Legends of the 9 Hour

The Fast and Furious * Rock ‘n Roll * The Baby Boomers of World War II * The Go-Go-Go-Generation

The late 1950’s and early 1960’s were very exciting times in which to live. There was a buzz of expectation. The war babies grew up and became active motorists. They had very little to worry about. The two previous generations had to contend with two destructive world wars. The new generation had rock ‘n roll, open roads, time and money. IMAGE
The motor manufacturers were quick to realize the possibilities of this new, emerging market – that of James Dean generation.
Ford aimed its marketing campaign at the “Hot Rodders” and started producing advertisements with a performance message. Ford salesmen were issued handbooks telling them how to recognize these new buyers – “They are the young fellows who buy cars strictly for fun driving!” Their wants are simple… they want brutal, neck-snapping acceleration and quick-shifting four-on-the-floor transmission. They want to “GO, GO, GO!”
IMAGE Ford was right, it was a horsepower race. The big three in USA were in a sales race. The horsepower was emblazoned in big numbers on the bonnets, and big-time race tracks were built – Daytona, Talladega, and Darlington. The motto was “Win on Saturday – Sell on Monday!” Their sales performances reflected this.
With this generation came the “pony cars” – huge 7-litre Ford Galaxies, Mustangs, Chev, Plymouths, Cryslers, De Soto’s, Dodges…
In England and Europe new powerful GT cars took over from the sports cars, with the Cortina GT, Lotus Cortina, Mini Cooper S, Renault Gordini, and Alfa GTA being challenged by Ford Galaxies, Ford Mustangs and Ford Falcon Saloon car racing became the feature events at race meetings. IT WAS FAST AND FURIOUS.
In South Africa the story was no different, with Bobby Olthoff in the Ford Galaxie, Basil van Rooyen and Koos Swanepoel in Lotus Cortina’s and then Mustangs. Peter Gough in his Lotus Cortina the Porter brothers in Renault Gordini, the Lawson Motors Volvos, and the Cooper S of George Armstrong and the Broadspeed Anglia of Gordon Biggs. IMAGE
High performance road cars were for the “kids”. Cars were essential for dating. Drive-In back row passion pits and secluded lovers’ lanes were “in”, and necking took place to the accompaniment of the music of Elvis Presley, Ricky Nelson, Pat Boone, Buddy Holley, the Beatles, the Beach Boys and many others. The infectious beat of rock ‘n roll was the heartbeat of the time!
Then the “kids” grew up, they got married, had families, the world motor manufacturers focused on safety, governments introduced 70 mph (120km/h) speed limits, there was a war in Vietnam, and the stock market crashed in 1969. Most significantly of all, however was Woodstock. The beat of rock ‘n roll music and the ballads of philosophy. The world oil/fuel crises in the early Seventies finally killed off the “pony car” and the “fast and furious”. It took about twenty years for the racing production cars to find its way back to the world’s race tracks in the early nineties. By then the “ponies” had given way to high technology and huge costs which was not to last for too long. But that is quite another story…
For now, let us enjoy the rock ‘n roll racing of the Go-Go-Go-Generation.
Let’s rock ‘n roll!
More pictures of these cars in Action.