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“Toys of Christmas Past”
Image by brizzle born and bred
Did you know that toys and games have been part of childhood for thousands of years? As early as 4000 B.C. (before Christ), games became a source of entertainment. At that time, people of Babylon played a game that preceded the present day game of chess.
4000 BC – A Babylonian game, which is the ancestor of modern draughts begins to be played
3000 BC – First Game resembling modern Backgammon is played in Sumeria.
2000 BC – Stone marbles first used in Egypt.
1000 BC – Kites appear in China. Stone Yo-Yos begin to be used in Greece
600 BC – An ancestor of chess called ‘Chaturanga’ is played in India.
1759 – Roller skates are invented by Joseph Merlin.
Victorian Era – Victorian children had fewer toys than you have today. Poor Children – Poor families made their own, such as cloth-peg dolls and paper windmills. Children would save their pocket money to buy marbles, a spinning top, skipping ropes, kites or cheap wooden toys.
Rich Children had rocking horses with real horse hair manes, and dolls houses full of beautifully-carved miniature furniture. Other popular toys for rich children included china or wax dolls for the girls and clockwork train sets for the boys. Girls played with dolls and tea sets whilst boys played with toy soldiers and marbles.
During Victorian times, people became fascinated by toys that made pictures move. One of the earliest and simplest of these was the thaumatrope. This is a disc with a picture on either side that is attached to two pieces of string or a stick. When you spin the disc quickly, the two pictures appear to combine into one.
1901 – Meccano goes on sale in the UK. Invented by Frank Hornby in Liverpool, it captures the spirit of the age with a challenging construction toy. One of the century’s leading toy makers and creator of Hornby train sets (1920, and see 1925) and Dinky Toys, Hornby died in 1936.
1902 – In the USA, the Teddy Bear is created by a Russian emigrants Morris MiTchtom who had seen a report of US President Teddy Roosevelt who declined to shoot a bear cub while out hunting. Clifford Berryman’s celebrated newspaper cartoon captured this moment and Mitchcom launched his range of "Teddy" bears in his Brooklyn shop. German toymaker, Margarete Steiff began making jointed toy animals including bears, and they were also able to cash in on the teddy bear craze in the USA, which spread worldwide.
1903 – Edwin Binney & Harold Smith patent the first ‘Crayola’ crayons.
1908 – Plasticine goes on sale.
1909 – Kewpie Doll-devised by Rosi O’Neill patented in 1935
1910 – Daisy Air Rifles go on sale.
1914 – Tinker Toys – interlocking construction toy.
1914 – Frank Hornby manufactures ‘0 Gauge’ Clockwork model trains
1925 – The first electric ‘Hornby’ train appears..Hornby produce the first electric train sets in the world.
1928 – Mickey Mouse is created by Walt Disney. The licensed toy is born. Dolls from 1930
1929 – Duncan Yo-Yo’s are first launched in Los Angeles when Frank Duncan saw waiters from the Philippines playing with their tradit-ional Yo-Yo. It can be traced back to Ancient Greece – in the Philippines it was a weapon (like a boomerang) for hunting and war until later it became a sporting item then later a plaything. In 1930 Frank Duncan brought over demonstrators to Europe to play the music halls – and the craze took off.
1930 – Charlotte Cla in the USA starts making Micky Mouse dolls based on the first Disney cartoon first screened in 1928.
1932 – US architect, Alfred Butt begins work on what will become the board game, Scrabble. He calls it Lexico. (See 1940) In Denmark, Ole Kirk Christiansen started his Lego toy company. Lego means ‘play well’ in Danish. (leg godt). Later he discovered Lego in Latin means ‘to put together’.
1934 – Corgi starts to manufacture toy cars and other models. In 1965 their model Aston Martin from the first James Bond film became the very first BATR Toy of the Year.
1935 – Monopoly arrives in the UK. Invented in the USA by Charles Darrow in 1933, patent filed 31st August 1935 while on sale in America. It was made under licence in the UK by Waddingtons. Darrow died in 1967.
1935 – Minibrix made by the Premo Rubber Co. using the studs and cavity device which paved the way for plastic interlocking bricks pioneered by Hilary Page in the 1940s.
1943 – Richard James, researching a suspension device develops the Slinky. It goes on sale in 1945.
1948 – Criss Cross Words invented by Alfred Butt (originally Lexico) fails to sell well and is sold to James Brunot who changes the name to Scrabble. Sales average just 8,000, but from 1953 – 55 it suddenly takes off – sales reach 4.5million sets.
1949 – Leeds-based Waddington’s produces mystery board-game, Cluedo. This year (1999) it celebrated its 50th birthday.
1949 – Ole Christiansen, invents Lego bricks. Just six bricks will fit together in 102,981,500 ways !
1950 – Disney’s latest release, Cinderella, spawns toy products. Meanwhile, Disney was telling the toy industry to gear up for their next full-length cartoon, Alice in Wonderland, out in 1951. Popular Toys: a wind-up Cinderella dancing doll (with Prince) and Palitoy’s Archie Andrew Ventro Doll…Minibrix, ‘the world’s finest toys’ from Dean & Son, Flying Saucer from Cascelloid, Electric Contact Quiz – ‘lights up your party – mysterious, unique, amusing’ – claims the makers, Spears. Other events: First Toy Fair in Harrogate. First meeting of the NATR – the toy retailers association.
1951 – best selling toys: Alice (from Alice in Wonderland film), Talking Eggs from Selcol with a crank-handle to make Humpty Dumpty squeak (6/9d) – about 32p…Muffin the Mule push-along toy by Kohnstam…Kiddicraft’s ‘Sensible’ range of cot and pram toys designed by Hilary Page.
1951 – A Muffin The Mule push-along toy is the best seller this year.
1952 – Mr Potato Head is launched. Jack O’dell creates the first Matchbox car.
1952 – Popular toys: Crazy Ball from Louis Marx…Negro dolls from Pedigree called Mary Lou and Dixie…Flop: Loopo, a game with a ball and small hand-held loop promoted as ‘the sensation of the year’…Lines Brothers, Britain’s largest toymaker celebrated its 70th birthday…
1953 – A ‘Little Princess’ doll designed by Norman Hartnell is launched to celebrate the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.
1953 – Pedigree launch dolls with ‘flesh-like’ vinyl plastic heads with ‘hair that grows out of their heads!’ using a "Angela, the doll with magic flesh" – it also has ‘sleeping’ eyes and lashes. Another pedigree doll out this Coronation year, is Little Princess dressed by Norman Hartnell…retailers read for the first time that out-of-town shopping centres are being tried out in the USA…Dean’s Rag Books are 50 years old…New Toys: Flower pot Men based on the TV series. Wembley – the football board game, Keywords (from Waddingtons) which has some similarities to Scrabble. Novelty Toys: Atom Bomber with A-bombs with automatic releases, and Slinky, the toy that slithers down steps – still a big seller to this day.
1954 – Sooty appears on TV and turns out to be an actual Chad Valley glove puppet…sales soar. The British Toy & Hobby Association hold their first Toy Fair in Brighton. New Toys: Dan Dare Rota Spinner for the beach…and at Christmas: Matchbox vehicles, Painting By Numbers. Scrabble arrives.
1955 – Scrabble sold in the UK by Spears begins to grow in popularity. Scoop from Waddingtons challenges.
1956 – New Game: Beat the Clock (Spears) based on the game on TV’s Sunday Night at the Palladium…Flops: New Footy Table Soccer as recommended by Stanley Matthews, and Newcrikit , recommended by Freddie Trueman…the Corgi Model Club formed…Triang T-T Gauge trains launched…Radio comedian (and chairman of Chad Valley) Kenneth Horne is seen on TV trying out the new Rise’n'Shine shaving kit and beauty shop – the first seen on TV…and the launch of the sputnik inspires the Bleep Bleep satellite toy.
