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Posts Tagged ‘Indianapolis 500’


Posted by Admin on April 25, 2011

Back in the mid-1990s, there was a Gothic Country Music, with influences from bluegrass and European folk, and known by the name of 16 Horsepower.  Ten years and 8 CDs later, they disbanded.  Considering that this year’s 2012 Hyundai Accent features a 138-horsepower six-speed transmission, anything with only 16 horsepower may not sound terrible powerful.  But just how much power is found in one horsepower?

The fact of the matter is that a horsepower is a unit for measuring the rate of work of an engine or motor.  Horsepower is the unit of power needed to lift 165 pounds 27 inches in one second. The average horse is actually 10 to 13 times stronger than that, meaning that one horse normally is capable of producing 10 to 13 units of horsepower.

Horses are known for two things when it comes to their ability to move from place to place: power and speed.

On September 10, 1915 Montana’s Miles City Independent newspaper ran an advertisement for the Chalmers Six-40 — a two-door seven-passenger, 40 horsepower, valve-in-head motor with overhead camshaft touring car that sat two in the front seat, two in the middle seat and three in the back seat that sold for $1,350 US dollars.  In many respects, it sounds a little like today’s minivans. The ad included this tidbit of information about reasons why people may be interested in purchasing a Chalmers Six-40:

Some one said a short time ago that people buy  motor cars largely on three P’s — Paint, Price and Performance.  You can measure this wonderful Chalmers car at $1,350 by any one of these three standards.  It is right in Paint which indicates finish and wearing qualities.  It is right in Performance because no car at any price performs better than this car does. And it is right in Price.  No one in the history of the industry ever approached such quality at such a price before.

Cunard Lines has been a leading operator of passenger ships on the North Atlantic since 1839, when Canadian-born Samuel Cunard (1787–1865) was awarded the first British transatlantic steamship mail contract.  Originally named the British and North American Royal Mail Steam-Packet Company, it operated four paddle steamers that travelled between Liverpool (England), Halifax (Nova Scotia, Canada) and Boston (Massachusetts, U.S.A.)  In 1879, it was renamed the Cunard Steamship Company.  Back in 1839, however, steamships were between 300 and 450 horsepower.

The Brittania, one of Cunard‘s large ocean liners, crossed the Atlantic in 11 days and 4 hours, arriving in Halifax from England on July 17, 1840.   She was 207 feet (63 m) long and 34 feet (10.3 m) across the beam, had three masts and a power output of about 740 horsepower.   Her usual speed was about 8.5 knots or 16 km per hour on average and could carry 115 passengers and 82 crew members.

But the origin of the expression horsepower dates back to 1780 when Scottish engineer James Watt (1736-1819) realized he needed a term for power that would help him market his modified steam engine.  At the time, his competition was a horse and so he coined the expression “horsepower” so the marketplace would be able to make the comparison easily and accurately.

Posted in Idioms from the 18th Century | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

It’s A Doozy

Posted by Admin on April 26, 2010

The Duesenberg was an Auburn, Indiana based luxury automobile company active in various forms from 1913 to 1937.    Originally founded in Des Moines, Iowa in 1913 by German-born brothers Fred and August Duesenberg, the Duesenberg Automobile & Motors Company, Inc. built its vehicles entirely by hand. 

The company was most famous for its high-quality passenger cars as well as its record-breaking racing cars.    In 1914, Eddie Rickenbacker drove a “Duesy” to finish in 10th place at the Indianapolis 500, and a Duesenberg won the race in 1924, 1925, and 1927. 

Over time, the name of the car went from “Deusy” to “Doozy.”  Because the car was so impressive and had accomplished so much in such a short period of time, the term “doozy” came to mean anything deemed to be excellent or powerful.

Posted in Idioms from the 20th Century | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »