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Milestones in Motoring Timeline

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  • 1769 First powered road vehicle.

    The 1769 Cugnot Steam Car.
    First powered road vehicle.

    Nicholas Cugnot (1725 – 1804) designs a steam truck to transport cannon for the French Army. Built and tested at Paris Arsenal. It is capable of 2.5mph/4.02kph.

  • 1771 First motor accident.

    First motor accident.

    Nicholas Cugnot builds his second steam vehicle. Built and tested at Paris Arsenal, it carries 4 tons. Apparently it crashes into a stone wall, so can be considered the world’s first motor accident!

  • 1800 background

  • 1801 First motorised passenger-carrying vehicle.

    The 2001-built replica of Trevithick's Puffing Devil.
    First motorised passenger-carrying vehicle.

    Cornish engineer, Richard Trevithick (1771–1833) builds the first motorised passenger-carrying vehicle. The Camborne Road Locomotive or Puffing Devil can carry up to eight passengers.

  • 1803 The London Steam Carriage.

    The 1803 London Steam Carriage.
    The London Steam Carriage.

    Richard Trevithick and Andrew Vivian design and patent the London Steam Carriage. It is built in Cornwall and fitted with a carriage body in London, and can travel at 10mph/16.09kph. Unfortunately no financial backers can be found and the carriage is dismantled in 1804.

  • 1824 Four wheel drive steam coach.

    Four wheel drive steam coach.

    Timothy Burstall and John Hill build a four wheel drive steam coach. It reputedly weighs over 7 tons and has a maximum speed of 4mph/6.44kph.

  • 1826 First gas engine used to propel a road vehicle.

    First gas engine used to propel a road vehicle.

    Samuel Brown of Brompton adapts one of his patented gas vacuum engines to propel a road vehicle. The engine was fuelled by coal gas.

  • 1840 First mechanical vehicle to travel more than 100 miles (160 kilometres).

    First mechanical vehicle to travel more than 100 miles (160 kilometres).

    A steam carriage built by Francis Hill travels from London to Hastings and back, without breaking down. The first time a mechanical road vehicle travels more than 100 miles (160 kilomotres).

  • 1846 Patent for the pneumatic tyre.

    Patent for the pneumatic tyre.

    Scottish inventor Robert Thompson obtains patents for pneumatic tyres.

  • 1860 First two-stroke gas engine.

    1862 Lenoir vehicle.
    First two-stroke gas engine.

    Belgian Etienne Lenoir patents the first two-stroke gas engine. In 1862 he fits one to a vehicle and travels at 2mph/3.22kph.

  • 1860 background

  • 1865 The Red Flag Act.

    Hero, the first traction engine built by Taskers of Andover, seen heading for Southampton in May/June 1869.
    The Red Flag Act.

    The Locomotives on Highways Act (usually referred to as the ‘Red Flag Act’) comes into effect. Intended to impose regulations upon heavy steam traction engines. It stipulates that every road locomotive must be attended by three people; one to steer, one to stoke the firebox and one to walk 60 yards (55 metres) in front with a red flag to warn other road users. Maximum permitted speed is 4mph/6.4kph in the country and 2mph/3.22kph in towns.

  • 1877 First practical four-stroke engine.

    The Otto Cycle engine.
    First practical four-stroke engine.

    The Otto & Langen Company of Deutz, Germany patents the first practical four-stroke engine. It is the basis for the majority of modern car engines. Gottleib Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach are amongst the engineers working for the company.

  • 1878 Highways and Locomotives (Amendment) Act.

    Highways and Locomotives (Amendment) Act.

    The Highways and Locomotives (Amendment) Act comes into force. The requirements of the 1865 Red Flag Act are relaxed slightly. Strictly speaking the red flag no longer needs to be carried and the third person only needs to be 20 yards/18 metres in front of the vehicle.

  • 1883 First petrol-driven road vehicle.

    First petrol-driven road vehicle.

    Edouard Delamare-Deboutville builds the first petrol-driven road vehicle. The engine, a stationary gas engine modified to run on petrol, proves to be too powerful for the vehicle which soon collapses.

  • 1883 background

  • 1885 Invention of the motor car.

    1885 Benz 3½ hp Comfortable three-wheeler.
    Invention of the motor car.

    Karl Benz of Mannheim, builds a two seat tricycle powered by a four-stroke gas engine. Because of this success Benz is usually credited as the inventor of the car in the winter of 1885–1886.

  • First touring caravan

    1885 First touring caravan.

    First touring caravan
    The Wanderer touring caravan.
    First touring caravan.

    The first leisure touring caravan, The Wanderer, is commissioned by author and sailor Dr William Gordon Stables. Built by the Bristol Wagon Works Company, its first horse-drawn tour is taken from Twyford in Berkshire to Inverness in Scotland.

  • 1886 First four wheel, four-stroke petrol car.

    1886 Canstatt Daimler.
    First four wheel, four-stroke petrol car.

    Gottleib Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach build the first four-wheeled, four–stroke, petrol-engined car. It becomes known as the Canstatt Daimler.

  • 1887 First practical electric car.

    1887 Volk electric carriage.
    First practical electric car.

    Magnus Volk of Brighton builds the first practical electric carriage. The three wheeled dog-cart has a 0.5hp electric motor by Acme & Immisch of London. It is supposedly capable of 9mph/14.48kph on a level road. Volk builds a second electric vehicle for Sultan Abdul Hamid II of Turkey in 1895.

  • 1888 First motor vehicle dealership.

    First motor vehicle dealership.

    Karl Benz appoints Emile Roger of Paris as an agent for his vehicles, thereby creating the first motor vehicle dealership.

  • 1888 background

  • 1888 First production car.

    First production car.

    Benz begins selling production versions of the Model 3 Patent Motorwagen to the public.

  • 1889 Dunlop pneumatic tyres.

    John Dunlop's son on a tricycle with the first pneumatic tyres.
    Dunlop pneumatic tyres.

    John Boyd Dunlop obtains a British patent for pneumatic bicycle tyres. It is later proven that Robert Thompson preceded Dunlop with this patent.

  • 1892 background

  • 1893 Benz's first four wheel design.

    Benz's first four wheel design.

    Carl Benz introduces a more advanced design, the four wheeled Viktoria. It has a 1745cc engine developing 3hp. By 1898 the engine size had increased progressivley to 2925cc.

  • 1894 Conventional vehicle layout.

    1895 Panhard-Levassor.
    Conventional vehicle layout.

    Emile Levassor designs the Systeme Panhard.This front engine, rear wheel drive with clutch and gearbox layout will remain the norm in car design for the next seventy years.

  • 1894 background

  • 1894 The Benz Velo.

    The Benz Velo.

