Finnish rally legend Timo Mäkinen poses next to his Morris Mini in August, 1967 in Finland. Picture: Hannu Lindroos/Lehtikuva/AFP.

Finnish rally legend Timo Makinen, known for his hat-tricks of international victories, has died aged 79, local media said on Friday.

Makinen, who was was nicknamed "The Flying Finn" of motor rallying among several other prominent Finnish athletes, won the Rac Rally (now named Wales Rally GB) three times in a row between 1973 and 1975, in a Ford Escort.

Born in Helsinki on March 18, 1938, Makinen's death was announced by his son in a Facebook post late Thursday, Finnish newspaper Ilta-Sanomat reported, without specifying the exact cause.

Makinen drove a Mini Cooper S in the 1960s when he won the Monte Carlo Rally (1965), followed by three consecutive victories between 1965-1967 in the 1000 Lakes Rally, now named Rally Finland.

In the 1967 race, Makinen won despite having to drive with his head half stuck out of the Mini's window because the leather stripes holding down the car's bonnet broke.

Makinen's helmet was too big for him to stick his head out completely so he had to skid the car sideways to see the road.

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