Totally random yet generally interesting facts and automotive trivia.
What was the first car ever built in Alaska?
Built by an 18-year-old from Skagway, the 1905 Sheldon Runabout featured a single-cylinder, 3.5 horsepower marine engine, a wheel base of 41 inches, and a top speed of 15 miles per hour. According to legend, young Robert Sheldon had never seen a real car and was trying to win the attention of a young lady when he built his famous auto using only diagrams and magazine pictures. Although Sheldon and the lady never married, he went on to become a legend in Alaskan automotive history. His car is currently on loan at the Fountainhead Automotive Museum.
What European performance car manufacturer started out building tractors?
After serving as a mechanic in the Regia Aeronautica during World War II, Ferruccio Lamborghini went into business building tractors out of leftover military hardware from the war effort. By the mid-1950s, Lamborghini’s tractor company, Lamborghini Trattori had become one of the largest agricultural equipment manufacturers in the country.
Who created the first inflatable tire?
In 1846, Robert William Thompson was only 23 years old when he patented the world’s first pneumatic tire. His tire consisted of an elastic belt of rubberized canvas enclosed within a strong outer casing of leather, which was bolted to the wheel. Thomson’s “Aerial Wheels” were demonstrated in London’s Regents Park in 1847 and were fitted to several horse-drawn carriages, greatly improving the comfort of travel and reducing noise. One set reportedly ran for 1,200 miles on an English brougham without sign of deterioration.
Why are Harley-Davidson motorcycles called “hogs”?
The term “hog” traces its roots back to the early Midwest where a team of Harley riding farm boys began to consistently win Class A motorcycles races in the 1920s. The group had a live hog as their mascot and, according to legend, would put the hog on their Harley and take a victory lap every win. In 1983, Harley-Davidson formed a club for owners of its product taking advantage of the long-standing nickname by turning “hog” into the acronym HOG (Harley Owners Group). The company attempted to trademark “hog”, but lost the case when the court ruled that “hog” had become a generic term for large motorcycles and was therefore not protectable as a trademark.