75 Years Ago

After more than three years of work, the first Volvo, a 4-door touring car, rolls out the doors of the Goteborg, Sweden, assembly plant on April 14, 1927. The first model, OV4, nicknamed Jakob, was the result of the collaboration between then 32-year-old Swedish economist Assar Gabrielsson, who worked for Swedish bearing maker SKF Manufacturing, and 37-year-old Gustaf Larson, an engineer who had worked in the fledgling auto industry in England. Gabriels-son persuaded SKF to back his project, and the manufacturing company supplied credit and loan guarantees to build an initial 1,000 cars, including 500 open and 500 closed models.

First-year output totaled 297 units built by a team of 66 assembly workers. Styling and engineering were heavily influenced by American designs. Within two years Volvo, Latin for “I roll” had moved upscale with a larger 6-cyl. sedan, reaching its breakeven point in August 1929. In 1930 it bought the assembly plant it had previously rented from SKF. In 1935 Volvo introduced the Carioca, a limited production, highly streamlined car with lines remark-ably similar to the Chrysler Airflow.

43 Years Ago

At the age of 19, racing legend Mario Andretti, voted “Driver of the Century” in 1992, makes his racing debut on April 25, 1959, driving to victory at the Nazareth (PA) Motor Speed-way in a '48 Hudson also campaigned by his twin brother Aldo, who quit racing after an accident.

After winning 20 races in two years, Mario moves on to sprint car racing and eventually to oval track stock car racing where he reaches his peak by winning the 1967 Daytona 500 as part of the Ford Motor Co. factory team, beating the team's No.1 driver, Fred Lorenzen, in the process. Andretti's success as a race driver also encompasses the Indianapolis 500, where he posts his first win in 1964 at the age of 24, along with a Formula One championship in 1978.

His accomplishments include being one of only three drivers to win races on a paved oval track, road course and dirt track in a single year. He also is one of only two drivers to have won the Indianapolis 500 and the Daytona 500. He retired from driving in 1994 after his final Indy car victory at a race in Phoenix, AZ, in 1993.

Other Dates in History

April 25, 1901 — New York becomes the first state to require license plates. The cost for the 3-in. high plates that bear the owner's initials was $1.

April 8, 1910 — The first motor speedway paved with 2x4 wood planks opens. By 1931 there were 24 board tracks operating in the U.S., with drivers reaching speeds of up to 120 mph (193 km/h) on tracks banked at angles up to 45 degrees.

April 15, 1924 — Rand McNally publishes its first comprehensive U.S. road atlas.

April 22, 1970 — The first Earth Day celebrations in the U.S. attract some 20 million people across the country as environmentalists demand new curbs on automotive, industrial and chemical emissions. Among the attention-getting ploys used is the burying of a new car to symbolize what is seen as the need to ban cars in cities.

TRAVEL PLANNER

April 15-20

  • Hannover Fair 2002, Hannover, Germany.

    April 22-24

  • Supply-Chain World North America, New Orleans, LA.