1964 Austin-Healey 3000 MkIII BJ8 'Works' Rally Car
Estimate: £200,000 - £250,000
One of four Works cars prepared by the factory for the 1964 season; winner of the 1964 Spa-Sofia-Liège rally
1964 Austin-Healey 3000 MkIII BJ8 'Works' Rally Car
Registration no. BMO 93B
Chassis no. HBJ8/27537
*Winner of the last overall victory by an Austin-Healey 3000 in a European Rally Championship event
*Documented ownership history from new
*Maintained by Woolmer Classic Engineering Ltd, the leading authority on works Austin-Healeys
'BMO 93B' is one of four Austin Healey 3000 MkIIIs prepared by the BMC Competitions Department for the 1964 international rally season, the other three cars being 'ARX 91B', 'ARX 92B', and 'BRX 852B'. All four cars survive. 'BMO' completed two events as a works team car, finishing 1st overall in the 1964 Spa-Sofia-Liège (driven by Rauno Aaltonen and Tony Ambrose) and 21st overall in the '64 RAC Rally (driven by Don and Erle Morley).
BMC's development of the Big Healey for rallying had started in 1958 with the 2.6-litre 100/6 model that debuted in that year's Monte Carlo Rally driven by Tommy Wisdom. By the time the new 2.9-litre 3000 model took over mid way through 1959, the 100/6 had demonstrated considerable promise, achieving a number of leader-board finishes, the best of which was Jack Sears' class win in the '59 Tulip Rally.
Development was facilitated by the transfer of Austin-Healey production to MG's Abingdon factory in 1957 and the decision to base the works' rally programme at the Competitions Department there under Marcus Chambers. Benefiting from the attention of MG's experienced engineers, the 3000 was progressively developed over the course of the next six years before a change in the FIA's Appendix J regulations at the end of 1965 outlawed many of the special parts that had been homologated for competition use.
Although the Big Healey retained a separate chassis and body in traditional sports car fashion, these two components were welded together to form a structure of greatly increased strength and rigidity. Wherever possible, body panels - wings, doors, and bonnet included - were fabricated in aluminium rather than steel to save weight, the boot lid was also made of aluminium and gained a distinctive upward extension to accommodate twin spare wheels. To protect the low-slung under-body, 'bash' plates were invariably employed. This lack of ground clearance was the car's greatest weakness, explaining the works' policy of running them 'nose up' to avoid grounding the sump. Lack of rear suspension travel was another disadvantage, not addressed until the introduction of dipped rear chassis rails from 1961, a modification that later found its way onto the 3000 MkIII Phase II production model. Other essential competition modifications included four-wheel disc brakes, close-ratio gears, and a limited-slip differential.
Early works 3000s used engines that retained the production version's cast-iron cylinder head and triple SU carburettors developing around 160bhp. The adoption of a short side-exit exhaust system was one of the earliest modifications, followed by fabricated tubular exhaust manifolds, aluminium cylinder heads, and triple Weber carburettors. These latter two modifications arrived in 1962, and in this ultimate specification the maximum power output had risen to around 210bhp.
The Big Healey's first major success was gained in 1960 when Pat Moss, partnered by co-driver Ann Wisdom, having finished second in the Alpine, then made history by winning the gruelling 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 Alpine Rally outright, a feat they repeated in 1962. Big Healeys were regular class winners and frequently took the team award; though in the face of increasing competition, not least from the Mini Cooper, outright wins were comparatively few. The car'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, which on this occasion followed a Spa-Sofia-Liège route.
The 1964 'Liège' was the last to be run to the original road race regulations, as after that event Germany and Austria withdrew their permission for cars to run at unlimited speeds through their countries. The route took competitors from Belgium through Germany, Austria, Italy and several of the Adriatic countries before arriving in Bulgaria. The roads deteriorated dramatically after Italy, with loose rock and pothole damage to suspension, and punctures causing problems for all competitors. Rauno Aaltonen ('The Professor') was extremely quick and mechanically very sympathetic, nonetheless he suffered many rear tyre punctures, and once the two spare wheels had been used, the car sometimes had to run on the wheel rims to reach the next service point. At Sofia, the halfway point, Rauno, Tony, and 'BMO' were leading, and despite continuing punctures held the lead to the finish. This was the fourth and final outright victory by an Austin-Healey on an international event forming part of the European Rally Championship, which prior to 1978 was the only FIA-approved championship for rally drivers.
