The most original works Austin-Healey 3000 could be yours at Revival with Bonhams

21st August 2017
Bob Murray

Buying a used car always involves a short test drive before handing over the money. Everyone has their favourite test drive story, but few tales can compare with that of Finnish student Caj Hasselgren. 


Caj was happy not to drive the Austin-Healey 3000 MkI he had his eye on, but let the seller demonstrate the car instead. It was Rauno Aaltonen.

“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,” recalled Caj in the book Big Healeys in Competition (Crowood Press, 2006).

“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 150 km/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…"

He did get it too. That was 1965 and Caj Hasselgren kept the Healey until his death in 2013, restoring it over a period of 20 years, using parts picked up in the UK during business trips here from Finland. Since 1996 the late Mr Hasselgren drove the car in 11 historic events.

As you will have guessed, this is a car used to competing. It is one of the five works 3000s prepared by the BMC Competitions Department at Abingdon-on-Thames for the 1961 season. Driven by Peter Riley/Tony Ambrose, ‘XJB 871’ came home first in class and third overall in that year’s Acropolis Rally. Later in ’61 Riley and Ambrose tackled the Alpine Rally, challenging the works Mercedes-Benz 300SLs until the brakes went and the car flew off the road – thankfully without serious injuries thanks to a soft landing. The car was battered though and went back to Abingdon for repairs.


And Rauno Aaltonen? The Finnish motorcycle racer turned budding rally star saw the car and decided to buy it, getting BMC to convert it to left-hand drive and having the alloy body replaced by steel panels, all the better to withstand the loose-surface pummelling it would get as Rauno used the car in Finland to perfect his rally style.

Today, with an all-alloy body again, the car is described as probably the most original works Big Healey in existence. Freshly prepped by A-H specialists it is now raring to go for fast touring or light competition work.

It is “one of the purest of the breed,” says Bonhams, which will be auctioning the car at its Goodwood Revival Sale on September 9th. The presale estimate is £250-325,000. 

Photography courtesy of Bonhams

  • Revival

  • Revival 2017

  • Austin-Healey

  • 2017

  • austin_healey_3000_goodwood_revival_26091628.jpg

    Goodwood Revival

    This Austin-Healey is comfortable on or off road

  • austin-healey-100s-sports-racing-evv-106-bonhams-main-30112021.jpg


    Super-rare £650,000 Austin-Healey up for auction

  • aintree_stirling_moss_1957_goodwood_revival_24082017_01.jpg

    Goodwood Revival

    Historic British GP win set for Revival commemoration 60 years on!