    Benz & Cie follow up earlier production vehicles with the lightweight Velo (short for Velocipede). The 1045cc engine develops 1.5hp rising to 3hp by the time the model ceases production in 1900. The Velo heralds a new period of growth for the company, production rising from 129 cars in 1896 to more 600 by 1900.

  • 1895 British pioneers.

    John Henry Knight standing by his four wheel Knight Car in 1896. This vehicle is in The National Motor Museum Collection.
    British pioneers.

    John Henry Knight of Farnham, Surrey, builds a petrol-engined tricar. The vehicle is rebuilt to run on four wheels in 1896. George and Frederick Lanchester also build a four-wheeled, petrol-engined car in Birmingham, England.

  • 1895 The first motor show.

    George Bouton on a De Dion Bouton tricycle at the first motor show, Tunbridge Wells 1895.
    The first motor show.

    Sir David Salomons organises the first exhibition of motor cars at Tunbridge Wells, Kent on 15 October. The five vehicles demonstrated to the public were a De-Dion Tricycle, a Peugeot, a Panhard-Levassor, a Daimler fire engine and a De Dion steam vehicle.

  • 1895 First true motor race.

    Roger car in 1895 Paris–Bordeaux–Paris race.
    First true motor race.

    The Paris–Bordeaux–Paris is the first true motor race. The winner, Emile Lavassor driving a Panhard-Levassor, completes the 732 miles (305.76 kilometres) in 48 hours 48 minutes.

  • 1895 The Autocar.

    The Autocar.

    The weekly motoring journal The Autocar is launched in November. It remains in print today as Autocar.

  • 1896 Emancipation Act.

    Cars at the finish of the 1896 Emancipation Run from London to Brighton.
    Emancipation Act.

    The Light Locomotives on Highways Act (Emancipation Act) introduces a new upper speed limit of 12mph/19.31kph (14mph/22.53kph was originally stipulated) and does away with the restrictions imposed on all mechanical road vehicles by the Red Flag Act. Motorists celebrate by organising the Emancipation Run from London to Brighton on 14 November.

  • 1896 Petrol


    The term petrol is first used in 1896. It is patented by Messrs Carless, Capel & Leonard of Hackney Wick, London.

  • 1897 First front wheel drive.

    First front wheel drive.

    The Graf-und-Stift from Austria is first car to use front wheel drive.

  • 1897 background

  • 1898 The honeycomb radiator.

    A Mercedes honeycomb radiator.
    The honeycomb radiator.

    Wilhelm Maybach designs the honeycomb radiator. It eventually becomes virtually standard on water cooled vehicles.

  • 1898 First Land Speed Record.

    The Jeantaud electric car that set the first World Land Speed Record. Pictured before being rebuilt with a more streamlined body for Chasseloup-Laubat's third record in March 1899.
    First Land Speed Record.

    Comte Gaston de Chasseloup-Laubat sets the first Land Speed Record in a Jeantaud electric reaching 39.24mph/63.14kph on18 December at Achères. Perhaps not that exciting when contemporary trains were already capable of speeds greater than 80mph/128.75kph!

  • 1899 Independent front suspension.

    1899 Decauville pictured at Brighton during the 1960s.
    Independent front suspension.

    Decauville of France introduces an independent front suspension system.

  • 1899 John Scott Montagu – a motoring pioneer.

    John Scott Montagu – a motoring pioneer.

    John Scott Montagu MP (later 2nd Baron Montagu of Beaulieu) drives his recently acquired 12hp Daimler into the Palace Yard at Westminster. It is the first motor vehicle to enter the grounds of the Houses of Parliament. In September he competes with the car in the Paris–Ostend race, finishing third in the touring car class. It was the first time that British competitors had taken part in a continental road race and the first prize ever awarded to a British driver in a British built car.

  • 1900 Thousand Mile Trial.

    Thousand Mile Trial 1900. From left: Lord John Scott Montagu's 12hp Daimler, S.F. Edge's 8hp Napier, Frank Hedges Butler's Panhard. The 1899 12hp Daimler is in The National Motor Museum Collection.
    Thousand Mile Trial.

    The Automobile Club of Great Britain & Ireland stages the Thousand Mile Trial between 23 April and 12 May. The trial (slightly under 1000 miles (1609 kilometres) in length!) is intended to demonstrate the motor car to a sceptical British public. 65 cars driven by many of the leading motorists of the day enter, following a route starting in London and taking in Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh, Newcastle and Sheffield before returning south.

  • 1900 The Gordon Bennett Cup.

    This Benz is Germany's entry for the 1900 Gordon Bennett race.
    The Gordon Bennett Cup.

    The first Gordon Bennett Cup race between teams representing different countries is staged. The German car's driver, Eugen Benz, refuses to start the race claiming he has not been given enough notice nor had time to fix his tyres! The winner of the 353 mile (568.10 kilometre) Paris–Lyon race is Charron driving a Panhard.

    In subsequent years, events are held in France, Ireland and Germany.

  • 1901 Grand Prix.

    Grand Prix.

    First motor race to be labelled as a Grand Prix is staged at Pau in France. The 206 mile (331.52 kilometre) race is won by Farman driving a Panhard.

  • 1901 The Second Gordon Bennett Race.

    The Second Gordon Bennett Race.

    The Gordon Bennett Cup race this year is staged between Paris and Bordeaux. The event is won by Girardot in a Panhard, covering the 327 miles (526.26 kilometres) in 8 hours 50 minutes.

  • 1902 A Gordon Bennett win for Britain.

    S.F. Edge's Napier in the 1902 Gordon Bennett Cup race.
    A Gordon Bennett win for Britain.

    The third Gordon Bennett Cup race is held between Paris and Innsbruck. S.F. Edge wins the 351 mile (564.88 kilometre) race driving a Napier in a time of 11 hours 2 minutes. His victory means the next race will be held in Britain.

  • 1902 Car Illustrated.

    Car Illustrated.

    John Scott Montagu MP (later 2nd Baron Montagu of Beaulieu) launches the weekly journal The Car Illustrated. Primarily dealing with motoring subjects it was subtitled A Journal of Travel by Land, Sea and Air, all topics covered by the lavishly illustrated periodical. John Scott Montagu also launched a monthly journal called The Car.

  • 1903 Motor Car Act.

    An example of a driving licence introduced by the 1903 Act. This one is issued in 1906.
    Motor Car Act.

    John Scott Montagu steers the Motor Car Act through Parliament. The Act introduces driving licences, registration numbers and a 20mph/32.19kph speed limit. It comes into force on 1st January 1904.

  • 1903 Motor racing comes to Britain.

