WWII to 1959

Period in review


Car trials capture the attention of enthusiasts and the public

In the years following he Second World War, motoring became much more popular as people’s prosperity improved and local car manufacturing expanded. With the democratisation of motoring and reduced costs of participation, car trials became ever more popular with motoring enthusiasts. Long standing clubs such as the Light Car Club and the Victorian Sporting Car Club resumed running car trials immediately after the war. These were mostly day time navigational and reliability trials, sometimes including some speed tests along the way. Night trials were relatively rare. More challenging events then developed with the Light Car Club running the first Experts Trial in 1947 and the Alpine Reliability Trial resurrected in 1950 (not run since 1936).

In 1953 CAMS was established under the guidance of Donald Kingsley Thomson, or DKT, and, as the official national body associated with the FIA, took over the administration of motor sport in Australia (in Victoria, rallies had been conducted under the guidance of the RACV, and through them to the AAA). DKT instilled a deep philosophy of sportsmanship and camaraderie in all motor sport, but particularly in rallying. In the years that followed, numerous car clubs were established and became affiliated with CAMS, many conducting regular trials.

1953 also saw the running of the first Sun Rally, directed by DKT, as an “All Victoria” multi-day event. It also ran in 1954 and 55, and lead directly to the establishment of the BP Rally which ran from 1958 to 1973 (the first ten BP Rallies were also directed by DKT).

The three REDex “Round Australia” trials were conducted in 1953, 54 and 55 and elevated car trials to legend status in the eyes of the public. These were followed by three Mobilgas Round Australia Trials in 1956, 57 and 58 and the long distance Ampol Trials also in 1956, 57 and 58 (the first two were not CAMS sanctioned and resulted in much conflict within the sport over the role of CAMS).

Many vehicles of the era were large and cumbersome, but by the end of the 1950s the VW Beetle had emerged as a relatively cheap vehicle of choice for rallies. And during the 1950s, Victorians Harry Firth and Graham Hoinville established a reputation that would carry them into the next decade when they would win several state championships, the inaugural Southern Cross Rally (1966) and the inaugural Australian Rally Championship (in 1968).

The years underlined at left link to pages with content that has been provided to date.

The Melbourne finish of the 1957 Mobilgas Rally