Archives for posts with tag: history

This film from the 1960s shows the then popular sport of motorcycle scrambling, which eventually would turn into enduro. It’s a fun little film.


One hundred years ago Ford Motor Company launched the world’s first moving assembly line, the manufacturing method that enabled cars and trucks to be made economically enough to be afforded by the general public. It created nothing short of a manufacturing revolution.

Here’s a clip from Ford’s press release on the subject.

It simplified assembly of the Ford Model T’s 3,000 parts by breaking it into 84 distinct steps performed by groups of workers as a rope pulled the vehicle chassis down the line.

The new process revolutionized production and dropped the assembly time for a single vehicle from 12 hours to about 90 minutes.

By reducing the money, time and manpower needed to build cars as he refined the assembly line over the years, Ford was able to drop the price of the Model T from $850 to less than $300. For the first time in history, quality vehicles were affordable to the masses. Eventually, Ford built a Model T every 24 seconds and sold more than 15 million worldwide by 1927, accounting for half of all automobiles then sold.

“Ford’s new approach spread rapidly, not only to other automakers but also to manufacturers of phonographs, vacuum cleaners, refrigerators and other consumer goods,” said Bob Casey, former curator of transportation at The Henry Ford.

Read the rest of this entry »


By the 1920s airplanes were staying aloft consistently enough to make airmail a possibility. But just because pilots could keep airplanes from falling out of the sky or crashing into barns didn’t mean they could get one across the country.

And the U.S. Postal Service wanted to do just that: guide planes, day or night, along a 1900-mile route from New York to San Francisco, in service of the mail. And this in an age before radio beacons, or even reliable aeronautical charts. But how?

The answer turned out to be a simple one: giant concrete arrows embedded in the landscape.

These airmail beacons, as they were called, consisted of the aforementioned arrows, 70-feet long, painted yellow, and lit from above by 50-foot towers. The towers, in turn, were topped with rotating beacons and a set of course lights which flashed an unique code identifying each beacon. Pilots followed these beacons coast to coast, one after the other, in ten-mile intervals. And it worked.

From very first transcontinental airmail route in 1924 until the early 1930s, when early forms of radio navigation made them obsolete, many airway-beacon routes were developed.

Today you can still find these remnants of aviation history dotting the landscape, and they make for interesting, historical, overlanding destinations. Here’s a post from Expedition Portal member PHTaco, who’s gone out and had a look.

If you’re interested in finding old airway beacons in your area, have a look at these location lists for the Eastern and Western halves of the U.S. A click on the PID number links to a page with Lat. / Long. info.

More photos below and links with additional history at the end of the post. Read the rest of this entry »

Here’s a great Motor Trend video, reporting from the Unimog Museum in Gaggenau, Germany. They delve into the history of the Mercedes-Benz truck line as well as explain how the trucks actually work. Later they motor a huge Unimog around the proving ground out back.

It’s well worth a watch.

Here’s an interesting experimental off-road vehicle from the 1930s. It looks like it has ten-wheel-drive, though I was only able to trace it to this source on Flickr. Apparently it’s English.


Here’s a nice video of the history of Land Rover from its post-war inception all the way through the Discovery and Freelander models.

It includes footage from vehicle’s famous expedition history as well: the First Overland, London to Singapore Expedition from the mid-1950s; the British Trans-Americas Expedition from the early-1970s, the Great Divide Expedition across the Rocky Mountains in 1989, as well as clips from various Camel Trophies.

If you can get past the pomp and circumstance, here’s some nice footage of 1930s-era, high-speed rail in action. The film shows The Coronation Scot, an English steam train, reaching 114mph on a test run between the stations of Crewe and Euston.

Put into service in honor of the coronation of King George VI (hence all of the pomp and circumstance) it offered regular service between London and Glasgow, a 400-mile run which it made in 6.5 hours.

Today’s trains make the journey 4.5 hours albeit with less style.

I’ve always been a fan of rally. Small production cars pumped up with 600-odd horsepower (at least in the Group B days) and flying down loose, dirt roads is heady stuff.

If you have some time this week, you might enjoy this, a feature-length video of the official history of the World Rally Championship.

This video details the last ten years of Land Rover’s involvement with the Camel Trophy. It’s 90 minutes of non-stop action beginning in 1989 with Defender 110s in the Amazon to Freelanders driving across Tierra del Feugo in 1998. In all of the other years the Discovery features prominently. Enjoy.

Toyota has devoted a section of its global website to Land Cruiser heritage. I really like this shot of the FJ60. Beige paint over grey steel wheels, that’s a good look.