1956 – A Mr B. Francis puts small electric motors in his scale models of cars and ‘Scalectrix’ is born.
1957 – Combex brings out the Sooty toothbrush flute…and following the Disney film’s release, a rash of Davy Crockett hats and toys.
1958 – New: The Hula – Hoop arrives! 20 million sold in the first year. Scalextric electric model racing first introduced…but whatever happened to Pictorama which can create 14 million different combinations of pictures? It’s the 50th birthday for Plasticine…and Frisbees (invented 1957 at the Frisbee Pie Factory) compete for attention.
1959 – Barbie is created by Ruth Handler, and is named after her daughter Barbara.
1959 – Stanley Matthews endorses Frido playballs. Selling well: Matchbox’s Scammel Breakdown truck, Board Games: Careers, and Wack-O (based on Jimmy Edward’s TV series)
1960 – For the first time, the Brighton Toy Fair allows imported toys to be shown. The craze that swept France, Loopyloop is predicted to sweep Britain…it doesn’t…Lego is seen at the Toy Fair for the first time…plastic kits dominate the market and toy market (at retail) is worth £85m through 11,000 outlets.
1961 – A mini-boom in costume dolls…Airfix launch their Betta Bilda sets at 10 shillings each (50p)…Fuzzyfelt bring out Noddy finger puppets, Scalextrics slot car racing sets, and trains are amongst this year’s top sellers.
1962 – Tipped as the craze of the year, Airtoy’s Spinning Satellite…it isn’t. Dinky launch Ford Fairlane, Corgi offer a model Silverstone with pit stops, Chad Valley launches the Give-a-show projector…Barbie and boy friend Ken impress US market…the Pogo stick is fun again…and Dinky’s First Engine is the first ever with flashing lights.
1963 – The board game, Diplomacy arrives…Matchbox offer cars with doors that open…and there is ‘the greatest money spinner ever from Frido’ – Disky Discs and goal posts to play ’1-dimensional football’.
1964 – The latest craze: Booma Boomerang, Corgi is 30 years old and celebrates by introducing Corgi Classics…Diana Dors promotes the Trolls.
1965 – Dr Who and the Daleks on TV and toys available this Christmas…the James Bond Aston Martin Car is the big seller and will be the first ever Toy of the Year (to be announced as it will be in future in January of the following year at the NATR Dinner). Waddington’s launch Spyring board game, and the Noise Abatement Society complains about the V-rroom roar maker fitted to bicycles…the Gonks arrive to challenge Trolls…Denys Fisher launch the Spirograph. Craze that never was – Nik Nok – cup and ball game.
1965 – The James Bond Aston Martin from Corgi is the most popular toys this year. A version of the toy is still on sale today.
1966 – Action Man, the first ‘Doll For Boys’ is launched and is a massive success. Toy of the year this year will be Action Man – causing a sensation as the first doll for boys…for girls there is Tiny Tears. To rival Action man, Pedigree launch Tommy Gunn. Another craze that never was: Ippy Op – ball come skipping rope…but party game, Twister is a success.
1967 – Spiro-Graph is toy of the year. Rolf Harris Stylophone (Musical toy with a strangely annoying pitch. Apparently invented by accident the Stylophone enjoys cult popularity among musicians and has been used by bands as diverse as David Bowie and Blur.
1968 – Sindy is top doll and will win Toy of the Year. Ride-a-Roo ball is launched, as are Joe 90 products, Beatles’s Yellow Submarine, and the Go Car game which includes a breathalyser test as a hazard. Other new products: a multi-cube game called Instant Insanity and Glow-Globs, modelling compound that glows in the dark, and paintwheels.
1969 – Hot Wheels cars will win Toy of the Year. The Newton’s Cradle (Klikkies) sells well…but Tic Tac Tosser has a shorter life.
1970 – Sindy wins Toy of the Year for a second time…the NATR launches their Toy Token scheme…"The computer is becoming such an important part of our lives that a mini-computer for kids is in the office"…Super markets begin selling toys, and Matchbox makes 900 redundant.
1971 – Space Hoppers, inflatable orange bouncers with horns for handles. Klackers, a modernised version of conkers that made a very annoying ‘Klick Klack’ sound and lead to dozens of imitations. Katie Kopycat writing doll wins Toy of the Year. The giant Lines Brothers collapses, the arrival of Space Hopper, Craze of the year Clackers or Klik Klaks – first seen on Spanish beaches. Fun Bubbles sell over 7 million in first year.
1972 – Plasticraft modelling kits win Toy of the Year.
1973 – The first Game of the Year – Invicta’s Mastermind…a shortage of plastic causes problems…children’s pocket money averages 9p. New dolls: Disco Girl, Chelsea Girl, Daisy. Toy guns concern when gunmen using toy guns are shot dead by police outside India House.
1973 – Mastermind, a game that had nothing to do with the TV show and everything to do with cracking the code of your opponents coloured plastic pegs.
1974 – Magna Doodle. The magnetic drawing toy which was invented in Japan by pen engineers trying to create a clean mess free chalk.
1975 – Wombles. Womblemania hit the UK and Womble toys where everywhere.
1976 – Raw Power. A handle that you added to your bike and ‘revved’ to create the sound of an engine.
1977 – Slime, a bright green PVA based blob that came in little plastic pots and ruined many a households soft furnishings! Othello, the strategy game of Black & White counters. Holly Hobbie, dolls based on the popular character. Skateboards, 1977 saw the high point of the 1970’s skate craze and featured thin ‘surfboard’ style boards.
1978 – Star Wars, after the release of the movie the previous year the toys soon followed and became one of the most successful movie licenced properties of all time, the toys dominated toy shops until the middle 1980’s when their popularity waned. Simon, the electronic game where you followed a sequence of lights and sounds before you threw it across the room in sheer frustration!
1979 – Space Lego, the humble building brick went where no man had gone before. Stop Boris, a game where you stopped Boris, a creepy spider, with a light gun.
1980 – Rubiks Cube, invented by Hungarian designer Erno Rubik over 100 million of these tricky little puzzles were sold between 1980 and 1982.
1981 – Lego Train. Lego launches their first electric ‘train set’ which featured strangely enough blue rails!
1982 – BMX Bikes, everybody went BMX crazy, BMX is short for Bicycle Motocross. ZX Spectrum, the first ‘affordable’ home gaming computer arrived in UK households.
1983 – My Little Pony, based on an Animated TV series there was an entire world of small plastic horses and accessories to collect. My Little Pony went on to become one of the most successful girls toy concepts of all time. Boys did not miss out this year as they got He Man & The Masters Of The Universe which followed the same based on animation format and became one of the most successful boys toy concepts of all time.
1984 – Care Bears. Following the successful ‘toys from an animated series’ format from the previous year the Care Bears arrived from Care-a-Lot. Shortly before Christmas Cabbage Patch Kids, created by artist Xavier Roberts also arrived and created chaos in toy shops across the land as parent competed to buy one of the sought after dolls. The Board game Trivial Pursuit was the best selling board game in 1984 and dolls based on popular Pop Stars Michael Jackson and Boy George was also big hits.
1985 – Transformers, robots in disguise. These ‘action figures’, which transformed from vehicle to robot and back, again confounded parents and delighted children. Optimus Prime was THE toy to have in 1985 and lead to huge shortages of product.
1986 – In this World Cup year the playground graze was Panini Football stickers. If you managed to complete an album you were a playground hero.
1987 – Sylvanian Families, a range of cute and cuddly animals with play-sets and vehicles. Rubiks Magic, a follow up to the Rubiks Cube.
