First Saturday In March

Most Saturdays this blog gets a little boost in readership as, apparently, some people still don’t realize that Cristy Lee is no longer part of All Girls Garage, which airs on Saturday. Where Is Cristy Lee? has accounted for almost two percent of all blog views so far in 2021. Of course, that’s only about half the proportion compared to 2020. Anyway, here is a recent photo of the aforementioned Ms. Lee:



On this day in 1896 inventor, engineer and polymath Charles Brady King became the first person to drive a car in Detroit. King designed and built the automobile becoming the father, in a way, of the evolution of Detroit into “Motor City.”

The Detroit Journal interviewed King afterwards and he made a prescient comment:


“I am convinced they [horseless carriages] will in time supersede the horse.”


King would be a mentor to Henry Ford and Ransom Eli Olds. King would later go to Europe for two years to study automotive design. When he returned he founded the King Motor Car Company in 1911, which was, apparently, the first company to offer a V-8 engine. Company production reached 3,000 for model year 1916, but was severely affected by the post World War I recession. From 1912 through 1918, inclusive, King produced almost 15,000 cars.

Early in 1921, the assets of the company were sold to Charles Finnegan of Buffalo and the company headquarters were moved there in 1923. However, the company filed for bankruptcy in 1924. From The Beaulieu Encyclopedia of the Automobile a picture of a 1912 King:



I think only the most knowledgeable of automotive historians are aware of King and his contributions to the industry. I was only vaguely aware of him until today and, I guess, don’t really know that much about him even now.


On this day in 2017 General Motors’ intention to sell its European Opel/Vauxhall subsidiary to PSA Automotive became official. General Motors acquired a majority stake in Opel (a German company) in 1929 and gained full control in 1931. Vauxhall (a British company) was acquired by GM in 1925.

Maybe I missed the coverage, but this is a big story in the history of the automobile industry that seemed to go relatively unnoticed. The sale basically represented GM’s “raising the white flag of surrender” in terms of Europe. Ironically, PSA Automotive very recently completed its merger with Fiat-Chrysler forming a new company called Stellantis. Of course, from 2001 through 2016 General Motors’ European operations lost money every year with a total deficit of more than $15 billion.

The two transactions by PSA Automotive supposedly signal an intention to return to the North American vehicle market. Peugeot and Citroën are part of PSA and neither make has been sold in the US for decades. Of course, Stellantis now “owns” the Dodge, Chrysler and Jeep brands as well as Alfa Romeo and Maserati. Maybe Peugeot and Citroën will not be brought back to this market. Citroën has a history of being an innovator in the automobile industry.

Does anyone have any comments on these transactions, Stellantis or any related topic?









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