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Lot 134: Austin Healey 3000 Mark III Lightweight Works Rally Two-Seat Hardtop Coupe

Goodwood Revival Sale, Bonhams (15 September 2012)

Here we are delighted to offer one of the legendary BMC Competitions Department at Abingdon's wonderfully versatile 'Big Healeys'. In this case 'ARX 91B' offered here is not only a car that has been preserved within its present enthusiast ownership for the past 43 years. It is the works team's lightweight Austin-Healey 3000 Mark III which not only won the Austrian Alpine Rally of 1964, but which also raced in no fewer than three FIA World Championship of Makes-qualifying events; twice in the extraordinarily-charismatic Sicilian Targa Florio and finally in the World Championship's historic deciding round of 1967, when the winged Chaparral 2F won the BOAC '500' at Brands Hatch.

The car was first built during 1963 but remained unused by the Abingdon Competitions Department of the British Motor Corporation (BMC) until it was first registered 'ARX 91B' on April 9, 1964, with its engine capacity declared as 2,968cc. While this magnificent 'Big Healey' works team car then won the 1964 Austrian Alpine Rally crewed by the legendary pairing of driver Paddy Hopkirk and navigator Henry Liddon, it also secured second in class � to nothing less than the Ravetto/Starrabba Ferrari 250GTO/64 � in the 1965 Targa Florio.

In the Austrian Alpine Rally � run on May 28-30, 1964, over a 1,200-mile course arranged in three loops based upon the country town of Velden - Paddy Hopkirk and Henry Liddon used 'ARX 91B' to set fastest times on every test and win outright. They set off soon after 4.30am on the Friday, the route taking them down into Yugoslavia before returning to Velden by mid-afternoon. The Saturday leg began equally early, competitors charging around the mountain roads east of Velden before returning around mid-day. The final leg then set out that same afternoon, the route leading west and then north over some of the great classic pre-war Alpine Trial roads.

Paddy Hopkirk and Henry Liddon were the only BMC works team crew competing, but the event gave them an opportunity to study roads into Yugoslavia which would be used for the mighty Liege-Sofia-Liege Rally. Paddy Hopkirk objected to the incredibly early starts, and was docked ten points each day for reporting late. Even so, 'ARX 91B' in his hands was the first to start, completing an initial acceleration and braking test before attacking the Vrsic Pass stage, well known in the reverse direction to old Liege Rally hands as 'the Moistrocca'. Despite driving rain and use of a roadway unsurfaced in its upper sections, Paddy Hopkirk reached the summit in 10 minutes 48 seconds, 28secs faster than his nearest rival � future Abarth works driver Johannes Ortner's tiny, lightweight Steyr-Puch. On the loose-surfaced stage at Crna, 'ARX 91B' was again fastest ahead of Ortner. Next day Hopkirk/Liddon set FTD yet again, this time in fog on the gravel-surfaced Koralpe hill-climb. That afternoon then saw the pack launch their assault upon three rugged stages; the rough, steep Turrach, the treacherously stony Solker Pass and ultimately � run at night � the majestic climb of the enormous Grossglockner.

With fastest time on every stage, and a penalty-free run on the liaison sections, Paddy Hopkirk and Henry Liddon in 'ARX 91B' won handsomely, from Ortner's fearlessly over-driven Steyr-Puch.

In the 1965 Targa Florio road race � as famously recorded in the wonderful Castrol documentary film 'Mountain Legend' � 'ARX 91B' was then co-driven by the exceptionally strong pairing of Timo Makinen and Paul Hawkins and led its class until the eighth of the ten 44-mile laps when its ignition distributor rotor arm broke. Paul Hawkins, driving at the time, did not realise that a spare was being carried in the car, and instead � realising he was within two miles of the Cerda pits - he ran there to obtain a replacement. The rugged Australian's reaction when the pit crew told him that a spare was carried on board was famously emphatic... With his huge rally experience, and knowledge of how 'Comps' operated, regular works driver Timo Makinen would probably have assumed a spare would be on board, but circuit-racer 'Hawkeye' had assumed the opposite. Despite this inevitable delay, he and 'The Flying Finn' still succeeded in finishing second within their category, 'ARX 91B' being classified twenty-first overall.

This most historic Austin-Healey was then sold ex-works to its second owner, who appears in the logbook as David Hiam Ltd, Plough Garage, Minworth, Sutton Coldfield, Warwickshire. This change in ownership is dated May 20 1966. The car was then acquired by Morgan and Lotus Elan club racer Christopher D. Stewart of Stokesley, North Yorkshire. He used 'ARX 91B' primarily as a fast road car apart from minor events contested at Croft, Snetterton and Harewood hill-climb. He reputedly found the car prone to terminal understeer � thought in retrospect to have been due to its shock absorbers being worn out. Both car and driver survived an impressive spin out of Coram Curve at Snetterton that left the 'Big Healey' far off track. Mr Stewart then sold it to fellow club racer Ted Worswick who also acquired a sister rally 3000 from Don Grimshaw for its long-range fuel tank and works gearbox.

Mr Worswick was an enthusiastic competitor in both racing and rallying, especially with Austin-Healeys. Having acquired 'ARX 91B', and with a discreet measure of BMC Abingdon works assistance, he almost immediately drove the car on the public road back to Sicily to compete in the 1967 Targa Florio, with Richard Bond as his co-driver. They did extremely well, the 'Big Healey' proving well suited to the rally-style conditions of the Piccolo Madonie mountain circuit, and they finished ninth overall, and again second in class, this time defined as the over-2-litre Sports category � headed by nothing less than the Henri Greder/Jean-Michel Giorgi Ecurie Ford France-entered Ford GT40...

Having scored a World Championship point for Austin-Healey in the Targa, Ted Worswick then had his entry accepted for the 1967 BOAC '500' Six-Hour race at Brands Hatch. This was that year's truly classic World Championship decider in which full works teams of Ferrari 330P4s and Porsche 907s and 910s settled the World title, while outright victory fell to the winged white Chaparral 2F of Phil Hill and Mike Spence. Ted Worswick later described 'ARX 91B's participation in that race like this: "My presence could well be described as overly ambitious... Although we were not classified as a finisher, we were still circulating at the end of the six hours. I don't think we caused too many problems, and later in the race we were getting cheery waves from some of the drivers in faster cars". He was especially proud of the fact that 'ARX 91B' not only competed in both the Targa Florio and BOAC '500' races, but was also driven to and from both events on the public road.

Mr Worswick campaigned this car widely at national level before, in 1969, selling it to a local friend, the present owner. He had in fact previously bought Mr Worswick's 1966 RAC Rally Healey 3000 'BRC 735B' which he used as a weekend car, while running a company Ford Cortina in his job as a commercial traveller. When Ted Worswick expressed his intention to sell 'ARX 91B' in August 1969, the present vendor jumped at the chance to own the ex-works car, Mr Worswick took back 'BRC' in part exchange. Thus 'ARX 91B' as now offered here has been in one ownership � and only the car's fourth ex-works � for no fewer than the past 43 years....

As acquired, 'ARX 91B' was used by its present owner in sprints at Cadwell Park and Woodvale Aerodrome, and hill-climbs at Harewood and Baitings Dam. He explains that "Baitings was tight for the Healey, but by left-foot braking and taking plenty of grass I managed to dance it round the corners and record a decent time...".

The car subsequently spent some twelve winters preserved on centrally-heated display in the Bridgenorth Motor Museum. It is now offered here as the only Austin-Healey 3000 works rally car to have been campaigned Internationally in both racing and rallying. In June 2004 the car was resprayed since an earlier attempt had applied marginally the wrong hue of 'works red'. The owner then discovered that the chosen repairer was also a highly skilled panel beater and welder able to work miracles with even very thin-gauge lightweight aluminium. He was consequently entrusted with the car's three original surviving competition wings that had been replaced by steel panels � but retained - in Ted Worswick's ownership. These lightweight original sections, plus a re-fabricated alloy near-side rear wing, were then refettled and refitted during 2005 � 'ARX 91B' finally being resprayed in the correct original shade of Colorado Red.

