1960 BMC Austin Healey 3000 'Works' Rally Car URX727
Original BMC 1960 Austin Healey 3000 MKI 'Works' Rally Car
Registration no. URX 727
Chassis no. HBN7/8446
Engine no. 29D/HU/H12161
The story of this historic rally car begins in 1960 when two British ladies – Pat Moss and Ann Wisdom - driving an Austin-Healey 3000 Mk1, entered as a 'works' car by the British Motor Corporation (BMC), secured outright victory in what was considered to be the toughest European rally of the season: the notorious 'Marathon', better known as the Liège-Rome-Liège. Having beaten some of rallying's finest drivers and cars, Pat and Ann were suddenly the most famous driver/co-driver combination in the world. Before their monumental victory in the Liège, they had teamed up on no fewer than 33 rallies and would go on to compete in a total of 45 rallies before Ann married Peter Riley, another experienced team driver, and retired. Another famous rally driver - John Gott - once said: "Together, the girls form a great team but apart each is less than half a team."
Pat Moss, sister of Sir Stirling Moss, lived at White Cloud Farm, Tring together with a great number of assorted animals. She was a brilliant horsewoman, which was her first love. Pat had limitless energy and could not bear to be still for a single minute. After a tough rally, she was quite likely to be found water skiing; and then immediately she got home she would hitch up the horsebox and be away to a horse show. Pat smoked a lot when driving; in fact, it was a standing joke that if you wanted to know where she was you only had to follow the fag ends. But she never touched alcohol before or during a competition. The whole team adored her, especially the mechanics that respected her for her driving genius and always remembered her in success and failure. While Pat was an extravert, Ann was much more the novelist's heroine: emotional, temperamental, and fastidious. Ann's parents, Tommy and Elsie, were both highly successful racing drivers in the 1930s. They both were holders of the Brooklands '120mph' badges, and in 1938 they also won trophies for speedboat races. In 1936 they won the International Alpine Trial and went on competing together until 1951.
Driving an Austin A40 Farina, Pat and Ann had opened the 1960 season in the Monte Carlo Rally finishing in a notable 17th overall, 4th in class and taking the Ladies' 1st prize. Two months later they were offered an Austin-Healey 3000 (registration 'SMO 746'), which had been driven by the famous 'Gentleman' Jack Sears in the RAC Rally at the end of the previous year. The next event was the Lyons-Charbonnières Rally but unfortunately the car intended for this event ('SMO 745') was involved in an accident just before the rally and the mechanics had to work all night preparing 'SMO 746', swapping the registration and identification plates to make it look like '745'. Pat described the car as a little worn, its last event being the tough RAC Rally. This was followed by the Geneva Rally in the other Austin-Healey 3000 (back to its original registration 'SMO 745'), finishing 7th overall and again winning the Ladies' Prize, for which they each were presented with a pair of Heuer clocks, which were to play a significant role in Pat's future rallying career.
Then along came a brand new Austin-Healey 3000 Mk1, registration 'URX 727', which was built on 15th March 1960 and first registered on the 22nd of that month. With it a change of fortune for Pat. Little did anyone realise that 'URX' was to become the most famous Austin-Healey rally car of all time. From the very first minute Pat sat in 'URX', as it affectionately became known, the love affair started. 'Works' rally cars were forever being swapped around from driver to driver, but this was not so in the case of 'URX'. From now onwards nobody would be allowed to drive this very special Austin-Healey other than Pat, who eventually owned the car after its retirement. She immediately fitted the new Heuer clocks to the dashboard where they would remain for the rest of the season.
The first outing for the new car was in the Tulip Rally, which took them over the Alps. Their excellent time on one of the stages on the famous Col de Turini secured them 8th overall, 1st in class and another Ladies' prize. It was now obvious that Pat was bonding with her most favourite car. The famous trio was now to take on the Alpine Rally, one of the most challenging of all the European events. It was the warmup for the Liège a month later. Pat drove faultlessly throughout the rally and the final result was an amazing 2nd overall and another 1st in class and, of course, the Ladies' prize.
The success in the Alpine gave the British team, consisting of four Austin-Healeys, new confidence for their attack on the toughest event of all, the Liège. This was the big one, 96 hours without a stop across Germany, Austria, Italy and into Yugoslavia. From the start the Healeys were recording top-ten times. Peter Riley, who had been suffering from a sticking throttle, lost a fan which penetrated the radiator forcing him to retire. 'URX' went beautifully to start with, but Pat and Ann were not without their problems: firstly, the overdrive packed up; then, as they drove through Yugoslavia, the clutch started slipping. Pat had insisted before the start of the rally that a low-ratio final drive be fitted for maximum acceleration and was aware that this could put too much strain on the clutch. She became very dejected, anticipating the worst. It turned out to be a broken oil seal between the clutch and the gearbox. It was not known at this stage if serious damage had been done to the gearbox. In the meantime, the oil was replaced and a plug from one of the other cars used. Later their worst fears were to become a reality: the gearbox had sustained serious damage. There was no choice but to replace it.
