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Subject: ‘Cars’

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The best pictures from ‘The Graphic’, 63

Posted in Actors, Animals, Best pictures, Cars, Customs, English Literature, Historical articles, History, Religion, The Graphic, Theatre, Transport, Travel on Thursday, 12 November 2015

We have selected three of the best pictures from ‘The Graphic’, a nineteenth-century illustrated newspaper and rich source of remarkable engravings.
The first picture shows an early automobile creating dust for an open carriage.

car, picture, image, illustration

"The Dust Fiend", a Motor-Car in a Country Road by John Charlton

The second picture shows Charles Dickens playing Captain Bobadil in an amateur production of ‘Every Man in his Humour’ in the 1840s.

Dickens, picture, image, illustration

Charles Dickens as Captain Bobadil by C R Leslie

The third picture shows Hindu men walking on burning coals.

Hindu, picture, image, illustration

Sketches from the Mauritius, a Hindoo Religious Ceremony

High-resolution scans of all the illustrations from ‘The Graphic’ (London 1870-1902) can be found in the Look and Learn picture library.

The best pictures from ‘The Graphic’, 34

Posted in Animals, Architecture, Astronomy, Best pictures, Cars, Fashion, Historical articles, History, London, The Graphic, Theatre, Transport on Tuesday, 10 November 2015

We have selected three of the best pictures from ‘The Graphic’, a nineteenth-century illustrated newspaper and rich source of remarkable engravings.
The first picture shows a broken-down automobile being towed by a horse.

cars, picture, image, illustration

The Pleasures of Automobiling: An Ignominious journey by horse and broken down motor vehicle by W T Maud

The second picture shows a London theatre audience leaving after the play.

theatre, picture, image, illustration

After the play – under the Lyceum Portico

The third picture shows the lunar eclipse in Florence.

theatre, picture, image, illustration

The Eclipse of the Moon, 27 February 1877

High-resolution scans of all the illustrations from ‘The Graphic’ (London 1870-1902) can be found in the Look and Learn picture library.

The best pictures of champagne

Posted in Best pictures, Cars, Historical articles, History, Leisure on Saturday, 18 July 2015

The best pictures of champagne show some ingenious and imaginative uses of the champagne glass, bottle and cork.
The first picture shows a distinctive champagne cork popping impressively.

champagne, picture, image, illustration

Champagne Cork Popping

The second picture shows a woman astride a champagne bottle as the cork pops.

champagne, picture, image, illustration

Lady astride champagne bottle with popping cork

The third picture of champagne shows a man drinking champagne and driving dangerously, as the caption and skull on the car radiator make clear.

champagne, picture, image, illustration

The Pace That Kills – a postcard showing a car headed for accident

Many more pictures of champagne can be found at the Look and Learn picture library.

The best pictures of the Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand

Posted in Best pictures, Cars, Famous crimes, Famous news stories, Historical articles, History, War, Weapons, World War 1 on Tuesday, 7 July 2015

The best pictures of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, which triggered the outbreak of the Great War, show the anarchist’s attack from three different angles.
The first picture of Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s assassination shows the event as a close-up.

Assassination in Sarajevo, picture, image, illustration

The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand by Clive Uptton

The second picture shows the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand from a distance at the point of impact.

Assassination in Sarajevo, picture, image, illustration

The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand by Angus McBride

The third picture of Gavrilo Princip’s assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand depicts the physical momentum of car, assassin and fatal bullet as the Archduke slumps in his seat.

Assassination in Sarajevo, picture, image, illustration

The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand by Graham Coton

Many more pictures of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand can be found at the Look and Learn picture library.

Henry Ford invented the most popular machine in history

Posted in Cars, Engineering, Famous Inventors, Historical articles, History, Inventions, Transport on Thursday, 13 March 2014

This edited article about Henry Ford first appeared in Look and Learn issue number 588 published on 21 April 1973.

