Rear-view Mirror

A regular look back at old motoring and motor sport items…


80 years ago

In 1941 with WW2 well underway, a shortage of fuel in Europe played havoc with motoring on the continent, and led to some individuals modifying their vehicles to run on producer-gas plants.

Ford started production of its first six-cylinder car since the Model K of 1907. The 3 700 cc L-head motor produced 67 kW @ 3 300 r/min and was offered across the whole range – Series IIA Standard, Deluxe and Super Deluxe. On August 13, Henry Ford unveiled the ‘Soybean Car’ at Dearborn Days, an annual community festival. The Soybean was a plastic-bodied car on a tubular steel frame with14 plastic panels attached to it. The car weighed 900 kg, 450 kg lighter than an equivalent steel car. The exact ingredients of the plastic panels are unknown because no record of the formula exists today.

Chrysler rolled out its Town and Country wagon, the original precursor to the minivan with nine passenger seats, a rear hatch, and, for the first time, wooden panels on the outside of the car. Chrysler, DeSoto and Dodge offered a semi-automatic called Fluid Drive.

Packard started producing Rolls-Royce Merlin engines under licence for the RAF and the American aircraft industry.

The Novi V-8 front-wheel drive racing car made its first appearance at Indianapolis.  Between 1941 and 1965, it earned the reputation for wicked handling by killing two of its drivers. Despite that, the Novis were so fast that more racers were always willing to take them on.


Having made the point in last month’s newsletter about missing motor racing, lo and behold the Government’s easing of COVID restrictions meant that circuit attendance was once more possible. Wendy and I jumped at the chance to go to Killarney for the Power Series event and despite the cold and rain, thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The fields were full and there was plenty of close racing to enjoy. A wish come true…

So, looking forward to the future, there are a couple of big historic events to look forward to – especially the return of the 9-Hour, not only at Kyalami but Killarney too. On December 4, the International GT Series 9-Hour takes place at Kyalami with supercars from Lamborghini, Porsche, Aston Martin, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Ferrari and McLaren – and SA driver participation. Then a week later, the final round of the SA Endurance Series takes place at Killarney with a 9-Hour race, which organiser Roger Pearce describes as “This event is the only one that is a true reflection of some of the great history of South African motor sport. Where we had Gordinis we have Polos, where we had 917s we have Ginettas…” Entries close on November 30.

But to (ahem!) look back, the photo shows the three-wheeling Frank Wingel/Dirk Marais Volvo 122S chasing the Jem Marsh/Brain Rubenheimer Mini Marcos through the Esses at Kyalami in the 1967 9-Hour. Bring it on…


(NB: No copyright infringement is intended with any of the images used to illustrate these articles.)