Austin Healey 1960 3000 MKI BN7 Works Rally Car URX727
The ex-Works, Moss/Wisdom, 1960 Liege-Rome-Liege winning car
It all started in 1960 when two British ladies driving a British Austin Healey 3000 Mk 1 entered as a “Works” car by the British Motor Corporation, (BMC) won an outright victory in what was considered to be the toughest European rally of the season. The notorious “Marathon” or better known as the Liege-Rome-Liege Rally, competing against the rest of the world’s finest drivers and cars. Pat and Ann were the most famous driver and co-driver combination in the world. Before their monumental victory in the Liege they had teamed up on no fewer than 33 previous rallies and in all a total of 45 rallies before Ann married Peter Riley, another experienced team driver and retired. John Gott (rally driver) once said “Together, the girls form a great team but apart each is less than half a team”.
Pat Moss, sister of Sir Sterling Moss lived at “White Cloud Farm”, Tring, along with a great number of assorted animals and of course was a brilliant horse woman, which was her first love. She had un-bounding energy and couldn’t bear to be still for a single minute. After a tough rally she was quite likely to be found water skiing, 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 you always new were Pat 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. Whilst 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 30’s. They both were holders of the Brooklands 120 mph badges and in 1938 they won trophies for speedboat races. In 1936 they won the International Alpine Trial and went on to compete together until 1951.
Driving an Austin A40 Farina, Pat and Ann opened the 1960 season in the Monte Carlo Rally finishing in a notable 17th overall, 4th in class and 1st Ladies prize. Two months later they were offered an Austin Healey 3000 reg. SMO 746 which had just 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-Charbonnieres Rally but unfortunately the rally car 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, changing over the registration and identification plates to make it look like 745. Pat described the car as a little warn, because of 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 Hueur clocks which were to play a significant roll in Pat’s future rallying carrier.
Along comes a brand new Austin Healey 3000 M1 reg. URX 727 and with it a change of fortune for Pat. Little did they realise that this car was to become the most famous Austin Healey of all time. From the very first minute Pat sat in “Uuuurx”, as it affectionately became known, the love affair had started. “Works” rally cars were forever being swapped around from driver to driver but this was not so in the case of “Uuuurx”. From now onwards nobody would be allowed to drive this very special car other than Pat, who eventually owned the car after its retirement. She immediately fitted the new Hueur 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. There 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 rallies. It was the warm up before the Liege 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 Liege. This was the big one, ninety six hours without a stop across, Germany, Austria, Italy and into Yugoslavia. Could Pat and Ann improve on their last performance? What was to happen now can only be described as the “Stuff of Champions” but it was going to be far from plain sailing.
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. Uuurx 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 to the car 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, so they had to keep stopping to squirt it with the fire extinguisher. It was not known at this stage if serious damage had been done to the gearbox. The oil was replaced and a plug from one of the other cars was used. Later their worst suspicions were to become a reality. The gear box had sustained serious damage. There was nothing for it 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 an heroic effort the mechanics changed the gearbox, fitted a French 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 whilst 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 more than 50 mph 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 Liege, under a police escort and being showered with flowers and the British National Anthem was playing, to their absolute amazement, they discovered that they had won outright. There were only thirteen finishers out of eighty three but amazingly three Healeys were among them finishing 1st, 2nd and 3rd in class therefore 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 ladies’ crew won a Championship. Pat and Ann were awarded the “Driver of the year Award” and their famous Liege victory would most certainly have been a deciding factor.
To this day, Pat Moss’s win on the Liege-Rome-Liege remains one of the greatest female sporting achievements.
Pat was unquestionably the fastest lady rally driver of all time. Her performances with the big Healey when she regularly beat the other male members of the team were sensational. From 23 events in the Big Healeys she gained 11 class wins, 14 Ladies’ awards, two European Ladies’ Championships, that remarkable Liege win in 1960 and runner up in the Alpine Rally in the same year. Pat was the first person to win an International Rally for BMC in the Liege – Rome – Liege Rally in 1960 and also the first person to win an International Rally in a Mini Cooper in 1962 in the Tulip Rally.
At the end of its rallying career, URX 727 was purchased from the Works department by Pat Moss in 1961. Pat and her husband Eric Carlsson entered the car as a private entry in the 1961 Mille Miglia which had become a rally. For reasons unknown, the car did not start the event. Pat and Eric turned the journey into a Holiday before returning to the UK. A year later, Pats other commitments took priority so asked John Sprinzel to find a buyer for the car. David Friswell became the new owner in 1962.
URX727 has remained with the current (11th) owner since 2004, who commissioned JME Healeys to restore the car in every possible detail to exactly as she appeared during the famous 1960 Liege-Rome-Liege victory. Soon after the restoration was completed in 2005 URX was privately shown to a famous select group of 20 people who were involved in the amazing Liege win in 1960. The car is in near concourse condition having been restored and maintained by JME Healeys.
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.
Price on application