March 22nd, 1983
The Pentagon awarded a production contract worth more than $1 billion to AM General Corporation to develop 55,000 High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWV). Nicknamed the Humvee and designed to transport troops and cargo, the wide, rugged vehicles entered the spotlight when they were used by the American military during the 1989 invasion of Panama and the Persian Gulf War in the early 1990s. In 1992, a civilian version of the Humvee, known as the Hummer, went on sale. The hulking, attention-grabbing road warrior tipped the scales at some 10,000 pounds and got less than 10 miles per gallon. It was an early hit with Hollywood celebrities such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, who went on to own a fleet of Hummers.
March 23rd, 1958
The first two production DAF cars, DAF 600’s rolled of the assembly line. The 600 was the first production car after the 1920s Clyno to have a continuously variable transmission (CVT) system – the innovative DAF Variomatic. The DAF Variomatic employs engine speed, via centrifugal weights, to shift the transmission and is enhanced by an engine manifold vacuum. It was the only car ever produced which went faster by the simple expedient of gently and gradually releasing the accelerator once top speed had been reached. This increased manifold vacuum which helped the variable pulleys shift to an even higher ratio so even though the engine RPM stays the same, the transmission increases the car’s speed, in the case of the DAF 600, from 60 miles per hour (97 km/h) to nearly 70 mph (110 km/h) given enough time and level road.The Variomatic also permitted increased engine braking by operating a switch on the dashboard which reversed the action of the vacuum on the pulley’s diaphragm, seeking a lower ratio with increased manifold vacuum.
March 24th, 1898
Robert Allison of Port Carbon, Pennsylvania became the first person to buy an American-built motor car when he bought a Winton after seeing an advertisement in Scientific America. Later that year the Winton Motor Carriage Company sold 21 more vehicles, including one to James Ward Packard, who later founded the Packard automobile company.
March 25th, 1953
Chrysler Corporation Ltd of Canada introduced the Dodge Mayfair and the Plymouth Belvedere.
March 27th, 2002
Scion, a marque of vehicles produced by Toyota Motor Corporation, was unveiled at the New York Auto Show with the production-ready bbX concept, based on the Toyota bB, and the more conceptual ccX 3-door coupe.
March 28th, 1976
The first American Grand Prix was held at Long Beach, California, the first of two races held in the USA that year. The race was dominated by Clay Regazzoni who won from pole position and set the fastest lap in his Ferrari. The street circuit was hard on the cars and only five completed the 80 laps. On the third lap, James Hunt and Patrick Depailler, who were neck and neck in the drivers’ championship, collided; Hunt retired while Depailler recovered to take third. The two yelled at each other in the press conference after the race, Hunt accusing Depailler of “flagrant stupidity” before warning him to “watch it”. Depailler’s interpreter added to the row by telling Hunt he ought to “learn to drive alongside people who could”. Depailler tried to apologise but Hunt was having none of it and stormed off.
This week in Automotive History is produced by Branding Roar