    1903 Gordon Bennett Napier, now in The National Motor Museum Collection.
    Motor racing comes to Britain.

    Gordon Bennett Cup races in southern Ireland (at that time a part of the United Kingdom) are the first major motor racing event held in the British Isles. British law forbids motor racing on public roads in mainland Britain but Irish legislation permits the event to be staged there.

    The Napier driven by Charles Jarrott, with Cecil Bianchi as his riding mechanic, overturns in a 60mph/96.56kph crash on the second lap. Fortunately both men survive.

    The 328 mile (527.86 kilometre) race was won by Camille Jenatzy in a Mercedes.

  • 1904 Rolls and Royce – the beginning of a partnership.

    1904 Royce 10hp motor car.
    Rolls and Royce – the beginning of a partnership.

    Talented engineer Henry Royce builds his first car, a two cylinder model, at his factory in Manchester. Later the same year he meets pioneering motorist and aviator C.S. Rolls who, impressed with the design, agrees to sell the cars through his London showroom. In 1906 they form Rolls-Royce Limited.

  • 1904 Six-cylinder Napier.

    1905 Napier 6 cylinder limousine.
    Six-cylinder Napier.

    Napier introduces the first British six-cylinder car.

  • 1904 Gordon Bennett in Germany.

    Louis Théry, winner of the 1904 Gordon-Bennett race in his Richard-Brasier 90 hp.
    Gordon Bennett in Germany.

    The fifth Gordon Bennett cup race is staged on a 317 mile (510.16 kilometre) circuit at Homburg. Thėry wins the event in 5 hours 50 minutes driving a Richard-Brasier.

  • 1905 The AA.

    AA phone box and patrol man.
    The AA.

    The Automobile Association (AA) is formed, initially as a cycle patrol to warn motorists about police speed traps.

  • 1905 Pressure gauge.

    Pressure gauge.

    Schrader introduces the first tyre pressure gauge.

  • 1905 Brighton Speed Trials.

    1905 Brighton Speed Trials.
    Brighton Speed Trials.

    Brighton Speed Trials are held for the first time, along the seafront on Madeira Drive. The next events take place in 1923 and 1924. With the exception of World War II it has been staged every year since 1932.

  • 1905 Sixth Gordon Bennett Race.

    Louis Théry crosses the line to win the 1905 Gordon-Bennett race in his Richard-Brasier.
    Sixth Gordon Bennett Race.

    The sixth running of the Gordon Bennett Cup race results in a second successive win for Thėry. Driving a Brasier, he completes the 341 mile (548.79 kilometre) Auvergne circuit in 7 hours 2 minutes.

  • 1906 The Ghost story begins.

    1907 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost.
    The Ghost story begins.

    Rolls-Royce introduces the 40/50hp model. An aluminium and silver coloured demonstrator built in 1907 is dubbed The Silver Ghost. The name is soon used to refer to all 40/50s although not by Rolls-Royce themselves for many years.

  • 1906 Targa Florio.

    Targa Florio.

    Sicily's Targa Florio sports car road race is run for the first time. The inaugural event is won by Alessandro Cagno driving an Itala. With the exception of the war years the race is staged every year until 1977.

  • 1906 Fred Marriott's steam car record.

    Fred Marriott's steam car record.

    At Daytona on January 23 America's Fred Marriott takes the Land Speed Record past the 120mph/193kph mark driving Rocket, a Stanley steam car. He takes the official record with a flying kilometre run of 121.57mph/195.65kph but also sets a flying mile record of 127.66mph/205.45kph. This is the last time that the absolute speed record is held by a steam powered vehicle. Marriott's record for steam power stands until broken by the British Steam Car Challenge in 2009.

  • World's first race track

    1907 World's first race track.

    World's first race track
    Ceremonial procession at the opening of the Brooklands motor racing circuit, 17 June 1907.
    World's first race track.

    The world's first purpose-built motor racing track is opened at Brooklands in Surrey. The 3.75 mile (6.04 kilometre) circuit with banked curves was built by Hugh Locke-King.

  • 1907 The Caravan Club is formed.

    J. Harris Stone, founder of The Caravan Club.
    The Caravan Club is formed.

    Journalist and barrister J. Harris Stone calls a meeting of eleven caravan enthusiasts at his home in London. The Caravan Club of Great Britain and Ireland is formed.

  • 1908 Enter the Tin Lizzy.

    1908 Ford Model T.
    Enter the Tin Lizzy.

    Ford introduce the Model T, mass produced on production lines in various countries including England and Ireland. In 1910 a Model T costs £220 in Britain (about £12,500 at 2009 prices). Over 16 million are built before the model ceases production in 1927. Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to get them in colours other than black! Blue and green are available on British cars before black is standardised in 1914. The one colour policy is introduced because black enamel is the only colour that would dry quickly enough to keep up with the production line. From 1926 quick drying lacquer is used and other colours such as grey, red and green become available.

  • 1908 Coil ignition introduced.

    Coil ignition introduced.

    Dayton Engineering Laboratories Company (DELCO) from the USA introduces coil ignition. At this time the magneto is the main form of ignition, having superseded early methods such as the hot tube. Coil ignition systems will eventually dominate the market.

  • 1909 background

  • 1910 First four wheel brakes.

    1913 Argyll 25/50 hp in the National Motor Museum Collection.
    First four wheel brakes.

    Scottish manufacturer Argyll markets the first production car with four wheel brakes. The front brakes are operated by pedal whilst a lever operates the rear.

  • 1910 Cadillac produce closed bodywork.

    1910 Cadillac 30 hp Gentleman's Roadster.
    Cadillac produce closed bodywork.

    Cadillac is the first car company to produce closed bodywork as a standard feature rather than an option.

  • 1912 First electric starting.

    1912 30hp Cadillac with electric starter motor.
    First electric starting.

    Cadillac introduces electric starting and lighting to its cars. The system used is that developed by the Dayton Engineering Laboratories Company (DELCO).

  • 1912 Museum pieces.

    1895 Knight in the National Motor Museum Collection.
    Museum pieces.

    Edmund Dangerfield of The Motor magazine opens the world’s first motor museum in Oxford Street, London. Two of the exhibits, the Knight and the Pennington Autocar can be found in the National Motor Museum Collection today.

  • 1913 First car production line.

    First car production line.

    In August, Henry Ford introduces a conveyor-belt based production line at the Highland Park, Michigan plant. Vehicle production that year rises from 170,211 to 202,677. In 1914 Highland Park builds 308,162 cars.

  • 1913 Off road.

    Off road.

    Caldwell-Vale Motor Tractor Company of New South Wales, Australia produces the first four wheel drive vehicle for off-road use. The 4310cc 32hp car also features four wheel steering.

  • 1913 Bull Nose Morris.

    1913 Morris Oxford.
    Bull Nose Morris.

    Morris introduces the Oxford, the famous Bull Nose model. The design will continue in production until 1926. A new Oxford costs £175 in 1913 (about £7,500 at 2009 prices).

