The Big Healey’s first major success was in 1960, when Pat Moss and Ann Wisdom made history by winning the grueling Liège-Rome-Liège (Marathon de la Route) event outright. It was the first occasion that a woman had won a major international rally. The following year the Morley twins—Don and Erle—won the Austrian Alpine Rally, a feat they repeated in 1962. The model’s final outright victories came in 1964, when Paddy Hopkirk won the Austrian Alpine Rally and Rauno Aaltonen the last Marathon de la Route held on public roads, following a Spa-Sofia-Liège route.
This ex-works BMC rally team Big Healey is understood to be the sole surviving 1962 team car, one of a series of five built by the works in 1962 with registration numbers respectively 37, 47, 57, 67 and 77 ARX. Three (37, 57 and 77) were written off in 1963, and one, 47 ARX, in 1964. This car, 67 ARX, made its international debut in the 1962 Alpine Rally, crewed by David Seigle-Morris and Tony Ambrose, placing 8th and contributing to BMC’s Team Prize. Seigle-Morris then took it on the Liège-Sofia-Liège Rally—a notoriously punishing, virtual road race in which the organizers’ declared aim was “No Finishers.” He led in this car until it sustained chassis damage, but he nevertheless nursed it to the finish.
67 ARX next ran in the RAC Rally, crewed by Paddy Hopkirk and Jack Scott to win its class and finish second overall, then its next outing was the Swedish “Midnight Sun” Rally in the hands of the legendary Flying Finn, Timo Mäkinen.
At the end of the 1963 season, with a new batch of cars under construction for 1964, it was sold to Tony Ambrose, and it later passed to Healey enthusiast Ted Worswick who continued rallying it. In 1969 he sold it on, and the car was dismantled. Its rebuild did not commence until the next owner, Nick Howell, purchased it in the early 1980s. The car was sympathetically restored throughout by Barry Simpson Restorations Ltd, using a “repair rather than replace” policy. It made several appearances at historic meetings before being sold to Aston Martin chairman, Victor Gauntlett, who used the car on such retrospective events as the Coppa d’Italia.
In 1998 it was purchased by the consignor and was used on historic events such as the Monte Carlo Challenge (1999) and Classic Malts Rally (2000). After an accident in the Rally of Portugal in 2000, the chassis was found to be beyond saving, so a new frame was fabricated to works pattern and the car rebuilt around that—while retaining as many of the original parts as possible. On completion, 67 ARX was returned to the vendor together with its original chassis frame.
The car has not been used for rallying since the rebuild. But it has been taken to various shows and meetings including the 50th Anniversary of Austin-Healey at Thruxton in 2002.
|Vehicle:||1962 Austin-Healey 3000 Mk II Rally Car|
|Number Produced:||5,096 (about ten works rally cars)|
|Original List Price:||$3,051|
|Tune Up Cost:||$300|
|Chassis Number Location:||On plate screwed to firewall|
|Engine Number Location:||Plate riveted on left side of block|
|Club Info:||Austin-Healey Club USA, 940 Skip Away Court, Morgan Hill, CA 95037|
|Alternatives:||1957-62 Triumph TR3A, 1956-65 Porsche 356, 1962-63 AC Ace 2.6|
This car, Lot 309, sold for $211,731 at Bonhams’ sale at the Goodwood Revival meeting on September 17, 2010.
There cannot be a more evocative image of the British rally car than a bright-red big Healey with works hard top, side-slung exhausts and proud, spotlight-toting nose—even though the Minis and Escorts that came later won more events. These are the beasts immortalized in epic drives from the likes of David Seigle-Morris, the Morley twins, and of course, Pat Moss and Ann Wisdom during an age when rallies were proper endurance events across huge tracts of Europe and not sprint races in closed venues.
In the wake of probably the most famous ex-works Healey, URX 727, which Moss and Wisdom drove to victory on the 1960 Liège-Rome-Liège, selling for an unprecedented $323k in 2004, there are great expectations whenever one of these rare survivors comes to market. Those expectations weren’t so great here because of the car’s replacement chassis. The best handful of these cars left retain their originals and mostly resemble the machines they were in period, even if they have been chopped about and modified in the meantime.
As an aside, we should mention the sad recent passing of Jonathan Everard, a former Donald Healey Motor Company apprentice and employee, who as owner of J.M.E. Healeys, has been responsible for returning several of these cars to their original, authentic forms, including URX 727.
A busy rally car
This car, 67 ARX, is one of the majors. Perhaps it never attracted quite the fame of URX 727, but in period it led a busy life—even after being sold off by the works at the end of 1963. Its last rallies with Ted Worswick were the 1966 FRAM International Rally and the 1967 Gulf International Rally. The car was later revived for the newly-burgeoning historic rally scene nearly 30 years later.
As presented, the car was in excellent condition. It has not been rallied since its repairs by Orchard Restorations, an acknowledged Healey specialist, almost 10 years ago. The car was riding on a decent set of Avon ZZs, the correct tall-profile, soft-compound radials that are the enthusiasts’ choice for historic motorsport. This is always a good sign.
All of the works features remained, such as the hard top and the screen demisters, the fiberglass trunk lid to accommodate twin spares, and an overdrive switch built into the gear knob.
The car now has a modern roll cage for rallying, along with two new Facet fuel pumps in the trunk. It retains a dynamo—in a slightly grubby engine bay—and the pleasingly well-worn seat leather is almost certainly original.
A second chance on the block—and beyond
Interestingly, this car bid to $210k at the Goodwood sale two years and 400 miles ago (SCM # 117845), but stalled under reserve, as there was a worry that the original chassis still existed, which left the possibility for cloning. But the seller subsequently produced a letter stating the original chassis had been destroyed. The original, usable body parts removed at the time of rebuild were included in the lot.
This time the car sold to a collector who has jointly owned some of the best and most original ex-works Healeys in the world. He likes to drive his cars—most years demonstrating them on the rally stage at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Although it might look as if he paid slightly over the odds at $212k, the estimate ($110k to 155k) was low, and the price paid was about 15% cheaper than the top bid of two years ago when considered in pounds, not dollars.
In any event, the new owner is fully aware of the car’s history and its new chassis, but he’s not bothered as it means this car can be a driver, and it already has FIA papers and FIVA passport.
So, perhaps the only real surprise is that this deal was done in public and not behind closed doors. It has a happy ending—not just for buyer and seller—but for us enthusiasts, because we should get to see the old beast snarl on historic events again. Star here for seller and buyer both.