On the 2nd January 1960, around 1000 rallyists gathered on the Großer Feldberg, ('Great Field Mountain'), one of the most striking mountain peaks in Germany for the meeting of the 1960 Elefantentreffen.
At around 880m, the Großer Feldberg is the highest point in the Taunus mountain range and indeed of the entire Rhenish Massif. At the top of the mountain is a 50m telecommunication tower built in 1937.
Among the 1000 or so in attendance there were around 700 motorcycles with or without sidecars from all over Germany. Swiss, Belgians and even some Danes met there too, with enthusiasts from across the age spectrum all present.
Indeed, there were also several female bikers present who rode their own machines, which at that time was very 'avant-garde'.
Elefantentreffen 1960 - No snow but lots of fog
The roads were free of snow, nor were the conditions icy; only light rain accompanied by dense fog everywhere. Real winter in the form of snow, ice and frozen conditions didn't actually arrive until a week after the meeting, much to Ernst 'Klacks' Leverkus 'disappointment.
With only two months to go before the 1960 gathering, Klacks and his entourage still insisted on keeping the meeting location secret. Above all, they didn't want a repeat of the impersonal and noisy mass of the 1959 meeting in Stadtoldendorf. No one knew where the Elefantentreffen 1960 would take place, not even their close friends.
But a sudden reform of motorcycle insurance in Germany, instigating new insurance premiums for motorcycles over 350cc prompted an avalanche of letters in Klacks' magazine Das Motorrad asking where the meeting was to be held. In response Klaks felt compelled to reveal the exact location to his readers.
Elefantentreffen 1960 - 700 outfits and solo machines took part
As in previous meetings, there was no organising committee. A week before the rally, some old timers from previous meetings had arrived to organise accommodation.
Klacks stayed at the Weissen Ross hotel/restaurant in Glashutten at the foot of the Feldberg. Its owner, Deke worked miracles to accommodate people as best he could despite the hotel being overwhelmed by the number of bikers seeking accommodation. The rooms of its large restaurant as well as those of all the neighbouring restaurants had to somehow be enlarged to receive all the motorcyclists who arrived at the Großer Feldberg that night of 2 January 1960.
Klacks had brought an 8mm cinema projector and a space inside the Weissen Ross was transformed for the occasion into a makeshift cinema with the first screening at 5.00pm. It was a 20-minute documentary on the Waterloo Trial with the great Trial riders of that era, Gordon Jackson, John Giles and Sammy Miller. The room was crammed to bursting and outside others were waiting their turn. The film was screened no less than 7 times in a row to satisfy everyone.
Gordon Jackson - British Champion in 1955, 1959 and winner of the Scottish Six days in 1956, 1959, 1961, 1962. His battle against Sammy Miller went on for years.
Unfortunately though, three rather drunk bikers from Frankfurt seemed to be looking for trouble. They were immediately expelled from the rally by two Hofheim police officers named Wilhelm Eckhardt and Erwin Schlenker. The three were made to leave immediately and return home. You'd better behave yourself with the German police at that time. There was absolutely no room at the Elefantentreffen for disorderly bikers and troublemakers. The rally's reputation had to remain flawless.
Finally Klacks tackled the long-awaited subject of the new insurance premiums for motorcycles over 350 cc. He read them an open letter to be sent to the Minister of the Economy which received 900 signatures.
It was also decided that the date of the next Elephant gathering, the sixth, would be 7 January 1961 and that it would take place in front of the stands of the Nurburgring, a place which would surely be large enough to accommodate everyone.
It was decided that the next Elefantentreffen would take place at the Nurburgring
The next morning as the meeting drew to close and the motorcyclists began to leave, the fog, which had been present throughout, became even thicker and made riding very difficult.
- Jean-Francois Helias