Go Karts of the 1960s

Updated April 17, 2017

A go-kart, is a small, motorised car used for racing. While go-karts were first commercially produced by Go Kart Manufacturing in 1958, McCulloch was the first company to make go-kart engines the following year. In the following decade, drivers also used motorcycle engines in go-karts. During the 1960s, go-karts were still popular, and came in a variety of styles.

Go-kart Manufacturing

The first company to pen the term "go-kart" was manufacturer Go Kart Manufacturing, which began making go-karts in the 1950s and introduced various styles in the 1960s. The styles included the Go Kart 400B model, the Wasp, the Go Kart 800 and the Bug, which came in standard, deluxe and custom models. One of Go Kart's 1960 advertisments read "So you can't afford a new Maserati -- here's a sports car within the means for everyone."

Rocket Go-karts

Rocket-powered go-karts became popular in the 1960s, according to history resource Vintage Karts. In 1967, Reaction Dynamics was one of the first companies to produce go-karts powered by rocket motors that ran on 90 per cent hydrogen peroxide. Prior to 1967, racer Jack McClure modified a 1963 Rupp Dart Kart for himself that could go from 0 to 150mph in 7.3 seconds.

Rathmann Xterminator

The Rathmann Xterminator debuted in August 1960, and was different than other go-karts of the time in that its frame was made of aluminium monocoque construction. Monocoque design uses the skin or outer shell of the machine to bear all or most of the stress without any or little interior frame. The first Xterminator karts were prototypes until the machine became popular when 16-year-old Bobby Allen used it in the Nassau World Championship race and won. Xterminators could be modified like most go-karts, and many featured decorative, front-mounted radiators which owners could paint racing numbers on.

Moss Cart

California-based Moss Engineering manufactured the Moss Cart in 1960. The Moss Cart was designed by Indy 500 chassis builder George Salih, and looked similar to the Rathmann Xterminator. According to a 1960 print advertisement, the Moss Cart featured internal expanding brakes, rock and pinion steering, aluminium wheels, low-profile engine mounting and a tubular space frame. The driver's seat in the Moss Cart was adjustable, and Vintage Karts states it was "one of the few karts intended solely for racing."

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About the Author

Crystal Vogt has been an editor and freelance writer since 2005 and has had her work mentioned on MediaBistro, Yahoo! Finance and MSN Money, among other outlets. She received her M.S. in journalism from Boston University and holds a B.A. in English from UC Santa Barbara.