Friday Fast Facts 4/26/2019

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Love cars and the stories behind them? Join us on the drive to automotive enlightenment in this week’s edition of Friday Fast Facts! The sixth edition features pizza and priorities, Swedish safety and bad business.

Three-Point Seat Belts Save One Life Every Six Seconds.

The stat is thoroughly impressive and highlights the necessity for the device that transformed automobile safety. What’s more impressive is that in 1959, in one of the most sterling cases of corporate social responsibility, Volvo elected not to patent its revolutionary invention. Instead of cashing in on a potential goldmine of intellectual property, the Swedish carmaker elected to leave the patent open for other manufacturers to implement. According to an article by Patrick George for Jalopnik, “They decided the invention was so significant, it had more value as a lifesaving tool than something to profit from.”  

A 1966 Volvo 1800S Holds the Record for Highest Vehicle Mileage

Not only are Volvos safe, they are durable as well. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Irvin “Irv” Gordon and his 1966 Volvo hold the record for putting the most miles on one vehicle at 3,039,122. The Alaska native bought the car for $4,150 in 1966 (about $32,500 today) and has driven it the equivalent of almost 120 trips around the globe.

The Cofounder of Domino’s Pizza Traded His Shares for a Volkswagen

In 1960, brothers Tom and James Monaghan purchased a pizza restaurant near the Eastern Michigan Campus for $500. About a year later, James traded his 50% stake in the business to his brother for a used Volkswagen Beetle. Nearly 40 years later, Tom decided to hang up his apron and sell the majority of his stock in the company. His patience bought him more than a fleet of Beetles, as his 93% stake sold for $1 billion.

Papa John’s Founder Sold His 1971½ Camaro to Keep Business Afloat

In 1983, John Schnatter took the exact opposite approach of James Monaghan and sold his wheels to keep selling meals. Schnatter, founder of Papa John’s Pizza, sold his prized 1971½ Chevrolet Camaro Z28 for $2,800 (around $7,000 today) to save his father’s tavern from bankruptcy and launch what would grow into Papa John’s today. Schnatter’s sacrifice has yielded over 3,000 store locations and a company worth $1.6 billion. The cherry on top: Schnatter was reunited with the car that started it all in 2009.

The Founder of Chevrolet Died Bankrupt, Working as a Mechanic for His Own Company

Louis Chevrolet was an exceptional racecar driver, a masterful mechanic and a virtuoso when it came to designing automobiles. Business acumen however, was not a skill the Frenchman possessed. Chevrolet won his first race in 1905 and his eponymous car manufacturing outfit sold its first unit seven years later. Problems for Chevrolet and his company began when he and the head of parent company General Motors started splitting hairs over the direction of the subsidiary. The disagreement ultimately led to Chevrolet’s departure from his company and a series of poor choices and bad business breaks. According to an Automotive News article by Ralph Kramer, “the ailing and destitute auto pioneer was hired as a mechanic at Chevrolet’s Detroit Gear and Axle plant in 1934.” Chevrolet suffered multiple strokes before dying from complications after his leg was amputated in 1941.

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