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101 Little Known Facts and Trivia About the Automotive Industry


Incredible cars

1. The fastest production car in the world is the 257mph SSC Ultimate Aero.
2. The 198mph Mercedes Benz CLK LM cost £786,592 when it was launched in 1997, making it the most expensive production car in the world.
3. The fastest production car around the Nurburgring is the Radical SR8.
4. The 195mph Nissan GT-R is the fastest production car ever built by a Japanese carmaker.
5. The engine bay of a McLaren F1 road car (pictured right) is gold plated because it’s the best material for reflecting heat.
6. Buyers of a new McLaren F1 received a golf bag, tailored to fit on the passenger’s seat and luggage holdalls with the motor’s chassis number embossed on them.
7. The Porsche 911 was originally badged as a 901 until a disagreement with Peugeot who were using the ' 0 ' in their model numbering.
8. The latest Porsche 911 GT2 is the first ever production 911 to break the 200mph mark – hitting 204mph.
9. The Rolls Royce hood ornament is called the Spirit of Ecstacy.
10. A Rolls-Royce Phantom’s leather interior is made from 15 different hides.
11. Only 16 factory authorised right-hand drive prototype De Lorean DMC-12s were made for use in the United Kingdom.
12. The Bugatti Veyron takes ten seconds to stop from its top speed of 253mph.
13. The Bugatti Veyron’s gearbox took 50 engineers five years to perfect.
14. The Bugatti Veyron is named after French racing driver Pierre Veyron, who won the 24 hour race at Le Mans for Bugatti in 1939.
15. The paint on a Ferrari F40 is so thin you can see the carbon fibre weave through it. More layers would have added undesirable weight.
16. Ferrari makes a maximum of 14 cars a day.
17. The Mercedes SLR McLaren had 37 patents created for its use of carbon fibre.
18. The propeller blades in low inertia turbochargers can spin at up to 250,000rpm.


19. The ill-fated 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder seen in the film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off was in fact one of three fibreglass replicas. The company who made the replicas were sued by Ferrari for wrongful use of the company’s logo.
20. The car driven by Steve McQueen in Bullitt is a dark ‘Highland Green’ 1968 Ford Mustang GT 390 CID Fastback.
21. In the film Gone in 60 Seconds, Christopher Ecclestone’s character doesn’t drive as the actor doesn’t have a driving license.
22. Land Rover made 30 bright yellow Judge Dredd ‘cabs’ for the 1995 Sylvester Stallone film.
23. The acronym KITT (the car from Knight Rider) stands for Knight Industries Two Thousand.
24. The record for most cannon rolls of a car in a film was set during filming for the 2006 James Bond film Casino Royale, when an Aston Martin DBS was rolled seven times. The stunt crew fitted a nitrogen cannon to propel the car into the air.
25. The Aston Martin DB5 driven by Sean Connery in James Bond films Goldfinger and Thunderball was sold at auction in 2006 for more than £1 million. The car’s gadgets include built-in Browning machine guns, tyre-slashers, and an oil slick ejector.
26. Two big US blockbusters released in 2007 contained only North American-built cars - Transformers and I Am Legend.
27. Game designer Kazunori Yamauchi, the man behind Gran Turismo, helped develop the Nissan GT-R.
28. Jeremy Clarkson's mum Shirley manufactured the first ‘classic look’ Paddington bears, the first of which was a present for her son in Christmas 1971.
29. The original black-suited Stig from Top Gear was Formula One tester Perry McCarthy.
30. David Beckham's first car was a Ford Escort.
31. Wayne Rooney's first car was a Ford Ka.
32. Steve McQueen’s Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Lusso was sold at auction for £1,168,850 on August 16 2007.
33. On May 18 this year Radio 2 DJ Chris Evans pain 5.6 million for a classic Ferrari 205 GT SWB California Spider at an auction.

