This Month in Automotive History
Enzo Ferrari was born…Ford unleashes the Thunderbird…Leaded gasoline goes on sale…Here’s a look at these and other important automotive happenings occurring in the month of February.
February 2, 1923: Leaded Gasoline Goes On Sale
On this date seven years after GM technicians first discovered that gasoline mixed with Tetraethyl lead beneficially altered the fuel’s combustion rate, “leaded” gas first sold to the public at a roadside gas station in Dayton, Ohio.
February 5, 1952: Pedestrians Crossing
The first “Don’t Walk” sign is installed in New York City amid growing concern over the number of pedestrian fatalities resulting from overcrowding and proliferation of the automobile.
February 6, 1954: Mercedes Debuts Legendary 300SL
This date saw the release of the iconic Mercedes 300SL gull-wing coupe to the general public. Upon its debut, wealthy car collectors could be seen lining up to get their hands on the consumer version of the 300SL race car with its six-cylinder engine and maximum speed of 155 mph.
February 13, 1898: U.K.’s First Auto Fatality
Henry Lindfield of Brighton, England, died on this day after being involved in an automobile accident, becoming the first driving fatality in Great Britain.
February 18, 1898: Famous Birthday
Enzo Ferrari is born!
February 19, 1954: Rise of the Thunderbird
The automotive world saw the arrival of the prototype Ford Thunderbird. When it went on sale in the fall of the 1955 model year banner, customers could drive one off the lot for $2,944.
February 22, 1923: Chevrolet Milestone
Chevrolet saw the arrival of its 1,000,000th vehicle on this day in 1923. It took the company just under 12 years to produce over a million vehicles and they’ve been going strong ever since, creating a number of iconic makes over the years and finding favor with a number of collectors in the process.
February 27, 1948: Giving ‘em The Willys
The Federal Trade Commission issued a restraining order, preventing the Willys-Overland Company from representing that it had developed the Jeep. Willys-Overland did, in fact, end up producing the Army vehicle that would come to be known as the Jeep; but it was the Bantam Motor Company that first presented the innovative design to the Army.
February 28, 1932: Bye, Bye Model A
This day saw the true end of an era as Ford ceased production on its famed Model A in 1932. Due to its affordable price tag ($460 base price), relative ease of use and, compared to the Model T, upscale design, the Model A has long found favor with the motoring public. An American icon, it has stood the test of time and, through many restorations and modifications over the years, has proven itself a favorite among collectors and auto enthusiasts.