1988 – Ghostbusters, based on the popular movie and animated series, children across the land strapped on ‘proton packs’ and set out to capture ghosts. Slimer, one of the lead characters was also a firm favourite in toy shops, along with the vehicle Ecto-1.
1989 – Another hit movie, another toy shop success. The Tim Burton movie ‘Batman’ breathed new life into an old favourite and Batmania swept the UK.
1990 – Donatello, Michelangelo, Leonardo and Raphael, the Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles arrived in toy shops and where an immediate hit. Originating in the US from a comic book the original word ‘Ninja’ in the title was replaced with ‘Hero’ in the UK for fears that it would violent connotations with parents.
1991 – Nintendo launched Game Boy in the UK.
1992 – Thunderbirds enjoyed a re-birth this year and dads of a certain age across the land re-lived there childhoods with their children. Shortages of the most popular toy, Tracey Island were so severe that Blue Peter ran an episode where the showed you how to make your own….
1993 – Power Rangers, the TV show arrived on our screens and children’s TV has not been the same since. Toys based on the show sold out immediately.
1994 – Magic Eye Pictures were all the rage and toys and puzzles featuring these pictures within pictures prompted even more people to ask ‘can you see it?’
1995 – POGS, small cardboard disks stormed into playgrounds and became a huge craze. Star Wars toys start production again after a short hiatus, 1970’s kids are now adults and collect the toys out of nostalgia but a new generation of kids also embraces the saga.
1996 – Toy Story, the animated film from Pixar was a huge hit in the cinema and toys from the movie were more than elusive. Parents went to desperate measures to secure a Buzz Lightyear doll. The rights to produce toys from the film went to a small independent Canadian toy company who simply could not cope with the demand. Why? Because all of the major toy manufacturers turned down the chance to make Toy Story merchandise, as they felt that the movie would never catch on. Corinthian figures, small figurines of football stars with oversized heads were the hot collectible and equally popular with adults and child collectors.
1997 – The year of T, Teletubbies, Tamagotchi and TY Beanie Babies are toy shop best sellers.
1998 – The humble Yo Yo returns as the craze of the year, after last being seen in the 1950’s and the 1970’s. The ProYo II is the Yo Yo of choice. Just before Christmas the interactive pet, Furby arrives in toy shops.
1999 – A board game based on the hit TV quiz show ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire’ is the best selling board game. Toys and games based on Pokemon the Nintendo game prove to be quite popular. The firm favourite are the trading cards hundreds of millions of which are sold, swapped and traded across the globe.
2000 – Robotic Pets and Aluminium Folding Scooters are this year crazes. They are also accompanied by another familiar face, The Thunderbirds return again and Tracey Island is another Christmas best seller.
2001 – Bob The Builder toys are big hits, Folding Scooters continue to be the must have accessory for both kids and style guru’s alike. Closely followed by Pogo Sticks which enjoyed a resurgence of interest this year.
2002 – Bratz Dolls, steal some of Barbie’s position as top fashion doll, a place she has held since she was born in 1959. Beyblades, customizable spinning tops and Micropets, miniature robotic pets are the favourite crazes
2003 – Beyblades continue to be the playground craze closely followed by Yucky Yo Balls, fluid filled stretchy balls on an elastic string. However Yucky Yo Balls are swiftly banned by the government over safety fears. This is the first time that the government has banned a toy in over 10 years.
2004 – Toy of the Year ‘Terrain Twister’ radio controlled vehicle.
2005 – Fisher-Price top-selling Dora’s Talking House"
2006 – The overall winner of the title Toy Of The Year 2006 was awarded to the Dr Who Cyberman Voice Changer Mask. This Voice Changer is a replica Cyberhead that will give you a robotic voice. It features speech, sound effects and lights! It has 3 play buttons, one that plays Cyberman phrases, one that changes your voice into that of the Cybermen and one with Cyber weapon sound effects.
2007 – The Toy of the Year Award was given to Blanket Time Iggle Piggle Dancing Soft Toy, from the massively popular ‘In The Night Garden’. Boys Toy of the year was chosen as the Ben 10 Omnitrix FX, which is like a wrist watch which transform Ben into different alien superheroes.
2008 – Toy of the Year Ben 10 Action figures 10" and 15" – Pre School Toy of the Year Kidizoom camera, Vtech – Collectable toy of the Year Go Go Crazy Bones – Construction toy of the year is Lego – Girls range toy of the year is Sylvanian families. – Boys range of the year is Ben 10, Bandai – Girls toy of the year is FurReal Biscuit my lovin’ pup.
2009 – Last year the toy of the year award as voted by the Toy Retailer Association went to the Ben 10 series. The year before it went to a set of toys from In the Night Garden. The theme seems to be a toy connected to a popular children’s television character and this will probably be the same pattern for the best selling toy of 2009/2010. Young children love toys that are familiar, toys that they identify with the television characters that they see. In 2008 the pre school toy of the year was again, In the Night Garden and toys such as Star Wars and toys featuring Thomas the Tank engine (pre school toys of the year in 2005) regularly win toy awards.
Hasbro is the largest toy manufacturer in the world.
The 20th century saw the invention of dozens of much-loved toys as well. Still-popular board games like Tripoley, Sorry and Monopoly have been around since the 1930s, and Crayola Crayons are more than 100 years old! Twister, made by a division of Hasbro, sold more than 3 million games within a year of its release in 1966. It has sold more than 22 million since then.
Toys aren’t always a hit the year, or even the decade, they’re created. Unemployed architect Alfred Mosher Butts invented the game of Scrabble, which he first called "Lexiko" and later "Criss-Cross Words," in the 1930s. Entrepreneur James Brunot acquired the game in 1947, but it wasn’t until 1953, when the president of Macy’s — now owned by retail giant Federated Department Stores — discovered the game on vacation that things really took off. More than 100 million sets have since been sold worldwide.
The fortunes of other playthings are more cyclical. Troll dolls, which hit big during the 1960s, had all but disappeared by the 1980s until troll nostalgia ushered in a second boom in the early 1990s. As Generation Xers grow older, toys like Cabbage Patch Kids, now made by Mattel, and Koosh balls could stage a comeback as well.
And there’s serious money to be had. Mr. Potato Head, made in 1952 by Hasbro’s Playskool unit, was the first toy advertised on television, and it grossed more than million in its first year (that’s billion in 2005 dollars). Play-doh, which was originally designed for cleaning wallpaper, made inventor Joseph McVicker a millionaire by his 27th birthday. And Mattel sells an astounding 1.5 million Barbie dolls each week — that’s two dolls per second.
Oh the joys of the open road!
Image by brizzle born and bred
Timeline of motoring history 1940 – 2008
Car production in Britain is put on hold as most factories go over to munitions production.
The German Luftwaffe destroys the centre of Coventry.
Oldsmobile and Cadillac offer the first fully automatic transmission.
Enzo Ferrari leaves Alfa Romeo to establish Auto-Avio Costruzioni Ferrari.
In Japan, Toyo Kogyo produces its first passenger car.
Lord Austin dies aged 74
Louis Chevrolet dies aged 63. He is buried at Indianapolis, scene of his greatest racing victories.
Packard are the first car manufacturer to offer air conditioning.
Chrysler introduces the Fluid Drive transmission, a manual transmission with a fluid coupling instead of a clutch.
American passenger car production falls to just 139 vehicles as war production requirements take over.
Volvo focus on occupant safety with the introduction of a safety cage.
Louis Renault is arrested and imprisoned for collaborating with the Germans. He dies at Fresnes prison in ‘suspicious circumstances’.
Enzo Ferrari’s Maranello workshops are bombed and destroyed.