Henry Ford, picture, image, illustration

Henry Ford produced his first hand-built car in 1892 by Robins-Davidson-Howat

In the years between 1891 and 1896, the people of Bagley Avenue, Detroit, U.S.A., had got used to hearing strange noises from the woodshed behind one of the houses. If the light glowed far into the night as it often did, they merely muttered to themselves, “It’s only crazy Ford playing with his mad machine.”

Then at 4 a.m. one spring morning in 1896, Henry Ford impatiently knocked a large hole in one of the walls of the shed, and drove his first car out into the world. Later, he took his wife, Clara, and their baby son, Edsel, for a ride in front of their astonished neighbours, who could hardly believe their eyes when they saw what seemed to be a motorized four-wheeled bicycle. However, this was only the first of a whole series of cars that Henry Ford was destined to build and develop, culminating just over ten years later in his famous ‘Tin Lizzie.’ This was a car that was bought by more people than any earlier car.

Henry was 32 years old, and chief engineer at the Detroit Edison Company, when he first frightened the local horses with his spluttering, backfiring ‘horseless-carriage.’ Every spare minute outside his job was spent on his ‘crazy’ hobby. He had not, of course, built the first car in the world, for steam-driven vehicles had been used in Britain for fifty years. But he was one of the pioneers of the petrol-propelled vehicle.

Henry was born on a farm near Detroit on 30th July, 1863; and it seems as if he became addicted to machinery almost as soon as he came into the world. His father could never get him interested in ploughing or milking, and his school career was a failure because his mind was always on cogs and pistons.

As a boy he spent a lot of time mending broken machinery in the area, as well as building water-wheels and steam turbines. He often occupied himself in the evenings by riding around the neighbouring farms, repairing clocks and watches. Eventually, when he was sixteen, he left the farm and went to Detroit, where he became an apprentice in a machine shop that made steam engines. At last, he was in the environment he loved, and he happily worked out his apprenticeship and then got a job repairing road engines for a firm in Detroit.

However his father was still anxious to get him back to farming and he offered Henry forty acres of land if he came and worked it. Henry tried it, but he did not enjoy it. He stayed at home long enough to court Clara Bryant and marry her, but he seemed to spend more time building petrol engines than he did farming. By 1891, he was back in Detroit, again burning the midnight oil in his woodshed on Bagley Avenue. He did not want to be distracted from his obsession with motor cars and his dreams of giving ordinary ‘plain folk,’ like himself, the opportunity of enjoying the fruits of technology. For in the eighteen-nineties, the motor car was a luxury which only the rich, very rich could afford, and that was something Henry wanted to change.

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The Edwardians raced through the country in their new motor-cars

Posted in Cars, Historical articles, History, Leisure, Transport, Travel on Friday, 7 March 2014

This edited article about the Edwardians first appeared in Look and Learn issue number 583 published on 17 March 1973.

Edwardian charabanc,  picture, image, illustration

A noisy new motor car frightening villagers and their horses by Richard Hook

It has been said that the Victorians made the money, and the Edwardians spent it! A new phrase to describe the young Edwardian descendants of their manufacturing forefathers was “the idle rich”. And idle a great many of them were; inheritors of huge fortunes which it was their pleasure to spend on all the wonders of the new age, and on one wonder in particular – the motor-car, the “horseless carriage”, a new-fangled monster which quite serious thinkers at the turn of the century condemned as a passing craze which would soon appear only in museums and would never displace the horse.

It was in a Daimler that the King made history by driving from Sandringham to Newmarket in Suffolk to enjoy a day’s horse racing. At 30 miles-an-hour the Monarch, followed by a cloud of dust, came speeding through the main street of Downham to the dusty cheers of his loyal subjects. The legal speed limit was then twelve miles an hour, but no Norfolk bobby would flag down his king.

Edward was always in the forefront of the merriest forms of progress. Before the advent of the “horseless-carriage” he followed – rather than set – the craze for the bicycle. Thanks to the inflatable tyre devised by a Belfast vet named Boyd Dunlop the bicycle became the thing, and there went Edward, knickerbockered, upon his own machine.

Late Victorian England regarded the new-fangled motor-car with the greatest distrust. It lacked elegance, it gave forth a vile smell, and it was a menace to chickens and old ladies who were often drawn by cartoonists of the time toddling away in terror at the approach of a Benz, a Darracq or a Daimler.

In 1896, the Red Flag Act, which had required a man with a red flag to walk in front of every motor car and warn people of its approach, was repealed. To celebrate the event 33 motorists set off on a drive from London to Brighton, some steam-propelled, the majority petrol-driven, and most of them “foreigners”. The manufacturers of these Mercedes’s, Darracqs, Delauney-Bellevilles, Benz’s and Daimlers, having had no “Red Flag Act” to contend with, had the edge over the early British ‘motormakers’, such as a Mr Morris of Oxford and a Mr Austin of Birmingham. Of the 33 starters only thirteen made the grade, but they had started something – the annual London-Brighton run for veteran cars. Five years later, in 1901, 65 cars assembled in London’s Hyde Park to start a gruelling 1,000 mile test course to prove the merits of petrol versus steam, horizontal versus vertical engines, the two cylinders versus four, air versus water, cooling belt transmission versus chain and sprocket drive.

The test run was a national sensation. Scarcely a road in the country was other than a dust-track in the summer and a mud-bath in the winter. The early motorist was scarcely a popular figure as he trundled through the countryside raising behind him a dust cloud 20 feet high and a mile long. In tweed hats with ear-flaps, heavy goggles (because there were no windscreens) and long “dust-coats” these gentry are portrayed as “road-hogs”, terrorising the chickens which fled squawking before them, frightening villagers and, above all, raising panic among horses. They outraged the “carriage-folk” whose age of elegance was under threat and whose coachmen whenever they had the chance lashed out with their whips across the faces of any motorist rash enough to pass close to them.

But there was no doubt about it – the motor-car had arrived. In 1904 nearly 9,000 private vehicles were on the roads. Ten years later the figure had risen to 132,000. 1903 was the year when, for the fee of £1, the motorist was required to register his diabolical machine and to pay a further two guineas for a licence to possess such a thing. A driving licence cost five-shillings, though whether a man or a woman was able to drive did not concern the authorities. The early cars, of course, were eternally breaking down, likewise the first motor-buses. These, especially in London, were greeted with hatred and derision by the drivers of the horse-drawn buses.

In 1905, there were still 4,000 four-wheeler horse cabs plying for hire. In London alone there were 3,500 horse-buses and 7,000 hansom cabs, those superbly elegant carriages made for two which had been described as the “gondolas” of London. But then came 240 motor-buses to revolutionise public transport and the petrol-driven taxi, which made its first appearance in that year. By 1910, the year of the King’s death, there were over 6,000 of them.

A year later the very last horse-bus to clip-clop through the London streets had disappeared.

It was fairly early in Edward’s reign when motor-cars of English manufacture began to push the Continentals out of supremacy. The Austin, the Morris, the Arrol-Johnson, the Swift, the Humber, the Napier, and, mightiest of them all, the Rolls-Royce reigned supreme. The moment when the Honourable C. S. Rolls, an intrepid racing driver and car-dealer, met a meticulous engineer from Manchester named Henry Royce, was, in its way, the greatest moment in the history of the motor-car. Already Henry Royce had been manufacturing small, twin-cylinder cars of ten horse-power. The “little Royce” was extremely popular. But Rolls, the intuitive sales and publicity man, knew a genius when he saw one. Royce would make the best car in the world, and Rolls would sell it as just that. “The Best Car in the World” was, and still is, the simple slogan under which Rolls-Royce have traded, almost unchallenged, for some 65 years.

And what a sensation it was, this “Silver Ghost”, which appeared at the Paris Motor-Show of 1908. The long, sleek bonnet with its distinctive radiator, the almost silent 40 horse-power, six-cylinder engine beneath it, the gleaming coachwork. The entire car had an overall air of confident good breeding.

