The thoroughly British RAC Rally was a distinctly Swedish affair throughout the Swinging Sixties. If Saab and Volvo weren’t dominating the forest tracks, the likes of Erik Carlsson, Tom Trana, Bengt Söderström and Harry Källström were picking up the slack.
Of all the rallies held between 1960 and 1971, Sweden emerged victorious – as the driver, vehicle or both – on ten occasions, bringing Britain’s domination of its home rally to an abrupt halt.
Volvo won the RAC Rally on two occasions, with back-to-back victories for Tom Trana and his Volvo PV544 in 1963 and 1964.
Two years later he returned to the podium, this time finishing third in a Volvo Amazon 122S, an achievement to be celebrated at this month’s Wales Rally GB.
Ken Davies from Hereford will be entering this year’s three-day WRGB National Rally in his own Volvo Amazon, alongside some Peugeot 205 GTIs, a Datsun 240Z, a brace of Volkswagen Beetles and a host of Ford Escorts.
For Ken, it is a dream come true and a chance to herald the 50th Rally GB since Volvo’s last appearance. “My co-driver Alan Jones mentioned the timescale, so we thought we really ought to have a go on this year’s event,” said the 67-year-old.
“I wanted something different from the historic Escorts that everyone else seems to rally, so I really fancied the Volvo when it came up for sale,” he explained.
“It’s a car that everyone loves – it must be one of the most photographed in the woods. It’s quite hard to drive compared to modern machines, but it’s great fun and we are getting quicker and quicker.”
The 1966 RAC Rally was dominated by Swede Bengt Söderström, with his ‘works’ Ford Cortina Lotus finishing nearly 14 minutes ahead of the chasing pack.
Harry Källström finished second in his Mini Cooper S, while Trana completed a Swedish podium in the Volvo Amazon. The 1966 event featured a star-studded line-up, including Paddy Hopkirk, Timo Mäkinen, Roger Clark, Graham Hill and reigning F1 World Champion, Jim Clark.
The Dayinsure Wales Rally GB is the penultimate round of the FIA World Rally Championship and takes place from 26 to 29 October 2017.