2nd World War in Europe ends with Germany’s unconditional surrender to the allies on May 7th.
In receivership since 1939, Triumph is acquired by Standard.
Petrol rationing in Britain continues.
Henry Ford resigns as president of The Ford Motor Company, handing over to his grandson, Henry Ford 11.
French President Charles de Gaulle nationalizes Renault and the company’s name is changed to Regié Nationale des Usines Renault.
The newly elected Socialist government ‘encourages’ manufacturers to export half their output. To counteract the consequential development of an illicit black-market car buyers are required to sign a covenant preventing the sale of new cars for one year.
Newly designed post-war models are launched by British car makers Triumph, Armstrong-Siddeley, Jowett and Bentley as the British Motor Industry celebrates its fiftieth birthday.
Petrol ration for British motorists is increased by 50 per cent.
Ford of Britain produce their millionth car, an 8hp Anglia.
Michelin patent the Radial-ply tyre.
In light of negative wartime connotations William Lyons changes the name of SS Cars Ltd. to Jaguar Cars Ltd and begins to focus on export markets.
Enzo Ferrari rebuilds his bombed workshops and begins work on the development and production of the Ferrari 125 Sport. The first Ferrari hits the road!
Packard offers power seats and windows across their range.
Ettore Bugatti dies in Paris aged 66.
The American car industry celebrates its Golden Jubilee.
Henry Ford dies at the age of 84.
BMW engine and car designs are ‘acquired’ by Bristol and Frazer-Nash as ‘war reparations’.
David Brown, already successful in the British engineering industry, sees an advertisement in The Times offering ‘A high-class motor business, established 25 years’ and pays £20.000 to buy Aston Martin. He has already purchased Lagonda, having owned a Lagonda Rapide himself in the past.
A new name, Standard-Vanguard, is introduced to the British public
Instead of taxing cars based on the 1906 RAC horsepower formula a flat- rate system is introduced.
Enzo Ferrari’s 125 Sport wins its first race. The first of many Ferrari victories.
The first motor show since the end of the war takes place at Earls Court.
Morris introduce the Minor family car, designed by Alec Issigonis.
Jaguar Cars Ltd. announces the XK120 sports car featuring low, streamlined body, an outstanding twin overhead cam 6 cylinder engine and a top speed of 120mph. Alongside it the elegant MK 5 saloon (sedan) replaces the pre-war model known by enthusiasts, though not the company, as the MK 4.
Citoen introduce the 2CV, reputedly designed to accommodate gentlemen still wearing their hats and to drive across a ploughed field without breaking a cargo of eggs!
The American motor industry builds its 100,000,000th car.
Ferdinand Porsche launches the Porsche marque by introducing the 356/2 as a no-frills sports car re-working of his war-time Volkswagen project.
Developed along the well proven lines of the Willys Jeep, Rover introduce the 4 wheel drive Land Rover.
Buick offer the Dynaflow fully automatic gearbox. This is essentially the automatic gearbox as we know it today,
Michelin ‘X’ radial-ply tyres go on sale for the first time.
British government ends petrol rationing but doubles fuel tax.
The new car covenant, introduced to prevent a black market in new cars is extended from one to two years ownership.
The UK’s former double purchase tax on luxury cars is halved.
Ford wins back its second place in the US sales league from Chrysler.
Automatic transmission becomes available on lower priced Chevrolet models.
Goodyear offers self-repairing tyres (tires).
60% of American families now own a car.
6,657,000 cars are sold in the USA.
Rover demonstrates the JET 1 the world’s first gas turbine powered car.
Ford engineer Earle S MacPherson designs the MacPherson Strut, a combination of spring, shock absorber and stub-axle which simplifies design and production and reduces costs.
Ford UK introduces Consul and Zephyr models.
In the USA, automatic gearboxes become more readily available – Chevrolet offer the Powerglide, Ford the Fordomatic and Merc-O-Matic.
Nash feature seatbelts in the Rambler. The promoted benefits are that they ‘overcome the problems caused when sleeping passengers fall out of their seats’!
Porsche enters a 356 SL in the Le Mans 24-Hours and wins the 1100cc class·
Ferdinand Porsche dies aged 75.
Lotus Engineering Co founded by aeronautical engineer and competitive sports car driver Anthony Colin Bruce Chapman.
100mph performance becomes available at realistic prices as Triumph announces the TR and the Healey introduces their 100/4 sports cars.
Chrysler offer power steering and the M-6 Torque-Converter Automatic. They also spark a horsepower race with the 180 horsepower, 331 cubic-inch Firepower Hemi V-8 engine.
Kaiser introduces new safety features, a pop-out windshield and a padded dashboard top.
Jaguar introduces the prototype C-Type race-car, aimed at winning Le Mans.
In the USA, sales of cars with automatic transmissions exceed 2 million.
Crosley ceases production.
Rival manufacturers Nuffield organisation (Morris) and Austin comes to an end with their amalgamation into the British Motor Corporation (BMC) with Lord Nuffield in the driving seat.
Mercedes shows the spectacular 300SL ‘gull wing’ sports coupe.
Packard offer power brakes.
The newly developed disk braking system, now available from Dunlop, is fitted to Jaguar’s C Types, enabling them to achieve 1st, 2nd and 4th places at Le Mans.
As wartime austerity begins to fade in the United Kingdom, the availability of higher octane fuels allows higher compression ratios and improvements in engine performance.
Singer announces the SMX Roadster, Britain’s first plastic-bodied production car. Only 12 are made before the project is abandoned.
Britain’s New Car Covenant Purchase Scheme, originally introduced to prevent new cars being sold-on at a premium, is abolished.
General Motors Launch the Corvette, a radical glass-fibre-bodied roadster concept car featuring a wrap-around windshield and powered by a venerable straight six engine. Production is limited.
Porsche introduces the 550 ‘Spyder’ race-car with a triangulated tubular steel chassis, aluminium bodywork and a VW-based 4 cylinder ‘boxer’ engins. 550 Spyders dominate the 1500cc class at Le Mans and then the same class in the Pan Americana, Mexican road race.
The 50 millionth General Motors car rolls off the production line.
All Buick, Oldsmobile and Cadillac models feature wrap-around Panoramic windshields.
Ford introduces overhead valves on its V8 engines in Ford and Mercury models.
Nash merges with Hudson to form the American Motors Corporation.
Studebaker merges with Packard.
GM reveals the 370 horsepower turbine-powered Firebird I concept car.
The two seat Ford Thunderbird roadster is announced.
Lanchester offer the Sprite with automatic transmission, still a rarity in Europe.
Having re-established production of the ‘Beetle’ with much help from British Army personnel, Volkswagen start to focus on generating export sales.
Tubeless tyres (tires) are now offered on all new American cars.
Jaguar Cars replace the XK120 with the XK 140, featuring a 190 horsepower engine, mechanical refinements and chrome trim. The new Jaguar D Type race-car is introduced at Le Mans without success.
The revolutionary Citroen DS19 is introduced with a futuristic aerodynamic body, self-levelling hydropneumatic suspension, power steering and braking and automatic jacks.
McDonald’s opens its first drive-thru hamburger bar.
Chrysler launches ‘Imperial’ as a separates brand.
Kaiser goes out of business.
American car sales hit a record 7,915,000. Jaguar launch the MK 1 Family sports saloon (sedan) to broaden their market appeal. They also win at Le Mans with a much improved D-type.
Fuel supplies are seriously limited by the Suez crisis, resulting in rationing in Britain and other European countries and an upsurge of interest in economical micro-cars for personal transportation.
U.S. car stylists begin to adopt tail fins and rocket-shaped tail lamps as science fiction and space rockets enter the American consciousness.
