Bonhams brings its first UK auction for 2023 to the Goodwood Motor Circuit on April 16 with its Goodwood Members’ Meeting sale. There, an enviable assortment of collector cars will span almost a century of automotive progress (from 1913 through 2010). Among those featured is arguably the most famous Austin-Healey in the world, the quintessential British sports car driven to victory in the challenging Liège-Rome-Liège Rally in 1960.
Affectionately called URX, a reference to its registration No. URX 727, the 1960 Austin-Healey 3000 Mark I BN7 made a name for the marque and for its drivers, who took the overall victory in a race considered by many to be the most difficult European rally of its day. Held from 1931 through 1971, the 96-hour, roughly 2,175-mile ordeal traversed winding and often treacherous mountain roads in Germany, Austria, Italy, and Yugoslavia. Of the 90 entrants in 1960, only 13 finished the event.
The winning team comprised Pat Moss, sister of legendary racer Stirling Moss, and her co-driver Ann Wisdom. Together, the pair were, according to Bonhams, “not only the first female crew to claim victory, but also the first British crew in a British car to take first place.” Known as Mossie and Wizz, the duo braved the dangerous route and had the gearbox damaged—and replaced—during the race. Remarkably, Moss drove nearly 90 hours non-stop. Two other works Healeys came in second and third place, claiming a hat trick for the manufacturer.
Moss and Wisdom began driving together in 1955, finishing fourth in the 1958 RAC Rally, as well as that year’s Ladies European Championship, which they repeated in 1962 and three other occasions. Their string of victories in URX was impressive, with First in Class in the Tulip Rally and Alpine Rally, in addition to the Liège-Rome-Liège Rally, garnering Moss the Driver of the Year title in 1960.
The Austin-Healey 3000 progressed in Mark I, II and III versions throughout its production from 1959 through 1967. With its 3.0-liter straight-six engine and classic bodywork, the “Big Healey” was a popular car that was especially popular in the US market, and acquitted itself as a successful racer in the hands of works and privateer drivers alike.
At the conclusion of the rally season, Pat Moss bought the car from the manufacturer, BMC, in 1961 for £500, effectively becoming the car’s second owner. Both she and her co-driver encountered it again 46 years later at an Austin-Healey event in 2007. By then, the famous race car had been restored, taking first prize at the show. Moss and Wisdom later signed the roof at a Silverstone event, adding a tangible historic note to a very historic car, which also comes with a complete history file that includes the original logbook. Undeniably one of the most significant British cars of its era, URX has a high-end estimate of £450,000 (approximately $541,500).
Click here for more photos of the 1960 Austin-Healey 3000 Mark I BN7 offered through Bonhams.