  • 1913 background

  • 1916 Mechanical wipers.

    Mechanical wipers.

    Willys-Knight of Toledo, Ohio, USA is one of the first companies to fit mechanical windscreen wipers.

  • 1919 The first Bentley.

    The first Bentley.

    W.O. Bentley forms Bentley Motors Limited in Cricklewood, London. The car is anounced in The Autocar in May although the first chassis is not ready until October. The first 3-Litre Bentley was delivered 1921. It was the first British car to be described by its engine capacity rather than its horsepower.

  • 1919 First mass-produced touring caravan.

    Eccles mass-produced caravan being towed by a pre World War I Rover.
    First mass-produced touring caravan.

    The first mass-produced caravan which could be towed behind a motor car is produced by the Eccles Company of Birmingham, England.

  • 1921 First four wheel hydraulic brakes.

    1924 Duesenberg with film star Mae Murray.
    First four wheel hydraulic brakes.

    First four wheel hydraulic brakes are fitted by American manufacturer Duesenberg on the Model A. The cars are built in a factory at Indianapolis.

  • 1921 background

  • 1922 Cars by the million.

    1922 Ford Model T.
    Cars by the million.

    Ford is the first company to build one million cars in a year. The total number of Ford Model Ts of all body styles built in US factories in 1922 is 1.3 million. Peak production comes in 1923 when over 1.8 million are produced.

  • 1922 The Austin Seven.

    1923 Austin Seven Chummy.
    The Austin Seven.

    Austin begins manufacture of the Seven. This small and affordable car brings motoring within the reach of many ordinary families. Originally priced at £225, by 1923 the cost of the 'baby' Austin has dropped to £165 (just under £5,000 at 2009 prices).

    More Detail

  • 1922 Enter the 350hp Sunbeam.

    Enter the 350hp Sunbeam.

    Britain's Kenelm Lee Guinness sets a new World Land Speed Record of 133.75mph/215.25kph at Brooklands on 17 May 1922. He drives the V12 engined 350hp Sunbeam built in 1920. The same car in modified form will later be used by Malcolm Campbell.

  • 1923 First Briton wins a Grand Prix.

    Henry Segrave (right) with the winning Sunbeam at the 1923 French Grand Prix.
    First Briton wins a Grand Prix.

    The French Grand Prix at Tours is won by Henry Segrave, driving a 2 litre 6 cylinder engined Sunbeam. It is the first Grand Prix motor race to be won by a British driver.

  • 1923 First Le Mans 24 Hour Race.

    The start of the first Le Mans 24 Hour Race in 1923.
    First Le Mans 24 Hour Race.

    A 24 hour race for touring cars is held for the first time on a road circuit at Le Mans. The race is won by Lagache and Leonard in a Chenard et Walcker.

  • 1924 Campbell's first record.

    Malcolm Campbell's Sunbeam being prepared before taking the World Land Speed Record in 1924.
    Campbell's first record.

    Malcolm Campbell drives the 350hp Sunbeam to a new World Land Speed Record of 146.16mph/252.22kph at Pendine in South Wales on 25 Septmber 1924.

  • 1925 Another record for Campbell.

    Malcolm Campbell in the 350hp Sunbeam.
    Another record for Campbell.

    Malcolm Campbell returns to Pendine and raises his World Land Speed Record in the 350hp Sunbeam to 150.76mph/242.62kph on 21 July 1925.

  • 1925 General Motors arrives in Britain.

    1925 Vauxhall LM 14/40 Melton.
    General Motors arrives in Britain.

    Having tried and failed to take over the Austin Motor Company, General Motors of America buys Vauxhall, its first non US subsidiary. Vauxhall would no longer compete in the luxury and sporting markets.

  • 1925 Humber purchase Commer.

    Humber purchase Commer.

    Luton based commercial vehicle manufacturers Commer are taken over by Humber of Coventry, the first of a string of mergers for this company in the years that follow.

  • 1926 A British Grand Prix.

    Senechal & Wagner's winning Delage being worked on in the pits during the first British Grand Prix at Brooklands in 1926.
    A British Grand Prix.

    A British Grand Prix is held for the first time using a road circuit at Brooklands. A Delage driven by Senechal and Wagner wins.

  • 1926 Records take a tumble.

    Shell poster of Parry Thomas in Babs on Pendine Sands, taking the World Land Speed Record. This poster is part of the Shell Advertising Art Collection at the National Motor Museum.
    Records take a tumble.

    A busy year for the World Land Speed Record. Henry Segrave starts the year taking the record to 152.33mph/245.15kph at Southport, Lancashire on 16 March. At Pendine in South Wales, Parry Thomas in Babs takes the record to 169.30mph/272.46kph on 27 April and then up to 171.02mph/272.23kph the following day.

  • 1926 background

  • 1927 Bentley win at Le Mans.

    Bentley win at Le Mans.

    The Le Mans 24 Hour Race is won by British drivers J.D. Benjafield and S.C.H. Davis in a 3 litre Bentley. It is the first of four consecutive Le Mans victories for the marque.

  • 1927 London to Brighton.

    Programme for the 1927 London to Brighton Run for veteran cars, the first of the modern series of annual events.
    London to Brighton.

    A London to Brighton run for veteran cars is held to commemorate the Emancipation Run of 1896. With the exception of the war years, it has been held every year since.

  • 1927 Nürburgring circuit is opened.

    Aerial view of part of the newly-constructed Nürburgring in 1927.
    Nürburgring circuit is opened.

    Germany’s Nürburgring circuit is opened. The full 17.5 mile (28.16 kilometre) long course was composed of shorter northern and southern circuits. The Ring was the venue of many famous Grand Prix, sports car and motorcycle races. A new Grand Prix circuit opened at the venue in 1984 but races and public track days are still held on the challenging northern circuit.

  • 1927 200mph/321.87kph in a car.

    Henry Segrave in the 1000 hp Sunbeam at Daytona Beach in March 1927.
    200mph/321.87kph in a car.

    Malcolm Campbell takes the World Land Speed Record to 174.883mph/281.447kph in Bluebird at Pendine, South Wales on 4 February.

    Henry Segrave takes the 1000hp Sunbeam to Daytona and lifts the record over 200mph/321kph with a 203.792mph/327.972kph run on 29 March. At the end of the first timed run the car's brakes proved ineffective and Segrave had to drive the car into the sea to slow it down!

  • 1927 William Morris acquires Wolseley.

    William Morris acquires Wolseley.

    William Morris takes control of Wolseley, one of the oldest names in the British motor industry. Along with MG it becomes part of Morris Motors in 1935.

  • 1928 First production car with front wheel drive and independent suspension.