The Ford Foundation offers over ten million Ford Motor Company shares for sale to the public.
BMC commissions Pininfarina to styles its new models.
Lanchester comes to the end of the road as Daimler discontinues production.
Ford of America offers seat belts to a disinterested public.
The "McKenna Duties" on luxury imports are finally abolished.
Jaguar D Type wins the Le Mans 24 Hours for a second successive year.
The Porsche 550A Spyder, a modified version of its predecessor, wins the Targa Florio road race on its debut, beating much more powerful competitors. It goes on to ‘wipe the floor’ at virtually every appearance.
The Lotus Elite (Type 14) is announced, featuring a revolutionary glassfibre monocoque construction.
Ford Motor Company introduces the Continental Mark II, priced at almost ,000.
The three millionth Mercury comes off Ford’s production line.
Packard and Chrysler offer pushbutton automatic transmissions.
Packard offers power door locks.
Chrysler offers an in-car record player.
80% of all new cars sold in America have a V-8 engine.
The American Congress approves construction of the 41,000 mile Interstate highway system.
The Nash and Hudson marques are discontinued by parent company AMC.
A new Fiat 500 is introduced featuring a rear-mounted vertical twin-cylinder air cooled engine.
Chrysler produce their ten millionth Plymouth.
The new Ford Skyliner features a retractable hardtop, a ‘first’ for a production car.
Ford introduces the Ranchero pickup.
Chevrolet, Pontiac and Rambler adopt fuel injection.
66% of all cars purchased in the USA are bought on extended finance.
Jaguar introduce the XK 150 and a D Type wins the Le Mans 24 Hours for a third successive year.
Work starts on the Ml ‘London to Birmingham’ Motorway, the UK’s first.
Roads around London are governed by a new 40mph speed limit.
To celebrate the fiftieth birthday of the Model T, Ford re-assembles a 1909 example.
Ford produce their fifty millionth car.
The revolutionary glassfibre Lotus Elite (Type 14) enters production. With all-round independent suspension and a 1,216 cc overhead cam Coventry Climax engine it has spectacular handling and is capable of 118mph! In spite of its success as a racecar Lotus will loose money on every one built.
With controversial styling and sophisticated features, the Ford Edsel is launched to a luke-warm reception.
Chrysler builds its twenty five millionth vehicle.
Packard production comes to an end.
The Austin-Healy ‘Frogeye’ Sprite is introduced.
The new chairman of BMC is Sir Leonard Lord.
A record one million cars are produced in Britain.
Toyotas and Datsuns are imported to the United States for the first time.
The Ford Thunderbird becomes a four-seater ‘personal luxury’ car.
American car sales drop by 31% due to an economic recession.
C F Kettering, inventor of the electric starter and Ethyl-Leaded Gasoline dies aged 82.
Porsche introduce the "RSK" Spyder, or Type 718 which continues to win class and outright honours in the hands of such drivers as Dan Gurney, Wolfgang von Trips and Jo Bonnier.
A fascination with the impending space-age inspires Cadillac to begin giving its new models fins and rocket-shaped taillights.
UK Government reduces Purchase Tax on new cars from 60 to 50 per cent.
Triumph introduce the Michelotti styled Herald, featuring all round independent suspension.
Lea Francis go out of business.
NSU announce that they will build Wankel rotary engined cars.
Dutch manufacturer DAF begins car production, using the Variomatic belt-drive automatic transmission.
The M1, Britain’s first motorway is opened by The Right Honourable Ernest Marples, minister of Transport.
British Motor Corporation introduces the Morris Mini-Minor and Austin Se7en variants, built on separate production lines at Cowley, Oxford and Longbridge, Birmingam to a revolutionary compact design by Alec Issigonis. Whichever brand of ‘Mini’, it features a rubber-cone suspension system and a gearbox built into the engine, beneath the crankshaft. Perhaps the Mini’s most significant contribution to the packaging efficiency of modern front-wheel-drive cars is its transversely mounted engine.
Jaguar launches the MK II family sports saloon (sedan) to great acclaim.
The Ford Anglia arrives. It is a small family car with conventional mechanical layout. Its unusual feature is a reverse-slope rear window, which ensures good headroom for rear-seat passengers.
Studebaker introduces the Lark, a compact car intended to compete with European imports.
An Aston-Martin DBR 1, driven by Caroll Shelby and Roy Salvadori wins the Le Mans 24 hours.
Eighty percent of United Stated families own at least one car.
The UK Daimler Company becomes part of Jaguar Cars.
The Japanese car industry manufactures 200,000 cars.
The Ford Anglia l05E is introduced with a four speed gearbox and a raked back rear window.
OPEC (The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) is formed to give the oil producing countries more power over crude oil prices.
The millionth Morris Minor leaves the production line, one of a series of 350 painted in a celebratory shade of lilac with white leather upholstery.
Jaguar Cars Limited buys Daimler and begins to offer ‘badge engineered’ Jaguars.
The Cortina Mk I is introduced by Ford of Britain.
BMC introduce the Morris I IOO featuring a revolutionary ‘Hydrolastic’ suspension system.
The ‘MOT’ test is introduced by Ernest Marples, requiring that all cars over 10 years old are subjected to an annual test.
BMC chief, Sir Leonard Lord becomes Lord Lambury.
Commercial vehicle producers Leyland Motors acquire Standard Triumph and AEC.
Porsche introduce the W-RS Spyder race-car with its well-proven flat four power unit.
Chevrolet introduce the Nova, a compact car with plain styling and 4 or 6 cylinder engines, designed to offer economical family motoring.
Ford UK introduces the Consul Cortina, an attractive medium-sized family saloon, powered by an 1198cc OHV engine. (The ‘Consul’ is dropped very quickly). Though launched as a two-door, a four-door body becomes available within a few months.
The W-RS Spyder, now powered by a 2.0-litre flat-eight engine, continues to build Porsche’s racing prowess by winning everything in sight.
The Leyland Motor Corporation formed under the chairmanship of Sir Henry Spurrier.
Ford’s Cortina DeLuxe is now available with a 1498cc engine and also as high-performance Lotus model featuring a twin-cam engine and major suspension modifications.
Lord Nuffield dies aged 86.
The Hillman Imp is unveiled to compete with the BMC Mini. It features a light-alloy 4 cylinder, 875cc slant-4 engine, originally developed by Coventry Climax to power fire pumps. Manufactured at Linwood, a new Scottish production plant, this is the first car since the 1931 Arrol Johnston, to be made in Scotland.
NSU announce the Spyder their first car to use a Wankel engine.
Rover introduces the 2000 P6 saloon which wins them the European Car of the Year Award.
In Italy Feruccio Lamborghini Automobili founded in Sant’Agata near Bologna. The debut of the prototype 350 GTV takes place at the Turin Motor Show.
Porsche’s W-RS Spyder continues its winning ways at Le Mans and the Nurburgring.
Triumph launches the 2000 family saloon.
The Ford Mustang is ‘released’ to great acclaim and achieves sales of more than 500,000 in its firs 18 months.
Following many years of crippling strikes at its British Light Steel Pressings Ltd factory, the Rootes Group sells a controlling interest to Chrysler.
Despite continuing disinterest, front seat belts supplied as standard in all American cars.
Having resigned his position after just 4 months in charge of The Leyland Motor Corporation Sir Henry Spurrier dies.
Porsche’s W-RS Spyder wins further season championships in the hands of Edgar Barth, before final retirement.
BMC’s intended merger with the Pressed Steel Company is subjected to a report by the Monopolies Commission.
The British government introduces a 70 mph maximum speed "as a four month experiment" which is still with us today.
An automatic transmission, specially designed by AP is available to Mini buyers.
