The Peter Riley/Tony Ambrose, 1961 Acropolis Rally Class Winner, ex-Rauno Aaltonen,1961 Austin-Healey 3000 MK I Works Rally Two Seater   Chassis no. H-BN7/13708
Preview lot
The Peter Riley/Tony Ambrose, 1961 Acropolis Rally Class Winner, ex-Rauno Aaltonen 
1961 Austin-Healey 3000 MK I Works Rally Two Seater
£250,000 - 325,000
US$ 320,000 - 420,000

Lot Details
The Peter Riley/Tony Ambrose, 1961 Acropolis Rally Class Winner, ex-Rauno Aaltonen,1961 Austin-Healey 3000 MK I Works Rally Two Seater   Chassis no. H-BN7/13708 The Peter Riley/Tony Ambrose, 1961 Acropolis Rally Class Winner, ex-Rauno Aaltonen,1961 Austin-Healey 3000 MK I Works Rally Two Seater   Chassis no. H-BN7/13708 The Peter Riley/Tony Ambrose, 1961 Acropolis Rally Class Winner, ex-Rauno Aaltonen,1961 Austin-Healey 3000 MK I Works Rally Two Seater   Chassis no. H-BN7/13708 The Peter Riley/Tony Ambrose, 1961 Acropolis Rally Class Winner, ex-Rauno Aaltonen,1961 Austin-Healey 3000 MK I Works Rally Two Seater   Chassis no. H-BN7/13708 The Peter Riley/Tony Ambrose, 1961 Acropolis Rally Class Winner, ex-Rauno Aaltonen,1961 Austin-Healey 3000 MK I Works Rally Two Seater   Chassis no. H-BN7/13708 The Peter Riley/Tony Ambrose, 1961 Acropolis Rally Class Winner, ex-Rauno Aaltonen,1961 Austin-Healey 3000 MK I Works Rally Two Seater   Chassis no. H-BN7/13708 The Peter Riley/Tony Ambrose, 1961 Acropolis Rally Class Winner, ex-Rauno Aaltonen,1961 Austin-Healey 3000 MK I Works Rally Two Seater   Chassis no. H-BN7/13708 The Peter Riley/Tony Ambrose, 1961 Acropolis Rally Class Winner, ex-Rauno Aaltonen,1961 Austin-Healey 3000 MK I Works Rally Two Seater   Chassis no. H-BN7/13708 The Peter Riley/Tony Ambrose, 1961 Acropolis Rally Class Winner, ex-Rauno Aaltonen,1961 Austin-Healey 3000 MK I Works Rally Two Seater   Chassis no. H-BN7/13708 The Peter Riley/Tony Ambrose, 1961 Acropolis Rally Class Winner, ex-Rauno Aaltonen,1961 Austin-Healey 3000 MK I Works Rally Two Seater   Chassis no. H-BN7/13708 The Peter Riley/Tony Ambrose, 1961 Acropolis Rally Class Winner, ex-Rauno Aaltonen,1961 Austin-Healey 3000 MK I Works Rally Two Seater   Chassis no. H-BN7/13708 The Peter Riley/Tony Ambrose, 1961 Acropolis Rally Class Winner, ex-Rauno Aaltonen,1961 Austin-Healey 3000 MK I Works Rally Two Seater   Chassis no. H-BN7/13708 The Peter Riley/Tony Ambrose, 1961 Acropolis Rally Class Winner, ex-Rauno Aaltonen,1961 Austin-Healey 3000 MK I Works Rally Two Seater   Chassis no. H-BN7/13708 The Peter Riley/Tony Ambrose, 1961 Acropolis Rally Class Winner, ex-Rauno Aaltonen,1961 Austin-Healey 3000 MK I Works Rally Two Seater   Chassis no. H-BN7/13708 The Peter Riley/Tony Ambrose, 1961 Acropolis Rally Class Winner, ex-Rauno Aaltonen,1961 Austin-Healey 3000 MK I Works Rally Two Seater   Chassis no. H-BN7/13708 The Peter Riley/Tony Ambrose, 1961 Acropolis Rally Class Winner, ex-Rauno Aaltonen,1961 Austin-Healey 3000 MK I Works Rally Two Seater   Chassis no. H-BN7/13708 The Peter Riley/Tony Ambrose, 1961 Acropolis Rally Class Winner, ex-Rauno Aaltonen,1961 Austin-Healey 3000 MK I Works Rally Two Seater   Chassis no. H-BN7/13708 The Peter Riley/Tony Ambrose, 1961 Acropolis Rally Class Winner, ex-Rauno Aaltonen,1961 Austin-Healey 3000 MK I Works Rally Two Seater   Chassis no. H-BN7/13708 The Peter Riley/Tony Ambrose, 1961 Acropolis Rally Class Winner, ex-Rauno Aaltonen,1961 Austin-Healey 3000 MK I Works Rally Two Seater   Chassis no. H-BN7/13708 The Peter Riley/Tony Ambrose, 1961 Acropolis Rally Class Winner, ex-Rauno Aaltonen,1961 Austin-Healey 3000 MK I Works Rally Two Seater   Chassis no. H-BN7/13708 The Peter Riley/Tony Ambrose, 1961 Acropolis Rally Class Winner, ex-Rauno Aaltonen,1961 Austin-Healey 3000 MK I Works Rally Two Seater   Chassis no. H-BN7/13708 The Peter Riley/Tony Ambrose, 1961 Acropolis Rally Class Winner, ex-Rauno Aaltonen,1961 Austin-Healey 3000 MK I Works Rally Two Seater   Chassis no. H-BN7/13708 The Peter Riley/Tony Ambrose, 1961 Acropolis Rally Class Winner, ex-Rauno Aaltonen,1961 Austin-Healey 3000 MK I Works Rally Two Seater   Chassis no. H-BN7/13708 The Peter Riley/Tony Ambrose, 1961 Acropolis Rally Class Winner, ex-Rauno Aaltonen,1961 Austin-Healey 3000 MK I Works Rally Two Seater   Chassis no. H-BN7/13708 The Peter Riley/Tony Ambrose, 1961 Acropolis Rally Class Winner, ex-Rauno Aaltonen,1961 Austin-Healey 3000 MK I Works Rally Two Seater   Chassis no. H-BN7/13708 The Peter Riley/Tony Ambrose, 1961 Acropolis Rally Class Winner, ex-Rauno Aaltonen,1961 Austin-Healey 3000 MK I Works Rally Two Seater   Chassis no. H-BN7/13708 The Peter Riley/Tony Ambrose, 1961 Acropolis Rally Class Winner, ex-Rauno Aaltonen,1961 Austin-Healey 3000 MK I Works Rally Two Seater   Chassis no. H-BN7/13708 The Peter Riley/Tony Ambrose, 1961 Acropolis Rally Class Winner, ex-Rauno Aaltonen,1961 Austin-Healey 3000 MK I Works Rally Two Seater   Chassis no. H-BN7/13708 The Peter Riley/Tony Ambrose, 1961 Acropolis Rally Class Winner, ex-Rauno Aaltonen,1961 Austin-Healey 3000 MK I Works Rally Two Seater   Chassis no. H-BN7/13708 The Peter Riley/Tony Ambrose, 1961 Acropolis Rally Class Winner, ex-Rauno Aaltonen,1961 Austin-Healey 3000 MK I Works Rally Two Seater   Chassis no. H-BN7/13708 The Peter Riley/Tony Ambrose, 1961 Acropolis Rally Class Winner, ex-Rauno Aaltonen,1961 Austin-Healey 3000 MK I Works Rally Two Seater   Chassis no. H-BN7/13708 The Peter Riley/Tony Ambrose, 1961 Acropolis Rally Class Winner, ex-Rauno Aaltonen,1961 Austin-Healey 3000 MK I Works Rally Two Seater   Chassis no. H-BN7/13708 The Peter Riley/Tony Ambrose, 1961 Acropolis Rally Class Winner, ex-Rauno Aaltonen,1961 Austin-Healey 3000 MK I Works Rally Two Seater   Chassis no. H-BN7/13708 The Peter Riley/Tony Ambrose, 1961 Acropolis Rally Class Winner, ex-Rauno Aaltonen,1961 Austin-Healey 3000 MK I Works Rally Two Seater   Chassis no. H-BN7/13708 The Peter Riley/Tony Ambrose, 1961 Acropolis Rally Class Winner, ex-Rauno Aaltonen,1961 Austin-Healey 3000 MK I Works Rally Two Seater   Chassis no. H-BN7/13708 The Peter Riley/Tony Ambrose, 1961 Acropolis Rally Class Winner, ex-Rauno Aaltonen,1961 Austin-Healey 3000 MK I Works Rally Two Seater   Chassis no. H-BN7/13708 The Peter Riley/Tony Ambrose, 1961 Acropolis Rally Class Winner, ex-Rauno Aaltonen,1961 Austin-Healey 3000 MK I Works Rally Two Seater   Chassis no. H-BN7/13708 The Peter Riley/Tony Ambrose, 1961 Acropolis Rally Class Winner, ex-Rauno Aaltonen,1961 Austin-Healey 3000 MK I Works Rally Two Seater   Chassis no. H-BN7/13708 The Peter Riley/Tony Ambrose, 1961 Acropolis Rally Class Winner, ex-Rauno Aaltonen,1961 Austin-Healey 3000 MK I Works Rally Two Seater   Chassis no. H-BN7/13708 The Peter Riley/Tony Ambrose, 1961 Acropolis Rally Class Winner, ex-Rauno Aaltonen,1961 Austin-Healey 3000 MK I Works Rally Two Seater   Chassis no. H-BN7/13708 The Peter Riley/Tony Ambrose, 1961 Acropolis Rally Class Winner, ex-Rauno Aaltonen,1961 Austin-Healey 3000 MK I Works Rally Two Seater   Chassis no. H-BN7/13708 The Peter Riley/Tony Ambrose, 1961 Acropolis Rally Class Winner, ex-Rauno Aaltonen,1961 Austin-Healey 3000 MK I Works Rally Two Seater   Chassis no. H-BN7/13708 The Peter Riley/Tony Ambrose, 1961 Acropolis Rally Class Winner, ex-Rauno Aaltonen,1961 Austin-Healey 3000 MK I Works Rally Two Seater   Chassis no. H-BN7/13708 The Peter Riley/Tony Ambrose, 1961 Acropolis Rally Class Winner, ex-Rauno Aaltonen,1961 Austin-Healey 3000 MK I Works Rally Two Seater   Chassis no. H-BN7/13708 The Peter Riley/Tony Ambrose, 1961 Acropolis Rally Class Winner, ex-Rauno Aaltonen,1961 Austin-Healey 3000 MK I Works Rally Two Seater   Chassis no. H-BN7/13708 The Peter Riley/Tony Ambrose, 1961 Acropolis Rally Class Winner, ex-Rauno Aaltonen,1961 Austin-Healey 3000 MK I Works Rally Two Seater   Chassis no. H-BN7/13708 The Peter Riley/Tony Ambrose, 1961 Acropolis Rally Class Winner, ex-Rauno Aaltonen,1961 Austin-Healey 3000 MK I Works Rally Two Seater   Chassis no. H-BN7/13708 The Peter Riley/Tony Ambrose, 1961 Acropolis Rally Class Winner, ex-Rauno Aaltonen,1961 Austin-Healey 3000 MK I Works Rally Two Seater   Chassis no. H-BN7/13708 The Peter Riley/Tony Ambrose, 1961 Acropolis Rally Class Winner, ex-Rauno Aaltonen,1961 Austin-Healey 3000 MK I Works Rally Two Seater   Chassis no. H-BN7/13708 The Peter Riley/Tony Ambrose, 1961 Acropolis Rally Class Winner, ex-Rauno Aaltonen,1961 Austin-Healey 3000 MK I Works Rally Two Seater   Chassis no. H-BN7/13708
The Peter Riley/Tony Ambrose, 1961 Acropolis Rally Class Winner, ex-Rauno Aaltonen
1961 Austin-Healey 3000 MK I Works Rally Two Seater
Registration no. XJB 871
Chassis no. H-BN7/13708
* Genuine Works 'Big Healey'
* Over five decades of single ownership
* Prized for its originality
* Freshly prepared by John Chatham Austin-Healey Specialists