The interior remained entirely original � even the retention of the cigar lighter that Timo Makinen had specified in period! It is the only racing Austin-Healey 3000 to have been prepared and run by the legendary BMC Competitions Department at Abingdon-on-Thames, the others having been run from the Warwick factory. It is offered here with build sheets from the works. Many of the original '64 Rally items, such as lamp nacelles and brackets have been preserved and are now offered together with the car, which also features its original dash panel and contemporary labels.

The documentation file accompanying the car includes a contemporary road test report by celebrated journalist Eoin Young, who described how "BMC Competitions people quote speeds at 6,000rpm in third 71mph, overdrive third 87mph, top 102mph and overdrive top 125mph". He went on to relate how: "Tweaking the starter gave rise to a tremendous clattering roar from somewhere on the other side of the car. This was a real head-spinner. The gearbox was delightful to use, being smoother to slot than the standard model. The gear lever was a fist-sized lump of wood that also housed the overdrive (on third and fourth) switch. The axle ratio had been stepped up in the interests of a longer, loping stride on the open road, and also gave the intermediate gears a better burst. In gear the big Healey really started to growl, indeed on acceleration the gearbox made as much if not more noise than the blaring exhaust.

"A DB5 Aston Martin arrived in the mirror with lights flashing while I was tooling along the A3 on a semi-motorway three-lane stretch at around 80mph. Down to third remembering that the synchromesh wasn't quite as handy on the way down, red line, switch to over-drive 3rd, red line, 4th, red line. No Aston. Damn your eyes, James Bond...".

Eoin Young actually took his UK driving test in 'ARX 91B' as a supplement to his perfectly useable (and endorsement-free) New Zealand licence, but after the extremely lanky examiner had folded himself into this ex-works Healey and had been deafened by its side exhaust, he remained sufficiently unimpressed to fail Mr Young, who ended his story with this contemporary description of 'ARX 91B': "As a proven racer and a crumpet catcher, it was ideal!". So true.

A considerable volume of related parts and spares is included with this Lot, including four original wheels, four over-riders, a pair of track-rod ends, protectors for the anti-roll bar, spotlight brackets, podded bonnet lights, plus a 7-inch rally-style spotlamp, a centre-bonnet spot, a new headlight, one chromed bonnet scoop cover, decals and other assorted parts. Furthermore, ARX is offered with a good history file and comes with current MoT, tax and V5C registration document.

This superbly presented 'Big Healey' � which retains a lovely original patina � is both historic and wonderfully useable. Its provenance is impeccable. As a works car that won an International rally crewed by none other than Paddy Hopkirk and Henry Liddon, it has also contested not just one Targa Florio but two � in the first of those having been works-entered for the celebrated Timo Makinen and Paul Hawkins. It has scored points for its manufacturer at FIA World Championship of Makes level. And as the cherry on the cake it shared the Brands Hatch race circuit in the 1967 World Championship deciding round with Ferrari 330P4s, 412Ps and 275LMs, plus Porsche 907s and 910s, Ford GT40s, Lola T70GTs and Alfa Romeo T33s... One can truly judge a great car by the company it has kept.

So 'ARX 91B'offered here is a road-useable competition car of impeccable pedigree, of magnetic attractiveness to all manner of Historic event promoters, and after 43 years in its present ownership its sale here marks a tremendous opportunity, not lightly to be missed.

Lot Details
Auction Goodwood Revival Sale
Bonhams, Chichester, Goodwood
Lot Number134
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price£215000
Hammer Price (inc premium)£242300
Condition rating0
Registration numberARX 91B
Chassis numberHBJ8-26754
Engine number29K/RU/H1502
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors