1951: Burgess and MacLean, Russian spies who penetrated the British Foreign office, allegedly plotted their defection to the Soviet Union in the Club Room.
1950s and 60s: These years saw the advent of mass motoring and, in 1959, witnessed the opening of Britain’s first major motorway, the M1 from London to Birmingham. Roads became busier and more dangerous places, with traffic jams ‒ previously unheard of ‒ now commonplace.
The British car industry began to suffer from overseas competition and inefficiencies, and the Club’s main rival the AA began to modernise and consolidate its service to members. Despite this, the clubhouse itself continued to prosper.
1970s: ‘Crisis in the Club’ ‒ by now the Club’s motoring services division, and as a result its clubhouses, were suffering. The Chairman called an emergency meeting, in which a working committee was set up to take positive action. The Club entered an ambitious ten-year programme of expansion and refurbishment, leading to the restoration of the interior of the Club in all its magnificence, and an extensive waiting list to join. Corporate membership was introduced at this time, and ran until 1984.
1978: The Torrens Trophy was founded, awarded to an individual or organisation considered to have made an outstanding contribution to the cause of safe and skilful motorcycling in Britain.
1979: After Lord Mountbatten’s assassination by the IRA in 1979, Prince Michael of Kent became President of the Club.
1991: The RAC Foundation was formed. Long before this, the Club, through its Public Policy Committee, had become a respected voice in the formulation of government policy for roads and motorised transport. This was recognised and strengthened by the formation, in 1991, of the RAC Foundation for Motoring, a registered charity. Trustees are appointed jointly by the RAC (Aviva) and the Club, with an independent chairman.
The Foundation continues to be a strong and independent source of academic research and influence, based on its belief that the growing demand for cars and freight transport has to be accompanied by concern for the environmental effects and impact on road planning, safety and other factors.
1999: RAC Motoring Services Ltd, which offered roadside assistance and many other benefits to over 5.5 million associate members, was sold by the Club to the Lex Group, and later passed to Aviva, the insurance company. This demerger had become necessary to allow the company freer access to capital markets for long-term growth than would have been possible under continued ownership by the members of a London club.
1999: A new era dawned for the Club when ladies were first admitted to full membership.
2005: The Tourist Trophy was awarded for the first time since 1988, to Peter Kox and Pedro Lamy.
2006: The Woodcote Trophy was founded, the first new trophy to be created by the Club in 100 years; a series for racing sports cars of the post-war years, up to December 1955.