I probably won’t be able to add a third Mini to the Mondo Condo stable, but I would if I could. And it isn’t that I can’t afford another car; of course I can’t, but I have always lived by the principle of Creative Financing—the only way to obtain the cars I already have (not to mention Mondo Condo). No, the reason I can’t buy the new Mini Pat Moss Edition is that the run is limited to what Mini calls “just over 800 vehicles,” and I’m guessing that those will all be snatched up by British Mini fans with a sense of history.
They know that Mini’s first rally victory came with Pat Moss at the wheel.
Before winning the Tulip Rally in a Mini, Pat Moss and Ann Wisdom rallied an Austin-Healey 3000.That win came in the 1962 Tulip Rally, which ran some 2,500 miles from Noordwijk, Netherlands, to Monte Carlo and back again. (The Netherlands: tulips. Hence the name of the classic Dutch rally.) But you don’t have to memorize the data, because the Pat Moss Edition comes with history written on the side of the car, along with the rally number of the Moss-Wisdom car. (That would be co-driver Ann Wisdom, better known as Wizz.)
You also get the Mini motto “Born to Compete,” but in all caps with no quotation marks; I suppose a dedicated editor could correct this with a Magic Marker or something. I suppose that the Mini really was born to compete, since designer Alex Issigonis was a racing enthusiast even before he began designing for the British Motor Corporation.
Of course, Mini is focused on Moss’ Tulip Rally win because it was the first significant Mini victory, but that was certainly not Moss’ first rodeo. When I first learned about the fiercely competitive female rally driver, she was wailing around on forest roads in a factory Austin-Healey 3000; since I learned to drive by wailing around on dirt roads in my uncle’s Chevy pickup, sliding sideways and fighting to stay out of the ditches, I was properly impressed by a woman who could tame the Healey, since I had a skeptical attitude toward cars with heavy engines, light rear ends, and solid rear axles—all characteristics of the 3000, as well as that Chevy pickup.
Moss, however, was tough. In 1960 “Mossie and Wizz” won the Liège-Rome-Liège rally, and they were second in the Rally des Alpes. Small wonder that BMC put her at the wheel of the Mini Cooper when they switched their competitive efforts from the big Healey to the tiny Mini, beginning a history of Mini rallying and racing success that has continued into the new millennium.
Small wonder, too, that Moss—the sister of Stirling Moss—had a competitive streak. Their father, Alfred, was a racer in his own right, and Stirling taught Pat to drive when she was eleven. She became a champion horse-show jumper before taking up the rally game. (Stirling started on horses, too, but never took to them; “Too unpredictable!” compared to cars, he said.)
While Pat Moss’ victory in the Tulip Rally put Mini on the rally map, according to her obituary in The Telegraph, she found the Mini “twitchy, and pretty unruly on the limit”—this from a woman used to controlling an Austin-Healey 3000, not to mention those horses!
If I could buy a Pat Moss Edition Mini, I think I might replace “Born to Compete” with “Twitchy, and Pretty Unruly on the Limit.” Come to think of it, that pretty much describes some people I know.
The Mini Pat Moss Edition will be available in Pepper White or Midnight Black Metallic. The black is too sinister for me. Other special touches include a bogus Pat Moss autograph—she did sign her cars now and then, but I don’t think she can do that from the spirit world—and cute little tulip emblems.
There is also a weird graphic element on the dash; according to the press release, it’s an “abstract depiction of engine pistons moving up and down serves as the motif …. With bars of different heights forming the shape of the letters M and W—standing for Moss and Wisdom— they symbolize that perfectly coordinated duo who caused a sensation in the rally scene for so many years.” Well, they certainly did that, and I am pleased that Mini is now honoring one of my earliest motorsports heroes. I would be even more pleased if the Yanks had a chance to buy a Pat Moss Edition.
Ah, well: I suppose I should be content with the two Minis in the garage. But if you’d like to know more about the Pat Moss Edition, you can read the full press release here.—Satch Carlson
[Photos courtesy BMW AG.]