Footnotes

  • In 1961, the legendary BMC Competitions Department at Abingdon-on-Thames prepared a squad of five new Austin-Healey 3000 works rally cars, ready for the new year of world-class competition. Each of these 3000s was locally registered for the road with number plate serials commencing 'XJB'. The car we offer right here is a fine, well-preserved and maintained, frequently-used survivor from that quintet of great Works competition cars. It is, furthermore, the car which was cosseted in the very long-ownership of Finnish enthusiast Caj Hasselgren and his family from 1965 until his death in 2013 only after which it passed into the ownership from which it is offered. When new in service with 'The Comps Department' team, XJB 871 performed most notably in two of the most challenging events on the FIA's international rally calendar - the Acropolis Rally and 'The Alpine'...

    To get some sense of the character of top-class international rally sport during the period in which this fine and extremely attractive car performed, one has merely to study the specialist motoring press of the time. In fact, XJB 871 car began its world-class career by finishing on the podium with a third overall on the 1961 Acropolis Rally in Greece. It was crewed in that event by tall, burly (and brainy) works rally driver Peter Riley and meticulous navigator Tony Ambrose. 'Autosport' reporter Michael Durnin described to the weekly magazine's readership how: "The floodlit columns of the Acropolis provided an unforgettable background as the first car, the Kingsley/Zeittner Corvette moved off from the ramp to start on the toughest 1,700 miles found in competition. They were followed by the works Austin-Healey 3000 of Riley and Ambrose and the privately owned ex-works 3000 of Bobby Parkes and John Sprinzel...". 
     
    This Acropolis Rally report went on to describe how "Riley and Ambrose had to change the dynamo of their Healey but were able to continue without penalty after having to drive without lights for several miles, close behind the Kingsley/Zeittner Corvette....Between Gravena and Hani Mourghani came the roughest part of the rally – two stages of 26.5 and 56.5 kms, the latter being over unmade and extremely rocky roads. Bobby Parkes and John Sprinzel went extremely well to pass the Riley/Ambrose works car, dropping only 2 seconds on the stage to the team car's 16...

    "A stage of 11kms from Volos to Lamia over a good road presented few problems to the faster crews., but Peter Riley and Tony Ambrose had a nasty moment when one of their tyres lost a tread at about 100mph. The tyre did not deflate and they were able to change it and still maintain their schedule.
    "From Agrinion the route led through the tobacco fields of Akarnania to the start of the seventh and last group of stages at Eratini near the Venetian castle of Nafpaktos and went to Delphi via two sections of 20 and 9kms. On the latter section, cruel luck struck the Austin-Healey of Parkes and Sprinzel which had been putting up some extremely fast times and lay only a few seconds overall behind the team car of Riley and Ambrose. John Sprinzel took to the verge on a fast corner, a projection struck the front disc brake, breaking the king pin and bringing their rally to an end only three hours from the finish.
     
    "Back at Athens 45 finishers from a field of 76 performed a quick driving test beneath the floodlit Acropolis before delivering their cars to a parc fermé and going for a welcome night's sleep. The following day there were two races at Tatoi airfield and a timed hill-climb of Mont Parnes, but these were of little importance...

    Michael Durnin's report concluded: "Those who won awards won them on one of the most severe rallies on the calendar, over roads which will search out any shortcomings of car or driver. It was a considerable feat to finish the Acropolis Rally at all and no praise is too great for those crews and cars which finished high in their classes or in the general classification. It was a truly great event over wonderful rally roads in the most historic and perhaps the most beautiful country in Europe...". Peter Riley and Tony Ambrose in fact drove XJB 871, now offered here, home in a fine third place overall, while also winning the over-1600cc Grand Touring car class.

    That year's classical International Alpine Rally was then run on June 24-28. This tremendous summer-time event provided a virtually snow-free charge around Europe's tallest mountain range, through French, Swiss and Italian territory. To achieve a penalty-free run earned an Alpine Gold Cup, precious few of which would ever be awarded.
     
