Paddy Hopkirk MBE 1933-2022

Paddy Hopkirk MBE 1933-2022

One of the biggest names in world rallying, and one of the motorsport stars of the 1960s to most effortlessly cross over to becoming a household name, this impish, scurrilously entertaining, sharp-witted Belfast-born Northern Irishman will be missed by all in the Historic rallying and wider classic car worlds.


Starting locally, his rally career got off to a blistering start and he earned a works drive with Triumph only a couple of years after making his debut. However, after an unsuccessful season Hopkirk defected to Rootes and then moved on BMC and the Austin-Healeys in which he first tasted international success.


Paddy Hopkirk MBE 1933-2022

Of course, BMC also exposed him to the all-conquering Minis with which he would become synonymous. He was catapulted into the national spotlight after winning the 1964 Monte Carlo Rally in 33 EJB and he and the car then appeared together on Sunday Night at the London Palladium. Two years later, in 1966 he was at the helm of one of the three Minis controversially disqualified from the Monte – along with Roger Clark’s Ford – for a lighting technicality. The irregularity may have been minor, but was real according to the regulations. It prompted such fury because, with the first four cars – all British – banned (along with Rosemary Smith, who had finished sixth to take the coupé des dames), the victory was handed to Pauli Toivonen in a French Citroën.

After the Mini glory years, Hopkirk famously gave up potential victory in the 1968 London-Sydney Marathon to drag occupants out of cars after a crash and to run down the road to warn other traffic of the obstacle. He also rallied big Triumphs with some success (setting a record for the fasting traversing of Chile), but professed never to have liked the cars. In later life, his appearances at Historic events were plentiful, but his competitive outings were less frequent as he focused on his many businesses, most prominently his famous line in automotive accessories.

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