    The independent front suspension and front wheel drive of the 1928 Alvis.
    First production car with front wheel drive and independent suspension.

    Coventry based Alvis introduces the first production car with front wheel drive and independent suspension on front and rear. The company has been experimenting with front wheel drive in racing cars since 1925. The production cars do not sell in great numbers.

  • 1928 Beyond 200mph/321kph.

    Malcolm Campbell in Bluebird at Brooklands motor racing circuit, at a celebration of his re-capturing the World Land Speed Record.
    Beyond 200mph/321kph.

    Malcolm Campbell continues to push the limits and takes Bluebird to 206.956mph/333.064kph at Daytona on 19 February 1928.

  • 1928 Hillman and Humber.

    Hillman and Humber.

    Long established Coventry companies Humber and Hillman merge.

  • 1928 Bentley win at Le Mans again.

    Bentley win at Le Mans again.

    Bentley win the Le Mans 24 Hour Race for the second year in succession. The car is driven by Woolf Barnato and Bernard Rubin. It is the first of three consecutive victories in the event for Barnato.

  • 1929 Racing on the streets of Monaco.

    William Grover-Williams in his Bugatti in Casino Square, on his way to winning the first Monaco Grand Prix in 1929.
    Racing on the streets of Monaco.

    The Monaco Grand Prix is run for first time. The race around the streets of Monte Carlo is won by William Grover-Williams in a Bugatti. He would go on to be a secret agent in Britain’s Special Operations Executive in World War II.

  • 1929 A Golden record.

    Henry Segrave taking the Land Speed Record in the Golden Arrow in 1929. This car is in the National Motor Museum Collection.
    A Golden record.

    Henry Segrave takes the World Land Speed Record to 231.446mph/372.476kph in the Irving-Napier Special Golden Arrow at Daytona on 11 March 1929.

  • 1929 background

  • 1930 Three in a row at Le Mans.

    Shell poster recording victory for Woolf Barnato and Bentley at Le Mans in 1930.This poster is part of the Shell Adverising Art Collection at the National Motor Museum.
    Three in a row at Le Mans.

    Woolf Barnato wins his third consecutive Le Mans 24 Hour Race driving a Speed Six Bentley with Glen Kidston. It is also the fourth consecutive win for Bentley. The company's cars finished in first and second places.

  • 1931 The £100 car.

    1931 Morris Minor open two-seater.
    The £100 car.

    Morris brings out a new version of the Minor. The very basic side valve engined open two-seater retails for just £100 (£3,342 at 2009 prices).

  • 1931 The shape of things to come.

    1931 DKW Type FA600 with transverse engine and front wheel drive.
    The shape of things to come.

    DKW of Germany builds the first production car with both front wheel drive and transverse engine.

  • 1931 Towards 250mph/402kph.

    Malcolm Campbell's Napier-Campbell Bluebird at Daytona.
    Towards 250mph/402kph.

    Malcolm Campbell takes Bluebird to 246.09mph/396.05kph at Daytona on 5 February 1931. He receives a knighthood later the same year.

  • 1931 Rootes established.

    Rootes established.

    Car and lorry retailers Rootes acquire a major financial stake in the Humber and Hillman car companies and associated Commer commercial vehicles.

  • 1932 End of an era.

    End of an era. Doble in the USA market the last production steam car.
  • 1932 250mph/402.34kph!

    Sir Malcolm Campbell.

    Sir Malcolm Campbell drives Bluebird past the 250mph/402.34kph barrier at Daytona on 24 February 1932. The new Land Speed record is 253.97mph/408.72kph.

  • 1933 Stating one's intentions!

    Semaphore indicator arm on a 1937 Morris 8.
    Stating one's intentions!

    Morris introduces semaphore arm direction indicators. A variety of mechanical and electrical indicating devices had been tried by Morris and others in the preceding years.

  • 1933 First all synchromesh gearbox.

    1933 Alvis 16/96 chassis.
    First all synchromesh gearbox.

    Alvis produce the first all synchromesh gearbox. The patented system designed by W.M. Dunn is first seen on the Model 16 in November.

  • 1933 Towards 300mph/482kph.

    Sir Malcolm Campbell stands alongside Bluebird.
    Towards 300mph/482kph.

    Sir Malcolm Campbell resumes his annual quest to raise the land speed record and takes the Rolls-Royce-engined Campbell Bluebird to 272.46mph/438.48kph.

  • 1933 background

  • 1934 Citroën Traction Avant.

    A 1946 Citroën Light 15 version of the Traction Avant, which remained in production from 1934 to 1957.
    Citroën Traction Avant.

    Citroën introduce the technologically advanced Traction Avant with front wheel drive and unitary construction. The design proves successful, remaining in production in one form or another until 1957.

  • 1934 Road Traffic Act.

    Road Traffic Act.

    The 1934 Road Traffic Act introduces the 30mph/48.28kph speed limit to built-up areas. It also introduces driving tests to Britain.

  • 1934 Karrier absorbed.

    Karrier Cob railway Platform Tractor seen here at Huddersfield before Karrier were moved to the Commer factory at Luton.
    Karrier absorbed.

    Huddersfield based commercial vehicle manufacturer Karrier is absorbed by Rootes. The company is subsequently moved to the Commer factory at Luton.

  • 1935 A family car for £100.

    1937 Ford Model Y. This car is in the National Motor Museum Collection.
    A family car for £100.

    Ford introduces a low cost version of the 8hp Model Y. The Popular is a four-door car priced at just £100 (£3,698 at 2009 prices).

  • 1935 A cleaner windscreen!

    A cleaner windscreen!

    Standard Motor Co. are first manufacturer to list windscreen washers as a regular fitting, on the 10/12 Speed model.

  • 1935 300mph/482.80kph!

    Sir Malcolm Campbell is seen at Brooklands in January 1935 with the rebuit version of the Rolls-Royce engined Bluebird. He would break the Land Speed Record twice that year.

    Sir Malcolm Campbell raises the World Land Speed Record twice in 1935. At Daytona on 7 March he takes the record to 276.82mph/445.50kph. At a new venue at Bonneville on 3 September he pushes the record to 301.129mph/484.621kph.

  • 1935 Rootes spreading.

    Rootes spreading.

    The Talbot and Sunbeam marques are absorbed by the Rootes Group.

  • 1936 Diesel cars.

    1936 Mercedes-Benz 260D, the first production diesel car.
    Diesel cars.

    Mercedes-Benz produce the 260D – first diesel powered passenger car. Demand proves so great for the model that by 1939 there is a 15-month waiting list.

  • 1937 Beyond 300mph/482kph.

    George Eyston's Thunderbolt.
    Beyond 300mph/482kph.