The great Montague Napier whose six-cylinder car had already beaten the cream of the Continentals, could not equal Henry Royce’s masterpiece, even though it had already averaged 65 mph for 24 hours over the first motor-racing circuit in Britain – Brooklands.

“British and Best” was the war-cry of the Edwardian motor-makers. Not only did they prove it with cars by Royce, Napier and Lanchester, but in the eccentric “drive it to death” stunt of tyre-maker Harvey du Cros. In 1904 he drove his little Ariel car up the track of the mountain railway to the top of Snowdon, the last half-a-mile of it being a gradient of one in five. There on the summit, stood the Ariel, seeming to say to the world: “That’ll show you.”

Henry Segrave broke the speed record in his Sunbeam ‘Slug’

Posted in Cars, Famous news stories, Historical articles, History, Sport, Sporting Heroes on Thursday, 27 February 2014

This edited article about motor racing first appeared in Look and Learn issue number 573 published on 6 January 1973.

Henry Segrave,  picture, image, illustration

Henry Segrave was the first man to break the 200mph barrier

“No car will ever reach 200 mph!”

That was a widely held belief in 1927. It was quite clear to so-called experts that wind resistance at that speed would make it impossible, even supposing tyres could stand up to the terrific strain imposed on them.

Two men at least thought differently, the Sunbeam’s chief designer, Louis Herve Coatalen, a mechanical genius who was also a great craftsman, and Henry Segrave – Henry O’Neal de Hane Segrave – an American-born adventurer, whose parents were Irish, and who had served Britain in the 1914-18 War, reaching the rank of major.

As Segrave sailed the Atlantic to race at Daytona Beach, Florida, his mind was doubtless on the job in hand, yet it must have also strayed to a very recent tragedy, the horrible death of another racing champion, J. G. Parry Thomas, a Briton like Segrave.

Thomas had got the land speed record up to 171.02 mph in April 1926, but the following March his car skidded at high speed and burst into flames. The off-side driving chain – not unlike a bicycle chain – had snapped and literally cut his head off. Only the valiant take up motor racing. It has always been so and it will always be so.

The Segrave racing story, which was to reach its climax in a knighthood for the driver, then a tragic death after winning a water, not a land, record, had begun seven years before that voyage to America in early 1927. Born in 1896, he was driving a 4 ½ litre Opel in 1920 on the famous Brooklands track, winning several times in his first racing season, and the next year his career really began when he became a member of the Sunbeam-Talbot-Darracq racing team. He had the right blend of dare devilry and technical knowhow without which a racing driver cannot succeed. And, on top of everything, he had the will to win.

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Flying cars can cause dangerous problems in a Grand Prix

Posted in Cars, Engineering, Historical articles, Sport, Sporting Heroes on Wednesday, 26 February 2014

This edited article about motor racing first appeared in Look and Learn issue number 569 published on 9 December 1972.

Grand Prix Problems,  picture, image, illustration

Wings were attached to cars in 1969 to improve road handling, but the wing on Graham Hill's car collapsed in the 1969 Grand Prix, and he crashed; Jochen Rindt, with a similar fault, struck Hill's car, by Graham Coton

Every motor race is a succession of heart-stopping thrills for the fans at the track sides as one breathtaking escapade follows another. Cars gyrate, find their true course and tear off for the next dangerous manoeuvre, only to skid or even soar into flight after hitting a bump in the road. Sometimes they flounder helplessly if a wheel spins away from its mounting.

Simultaneously, the drivers caught up in these risky mishaps are fighting fluttering hearts and rising temperatures as they struggle to master their fractious mounts. Every machine, every component, every strip of metal has its breaking point. And in the desperate striving for victory, the cars are driven daringly close to the point of disaster.

Even drivers who began their careers as mechanics and know exactly what they can ask of their car, are tempted to push the vehicle too hard in the excitement of the competitive atmosphere.

