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Rallying fast, Paddy's wagon beat them all
Paul Evan Ress
February 03, 1964
After a cold start in Minsk, Paddy Hopkirk, an Irishman from Belfast, got hot in the Alps. Defying Iron Curtain border guards, Fords, SAABs, good weather and the experts, he drove impeccably to win the Monte Carlo
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February 03, 1964

Rallying Fast, Paddy's Wagon Beat Them All

After a cold start in Minsk, Paddy Hopkirk, an Irishman from Belfast, got hot in the Alps. Defying Iron Curtain border guards, Fords, SAABs, good weather and the experts, he drove impeccably to win the Monte Carlo

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Trant Jarman and his American teammate, Sam Croft Pearson, began to feel groggy. "We may have been breathing gas fumes," Jarman said. "We had a cockeyed conversation in which I asked Sam how much time we had left and he replied that double rooms were more expensive than single ones. At one point when I thought I was going pretty fast, a woman on a bicycle passed me by."

The biggest problem for all drivers was deciding what kind of tires to use in the Alps above Monaco. Here the road was dry, there it became icy. The Misses Hall and McCluggage put on the wrong tires, those with big studs, and their Falcon advanced on the last speed stage like a crab. "The car was absolutely unmanageable," Anne said.

Bo Ljungfeldt had similar trouble. "I never knew just which tires we should have on," he said, "and if I were to do the rally all over again tomorrow, I still wouldn't know." Nevertheless, Bo won every one of the speed tests. Well, not quite. On the third lap the big Falcon was tied by that little red Mini. Paddy was making his bid for victory. When rally fans in Monte Carlo learned Hopkirk's and Ljungfeldt's times, they exclaimed: "It's David and Goliath!" A 6-foot 4-inch Swede in the rally's biggest car against a 5-foot 8-inch Irishman in one of the rally's smallest.

Battling for what seemed like third place were the two Carlssons. "Bravo Erik," shouted rally spectators in the Maritime Alps, as the small red SAAB whipped by, but the driver was often Pat, not Erik. Driving brilliantly, powerfully, Pat Moss beat her husband by 17 seconds on the fourth lap and was less than 50 seconds behind him after the speed times were totaled.

Between Chamb�ry and Monte Carlo about 100 cars fell by the wayside. George Parkes and Arthur Senior, two Britons in a Reliant Sabre, had a blowout, somersaulted over an embankment and landed right side up at the foot of a wall, a bit shaken. Few drivers were seriously injured. Even Pauline Mayman, whose Austin Cooper collided with another car and was burned, escaped with a broken rib and fractured leg.

In all, 163 competitors completed the rally within the allowed time, among them Prince Michel de Bourbon-Parme. All five Soviet cars finished but were disqualified for being late. "We will be back next year and hope to do better," their drivers said cheerfully at a cocktail party given by the U.S. Ford team.

For several hours after the rally no one knew who had won. That was because of a complicated handicap system based upon the car's class and its cylinder capacity. In other words, while Ljungfeldt obviously had a much more powerful automobile than Hopkirk, Paddy had the advantage of a better handicap. So did the Carlssons in their little SAABs. When the results were announced, Hopkirk was leading Erik Carlsson by 31 seconds, Pat by 46, Timo Makinen of Finland (who also was in a Mini Cooper) and Bo Ljungfeldt, both by 64 seconds.

But there was still a three-lap, just-over-six-mile pure speed race on the Grand Prix circuit, with no handicaps for size or power, to decide the overall winner. Ljungfeldt was expected to pick up one place in the standings by going faster than Makinen. Bo did better than that. He picked up 30 to 50 seconds, enough to pass Makinen and both Carlssons and win second place behind beaming Paddy. For Carlsson it was a great disappointment not to win a third straight rally, but he (and SAAB) were consoled by Pat's superb fifth-place performance, the highest that any woman has ever finished in Monte Carlo.

Chrysler's best Valiant placed 88th, which is obviously nothing to write home to Detroit about. But, in all fairness, Chrysler made nothing like the massive effort of Ford. As for Ford, officials in Monte Carlo were understandably jubilant about Ljungfeldt's remarkable performance and satisfied with, if not elated over, the showing of all the other Falcons, two of which were in the first 11 finishers. "We missed winning the Monte Carlo rally by a mere 30 points," said Team Manager George Merwin. "We will be back next year—to win."

But the happiest and most surprised fellow in Monte Carlo was 31-year-old Paddy Hopkirk. "We knew we had run a good rally," he said, "but when we saw the dry roads and sunny skies in the French Alps, we said to ourselves, 'The Fords have it clinched.' " Far from it, the Morrises enjoyed a team triumph with first, fourth and seventh places. Paddy, however, was pleased for another reason. "I shall meet Princess Grace. She has an Irish background. Do you think I ought to tell her," he asked with a brogue, "that I'm Irish, too?"

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