    George Eyston, driving Thunderbolt, sets a new World Land Speed Record of 312mph/502.11kph at Bonneville on 19 November 1937.

  • 1938 The People's Car.

    A 1937 prototype of the Volkswagen Beetle.
    The People's Car.

    Production of the Ferdinand Porsche designed Volkswagen Beetle starts in Germany. Prototype versions have existed in one form or another since 1931. Cars to the same basic design are still being built at a factory in Mexico as recently as 2003. The total number of Beetles built exceeds 21.5 million!

  • 1938 350mph/563.27kph!

    In 1938 Thunderbolt brought George Eyston two World Land Speed Records in quick succession.

    Three new World Land Speed Records are set in succession. George Eyston takes Thunderbolt to 345.50mph/556.02kph on 27 August. John Cobb, driving the Railton, is the first man to 350mph/563.27kph, achieving 350.20mph/563.59kph on 16 September, before Eyston attains 357.50mph/575.34 the next day.

  • 1938 Morris expansion.

    In 1938 the Nuffield Organisation came into being after Morris Motors took over Riley.
    Morris expansion.

    Morris Motors takes over Riley. The new Nuffield Organisation encompasses Morris Motor Company, Morris Commercial Car Company, Wolseley, MG and Riley.

  • 1939 Flashing your intentions.

    1939 Buick Series 40 sedan with flashing electric direction indicators.
    Flashing your intentions.

    Buick introduces the first flashing electric direction indicators.

  • 1939 Last pre-war Land Speed Record.

    John Cobb's record breaking Railton seen outside the company's premises at Brooklands.
    Last pre-war Land Speed Record.

    John Cobb reaches 369.70mph/594.97kph in the Railton at Bonneville on 23 August 1939.

  • 1940 Jeep.

    The Jeep is first developed in 1940 and becomes the workhorse of the Allied armies during World War II.

    The famous military vehicle of World War II is developed from a prototype design built by American Bantam for the US Army in 1940. Willys Overland perfects the design and together with Ford manufacturs over 600,000 Jeeps for the allied forces. Jeep subsequently becomes a marque in its own right.

  • 1944 Triumph and Standard merge.

    Triumph and Standard merge.

    The ailing Triumph Motor Company is merged with Sir John Black's Standard Motor Company.

  • 1945 background

  • 1946 Column gear change.

    Triumph 1800 Roadster with column gear change.
    Column gear change.

    Triumph introduces the 1800. Available as a roadster or saloon it is the first British car with column gear change.

  • 1947 In the Vanguard.

    Standard Vanguard saloon of 1947.
    In the Vanguard.

    Standard introduces the Vanguard. It features a 2 litre engine, three speed gearbox and six seat, American inspired, fastback body design. Price new in 1948 is £543 (in the region of £13,000 at 2009 prices).

  • 1947 The quest for speed starts again.

    John Cobb in the Railton Mobil Special.
    The quest for speed starts again.

    John Cobb drives the pre-war Railton (now called the Railton Mobil Special) to 394.20mph/634.40kmh at Bonneville on 16 September 1947.

  • 1948 Jaguar XK 120.

    The Jaguar XK 120, launched in 1948, is the fastest production car of its day.
    Jaguar XK 120.

    Jaguar introduce the XK 120; at the time, it is the world’s fastest production car with a top speed of 120mph/193.12kph.

  • 1948 Land Rover.

    Rover launched the Land Rover in 1948. Modern Land Rovers still look remarkably similar.
    Land Rover.

    Rover launch the Land Rover, a cross country off-road vehicle inspired by the wartime Jeep.

  • 1948 Radial tyres.

    Radial tyres.

    Michelin market the X, the first radial ply tyre.

  • 1948 A Minor introduction.

    This early Morris Minor displays the original grille design and is in the National Motor Museum Collection.
    A Minor introduction.

    Morris launches the Minor designed by Alec Issigonis. It is destined to become a best seller and would remain in production until 1971. Price new in 1948 is £358 (over £8,000 at 2009 prices).

  • 1949 At the turn of a key.

    At the turn of a key.

    Chrysler introduces key start ignition in the USA.

  • 1950 Jet power.

    Prototype power gas turbine for JET1.
    Jet power.

    Rover begins testing the first of a series of gas turbine powered cars. These lead to a gas turbine powered Le Mans entry in 1963 and 1965. Road going versions never got beyond the experimental stage.

  • 1950 World Champions.

    Guiseppe Farina.
    World Champions.

    The Drivers' World Championship for Formula One Grand Prix entrants is introduced. Guiseppe Farina wins the first title driving an Alfa Romeo.

  • 1952 British giants merge.

    The British Motor Corporation logo.
    British giants merge.

    Arch-rivals the Austin Motor Company and the Nuffield Organisation (including Morris, MG, Riley, Wolseley) complete a merger to form the British Motor Corporation (BMC). At the time it is Britain’s largest motor manufacturer.

  • 1952 A tribute.

    A tribute.

    Lord Montagu of Beaulieu opens Palace House to the public. A small collection of early motor cars are placed on display as a tribute to Lord Montagu's father, pioneering motorist John Scott Montagu, 2nd Baron Montagu of Beaulieu.

  • 1952 A new baby Austin.

    1952 Austin A30 Seven Saloon.
    A new baby Austin.

    Austin introduces the A30, much smaller than its rival the Morris Minor. It is equipped with an 803cc A series engine. An updated version with a 948cc engine, known as the A35, is introduced in 1957. Price when new in 1952 is £520 (in the region of £10,000 at 2009 prices).

  • 1953 Tubeless tyres.

    Tubeless tyres.

    Dunlop begins marketing tubeless tyres in the UK.

  • 1954 Diesel power.

    The 1954 Standard Vanguard Phase ll.
    Diesel power.

    The Standard Vanguard Phase II is the first British built private car available with a diesel engine.

  • 1954 Fuel injection.

    The fuel injected Mercedes Benz 300SL.
    Fuel injection.

    Mercedes 300SL is the first car with fuel injection as a standard feature.

  • 1955 Tragedy at Le Mans.

    Tragedy at Le Mans.

    83 spectators are killed in motor racing's worst ever accident when Pierre Levegh’s Mercedes crashes and hits a public enclosure during the Le Mans 24 Hour Race.

  • 1955 Singer absorbed.

    Singer absorbed.

    Long established Coventry based manufacturer Singer is absorbed by the Rootes Group.

  • 1956 Montagu Motor Museum.

    Montagu Motor Museum.

    Lord Montagu opens the Montagu Motor Museum at Beaulieu. The opening ceremony is performed by Lord Brabazon of Tara. The museum builds upon the collection displayed in Palace House since 1952.

  • 1956 Veteran & Vintage.

    Veteran & Vintage.

