Eleven things you auto know

Did you know …

• If you were to put freshly brewed coffee into the tank of a BMW Hydrogen7, it would take 80 days to reach a comfortable drinking temperature?

The hydrogen tank is designed to store supercooled hydrogen, which powers the sedan, at a temperature of -253C. To achieve this, heat transfer is reduced to an absolute minimum, so the tank is vacuum insulated. The hydrogen remains chilled while coffee in the tank would stay piping hot. It would take a miniature snowman about 13 years to melt in there.

• Henry Ford was an early champion of plastics, commissioning projects to explore alternative materials for car bodies in an era when steel was in short supply because of the military buildup for the Second World War. He took the lead in promoting the concept: In 1941, he whacked his personal car with an axe to demonstrate the toughness of an experimental plastic trunk lid.

• With a standard Ontario-issued G-class licence, you may tow a trailer with a gross weight of no more than 4,535 kilograms.

• In 1978, the new King Cobra model was the first Ford Mustang to wear a 5.0 badge – the metric equivalent of 302 cubic inches.

• The Honda Civic, which was introduced in 1972, is the second-longest continuously running nameplate from a Japanese manufacturer in the United States. The Toyota Corolla holds the top spot.

• In 1949, Chrysler hired Studebaker designer Virgil Exner to head an advanced styling revolution, a first step toward realigning the company’s design priorities. Exner enlisted the aid of Italian coachbuilder Carrozzeria Ghia to begin building a remarkable series of so-called “idea cars,” such as the 1951 Chrysler K-310 five-passenger sport coupe, the 1952 C-200, which featured the “gunsight” tail light design later used on Imperials, and the 1953 Chrysler D’Elegance, a three-passenger sport coupe with hand-sewn, black-and-yellow leather upholstery and matching luggage.

The most extraordinary car in this series was the Chrysler Norseman, which featured cantilevered arches to support a roof without A-pillars, all-aluminum body panels and a power-operated, 12-square-foot panel of glass that slid forward to expose the rear seat to the sky.

Unfortunately, when Ghia sent the Norseman on its journey to America, it sank to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean on the ill-fated Italian steamship Andrea Doria in 1956.

• Volvo, Latin for “I roll” (the name was originally owned by a ball bearings company), was born on April 14, 1927 when the first car, Jakob, left the factory in Gothenburg, Sweden.

• The topline BMW 7 Series has roughly 1,300 lines of wire that have a total length of 2,625 metres. That’s easily enough to reach to the top of the world’s highest building, the Burj Dubai, three times over.

• Toyota was founded in 1937 by a Japanese man named Kiichiro Toyoda. The company is called Toyota and not Toyoda because people thought it sounded better and it meant that the name could be written in Japanese with eight strokes of the pen. In Japan and many other Asian countries, the number eight is considered lucky and foreshadows prosperity.

• Porsche wasn’t always a purveyor of fast sports cars. The German automaker also used to manufacture tractors. The first Porsche Tractor prototype was completed by 1938, but production was halted for the Second World War. In 1949, the tractor was completely redesigned and evolved into four models.

• To save weight, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X has no dedicated reverse gear. Instead, the five-speed manual transmission uses a combination of gears one and three with an idler gear on a separate shaft to reverse the direction of rotation.