Auto Factoids for the Week of April 23, 2017
April 25, 1970 – First Mazda in the US
I remember seeing the first Mazda cars in the U.S. I was 12 or 13 and I recall thinking – Why? We still had the big 60’s cars and really didn’t see a need for the small cars. The first rounds fo the Japanese imports were well thought of, perhaps unfairly and reliability was an issue. But the Mazda has come a long way. I remember back in 1989-90 when the Mazda Miata (MX-5). It was a “girls” car (so I thought…don’t judgement) and dealerships were charging quite a bit over invoice and getting that price, at least out in California. But have things changed. See the times they put down in SCCA events and even at my local SCCA chapter where I run my Corvette, I don’t think less of this generation of Mazda.
The car had some ‘socialization’ issues and it took a few years to get a good network of dealerships in the U.S. However, by the mid 1970’s Mazda’s were emission compliant and figured out how to get 90 hp out of just 70 cubic inches.
April 28, 1916 – Ferruccio Lamborghini born in Renazzo di Cento, Italy.
Renazzo isn’t far from Modena, Italy, which is ‘Mecca’ for Italian cars. Ferruccio’s family were grape farmers and didn’t just jump in to designing cars, but started out in the tractor business Lamorghini Trattori. Then he started an oil heater factory that turned into an air conditioning factory. In fact he didn’t start Automobili Lamborghini until 1963. It’s a shame those car never caught on!!
Note: It takes me a couple of days to put these together – not working straight though, mind you – as I was getting ready to finish this up I ran across an article May 2017 edition of Hemmings Motor News (my personal favorite automotive magazine publisher) on the 1959 Lamborghini DAL 35 Super Tractor. The company is now part of SDF and they also sell other band name tractors like SAME, Dutz-Fahr and a couple of others. According the Hemmings article they use the Lamborghini Bull logo.
April 28, 1953 – Kaiser-Frazer buys Willys.
Kaiser-Frazer car production was a mixed bag in the 1950’s. Some typical 50’s cars were produced and some exciting like the Henry J and the Kaiser Roadster of 1954 and the Kaiser Darrin. The Frazer name had faded away by then and Kaiser purchased Willys for $63,381,175 and formed the Kaiser Willys Corporation. They exited the passenger car market to focus on utility vehicles, including the Areo-Willys. Kaiser took their business overseas to Argentina, Israel, Netherlands and continued make utility vehicles until 1962. By 1963 the company was called the Kaiser Jeep Corporation and was sold to American Motors in 1970.
April 29, 1959 – Ford builds 50,000,000 car.
That car was a 1959 Ford Galaxie that came out of the Dearborn factory. It was a white 4 door sedan with the 292, engine. It was actually a Ford Fairlane 500 Galaxie and the first time Galaxie was used on a Ford car. Fast forward – but not too far – and the Fairlanes, Fairlanes 500, and the Galaxies were to become monster muscle machines in the mid to late 60’s!!!
Thanks for reading. Stay tuned for another episode for Average Guy’s Car talk.