    Lord Montagu of Beaulieu launches The Veteran & Vintage Magazine in August 1956. The monthly journal deals solely with Veteran, Edwardian, Vintage and Thoroughbred motoring and motorcycling. Many leading motoring historians contribute.

  • 1958 Seat belts first fitted as standard.

    Seat belts first fitted as standard.

    Swedish manufacturer Saab fit seat belts as standard on the GT750. Other manufacturers soon follow their lead.

  • 1958 Ford flop.

    An Edsel Citation saloon.
    Ford flop.

    The controversially styled Edsel is launched in the USA by Ford’s Mercury–Edsel–Lincoln Division. A downturn in the domestic car market and radical styling contribute to poor sales figures. Production ends in 1960.

  • 1958 A British Champion.

    Mike Hawthorn, seen here in a Ferrari at Silverstone.
    A British Champion.

    Mike Hawthorn, driving a Ferrari, becomes the first British driver to win the Formula One World Championship. He retires at the end of the season but is tragically killed in a road accident early in 1959.

  • 1958 The coming of the motorway.

    An early stretch of motorway under construction.
    The coming of the motorway.

    The first stretch of motorway in Britain, the Preston by-pass, is opened. Later it would form part of the M6.

  • 1959 A Mini success.

    The National Motor Museum displays an early example.
    A Mini success.

    British Motor Corporation launches the Mini. The brainchild of Morris Minor designer Alec Issigonis, it is marketed originally as the Morris Mini Minor and Austin Seven. The small transverse-engined, front wheel drive, monocoque chassis car sets a new trend in motoring. In a tiny package it includes a roomy interior, excellent storage space and outstanding handling characteristics.

    The basic model costs £496 when launched (£7,588 at 2009 prices). Over 5.3 million are built before production ceases in 2000 and new owner BMW launches a new mini for the 21st century.

  • 1959 The Montagu Motor Museum expands.

    The interior of the Montagu Motor Museum in 1972.
    The Montagu Motor Museum expands.

    Lord Montagu opens a greatly expanded Montagu Motor Museum in a new building at Beaulieu. Lord Brabazon of Tara again performs the opening ceremony. A charitable trust is formed and in 1972 the new National Motor Museum opens.

  • 1960 Testing times.

    A Standard Vanguard is being tested.
    Testing times.

    The Ministry of Transport (MOT) test is introduced as an annual inspection of vehicle roadworthy-ness. It is originally carried out on vehicles over ten years old but later changes to those over three years old.

  • 1960 background

  • 1961 E-Type.

    A Jaguar E-type on the stand at the Geneva Motor Show.

    Jaguar launches the exotically styled E-Type. Its combination of style, performance and price sets new standards. When launched the price is £2,159 (about £33,000 at 2009 prices). Originally available with a 3.8 litre, 6 cylinder engine, the car eventually receives the 5.3 litre V12 in 1971.

  • 1961 Triumph changes hands again!

    Triumph changes hands again!

    Standard-Triumph are taken over by Leyland Motors.

  • 1962 Wish I had a new Cortina.

    This is a two-door saloon, it was also available in four-door and estate form.
    Wish I had a new Cortina.

    Ford introduces the first version of the much loved Cortina. It became the car of choice for millions of drivers. The basic four door version is priced at £591 in November 1962 (about £9,000 at 2009 prices). The Cortina in various guises is to remain a best seller until replaced by the Sierra in 1982.

  • 1962 Riding on liquid.

    The Austin/Morris 1100, launched in 1962, was BMC's next step on from the Mini. It featured Hydrolastic suspension, as seen on this sub-frame assembly, designed to give a supple, big car ride.
    Riding on liquid.

    The Morris 1100 (later 1300) is launched by BMC featuring ‘Hydrolastic’ suspension designed by Alec Issigonis. 'Badge engineering', popular with British manufacturers in the 1960s, leads to an Austin 1100 in 1963 followed by Riley, Wolseley, MG and Vanden Plas versions. Price of the Morris 1100 in 1962 was £592 (over £8,000 at 2009 prices).

  • 1962 Millions of Beetles.

    In 1962 Volkswagen's sole car product was still the Beetle, producing a million in that year alone.
    Millions of Beetles.

    Volkswagen produces a million cars in one year.

  • 1963 Rotary power.

    NSU developed the Wankel rotary engine and launched it in the Sports Spyder model in 1963.
    Rotary power.

    NSU start manufacturing the Wankel rotary engine. It is fitted initially in the Sports Spyder.

  • 1963 Jet propulsion.

    Craig Breedlove set a new speed record in Spirit of America.
    Jet propulsion.

    American Craig Breedlove takes the three wheeled jet propelled Spirit of America to 407.45mph/655.72kph at Bonneville on 5 August. The record is not recognised by the FIA as propulsion is by jet thrust, not through the wheels.

  • 1963 Hillman Imp.

    The new 1963 Hillman Imp on sale in the show room.
    Hillman Imp.

    Rootes introduces their answer to the Mini. The rear engined Hillman Imp is a cleverly engineered small car, assembled in a new factory at Linwood near Glasgow. The Coventry Climax designed engine is of all aluminium construction. Quality control and reliabilty problems plague the model's early years. Badge engineered versions are available as the Singer Chamois and Sunbeam Stiletto. Price for the standard Imp in 1963 is £508 (around £7,000 at 2009 prices).

  • 1964 Wild horses.

    The Ford Mustang.
    Wild horses.

    Ford launches the Mustang in the USA. This pony car is a marketing success story, selling over 1.5 million in its first three years.

  • 1964 400mph/643.74kph.

    Blubird CN7.

    Donald Campbell, son of pre-war record holder Sir Malcolm, takes the Land Speed Record to 403.10mph/648.72kph at Lake Eyre, Australia on 17 July 1964. He drives the Proteus turbine engined Bluebird. It is the last time a wheel driven vehicle will attempt the record.

  • 1966 Four wheel drive on the road.

    Jensen Interceptor FF.
    Four wheel drive on the road.

    The Jensen FF is introduced with four wheel drive and anti-lock brakes.

  • 1966 Amalgamation.


    British Motor Holdings (BMH) is formed when the British Motor Corporation (including Austin, Morris, MG, Riley, Wolseley) is merged with Jaguar Cars (Jaguar, Daimler, Guy, Coventry Climax).

  • 1967 Another merger.

    Another merger.

    Rover, the last large scale independent car producer in the UK, is taken over by Leyland Motor Corporation in 1967.

  • 1967 Chrysler swallows Rootes.

    Chrysler swallows Rootes.

    A lengthy process of take over is finally completed and the Rootes Group becomes a part of the huge Chrysler Corporation. Old names such as Hillman, Humber and Singer will eventually be replaced by Chrysler while the Commer name will disappear in favour of Dodge.