Fascinating facts

34. The first car was the three-wheeled Benz Patent Motorwagen, built in 1885.
35. The British Army saved the Volkswagen Beetle. Major Ivan Hirst was ordered to take control of the heavily bombed Volkswagen factory at Wolfsburg in Germany. He oversaw the removal of an unexploded bomb which had fallen through the roof, and persuaded the British military to order 20,000 Beetles.
36. In the early sixties the cause of a spate of broken down Minis was traced to the red feather duster used by one of the cleaning ladies on the production line. Its feathers were becoming clogged in the cars' carburettors.
37. The London motor show began in November 1895, organised by RAC founder member Sir Evelyn Ellis. The show consisted of five cars in a field, and only 500 people turned up.
38. The best-selling car of all time is the Toyota Corolla, which sold a staggering 30 million before its replacement by the Toyota Yaris in 2007.
39. The spark plug was patented by French-Belgian engineer Jean Joseph Étienne Lenoir in 1860.
40. If a car is hit by lightning its occupants will generally be safe. The Faraday effect (discovered by Michael Faraday in 1845) causes the electricity to dissipate around the car's metal frame.
41. ‘Traffic-collision reconstructionist’ W.R. ‘Rusty’ Haight has endured over 780 collisions as a human crash test dummy.
42. The first traffic lights were installed in Cleveland, Ohio in 1914.
43. The fastest ever speeder on UK roads was clocked at 172mph in a £98,000 3.6-litre Porsche 911 Turbo.
44. The Volkswagen Touareg which pulled a jumbo jet was filled with 4.5 tonnes of ballast to give it more traction.
45. The amount of steel used in construction of the M6 Toll road could build another Eiffel Tower.
46. Busiest section of motorway in Britain is between junctions 13 and 14 of the M25, near Heathrow.
47. The onboard computer in a typical modern car is more powerful than the one used to send astronauts to the moon in the 1960s and 1970s.

Land speed records

48. The first ever land speed record was set on December 18 1898, when French race car driver reached a speed of 39.23mph in an electric car.
49. The fastest car of all time is the jet-powered Thrust SSC, driven by Wing Commander Any Green, which reached speeds of 763mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, USA on October 15 1997.
50. The fastest non-jet powered car is the wheel-driven Vesco Turbinator, which was driven by Don Vesco at 458mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats on October 18 2001.
51. The world’s fastest diesel car is the JCB Dieselmax, which achieved a speed of 350mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats on August 23 2006. Like the Thrust SSC, the Dieselmax was also driven by Wing Commander Andy Green.
52. Test teams at the Bonneville Salt Flats have to wear sun cream on the inside of their noses, as sunlight reflects off the bright white salt surface underneath them.
53. When the 257mph SSC Ultimate Aero TT broke the world speed record for a production car, it was driven by a 71-year-old called Chuck Bigelow.

More world records

54. The fastest time for removing a car engine, and replacing it, is 42 seconds for a Ford Escort, on 21 November 1985.
55. The world record for a registration plate is £7,368,836 million for ‘1’.
56. Porsche is the world’s most profitable car manufacturer.
57. The world's widest road is the Monumental Axis in Brazil, which has enough space for 160 cars to drive side by side.
58. The world’s longest car is the 100 foot limousine built by Jay Ohrberg of Burbank, California. The car features a king-size waterbed and a swimming pool, complete with diving board.
59. The world’s longest running motoring event is the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run, an annual event which takes place on the first Sunday of November and commemorates the Emancipation Run of 14 November 1896.
60. The world’s lowest street-legal car is the 19 inch-tall ‘Flatmobile’, built by Perry Watkins from Buckinghamshire. The record was previously held by Andy Saunders, whose car ‘Flat Out’ stands 21.5 inches off the ground.
61. On August 20 2004, 21 people squeezed into a Mini Cooper in Athens, Greece, setting a new world record.
62. The most expensive car sold at auction was the £4.7 million 1931 Bugatti Royale Kellner Coupe.
63. On October 3, 2004 Julian Adams pushed a 4,145lb van one mile in 50 minutes 14 seconds at Bruntingthorpe Aerodrome, Leicestershire.
64. In June 2005 Australian Joe Gosschalk, covered a quarter of a mile in 13.7 seconds in a turbo-charged 1979 Ford LTD P6 hearse.

