Swedish Article About The 1956 Great American Mountain Rally

Recently I posted a story that was published in the December 10, 1956 issue of Sports Illustrated about the 1956 Great American Mountain Rally.  In that post I asked to be made aware of any other stories about the Great American Mountain Rally.  Well known rally man, Fred Gallagher of Rally The Globe in England, sent me a story that was written in Swedish, just after the finish of the 1956 running of the Great American Mountain Rally.

I then took the original Swedish-language story and translated it into English.  I made some modifications to the initial translation provided by Google Translate.  As a result any errors are mine.  The story is presented below.


Saab-93 celebrated a new major competition triumph, when in November the car won the Great American Mountain Rally – an extremely tough road rally  about 1,250 miles long. In addition to overall victory in the entire competition, Saab finished first, third and fourth in class (up to 750 cc cylinder volume) and also won the team prize.

Sixty-two vehicles arrived at the start in New York on November 21. Of these, 50 finished the rally after three demanding day routes in the north-eastern mountain regions. The course was mainly on difficult alpine roads in the slopes of the Allegheny (more correctly, the Appalachian) Mountains. Three Saab cars were entered and were driven by two American drivers plus Rolf Mellde.  All three Saab cars finished and the winner, Robert Wehman, made history by leading the rally from start to finish. Due to a linguistic misunderstanding with his navigator, Mellde finished the first day in 27th place. Thanks to a superb run of the remaining three days, he was able to move up and finished in sixth overall.

The Saab representative in the United States, Mr. Ralph Millet, in a report on the competition, wrote:

Snowstorm and Ice

The start in New York went at midnight and the cars drove that night and all the following day in a stretch to the first stage goal in the state of Vermont. The roads were very poor at the end of the stage, but in spite of this, the average speed often had to be up to 75 kilometers per hour.

The second day of the rally included bad weather and a severe snowstorm. In 30 centimeters (6 inches) of snow and ice, the contestants had to, among other things, cross two mountain passes, one with such a steep climb, that Mellde said he had not previously run anything like this in Saab. He estimated the upward slope at 15-20 percent. That stretch was the only one in the whole competition, where the Saab cars had to use their snow chains. The end of the second day was at Lake Placid, (a famous winter sports resort).

Putting Snow Chains On A Saab

Minus 22 Night Temperature

In Lake Placid, the cars were parked outdoors overnight. The temperature dropped to minus 22 ° C, and the start of the third day morning made numerous difficulties for everyone except for the Saab cars. They immediately started all three, while some 20 of the other cars had to be towed.

The day’s  stage offered high speeds with, among other things, for four hours, the drivers must be average over 95 km / h. (58 mph)

Saab Beats Jaguar

Following the finish in New York, the 10 top cars took part in the fourth day of an exclusive competition. Wehman also maintained his lead here and secured Saab’s first place in a close finish ahead of a Jaguar, the famous English sports car. Rolf Mellde came in sixth place, and the third team Saab car with a husband & wife team finished 17th. The Great American Mountain Rally is approved by the FIA ​​Federation International Automobile – and is considered one of America’s most demanding road rallies. In this year’s competition, about 20 different leading American and European car brands participated in all size and price categories, among the other cars were Porsche, Triumph, Volkswagen, Volvo, Renault, and Mercedes 300 SL.  Of the American brands, cars with factory drivers from Plymouth, Ford, Buick and Studebaker also participated.

The 1956 Winning Great American Mountain Rally Saab Team 

My thanks to Fred Gallagher for sending me the story about the 1956 Great American Mountain Rally.  It provides yet more information about this event.

If you have any comments or questions about this post or the Great American Mountain Rally then please leave a comment below or you can send me a private email message at the following address: shanna12 at comcast dot net

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