Doug Hamlin, the chief mechanic, managed to borrow a lift from a garage to carry out the repairs to Pat's car, and after a heroic effort the mechanics changed the gearbox, fitted a fresh oil seal and got the car away in just under one hour. They were now short of time to make the next stage without disqualification. Ann was left with having to replace parts of the inside of the car while underway. Pat, having now driven nearly 90 hours non-stop was having trouble keeping awake despite taking 'wakey wakey' pills. She said that she was unable to drive at more than 50mph and was convinced that she was going to be overtaken. However, all the remaining contestants were suffering in the same way. Finally, on their arrival in Liège, under a police escort and being showered with flowers and with the British National Anthem playing, to their absolute amazement they discovered that they had won outright. There were only 13 finishers out of 83, but amazingly three of the Healeys were among them, finishing 1st, 2nd and 3rd in class and also winning the Team prize.
History had been made; it was the girls' finest hour and also for the British team. Never before had a British crew driving a British car won the Marathon. Never before had an all-female crew won a Championship round. Pat and Ann were given the 'Driver of the Year Award', and their famous Liège victory would most certainly have been a deciding factor. The 'Big Healey' continued to chalk up outright victories and class wins for the next three years before being superseded by the Mini.
First registered to the MG Car Company, 'URX' was sold to Pat Moss in 1961 for £500, its highly successful career as a works car being over. Bill Price drove the car to Milan for the Mille Miglia, which at this time was a rally. Unfortunately, the car never took part owing to a discrepancy with the paperwork.
The Healey's second owner was David Friswell, who purchased it from Pat for £1,100. David used the car for a number of events and sold it to Arthur Bloxham in 1963. The car was extensively rallied and raced by Arthur Bloxham/Robin Morris, winning over 12 events on the Welsh borders (see photographs on file).
In 1972 Peter Butt acquired 'URX' and during his ownership of 30 years entered it in many
events. The car was restored between 1987 and 1990 by ourselves here at JME Healeys. A new cylinder block being fitted in the process the original block was carefully stored and is included in the sale together with numerous other spares.
Paul Roberts purchased the car in 2004 at auction in London. Paul immediately sent the car back to JME Healeys for restoration to 1960 Liège-Rome-Liège specification (all invoices on file). This was not a difficult task, as Jonathan knew the car from its previous restoration in 1987, which he had been responsible for. The engine was rebuilt, together with all the mechanicals. The aluminium vented front wings were replaced with original steel wings without vents, and a bare-metal re-spray carried out. The car was meticulously finished in its Liège livery in every possible detail. Soon after the restoration was completed in 2005, 'URX' was privately shown to a select group of 20 famous people who had been involved in the amazing Liège win in 1960. Never again would such a group of people be gathered together.
'URX' appeared at the Silverstone BMC 50 on 22nd-24th July 2005, and then in February 2006 was exhibited at the International Historic Motor Sport Show at Stoneleigh Park on the HRCR Stand. In May 2007 'URX' appeared at the Austin-Healey Weekend in Swindon where it won 1st prize for the best car. Also present at the weekend were Pat Moss Carlsson and Erik Carlsson, and Peter and Ann (née Wisdom) Riley. It was at this time that Pat and Ann both signed the roof. Sadly, Pat died in October 2008 and naturally 'URX' was requested to appear at the celebration of her life on the 24th of that month. It then went on to appear at the Gaydon Museum in 2009 and Stoneleigh Park Race Retro in 2009-2011. 'URX' was invited to appear again at the WCR40 Event at Gaydon on 18th April 2010.
The car has been kept by JME during the majority of current ownership and has been serviced and maintained it regardless of cost. It has been available to them to show at all kinds of Historic rallying events and shows, most recently at an event at Gaydon in early 2023 for display. Other documents in the history file include an old-style buff logbook; expired MOT’s and tax discs; old FIA papers (1990); a current V5C; and plentiful correspondence with previous owners.
Ex-works rally cars from the 1960s rarely come to market, and winning examples driven by two of the biggest names in the sport even less frequently; all of which makes this famous ex-Pat Moss/Ann Wisdom Austin-Healey 3000 a possibly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the discerning collector. Along with the purchase of the vehicle comes an incredible collection of Pat Moss, Ann Wisdom and URX 727 history and memorabilia as collected by the owner over the last 14 years.
£ 385,000.00 GBP
For further information on this car or to arrange a viewing or test drive, please contact us on our email address at firstname.lastname@example.org or call our workshop on +44 01926 499000.
Keyword Search Terms:BMC, Works Rally Car, 1960, Liege, Rome, Patt Moss, Healey,
|Item Location:||Warwick, UK|
Joined November 2022
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