Rolls Royce’s launch Silver Shadow its first unit constructed car.
Ralph Nader publishes his book ‘Unsafe at Any Speed’ exposing safety standards severely compromised by USA manufacturers’ cost constraints. The rear-engined Chevrolet Corvair receives Nader’s particular attention.
Jensen FF sports coupe is launched, featuring Fergusson’s four wheel drive system, Italian styling, a powerful V8 engine and anti-lock brakes.
British Motor Holdings is created by merging The Jaguar Group (Jaguar, Daimler, Guy, Coventry Climax, Henry Meadows) with BMC.
Ford UK update the Cortina with smoother, but boxier styling.
Largely as a result of Ralph Nader’s expose of the American Motor industry the U.S. Congress passes a rigorous auto safety act. Rear seat belts now supplied as standard equipment in all cars sold in the USA.
Peugeot and Renault agree to establish a partnership organisation, La Francaise de Mecanique, to manufacture common mechanical parts.
Sir William Lyons retires as the Managing Director, becoming Chairman and Chief Executive as Jaguar Cars Limited and the British Motor Corporation Limited announce the merger of the two companies.
Panhard, France’s oldest car maker is disolved by its owners Citroen.
NSU produce the first series production passenger car to be powered by a Wankel engine, the Ro80.
Rover and Alvis are absorbed into the Leyland Motor Corporation.
Ford UK introduce the crossflow engine to their product range in 1300cc and 1600cc capacities.
Ford UK and Ford of Europe start to co ordinate development and production programmes to increase commonality of design and component use.
Ford introduces the Escort range, including a high performance ‘twin-cam’ engined version.
The largest car company in British history is formed as British Motor Holdings merges with Leyland Motors to create British Leyland Motor Corporation.
Rover offers the Buick-based V8 in the P6 body-shell to create the 3005, later re-named the 3500.
As bitter strikes cripple industry Renault lose production of I000,000 vehicles.
Volkswagen introduces the 411 or ‘Variant’. Based on an extended ‘Beetle’ floor-pan it features a contemporary body-style and 2 or 4 doors. An estate (station wagon) version is also available.
Citroen buys Maserati, primarily, to take advantage of its engine know-how. Their forthcoming SM coupé will be powered by a Maserati V6 engine.
David Brown is knighted.
Volkswagcn take over Audi.
Jaguar launches the XJ6.
The new British Leyland organisation introduces the Austin Maxi. Sir Alex Issigonis’s last project, in spite of its outstanding practicality, its boxy styling, sparse interior, lack of power and ‘notchy’ five-speed gearbox attracts criticism.
Renault and Peugeot start production of common components as a result of their 1966 agreement, at Douvrin, near Lens in Northern France.
Enzo Ferrari sells 50% of Ferrari’s share capital to Fiat.
Land Rover launches an entirely new concept. The Range Rover is a luxury off-road car and, as an immediate sales success it points the way for rivals, laying the foundation for a whole new market sector.
Citroen launches two new aerodynamic models, the GS family car and the Masserati-powered SM sports saloon.
Italian styling house Ghia of Turin is acquired from Alessandro de Tomaso by Ford.
Mercedes build the C III experimental car to act as a test-bed for future road-car developments. Featuring dramatic aerodynamic styling and powered by a triple rotor Wankel engine developing 280bhp, it achieved a top speed of 160mph.
Japan’s monthly production output of 200,000 cars, makes it the world’s second biggest motor manufacturer.
Volkswagen reveals the K70, their first water cooled model.
Kjell Qvale, Norwegan born head of the ‘British Motor Car Distributors’ in San Francisco, takes over Jensen Motors.
The Chrysler 160/l80 range is launched at the Paris Salon.
The General Motors’ ‘family’ come together from all parts of the globe, under the leadership of Opel, Germany, to begin a project which will result in a ‘World Car’ to rival the success of the VW beetle. For Opel it will result in the Kadette C, small family car. Internationally it becomes known as GM’s ‘T Car’.
Jensen ceases production of the four-wheel-drive ‘FF’ sports-car, but continues with the two-wheel drive ‘Interceptor’ version.
Morris Minor production finally comes to an end.
Peugeot and Renault join forces with Volvo to form a new joint-venture organisation. PRV will design and produce V-engines at their Douvrin production plant.
Mercedes preview the C111-2 at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Once again a test-bed vehicle it features a four-rotor Wankel engine rated at 350 bhp which took the car to 180mph.
Aston Martin’s financial performance causes difficulties, prompting the David Brown Group to sell to financiers. The DBS stays in production.
Jaguar reveals their VI2 production engine, making it available in an enlarged E-type as well as XJ6 and Daimler sedans. This makes them one of only a handful of manufacturers who have ever offered this configuration on a production basis.
Maserati introduce the Bora.
A record l,900,000 cars produced by British motor industry in this year.
The success of Japanese cars becomes evident when Datsun becomes the second biggest importer of cars into Britain.
Maserati introduces the Merak.
Lotus Esprit mid-engined concept car shown on Giorgio Giugiario’s Ital Design stand at the Turin Motor Show.
Sir William Lyons retires as chairman of Jaguar, exactly 50 years after forming the company. Labour relations and production quality problems beset the whole British Leyland organisation, of which Daimler-Jaguar is a significant part.
The Arab-Israeli War causes fuel supply problems and steep rises in pump prices for motorists throughout the world and the realisation that oil is a finite resource. The OPEC organisation becomes more powerful. In Britain motorists queue for petrol and speeds are restricted to 50mph to conserve national stocks and consumption.
Ford opens Bordeaux plant to manufacture automatic transmissions.
Volksvagen ‘Beetle’ production beats the Model T’s record.
Chevrolet offers airbags in some models as a reaction to a rise in fatal car accidents in the USA.
Alfa Romeo introduce the Alfasud, a small family car featuring front wheel drive, a flat-four ‘boxer’ engine, nimble handling and a bonded-in windscreen. The car is made in a new purpose built plant near Naples in Southern Italy – ‘sud’ being Italian for South.
The Bertone-styled Maserati Khamsin is launched into a tough sales environment.
The first fruits of the GM ‘T Car’ project appear in Brasil, with the launch of the Chevrolet Chevette and in Germany with the Opel Kadett C. Although superficially different all T Cars share the same mechanical configuration and many significant components.
E. L. Cord dies
Gabriel Voisin, aeronautical pioneer, industrialist and car manufacturer dies.
The last of 11,916,519 VW ‘Beetles’ to be built at Wolfsburg, leaves the production line.
The VW Golf, a completely new water-cooled, front wheel drive model becomes and instant sales success and Karmann start production of the Scirocco sports coupe version. Both cars styled by Georgetto Guigaro.
Peugeot takes over Citroen to form PSA.
Plans for the Chevrolet Vega to be powered by the repeatedly delayed outcome of General Motors’ Wankel rotary engine project are abandoned and production continues with an alloy block/iron head 4 cylinder unit.
As a result of the previous year’s the fuel crisis, American sales of large-engined cars have slumped and manufacturers start to look at ways of improving fuel econonmy.
Ford begins research into the Stirling ‘hot air’ engine but having made considerable progress, as fuel prices drop back the urge to take the project all the way to production diminishes.
In spite of one million 127s leaving their production lines Fiat find themselves in deep financial difficulties.
The last E Type Jaguar leaves the Coventry factory.
The Douvrin-built PRV V6 engine appears for the first time in the Volvo 264 and soon after in the Peugeot 504 Coupé and Cabriolet models.
In an attempt to cut fatalities in the United States the maximum speed limit is reduced to 55 mph.
Production of the Ford Escort MK1comes to an end.
Ford introduce the Escort MK2 with a squarer body style.