It was a temptation which Graham Hill encountered before he became the world’s champion driver for the first time in 1962 – he won the title again in 1968 – and it occurred during one of his first Grand Prix races. He found that during his first experience of the Belgian circuit, he was scared stiff when his car reached its greatest speed on the straight. As it went faster and faster, the road seemed to be getting narrower, and the margin of safety became minute.

Luckily, Hill had the sense to slacken speed and to go into the pits to think things over. Then, he went back to the track to do a few more laps. But this time, he was the car’s master and the speed worried him far less.

Of course, Hill had his share of trouble, but usually these were caused by unpredictable mechanical faults. These have varied from leaking brake fluid to a collapsed tyre. A worn tyre which went flat once sent his car sliding out of control at speed. The crash which followed broke one of his legs, dislocated another and put him out of racing for many months.

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Mac the tyre-kIng – best of the race track backroom boys

Posted in Cars, Historical articles, History, Sport, Sporting Heroes on Tuesday, 25 February 2014

This edited article about motor racing first appeared in Look and Learn issue number 568 published on 2 December 1972.

D-type Jaguar forced off track,  picture, image, illustration

The D-type might have won, but for the fact that it was forced off the road by a French Talbot by Graham Coton

Row and rows of black tyres ranged on racks practically fill the building. Before them, at a long bench, tyre wrenches in their hands, stand a mechanic and his assistants.

They are waiting, tensed, butterflies fluttering in their stomachs, while all around them they can hear the roar and feel the ground-thundering rumble of cars shooting around the track, during a practice session at one of the world’s big racing circuits.

At intervals, a car screeches with a spluttering exhaust into the servicing area in which the tyre depot is situated.

While other mechanics are filling its tank with petrol, checking its oil and cleaning the windscreen, the tyre team is already jacking up the vehicle. In seconds, they have the wheels off, and new ones in their places, with fresh tyres inflated to the right pressure. The whole job has taken two minutes flat, and with an adjustment of his goggles, the driver is off.

The old tyres are given a swift check over for wear, and then the men stand ready for their next quick change job.

Behind every speed ace there is a squad of backroom boys like these, and one of the most famous was David McDonald who headed tyre-changing teams at practically all of the major race tracks over a period of fifty years.

His career began in the days when only the wealthy could afford to become racing drivers, when a car which cost thousands of pounds could be smashed in its first race. If that happened, McDonald, whom all his friends called Mac, was among the first at the scene, wondering if the tyres were responsible.

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Ford v Ferrari was a million dollar contest which Ford would win

Posted in America, Cars, Historical articles, History, Sport on Tuesday, 25 February 2014

This edited article about motor racing first appeared in Look and Learn issue number 567 published on 25 November 1972.

 Le Mans 1967,  picture, image, illustration

The Le Mans 24 hour race in 1967 in which three Fords crashed, by Graham Coton

Executives sitting around a big table in the board room of the Ford Motor Company in America shuffled the folders of reports and statements before them.

Charles H. Patterson, Executive Vice President, had listened carefully while his executives had given their usual buoyant reports on the company’s progress.

Then he stood up.

“Gentlemen,” he said. “We all know we are in business to sell automobiles, not to win races. But that chequered flag is more exciting than a sales report.”

If anybody needed to have the message spelt out, it was that Fords were going into international motor racing in a big way.

As Patterson said, “Nothing does more to sell a vehicle than respect and enthusiasm for it, and we believe that nothing generates enthusiasm for a car faster than winning in flat-out competition.”

Fords do not believe in thinking small. If they were going into motor racing, they were going to start at the top. They had the dollars to buy the best racing concern in the business, and the best at that time was a specialist firm in Italy employing only 450 people to turn out craftsman-made sports cars and Grand Prix cars that had scored an incredible number of wins.

Its name was Ferrari – and Ford wanted to buy Ferrari. Ferrari’s “No” to the big, multi-million dollar American concern was the signal for the start of a mighty battle on the racing tracks between Ferrari and Ford, that was to take Ford three years and the expenditure of several million dollars to win.

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