being three-quarters of a ton lighter than buses in the RT family, which seated 56.

February 9th, 1909

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corporation was incorporated with Carl G. Fisher as president. The speedway was Fisher’s brainchild and he would see his project through its inauspicious beginnings to its ultimate glorious end. The first race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway took place on August 19, 1909, only a few months after the formation of the corporation. Fisher and his partners had scrambled to get their track together before the race, and their lack of preparation showed. Not only were lives lost on account of the track, but the surface itself was left in shambles. Instead of cutting losses on his investment in the Speedway, Fisher dug in and upped the stakes. He built a brand new track of brick, which was the cheapest and most durable appropriate surface available to him. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway would later be affectionately called “the Brickyard.” 

February 10th, 1989

Mazda MX5

The Mazda MX-5 was unveiled at the Chicago Auto Show, with a price tag of $14,000. The MX5’s first generation, the NA, sold over 400,000 units from May 1989 to 1997 – with a 1.6 L (98 cu in) straight-4 engine to 1993, a 1.8 L (110 cu in) engine thereafter (with a de-tuned 1.6 as a budget option in some markets) – recognizable by its pop-up headlights. 

February 11th, 1933

Audi Front UW 220

Auto Union AG presented the new Audi Front UW220, its first standard-size passenger car with front-wheel drive at the Berlin Motor Show. At launch the Front UW 220 featured a straight-six-cylinder ohv engine of 1,950 cc. Claimed maximum power output was 40 PS (29 kW; 39 hp) at 3,500 rpm. The two-liter engine was shared with the Auto Union group’s Wanderer W22 introduced at the same time. The letters “UW” in the car’s name stood for “Umgekehrter Wanderer” and referred to the fact that it featured a Wanderer engine that had been “umgekehrt” (turned around) through 180 degrees in order to drive wheels which, on this application, were actually ahead of the engine.

February 12th, 1902

The first Studebaker automobile was sold, an electric-powered runabout purchased by R.W. Bless of Macon, Missouri.

February 13th, 1893

Hungarian engineers János Csonka and Donát Bánki

Hungarian engineers János Csonka and Donát Bánki were granted a patented for the carburetor. In the 1890s, they produced the Bánki-Csonka engine and the first Hungarian motorcycle and motor-boat.

February 14th, 1896

King Edward VII pictured seated in his motorcar with Mr John Scott Montagu, M.P.

Edward Prince of Wales, who would later become King Edward VII, became the first member of the British Royal Family to ride in a motor vehicle, a Daimler-engined Panhard & Levassor.

This week in Automotive History is produced by Branding Roar