Posts Tagged ‘Rauno Aaltonen’


The inaugural Southern Cross Rally held from October 6th to 9th 1966 brought international rallying to Australia and attracted European stars Paddy Hopkirk and Rauno Aaltonen both of whom ran Morris Cooper S…

The event covered 4,000 km and ran from Sydney to Melbourne and return- Roselands Shopping Centre was the end point 17 km from Sydney’s CBD.

The Barry Ferguson/Tony Denham VW Beetle 1600 took the lead on the second night and set a fast pace until an exchange with a tree ended their great run 360 km from Sydney, this allowed the works Harry Firth/Graham Hoinville Cortina GT to win from the Greg Garard/Frank Goulburn Holden HR and Ian and Roger Vaughan Cortina GT in third place.

The opening photograph was taken at Huthwaite’s Shell Service Station in Edward Street Wagga Wagga- isn’t it a beauty?, but its also a mystery as to the crew. #2 is not on the entry list below nor does it appear to be a ‘missing number’ GT but rather a poverty pack Cortina of some sort- ideas folks?!


The Firth/Hoinville Cortina takes centre stage alongside the #15 Garard/Goulburn Holden HR X2 and #17 Vaughan Brothers Cortina GT at Roselands.

The HR to the left behind is the Reg Lunn/Geoff Thomas ‘Dustings of Burwood’ (Melbourne) entry and the #14 Max Winkless/A Smith Volvo 122S to the right- rear centre is the distinctive Alec Mildren entered Alfa Romeo Giulia Super run by the versatile Doug Chivas and Lindsay Adcock.


Rauno Aaltonen and Roy Denny during the night on day 3 north at Cooma in the New South Wales sub-Alpine country. Click here for the full story of this event on the marvellous Southern Cross Rally website;

On balance Rauno had a pretty good month in Australia, whilst ‘in town’ he took in the 2 October Bathurst 500 enduro sharing a car with Bob Holden to an historic win in front of eight other Cooper S’!- they were a lap clear of the Fred Gibson/Bill Stanley and Bruce McPhee/Barry Mulholland machines.

(S Charlton)

The upper photograph is Rauno on his own at Mount Panorama, the lower one is Aaltonen chasing the BMC works Cooper S #28 of Paddy Hopkirk and Brian Foley, DNF after 28 laps.

Etcetera: Firth/Hoinville works Ford Cortina Mk1 GT…

Firth’s car was one of the 110 GT500s Harry and his crew in Queens Avenue, Auburn built prior to the 1965 Bathurst 500- this run of cars was a very successful ‘homologation special’ with Bo Seton and Midge Boswell winning the classic that year.

Whilst the Melbourne pairing of good friends and great engineers were lucky to benefit from Ferguson’s misfortune in the Southern Cross, so that is almost always the case- the ‘to finish first, first you have to finish’ adage holds good.

Meritorious was that Harry had competed in the Bathurst 500 together with quite a few other ‘Cross runners the week before and immediately prior to that had returned from the US where he contested two Trans-Am rounds- on 10 September, the Green Valley 6 Hour for ninth place and 18 September Riverside 4 hours- seventh in a Lotus Cortina with Allan Moffat- Moff ran selected rounds of the series that year amongst his primary program the ‘1966 Central Division (Cendiv) Touring Car Series starting in May in the American Midwest.

Moffat said of Firth in his autobiography written with John Smailes ‘Harry Firth was fantastic. The race was half day, half night and, when darkness fell, he drove like the rally star he was. He pulled back four of the six laps i’d lost and brought us up to second in class behind Kwech’s Alfa. Then a throttle cable fell off and he dropped another six laps and had to start again. This time he got into ‘man possessed’ mode. On a track with questionable grip, in the pitch dark, he set a new under 2 litre lap record. We finished fourth in class and ninth outright. Ray Parsons with Jon Leighton was third in class and seventh outright.’

A week later the team were 2,200 km away in Riverside, again Moffat sang Harry’s praises- ‘…Harry surprised us again. He removed the cylinder heads from both our cars and took them to a local machine shop where he performed some magic. Its not that I didn’t want the details but Harry wasn’t called The Fox for nothing. All I needed to know was that the work was legal and quicker. He assured me it was. Harry came down with the flu that weekend so I dove solo. My job, if I could, was to spoil Horst Kwech. For four hours we raced like crazy for second in class, while Frank Gardner sprinted ahead to score Alan Mann’s only victory of the series’ John Smailes recorded.

