10 YEARS AGO — 2001
New Bentley tops 200: With its 3.6-liter V8, the Bentley Experimental (EXP) Speed 8 race car does 0-to-60 in 3 sec and has a top speed of 225 mph. Six forward gears and one reverse shift with finger-touch paddles on the steering wheel. Special carbon-fiber disc brakes bring the machine from 60 to 0 in 1.5 sec. A light, strong, carbon-fiber survival shell sits inside its aerodynamic exterior.

With the EXP Speed 8, Bentley competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the first time in 71 years.

The company is alsolaunching a limited-edition range of 150 four-door and 50 two-door models called the Le Mans Series based on the Bentley Arnage Red Label and Bentley Continental R Mulliner.

30 YEARS AGO — 1981
X-rays and sound pictures prove aircraft parts: Large composite aircraft structures are X-rayed in lead-protected rooms at McDonnell Aircraft Co., div. of McDonnell Douglas Corp. A ceiling-mounted X-ray emitter moves on tracks, producing images on 14-in.-wide film that can be as long as 200 ft. Nearby, computer-controlled ultrasonic equipment also tests parts, producing “sound pictures” in 64 shades of gray plus black and white. Both devices can detect internal flaws, such as voids, foreign matter, and incomplete material bonding, without damaging the part.

The largest part tested is this 28-ft-long graphite composite wing skin for the AV-8B, a VTOL light-attack aircraft.

50 YEARS AGO — 1961
Battery-powered lawnmower cuts for 1.5 hr on one charge, and the motor can be recharged overnight. Six 12-in. blades make about 70 cuts every 36 in. The mower’s transmission is controlled by a single lever; disengaging the drive permits free movement forwards and backwards. The machine weighs 104 lb and is made by H. C. Webb & Co. Ltd., Birmingham, England.

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