In America VW launch the Golf as the Rabbit.
Rolls Royce unveil the Camargue with Italian styling by Pininfarina, hand- built on the Silver Shadow floor pan at their Mulliner Park Ward coach-building division. Priced at £29,250, it is the first car in the world to feature completely automatic split-level air conditioning and the first Rolls Royce to be designed in metric dimensions.
Porsche announce the 911 Carrera Turbo.
Chrysler UK, in financial difficulties is propped up by the British Government. The introduction of the French built Alpine brings in vital sales.
Volvo takes a majority shareholding in Holland’s DAF car and truck manufacturer.
The Douvrin-built PRV V6 is introduced in the Peugeot 604 and Renault 30 TS models.
Citroen replaces the DS21 with the CX which is voted European Car of the Year.
British Leyland, struggling against a tide of strikes and a poor reputation gets an injection of £200,000,000 from the UK Government.
Jaguar launch the XJS to replace the E type. Due to stringent American crash regulations earlier plans to include a roadster in the range have been dropped.
Lotus Cars start production of the new mid-engined Esprit and confirm their move up-market with front-engined Eclat.
All American cars now come with catalytic converters in the exhaust system in an effort to cut air polluting emissions.
Citroën pulls out of Maserati, leaving Alejandro De Tomaso and GEPI to come to the rescue a few months later.
VW introduce the Polo, the third of their ‘new generation’ cars.
The UK gets its own version of the GM T-Car, the Vauxhall Chevette. A unique aerodynamic ‘droop-snoot’ front-end, designed by Vauxhall Chief-Stylist, Wayne Cherry complements the neat hatch-back body tub.
Australia launches its version of the ‘T Car’, the Holden Gemini, in 4-door saloon (sedan) and stylish coupé versions.
The Chrysler Alpine voted European Car of the Year.
The Renault Alpine A310 sports-car is launched with a rear mounted PRV ‘Douvrin’ V6 engine.
Ford’s first front drive car, the Fiesta, announced.
The Golf GTi debuts at the Frankfurt International Motor Show establishing a new market sector later known as the ‘Hot Hatch’.
Rover launch the 3500 ‘SD1’ a roomy saloon with Ferrari Daytona inspired styling and the ex-Buick alloy V8 engine.
VW introduce a small diesel engine to the golf range.
Mercedes reveal the C111-3. Where its two predecessors had been powered by Wankel rotary engines, this one has a 5 cylinder turbo-charged/inter-cooled Diesel engine producing 180 bhp. At Nardo test track on June 12th, at an average speed of around 150mph, the C111-3 either establishes or brake a total of 16 world speed and endurance records, some of which pertained regardless of its engine type.the
Vauxhall’s ‘T Car’ Chevette appears in the UK as a 2 or 4 door saloon (sedan).
Michael Edwardes takes over the helm of the British Leyland conglomerate, together with its labour relations, production quality and public perception .
Volkswagen cease production of the ‘Beetle’ in Germany forty years after production began.
Rover’s 3500 ‘SD1’ wins the European Car of the Year award.
Merger plans between Swedish manufacturers Saab and Volvo are abandoned.
Production of the Wankel rotary engined NSU Ro80 comes to an end.
Porsche introduce 924 and 928 models, both featuring front-mounted water-cooled engines and rear transaxles. The 924 is an aborted VW project and thus contains a high percentage of WV parts-bin components, including the engine from the Transporter van. The V8 powered 928 is eventually intended to take over from the 911 and wins the European Car of The Year Award.
The Volvo DAF conglomerate slips into financial difficulties. The Dutch Government comes to the rescue with financial aid.
British Leyland shows substantial signs of recovery in the hands of Michael Edwardes but the company’s future is far from secure.
Toyo Kogyo launch the Mazda RX7, a two-seat sports coupe powered by a Wankel rotary engine.
Ford introduces the Fiesta, their first front-wheel-drive small family car. It is to be made at plants in England, Spain and Germany.
Rolls Royce Motor Company is sold to Vickers for £38m as part of the Rolls-Royce engineering group.
Rover begins collaboration with Honda.
Maserati Bora production comes to an end.
Simca- Matra complete the first model of new and practical concept in personal transportation. Based on a single-box van-like shape but with a car-like interior and comfortable flexible seating for up to seven people, the P17 concept is rejected by Talbot-Simca, prompting Matra to approach Renault and to develop the concept further in prototype P18. The MPV is on its way!
Rear wheel drive Escort Mk2 production comes to an end to make way for the new front-wheel-drive Escort Mk3.
Bitter strikes at British Leyland provoke chairman Sir Michael Edwardes to threaten "Return to work or lose your jobs."
Daimler-Jaguar division of British Leyland gets John Egan as its new Chairman. Egan sets about rebuilding pride in the quality of design and production, lost since British Leyland’s formation.
General Motors announces the launch of the Saturn project in the USA, with the intention of creating a new brand and new products from scratch.
John Z DeLorean, former General Motors high-flyer, launches the DMC-12, his stainless steel gull-wing dream car into a world of recession and high interest rates. Designed by Georgetto Guigaro, engineered by Lotus Cars and powered by the Douvrin PRV V6 engine it appears over-priced against stiff opposition and quality issues compound the problem.
Maserati launch the Biturbo range of coupes, spyders and saloons powered by twin-turbocharged all-alloy V6 engines.
Honda starts production at its first US factory.
Having built 8,563 DMC-12s, the DeLorean Motor Company’s factory in Northern Ireland goes into receivership and after a few months, the British government, DeLorean’s biggest creditor by far, issues orders to shut it down.
Anthony Colin Bruce Chapman dies suddenly aged 54, having grown Lotus into an extraordinarily successful Grand Prix team, a substantial low-volume sports car production specialist and an extremely reputable auto-engineering consultancy.
Lexus is announced as the name of Toyota’s new luxury brand in the USA and Europe, intended to allow them to overcome brand prejudice and compete head to head with the prestige European and American manufacturers.
Maserati end production of the Merak
Japanese manufacturer Toyo Kogyo changes its name to Mazda Motor Corporation.
Renault release the new Espace, the first MPV, designed, developed and built for them by Matra at their assembly plant in Romorontin, near Paris.
Chrysler buys AMC and takes over production of the Jeep range.
Founder of Jaguar, Sir William Lyons, dies as the company sees its reputation for quality and value return.
Volkswagen takes a 51% share in Spanish car makers SEAT.
The Ford Motor Company acquires a 75% shareholding in Aston Martin Lagonda.
The new Lincoln Continental is Ford’s first car with a six-cylinder engine and front-wheel drive.
Fiat acquires additional shares in Ferrari, taking its total shareholding to 90%.
Enzo Ferrari dies in Modena, aged 90.
British Aerospace buys Rover Group.
General Motors takes a 50% stake in Saab of Sweden.
General Motors introduces the Geo brand to market Suzuki, Isuzu, and Toyota models in the USA.
Lexus introduces its first model, the LS400.
Honda announces plans to establish European car production by expanding its existing manufacturing facilities at Swindon UK
Honda starts Civic production at its East Liberty, Ohio plant.
Ford takes over Jaguar Cars, promising to build on the unique identity and brand values of the Jaguar name.
Vickers Rolls Royce and BMW announce a joint venture company to build aero-engines – BMW Rolls-Royce GmbH.
Following Czech government approval, VW establishes a new partnership with Skoda.
The Dodge Viper is released with a steel chassis, a glass-fibre body and a 400 horsepower light-alloy V10 engine.
Maserati is bought outright by Fiat.
With development input from parent company Ford, Jaguar announces a vastly improved XJ6.
Sir David Brown, former owner of Aston-Martin Lagonda, dies aged 89.