    Renowned Austin-Healey driver John Gott – a serving police officer who became Chief Constable of Northamptonshire – actually wrote the 'Autosport' magazine report of the 1961 'Alpine', describing how "The big Healeys were proving more than a match for the works Mercedes 300SL of Bohringer/Socher and looked strong favourites for top honours, with the team cars always amongst the fastest on the climbs.
     
    "However, top rallies like the 'Alpine' are not won on the climbs but 'on the road', and after the selectif stages over the Col d'Escoulin and the Col de la Charmette only three cars were left in with the chance of a Coupe des Alpes, these being the Healey 3000s of the Morley twins and of Riley/Ambrose..." - none other than XJB 871 again - "...which were sandwiching Walter's Porsche.
     
    "The Healey team suffered a severe blow when Pat Moss/Ann Wisdom..." - who would become Peter Riley's wife the following year - "... crashed on the descent of the Col de Prayet. The car mounted a bank and overturned on the girls, but was righted and continued, only to retire with a seized gearbox a few miles down the road."
     
    After an American crew had dropped their Volvo 20 feet into a field beside the Col de la Croix de Fer in a sudden rain shower "...they were congratulating themselves upon a narrow squeak from disaster, when they were suddenly joined by the Gott/Shepherd Healey. The Volvo was too badly damaged to continue but the sturdy Healey was motored downhill through two meadows and along the edge of a ploughed field to rejoin the road some 1½-miles down the Col..." such was the special environment of world-class rally back in the rely 1960s...
     
    John Gott further reported how "The Healey 3000 of the Morleys' was leading Walter's Porsche by 3.7 seconds and the Riley/Ambrose Healey was third. There was, however, still a very long and very tough way to go...
     
    "On the run to Monza the Walter Porsche Carrera retired with a broken valve-spring. With a maximum of 20 mins lateness, time did not permit a replacement, and the Riley/Ambrose Healey 3000 moved up into second place behind the Morleys' car.
     
    "The retirement of Walter permitted Marcus Chambers..." – BMC's celebrated team manager – "...to impose a rev limit of 5,600rpm on the Healeys at Monza, but despite this, the big red cars took three of the first five places... All the big Healeys lapped at over 96mph..."
     
    However: "Near Bolzano the crews were held up by armed police searching for the terrorists who had been responsible for the recent bomb outrages in that area, and re-routed via Merano. As a result, those crews who were quick off the mark could get 2½-hours in bed before tackling the Stelvio..."
     
    But – sadly for XJB 871 – "The Stelvio proved a disaster for the Healey team...as Peter Riley crashed badly on the descent. The car hit a bollard but, even so, went over the edge and Peter and Tony were only saved from serious injury by ending up in snow banked over some savage rocks. Ambrose was unhurt, but Riley went to hospital where he was discharged after two days, with only slight injuries..."

    In fact, Tony Ambrose would relate how: "We were amongst the first half-dozen cars over the Stelvio on a dry but misty early morning. Peter Riley was going great guns, the car was in perfect shape, and we were making good time.

    "Then suddenly Peter yelled: 'No brakes!'. Before I had time to react, the Healey slewed across the road as Peter tried to put it sideways; we spun, the rear of the car coated one of those concrete posts and snapped it off like a piece of barley sugar. We did one more spin in the opposite direction and then went straight over the apex of the bend and into space...

    "Fortunately, we fell only about 20 feet and landed in quite soft ground but I was very thankful that I was securely strapped in with a full harness. Peter was less fortunate for he was only wearing a lap strap. He had been thrown forward on to the steering wheel and then backwards hard against the sharp edge of his bucket seat which had broken his ribs.

    "He crawled out of the car, obviously in some pain, and I laid him out as comfortably as I could beside the battered car. I then climbed back on to the road and after some time we were able to get a lift with one of the organisers to a local hospital where Peter was made more comfortable. That was the end of our Alpine Rally..."