The Bo Seton/Midge Bosworth Ford Cortina GT500 en-route to Bathurst victory in 1965

‘The Canberra Times’ 11 October 1966

The piece above is interesting- Harry was multi-talented as all you Australian enthusiasts well know.
He was a great preparer/builder of race and rally cars, an elite level rally and production-sedan driver not to forget his abilities to develop competitive performance car packages with manufacturers (Ford and Holden). After his own driving career he was a great talent spotter (mind you he nurtured talent whilst still driving too) and team manager of people, budgets, builds and race-day strategy- he schmoozed sponsors and manufacturers as well.

He really was rather an amazing hombre, consistent with Ken Blair’s thesis in the article above Harry also won the first Australian Rally Championship in 1968 in either/and/or a Lotus Cortina Mk2/Cortina Mk2 supercharged- perhaps one of you rally nutters can set me straight- he was fifty then by the way.


‘SCB’-, Getty Images, Stuart Charlton, ‘Allan Moffat: Climbing The Mountain’ Allan Moffat with John Smailes



GT500 out front of Ford’s Australian headquarters on the Hume Highway, Broadmeadows in 1965, I wonder if JFF-368 was the factory press car, and whether it still exists.




The Lancia Fulvia HF ‘F&M’ barchetta of Sandro Munari and Rauno Aaltonen jumping its way to a class win at the Nurburgring 1000Km on 1 June 1969…

The story of this Lancia is an interesting one, well known to fans of the marque, three cars were factory built in period plus a couple by Sicilian Lancia tuners.

Cesare Fiorio and Claudio Maglioli, respectively team manager and works driver of Lancia’s Squadra Corse HF, saw that the team´s drivers were fried by the Daytona heat in 1969 and decided to create something more competitive and cooler for the drivers for the Targa Florio. Given there was no budget for a more sophisticated approach they chopped the roof off the HF coupé and shortened its chassis by 28 mm. The roof, windscreen and side windows were removed and interior completely stripped with the exception of the driver’s seat. The result, a car 200 pounds lighter with consequent benefits to acceleration, handling and braking.

Whilst lightened the structural rigidity of the chassis was retained by the addition of some tubular framework. The fuel tank was centralised by placing it where the rear seat had been.

The first factory car eventually became the test mule for the Lancia Stratos, the second exists although in what form is a little unclear, the location of the third is unknown.


Pretty lines of the Fulvia F&M Barchetta shown in this Targa shot of the 9th placed Aaltonen/Munari chassis (unattributed)

The cars made their race debut at Targa in May where Claudio Maglioli /Raffaele Pinto retired due to overheating caused by an errant newspaper obstructing the radiator, but ninth place overall was a great result for rally-drivers Sandro Munari and Rauno Aaltonen in the other car. The race was won by the Mitter/Schutz Porsche 908/2.

At the 1000 km of Nurburgring on June 1, Munari /Aaltonen were 27th outright and won their class and Maglioli / Pinto finished 29th/2nd in class. Porsche again won the race with their 908/2, this time the car crewed by Jo Siffert and Brian Redman.

At the Grand Prix of Mugello in July Sandro Munari was 5th, a great result amongst 2 litre Abarth and Porsche sports-prototypes and a 5 litre Lola T70!

Two of the cars were then further modified (see post-script below) to accommodate a navigator and rudimentary weather protection to allow them to compete in Group 4 at the 1969 Tour de Corse/Rally Corsica where the Munari/Davenport car was 13th and Timo Makinen/Paul Easter 11th.


Munari’s car into the Mugello pits en-route to 5th amongst some pretty quick sportscars and prototypes, Fulvia F&M. Munari won the ’69 Mugello GP in a Abarth 2000SP (unattributed)

Technical Specifications…

Lancia Fulvia’s were front-engined and FWD of course.

Engine, SOHC, 2 valve 13 degree, all aluminium 82.4X75mm bore/stroke, 1600cc V4. Circa 160bhp@8200rpm. Gearbox, 5 speed with limited slip diff, final drive ratios to choice.

Spider body with front suspension by wishbones, tranverse leaf spring and guide-bar and rear by beam axle, transverse rod and longitudinal transverse spring with telescopic hydraulic shocks front and rear. Brakes were non-servo assisted discs

The little cars were 3670 mm long, 1580 mm wide and 840 mm high with weight quoted as 720 Kg.


Timo Makinens car during the Tour de Corse, note lights back on the car and the basic windscreen and ‘roof’ (unattributed)

‘Tour de Corse’ Rally Corsica, 9-11 November 1969 Postscript…

Just love Lancia’s creativity; when looking at the Barchetta’s above you wouldn’t think they could be crafted into ‘all-weather’ rally machines, particularly given the winter of 1969, but that belies Lancia’s focus!