The 1964 RAC Rally started and finished in Central London to attract added publicity; the furthest points reached were Somerset, Wales, and Perthshire. The special stages were rough and hard on the cars, which suited the Big Healeys, that of Makinen/Barrow fishing 2nd overall. After an off-road excursion that delayed them for some time, the Morley twins still managed a creditable 21st overall in 'BMO'.
In 1965, 'BMO' was purchased from the factory by Mrs Pauline Mayman, a BMC works driver. Her husband Lionel raced the car for several years, mainly in British club events with some success. They owned Hunts of Birmingham, a BMC dealership. Peter Smith then acquired the car and continued to race it before selling it to John Gott. Ex-BMC Competitions Department Team Captain and Chief Constable of Northamptonshire Police, Gott stripped it in preparation for building an ultimate 3000 Modsports racer to replace his famous 1959 ex-works Austin-Healey 3000, 'SMO 746'. Before this modification work could be undertaken, Gott tragically died while racing 'SMO' at Lydden Hill on 3rd September 1972.
Collector Arthur Carter then acquired both the remains of 'SMO 746' and the stripped-down 'BMO 93B', plus a quantity of spare parts, including many original works pieces. He then restored 'BMO' to form part of his extensive private collection. On 24th June 2005, 'BMO' was purchased at Bonhams' sale of the Arthur Carter Collection at the Goodwood Festival of Speed by David Cottingham of DK Engineering. The current owner acquired the car from DK in March 2006. Much of the above ownership information is shown on the original green logbook, which accompanies the car and confirms its continuous history.
During the present ownership the Healey has been the subject of a very thorough restoration to show standard, and has been used sparingly for special events. In 2014 BMO was featured on the Austin Healey Club stand at the British National Classic Car Show, with two of the other surviving 1964 team cars to celebrate the 50th anniversary of that historic Liège victory. In 2018, 'BMO' was one of two ex-works Austin-Healey 3000s featured in a major article by Octane magazine. Subsequently, it completed a private road rally event in Scotland, performing extremely well and without fault.
Prior to being offered for sale, 'BMO 'has been fully checked and serviced by Woolmer Classic Engineering Ltd, the leading authority on works Austin Healeys, who look after the car for the current owner.
'BMO' is currently built to the 1964 Spa-Sofia-Liège specification, which includes:
All aluminium panels and glassfibre hardtop
Works vents in the front wings and hardtop
Works raised boot lid to carry a second spare wheel
Works-type carburettor access panel
Cast-iron cylinder block with original works aluminium alloy cylinder head
Original 1964 matching triple Weber DCOE 13 carburettors mounted on original works magnesium alloy inlet manifolds
1964 works-specification exhaust system
Works-specification straight-cut gearbox with Tulip gear ratios
Works-specification electrical system with individually fused circuits
Works-specification four-wheel, dual-circuit disc brake system with original coaxial master cylinder and servo assistance
1964 works-specification chassis strengthening to front and rear suspension
Matching works-specification seats
1964 works-specification dashboard layout and steering wheel
Works-type long-range fuel tank with twin fuel pumps
1964 Spa-Sofia-Liège lighting set-up
Additional items include the following:
Newly built 72-spoke wire wheels
New Avon CR6ZZ tyres on all wheels (fitted 2018)
Modern fire extinguisher
Accompanying documentation includes the following:
Original MSA/FIA papers, FIVA Card, and original logbook
Photocopies of book extracts about works Healeys
Copies of the current V5 and MoT Certificate
Copy of old V5 belonging to Arthur Carter
Copy and replica 1965 tax disc
Dynamometer printout for the engine (made through Paul Woolmer)
Bills accumulated during the present ownership
CD of restoration photographs
Finished in the BMC factory team's evocative red/white livery, 'BMO 93B' represents a rare opportunity to acquire a genuine, historic, ex-works, international rally-winning Austin-Healey possessing excellent provenance.
Please refer to Bonhams Motor Car Department for further information.