Formula 1
65. The total number of points scored by women in Formula One is 0.5. It was scored by Lella Lombardi in the 1975 Spanish Grand Prix. The race was cut short due to an accident and because less than half distance had been completed, half points were awarded. So Lombardi's point for sixth place became half a point.
66. It’s a popularly-cited myth that F1 cars can drive upside down. They can’t.
67. The longest track ever used for F1 is Pescara in Italy, at 24.7km, and not the Nurburgring, which is 2.7km shorter.
68. William Grover-Williams, winner of the first Monaco Grand Prix in 1929, worked for the Secret Operations Executive in World War Two. He was captured by the Nazis and is believed to have been executed in 1945.

Rally driving
69. Rally drivers must display their blood group on their helmet or overalls.
70. The late Colin McRae was the youngest ever World Rally champion at just 27 years and 89 days old.
71. The longest ever rally was the Singapore Airlines London to Sydney Rally in 1977, which covered an incredible 19,329 miles.

UK cars

72. The average Ford Mondeo driver in the UK covers 15,483 miles per year, more than drivers of any other car.
73. Registrations of alternatively fuelled vehicles nearly doubled in 2007 compared to the previous year.
74. One in three cars registered in the UK in 2007 were superminis.
75. Just 544 cars falling into the (free) road tax band A were registered in 2007.
76. Blue was the UK’s most popular car colour in 2007, beating silver by just 176,000 registrations.
77. The national driving test pass rate was 43.4 per cent last year, based on a total of almost two million learner drivers.
78. The most popular car for new drivers and drivers under 25 years old is the Ford Fiesta.
79. The UK’s best selling car of 2007 was the Ford Focus, with 126,928 registered. Second was the Vauxhall Astra, with 113,894.
80. In 1904 there were 8,000 cars in Britain. By 1950, there were two million.
81. There are 31,105,988 cars on UK roads, according to a 2007 study by SMMT.
82. The London Congestion Charge has generated £800 million since it was introduced in 2002.
83. The top car model produced in 2007 was the Mini, with a total production run of 237,709.
84. The UK compact SUV market is worth £2.5 billion a year.
85. It costs £28,400,000 to build one mile of motorway in the UK, according to the Department for Transport.


86. Volkswagen builds 2.3m cars on the Golf platform every year - more than any other manufacturer gets from the same base.
87. Nissan builds more cars in Britain than any other manufacturer. Its 353,718 vehicles built in 2007 put it ahead of Toyota, Honda, Mini and Land Rover.
88. Ford’s Dagenham plant built more than 900,000 engines last year, 142,000 more than its Bridgend plant and 534,000 more than BMW’s Oxford factory.
89. In 2007 Toyota became the world’s biggest car manufacturer, taking over from US giants General Motors.
90. Henry Ford is often misquoted. His famous quote was actually: “Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as it is black".
91. The Ford Model T was available in other colours apart from black between 1908 and 1914 and again between 1926 and 1927.
92. In 1916, 55 per cent of the cars in the world were Model T Fords.


93. In 1989 petrol cost 38.5 pence per litre, while diesel cost just 36.1 pence.
94. In 2007 petrol cost 95 pence per litre, while diesel cost 97.4 pence. Today’s average prices are £1.18 and £1.31 per litre for petrol and diesel respectively.


95. Average annual CO2 emission produced per vehicle dropped from 1.2 tonnes in 2002 to 0.7 tonnes in 2006.
96. The Volkswagen Polo BlueMotion and Seat Ibiza Ecomotive emit just 99g/km of CO2, making them exempt from road tax.
97. In 2006 John and Helen Taylor drove an unmodified Volkswagen Golf FSi around the world using just 344 gallons of fuel, averaging 13.8kpg.

Auto Trader

98. The number of searches for cars on Auto Trader over the past twelve months is 855,809,288.
99. Used cars are searched for on at the rate of 23.96 per second.
100. The most expensive car for sale on Auto Trader is the £1,050,000 Bugatti Veyron being sold by Saffron Cars Ltd


101 Not many cars come in Pink! If fact, there is a about 0.31% chance of seeing a pink car. That's about 1 in 330 cars. Barbie's pink XJS can be found at the Coventry Transport Museum 



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