Lancia felt they would be more competitive against the Porsche 911R, Alpine A110 and 2002Ti opposition with the F&M Specials than their usual HF machines

Tests in Corsica resulted in some changes to the cars; which had reinforced doors, a wider roll-bar to protect both driver and navigator, navigation rally gear and thin Plexiglas, 24cm high, windscreen and wipers.

During the last week before the rally the weather worsened greatly, Sandro Munari realised the open car was going to be virtually impossible to drive in conditions down to 4 degrees so he decided to clothe himself more appropriately in rubber suits sourced by the Turin factory; one flew around too much at speed, the black divers wetsuit! didn’t ‘breathe’ causing lots of sweating.


Munari in orange helmet and Davenport in their warm ‘sub-suits’, no roof in this shot. Later Ferrari chief Luca Montezemolo looks on skeptically! (unattributed)

After tests both Munari, Makinen and their navigators decided to use a race suit similar to that utilised by submariners. In Turin, the racing department considered further changes to the cars…More shelter was provided for the occupants by raising the windscreen, the earlier one tested replaced by one from a Fulvia Coupe albeit modified with special uprights and with plastic side windows which were anchored to the front section of the roll bar.

By the time the cars arrived in Ajaccio for the Tour de Corse start the ‘F&M’s had lost both the appearance of the Targa Barchettas as well as their light weight! Makinen’s car at the last minute was fitted with a rudimentary sheet metal roof, an addition scornfully rejected by Sandro Munari! Softie!, he thought of Timo.


The quickie roof! as per the text, note fuel filler, rough as guts geddit done finish (unattributed)

The two ‘F & M Special’ were part of Lancia’s six car team in the event, the final result was disappointing with the normal 1.6HF of Kallstrom/Haggbom 9th, 1.3HF of Ballestrieri/Audetto 10th ahead of the trick ‘F&M Specials’; Makinen-Easter 11th and Munari-Davenport 13th.  The rally was won by Gerard Larrousse/Gelin in a Porsche 911R ahead of an Alpine A110 Renault, Ford Capri RS2600 and a swag more A110’s…


Normal HF following the Munari car during the Tour (unattributed)


Rainer Schlegelmilch, Rallymania

Tailpiece: Collesano, Rauno Aaltonen, Lancia Fulvia F&M, Targa 1969. The short, squat efficient lines of the car clear in this wonderful shot…





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Rauno Aaltonen and Henry Liddon head for victory in the Monte snow and ice, Mini Cooper S, January 14-20th 1967…

They won the alpine classic from the Ove Andersson/John Davenport Lancia Fulvia and Vic Elford/David Stone Porsche 911S.

By 1967 the Mini Cooper S was long established as a race and rally winner; in the Monte the cars won in 1964, 1965 and 1966, the cars driven by Paddy Hopkirk/Henry Liddon, Timo Makinen/Paul Easter and in ’66 Makinen, Aaltonen and Hopkirk dominated the event.

They finished in that order only to have French officialdom throw them out, and Roger Clark’s  4th placed Lotus Cortina, advancing Finnish Citroen driver Pauli Toivonen to a hollow win.

The cars ‘were excluded for having iodine vapour, single filament bulbs in their standard headlamps instead of double-filament dipping bulbs’, this was a bit of French bullshit which allowed a Citroen win…

The Mini’s advantage was rammed home in 1967 when Rauno Aaltonen and Henry Liddon won the event one last time, the age of the Mini was coming to an end, the ‘rally reign’ of the Ford Escort Twin-Cam/RS1600 and other more powerful specialised cars was about to begin…

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The works Morris Cooper S #144 Timo Makinen/Paul Easter 41st and #178 Simo Lampinen/M Wood Plane is the Douglas DC4 based ATL-98 Carvair. (unattributed)

Rauno Aaltonen was born on January 7, 1938 his teenaged ‘need for speed’ initially satisfied competing in speedboats and later motor bikes on speedways, motocross and in road racing becoming the first Finn to win a TT event in 1956 at Hedemora, Sweden.

He started rallying at 18 after deciding that ‘bikes were a bit too hazardous after several racing accidents’ competing in both Mercedes Benz 170S sedan and Saab 93B, a ‘real rally car’.

He competed in the World Rally Championship throughout the 1970s and was a factory driver for BMC, Ford, Lancia, BMW and Datsun over the decades. Prior to the WRC’s formation he won the European Rally Championship championship in 1965 and the Finnish Rally Championship in 1961 and 1965.

He was victorious in the following events; the ’61 Warsaw Rally and Rally of 1000 Lakes both in Mercedes 220SE, the 1964 Liege-Sofia-Liege in a Healey 3000 Britains’ RAC, the Polish, Munich-Vienna-Budapest and Czechoslovakian Rallies, all in 1965 in Minis. He won the 1966 Tulip, Vltava and Czechoslavakian Rallies, the Monte as described here in 1967 and Australia’s Southern Cross Rally in 1977 in a Datsun Violet 710.

In circuit racing he contested the Spa 24 Hour in a BMW in 1958, the ’65 Sebring 12 Hour, Targa Florio and Le Mans 24 Hours in factory Austin Healey Sprites, also doing some of these enduro’s for BMC in 1966-68.

In 1966 he partnered Bob Holden to a Bathurst 500 win in a Cooper S at Mount Panorama and in a nice bit of symmetry also raced the event in 1991 in a Toyota Corolla with Holden.

photo (4)

Mini; unitary construction, 1275cc pushrod OHV engine fed by 2 SU carbs. 4 speed box, slippery diff, disc front and drum rear brakes. (Jiro Yamada)

Aaltonen related his 1967 Monte win to Sympatico.caAutos…

In 1962, Aaltonen crashed his Mini at Monte Carlo: ‘I was stuck in the burning car. I could see pastel colors, you know, and I was hearing classical music. Then I could hear my co-driver calling me to climb out, but the seatbelts were already melted, so I had to wiggle out.’

‘We run the col de Turini twice, both directions. It’s very difficult: cliffs, rocks, narrow roads…”

‘We arrived at the beginning of the last stage leading by 12 seconds. Vic Elford was second in a Porsche 911, but he was in front of the road, starting ahead. We listened to that six-cylinder, the feeling of power! He disappeared down the road.

‘It was our turn. The man with the flag counts down from 10, but he stops at four. There’s an accident on the hill, the ambulance rushes up. Then a snowstorm starts. You could see the snowflakes floating down. In theory, it could be beautiful. For us, it was hell. The spikes in our tires don’t work in the snow and we couldn’t see the road – everything was white.’

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The winning Cooper S of Aaltonen/Liddon. (unattributed)

Today, the marshals cancel special stages for less serious incidents. Back then, the show just went on and the countdown resumed.

‘First gear. Wheelspin. 8,000 rpm, hardly moving. Second gear. Wheelspin. We couldn’t get any grip. Henry Liddon, my co-driver from Bristol, England, has a dry sense of humor. He says when we get to the top of the hill, ‘two and a half minutes down’. No way – but in rally, you never give up.’

What Aaltonen, and Liddon for that matter, didn’t know is that this joke would become reality in the most spectacular way.

‘We drove back down the mountain really fast: third gear, 140 km/h. The spikes were working better now. Suddenly, under the snow there was a patch of ice. We started sliding, rocks on the inside of the turn, cliffs on the outside. I saw that there are these concrete blocks that would be safe to hit: they would stop the car from going over.’

Any sane man would have done the same. Going down a cliff at the Col de Turini is something you simply don’t want to do even if they paid you a million dollars.

Aaltonen wasn’t paid that much, but he made an almost suicidal decision: ‘You never give up. So I aimed between the concrete blocks. I knew it wasn’t a sheer drop, maybe 45 degrees and with trees.’

Ah, no problem there, then…

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Battery of lights legal in 1967… (unattributed)

‘We were flying in the air. It looked like we were in a fairytale. These boulders looked like giants.’

Amazingly, the Mini and its crew survived the drop: ‘We landed on soft snow between trees and huge boulders. This was purely good luck, as one cannot steer the car while airborn. Had we already left the road, there was no point in stopping as the Mini would instantly sink deep.’

He admits that they had no idea where they were going.

‘Once we had found a road and noticed it was the special stage, we understood how lucky we had been. Nobody could purposely find that kind of route between the trees and boulders – yet, in fact, it shortened the route.’

The accident worked to Aaltonen’s advantage: ‘We won by five seconds. It was a huge shortcut. That was not skill, it was good luck’, he concedes. ‘I told my co-driver to shut-up his mouth and don’t tell anything.’ It’s something Aaltonen revealed only after 20 years.

Their was perhaps some Karma in all of this given the bureaucratic nonsense the year before…

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Aaltonen and Henry Liddon still in the car at the Monte’s end. (unattributed)

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Hero’s welcome for the victors back in the UK. (unattributed)


Team Dan Rally archive,, Autos