Aston Martin introduce the DB7, with sleek, modern bodywork, strong six cylinder engines and Jaguar XJS underpinnings. Produced at a dedicated factory in Bloxham, near Banbury in Oxfordshire, it soon begins to achieve sales levels previously unheard of for any Aston Martin.
BMW buys Rover Cars from British Aerospace.
McLaren Cars, previously successful as Formula 1 racing car constructors, introduce the F1 sports supercar. Designed by Gordon Murray and Peter Stevens it features a BMW V12 engine, a top speed well in excess of 200 mph and a price in excess of £500,000.00.
The Ford Motor Company acquires the outstanding 25% interest Aston Martin Lagonda to gain complete control.
The Museum of Modern Art in New York places an early E-Type roadster on permanent display, only the third car to given this honour.
Jaguar introduces the V8 Powered XK8 as a replacement for the venerable XJS.
Vickers put Rolls-Royce Motor Cars up for sale to the highest bidder.
Ferrari takes control of Maserati, and closes the factory for a complete refit and modernisation.
VW announce the New Beetle. A modern stylised interpretation of the original, it shares its floor-pan and many mechanical components with the front-wheel drive Golf.
Rolls Royce is sold after an acrimonious bidding war between Volkswagen and BMW. The final outcome is that, while VW wins the production plant at Crewe and the Bentley brand name, BMW buys the rights to use the Rolls Royce name and announces its plan to develop a new generation of cars which will be built at its own British factory from 2003.
Chrysler and Daimler Benz merge to form Daimler-Chrysler. Initial indications are that the two businesses will remain autonomous.
Volvo sells its car-making division to Ford Motor Company but continues to manufacture trucks.
Aston Martin becomes part of Ford’s Premier Automotive Group joining Jaguar, Lincoln and Volvo, enabling it to call on a pool of expertise, financial and technical resources which would otherwise have been way beyond its reach.
Having invested considerably in the Rover Group and struggled unsuccessfully to make it pay, BMW withdraws and ‘sells’ Rover and MG to The Phoenix Group for a token £1.00. BMW retains the rights to brands Mini, Triumph, Riley and Land Rover, the last of which it then sells to Ford.
Under the ownership of BMW Rolls-Royce move production from Derby to a new, purpose built factory next to the old Grand Prix circuit at Goodwood, West Sussex.
BMW release the ‘NEW MINI’, a modern interpretation of the original Mini built at the former Morris Abingdon plant. Powered by a South-American built, Chrysler-sourced engine, it retains the original’s cheeky appeal and dynamic handling.
In the UK, a new Licence-plate numbering system is introduced.
Jaguar Cars introduce the X Type, based on an extended version of Ford’s European Mondeo floorpan with transverse engine and 4 wheel-drive.
Rolls Royce complete their new factory and commence production of the new Phantom, due for delivery to customers on the 1st January 2003.
Named after the company’s founder Enzo, Ferrari introduce the Enzo supercar. Made of carbonfibre and incorporating much else in the way of Formula 1 technology, its all-alloy, 660 bhp, V12 engine endows the Enzo with a top speed of 217.5 mph.
First customers for Rolls Royce’s New Phantom take delivery on 1st January as promised and world-wide deliveries commence.
Production of the ‘Beetle’ finally comes to an end at VW’s Puebla, plant in Mexico.
Matra’s production-line closes at Romorontin, following commercial failure of Renault’s Avantime and their decision to take Espace production in-house. Matra and its facilities are sold to Italian styling house and niche production specialists Pininfarina SpA, who rename the company Matra Automobile Engineering.
Peter Morgan, son of Morgan founder ‘HFS’ dies aged 84, leaving the business in the safe hands of his son Charles.
Now owned by Volkwagen, Bentley introduces their first all-new design. Based on VW’s large-car platform, the new Continental GT features a contemporary body (styled in-house), 4 wheel drive and an extensively re-engineered version of VW’s 6 litre W12 engine, twin-turbocharged to produce 552bhp.
Car production in the UK reaches its highest level in five years. Britain’s biennial motor show has its last event at the National Exhibition Centre before its move back to London.
More than 40 years after it was launched, the e-type Jaguar has a special exhibition devoted to it at London’s Design Museum.
Production begins on the Aston Martin Volante.
24 year old Russian multimillionaire Nikolas Smolensky purchased Blackpool based TVR for £15 million.
MG Rover -the last "traditional" British mid-sized car manufacturer goes into administration with the key assets finally being purchased by China based Nanjing Automobie Group. Thousands of jobs are lost although there is hope that small scale car manufacturing could return to the same Longbridge plant sometime in the future.
Elsewhere in the Midlands, production begins on the new Aston Martin Vantage.
Honda and the MINI brand continue to help the UK economy as both enjoy increased investment resulting in new jobs. Honda plans to add a further 700 people to its UK workforce, while the world-wide success of the MINI will result in a further 1200 jobs in manufacturing and assorted component industries.
Nissan announce that its new Qashqai car will be built at the company’s Sunderland plant, with the cars being exported across the globe, including Japan. The Qashqai is described as a crossover -effectively a passenger car with a sleek dynamic top half combined with SUV attributes of large pronounced wheel arches and slightly elevated ground clearance. In terms of its size its sits between C-segment hatchbacks and SUVs.
Lotus announces it is to produce a new mid-engined sports car which should be available in about two years time.
The 1½ millionth Honda Civic rolls of the production line at Bridgend.
TVR, the innovative Blackpool based specialist sports car company finally closes its doors after a long battle to remain in production. Owners, enthusiasts and employees meet up for a final celebration in Blackpool.
The British Motor Show returns to London after several decades in the West Midlands. The new venue is the Excel Centre on the banks of the River Thames and nearly 500,000 people attend.
The 30,000th Aston Martin is produced, while the Jaguar XK coupe wins Britain’s car of the year award and luxury car of the year awards.
The Bentley marque enjoys continued success under the parentage of Volkswagen and its newest model is the company’s fastest ever production car -the Bentley Continental GT Speed. It has a top speed of over 200 mph and can get from 0-60 mph in just 4.3 seconds. It is offered for sale in Britain at £137,500.
Manufacturers around the world put more effort and resources into designing and building more environmentally friendly vehicles as the price of oil increases and there is greater awareness of the damage that harmful pollutants are causing from traditional petrol based engined cars.
Britain’s young motor racing star Lewis Hamilton very nearly becomes the new world F1 motor racing champion in his first season -eventually being beaten in the final race. His success though reignites interest in motor sport around the world.
Ford accepts an offer by the rapidly expanding Tata Motors of India for the purchase of Land Rover and Jaguar. The Indian company say their aim is to ensure the cars will remain essentially British.
As the Model T celebrates its 100th anniversary, Ford also announces plans for a year long celebration of the iconic car around the world. One initiative is for a surviving car to be displayed in the "glass tank’ outside the Design Museum in London.
The new Roewe 550 is unveiled at the Shanghai Motor Show in China with the hope that the car may eventually be produced at the old MG Rover plant at Longbridge.
In the US, General Motors announces annual losses for 2007 of billion -the largest ever loss by a US car manufacturer and a further sign that many of the older established car makers are struggling to compete with the surge of production from Asia.
See – History of Motor Car / Automobile Inventions and Improvements
Image by rarebeasts
The BeatMaggot is a Picaxe based mini Beat maker. Sounds are entered one at a time in a 1 bar loop of 16 slots.
A YouTube video of the BeatMaggot in action: au.youtube.com/watch?v=U6k7agQtXTQ
The Picaxe used in this project is an 08M, and the four switches are connected via one of the A to D pins. The simple sounds can be easily changed by reprogramming the Picaxe.