    John Gott's report then related how the BMC works team twins Donald and Erle Morley went on to win this memorable Alpine Rally in their sister 3000, and were alone in securing a penalty-free run Coupe des Alpes that year.

    The Peter Riley/Tony Ambrose XJB 871 was recovered from the Stelvio Pass mountainside and was immediately repaired at Abingdon-on-Thames, after which it was sold to budding Finnish rally star Rauno Aaltonen. He had it shipped to Finland after the factory in England had converted it to left-hand drive, and its lightweight aluminium wings had been replaced by more resilient steel, better to withstand the battering inside the wheel arches from stones and gravel being thrown up at high speed on loose surfaced dirt roads, or from shards of ice in spiked-tyre ice racing in which former racing motor-cyclist Aaltonen really began to make his four-wheeled competition-driving mark...

    In 1965 Rauno Aaltonen advertised this Austin-Healey for sale in 'Vauhdin Maailma' - 'World of Speed' - magazine, and student Caj Hasselgren responded to the advertisement and drove to Aaltonen's dealership in the town of Turku to inspect the car. Caj Hasselgren would later recall how:

    "Mr. Aaltonen met us in his utterly elegant and polite way and showed me to a separate lock-up garage and there it was; XJB 871 in BMC colours, looking almost new with a slight layer of dust on it. I noticed the pedals were covered with masking tape. When I asked why he told me it was so he could check if his sister Marjatta, another rally driver, had borrowed it without permission. He asked me if I would like a test drive or have him demonstrate the car. I guessed it would be a once in a lifetime experience to co-drive him. I can assure you that sitting beside Rauno in a racing Healey on a narrow road just outside city limits was an experience that I would never forget. We were hitting 150km/h (93mph) on a road hardly one metre wider than the Healey, often sliding sideways, and the Professor, as he was called at the time, was explaining all the different features of the car. On the newly opened motorway, we exceeded 220km/h (137mph) in overdrive top. I was smitten. I knew immediately that I had to get the car no matter what..."

    Caj Hasselgren was indeed so smitten with XJB 871 that he agreed a price with Rauno Aaltonen and paid a deposit. Recognising the young customer's enthusiasm Rauno Aaltonen offered time to pay the balance and the deal was clinched. In his book 'Big Healeys in Competition' (Crowood Press, 2006) marque authority John Baggott relates how: "During his early years of ownership Caj was able to use other transport during the severe winters, but did have to resort to the Healey on occasions. Following a couple of unsuccessful attempts to sell XJB, which he now looks upon as fortunate, Caj decided to restore the now rusty example to its former glory. He started work in 1976, but what was expected to be a three-year project took twenty to complete, with Caj collecting parts during business trips to the UK.

    "The Healey was back on the road, in pristine original condition complete with aluminium wings and FIA papers, in 1996. Since completion Caj enjoyed using the car on the road and competed in eleven historic races in her. When he transferred his racing focus to historic Formula Vee single-seaters the Healey - which by that time had been locally re-registered UBX 2 was retired to occasional weekend road use". It was described as being "one of probably only thirty Big Healeys in Finland".

    Subsequently - after no fewer than 51 years in the ownership of Caj Hasselgren and his family, XJB 871 was sold. Since then its present custodian treated the car to an extensive going through at John Chatham's esteemed works in Bristol with the goal of campaigning the Rallye Monte Carlo this year. In preparation for this event sensible precautions were made with the fitting of a new competition spec. wiring harness, the steering box replaced with a period correct 'box, brakes lines rerouted/renewed, the engine sump dropped and bearings checked, a full overhaul of the gearbox and fitting of straight cut competition gear set, and adjustable competition shock absorbers added. In addition, the windscreen was replaced with a new laminated heated unit. Chatham's report that the car ran faultlessly, but rather sadly the owner's health succumbed to the winter conditions and after three days they decided to retire from the event.

    As it stands today, and as verified by the specialists who have been through the car, it is a remarkable example – in their opinion the most original Works Rally Healey known to them - and one that is now prepared for fast road touring or light competition, since taking it to the next level ultimately would inevitably challenge its originality. As such it is one of the purest of its breed to survive and deserving of close attention.
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