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Social Studies Resource Site

 CLASSIC RALLY CARS

    Rallying is one of the oldest forms of motorsport. Instead of racing around a track with other cars, rallying involves cars one at a time competing againsst the clock on public roads or special stages.


     Instead of asphalt, rally cars were and still are expected to take on gravel, mud, snow, ice, asphalt and what other conditions one may find, both by day and night.


    Below are some of the most interest cars used over the decades, and many are still used in historic rallies to this day.



The Golden Age: 1950s-1960s



      Arguably, the 1950s-1960s was the golden age of the sport. It was during this period that regularity rallies were run across Europe, Africa, Canada, South America, and the rest of the globe, and would often stretch thousands of miles in length. Famous events included the Monte Carlo, Coupe Des Alps, and the Leige-Sofia-Leige Rallies. In Canada, the most famous events were the Shell 4000 and the Canadian Winter Rally.


    It was during this time that cars came in all shapes and sizes none too different from production cars, and amateurs could compete with works teams, though even then at a significant disadvantage. Perhaps best of all, crews still wore cardigans and ties and smoked pipes, while lady drivers drove in their stylish Sunday best.


    Average speeds were often only 50km/h, but in winter conditions, with bias-ply tires, sketchy handling, manual steering , manual drum brakes, and often with well less than 100hp, even these speeds were a major challenge just to finish. By the late 1960s cars were getting faster, traffic was increasing, and  public roads were no longer suitable. This brought about the end of the golden era of regularity rallies.



Photos from various rallies in Europe and Canada in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Cars pictured include a SAAB 96, Mini Cooper S, Volvo PV544, Volvo Amazon, Panhard Dayna, a Studebaker Lark, and a Lloyd Alexander.

More to come!