  • 1968 Creation of British Leyland.

    British Leyland Motor Corporation logo.
    Creation of British Leyland.

    The giant British Leyland Motor Corporation (BLMC) is formed by the merger of British Motor Holdings (encompassing the British Motor Corporation and Jaguar/Daimler) and the Leyland Motor Corporation (including Leyland, Rover, Triumph).

  • 1968 Britain's first million car year.

    British Leyland cars on a rail transporter ready for export.
    Britain's first million car year.

    British Leyland Motor Corporation produces over a million vehicles in a year, the first time this figure has been reached in the UK.

  • 1968 Electronic fuel injection.

    1968 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet fitted with electronic fuel injection.
    Electronic fuel injection.

    Mercedes-Benz are the first in Europe to fit electronic fuel injection to production cars.

  • 1969 background

  • 1973 Energy Crisis.

    Energy Crisis.

    Rising political tension in the Middle East leads the Arab oil producing states to place an embargo on the export of oil to the USA and other western nations. As a result, crude oil prices quadrupled and supplies of petrol were restricted with queues at petrol stations becoming common. Petrol prices would never again return to pre-crisis levels. Over the next few years sales of large cars declined and more medium and small models entered the market.

  • 1973 Turbo charged.

    1973 BMW 2002 Turbo – the first production car with a turbocharged engine.
    Turbo charged.

    The BMW 2002 is the first production car with a turbocharged engine.

  • 1975 Nationalisation.


    British Leyland Motor Corporation (BLMC) is nationalised. The new title is British Leyland Limited.

  • 1978 Peugeot take over in Coventry.

    Peugeot take over in Coventry.

    Following a long struggle and huge financial losses Chrysler sells its European operations to the PSA Peugeot-Citroën group. The Talbot name is resurrected for the former Chrysler designs. The Dodge Truck division passes in to Renault ownership.

  • 1979 British Leyland renamed.

    British Leyland renamed.

    British Leyland Limited becomes BL Cars Limited.

  • 1980 Four wheel drive.

    A 1981 example of the four wheel drive Audi Quattro.
    Four wheel drive.

    Audi introduce the first mass produced car with permanent four wheel drive, the Quattro. When launched on the UK market in mid 1981 the retail price is £14,500. Competition versions of the car attained great success in rallying.

  • 1982 Austin Rover.

    Austin Rover Logo.
    Austin Rover.

    BL Cars Limited renames its car division Austin Rover as old established names such as Triumph and Morris are dropped.

  • 1983 Belt up!

    The picture on the left shows a two point static belt from the 1960s. The picture on the right is the familiar modern style of three point lap and diagonal inertia reel (self retracting) seat belt.
    Belt up!

    The wearing of front seat belts becomes compulsory. Rear seat belt legislation follows in 1991.

  • 1983 Thrust for the record.

    Richard Noble with the record breaking Thrust 2.
    Thrust for the record.

    Richard Noble drives Thrust 2 to a new World Land Speed Record of 633.468mph/1,019.469kph in the Black Rock Desert, Nevada on 4 October 1983. The car is propelled by a Rolls-Royce Avon jet engine developing some 17,000 pounds of thrust.

  • 1984 Jaguar privatisation.

    Jaguar Sovereign 1984.
    Jaguar privatisation.

    Jaguar Cars becomes independent from British Leyland in a stock market flotation.

  • 1984 background

  • 1986 Hello Rover Group ...goodbye Austin.

    Hello Rover Group ...goodbye Austin.

    BL Cars Ltd becomes Rover Group with only the Rover and MG brands surviving.

  • 1988 British Aerospace enters the car market.

    British Aerospace enters the car market.

    Rover Group is sold by the British Government to British Aerospace.

  • 1989 A new start for Jaguar?

    A new start for Jaguar?

    Ford acquires Jaguar Cars Limited.

  • 1994 Rover in German hands.

    Rover in German hands.

    British Aerospace sells the Rover Group to BMW.

  • 1997 Through the sound barrier

    Through the sound barrier

    On 15 October Andy Green, driving Thrust SSC, sets the first ever supersonic World Land Speed Record at Black Rock, Nevada. The new record speed is 763.03mph/1,227.98kph (mach 1.02).

  • 1998 McLaren F1.

    McLaren F1.
    McLaren F1.

    Designed by racing car engineer Gordon Murray, the McLaren F1 becomes the world's fastest production car, with a speed of 240mph/386.24kph.

  • 2000 Carving up Rover.

    Carving up Rover.

    The Rover Group is split up by BMW. Land Rover is sold to Ford. The Mini name, along with the factory at Cowley, Oxford, is retained whilst the remainder of the company becomes independent as MG Rover Group.

  • 2005 In Chinese ownership.

    In Chinese ownership.

    MG Rover goes into liquidation. The company is sold to Nanjing Automobiles of China.

  • 2005 Bugatti Veyron.

    Bugatti Veyron.
    Bugatti Veyron.

    With a top speed of 253.8mph/408.47kph the Bugatti Veyron EB16/4 becomes the world’s fastest production car. It has a 16 cylinder turbocharged engine of 7,993cc and can reach 62mph/99.78kph in under 2.5 seconds.

  • 2008 Jaguar and Land Rover sold again.

    Jaguar and Land Rover sold again.

    Ford sells the Jaguar and Land Rover brands to the Indian company Tata Motors.

  • 2009 Zero Carbon racing.

    Zero Carbon racing.

    The TTXGP at the Isle of Man TT races is heralded as the world's first zero carbon clean emmissions Grand Prix. Motorcycles entered in the event are powered either by electricity or non carbon based fuels. A Pro class for teams backed by industry and universities is run alongside an Open class for low cost machinery.

    The Pro class winner was Rob Barber with an average speed of over 87mph/140.01kph. The Open class was won by Chris Heath on an electric bike at a speed of 66mph/106.22kph.

  • Inspiration on test in the UK

    2009 British Steam Car Challenge.

    Inspiration on test in the UK
    Inspiration on test in the UK
    British Steam Car Challenge.

    On 25 August, the British Steam Car Challenge team breaks Fred Marriott's 1906 Steam Powered Land Speed Record, achieving 139.843mph/225.06kph over the measured mile at Edwards Air Force Base, California. The car, Inspiration, was driven by Charles Burnett III. The following day Don Wales drove the car to set a new record over the measured kilometre with an average speed of 148.308mph/238.679kph. The maximum speed achieved was over 155mph/249.45kph.

  • 2010 Electric motorcycle race series.

    Electric motorcycle race series.

    Following the success of the world's first zero carbon, clean emissions race at the 2009 Isle of Man TT races, the Federation Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) announce a whole series for electrically powered motorcycles in 2010.