A Big Healey History: The Austin-Healey 100, 100-6, and 3000

FINALE

Unable to meet U.S. motor vehicle standards, the 3000 expired in December 1967, although a final car was completed offline about three months later.

In May 1968, BMC merged with Leyland Motors to form the British Leyland Motor Corporation, chaired by Leyland’s Donald Stokes. Hoping to bring the corporation’s financial hemorrhaging under control, Stokes began terminating BMC’s agreements with consultants like Healey and John Cooper. The 3000 was already dead by then and the smaller Sprite would follow in 1970 (although its MG Midget sibling would survive through 1979).

In 1969, Kjell Qvale of San Francisco’s British Motor Car Distributors — one of the world’s largest Austin-Healey distributors — took over Jensen Motors, which had been struggling since the retirement of the Jensen brothers a few years earlier. Knowing that the Healeys’ contract with British Leyland was expiring, Qvale suggested that they join him at Jensen to create a replacement for the Austin-Healey 3000. In 1970, Donald and Geoff Healey became Jensen board members, leading to the creation of the Jensen-Healey in 1972.

1953 Austin-Healey 100 rear
Despite all his early doubts about the design, Donald Healey eventually declared that Gerry Coker’s original Hundred was the best-looking of the breed. The final Austin-Healey 3000 Mark III was not a great stylistic departure from its 1952 ancestor, and it may have been for the best that it was spared the indignity of 1970s U.S. safety standards.

As tends to be the case with BMC cars, production figures for the big Healeys are a complicated subject, but the total for all versions was more than 73,000 units. About 44,000 of those were 3000s, with the remainder split roughly evenly between the four-cylinder cars and the 100-6. Added to the Sprite, that brings total Austin-Healey production to about 200,000 cars between 1953 and 1970 — not a lot by Austin standards, but impressive for a small range of sports cars designed by a handful of people in a tiny company.

While the Sprite was the better seller, it was the Hundred and 3000 that made the Austin-Healey name and they’re the ones most people remember. Donald Healey built cars both before and afterward, but if not for the big Healeys, we suspect the rest would be little more than historical footnotes today. Along with its Triumph rivals, the big Healey also remains a standard-bearer for British sports cars: pugnacious and eccentric, rugged and direct, always ready to back up its racy image on a racetrack or rally course. (The 100M, for example, was quite close to the cars that ran at Le Mans in 1953, lacking only their aluminum bumpers, oversize fuel tanks, and heavy-duty brake linings.) The big Healey wasn’t necessarily easy to drive or live with, but it was the real thing, and that still counts for a lot.

# # #

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Special thanks to Martin Alford, John Baker, Clive Barker, Storm Bear, Stephen Kingsbury, Peter Roses, Chuck Forward, and Tina Van Curen.


AUTHOR’S NOTE

In 2012, we licensed a condensed version of this story to the Angie’s List classic cars channel. However, Angie’s List had no connection with the original article.


NOTES ON SOURCES

Information on the careers of Donald and Geoff Healey and the development of the Austin-Healey 100, 100-6, 3000, and 4000 came from the following sources: Keith Adams, “Connections: Jensen,” and “The Whole Story,” AROnline, 25 August 2011, www.aronline. co. uk, accessed 29 February 2012; Gary G. Anderson, Roger Moment, Austin-Healey 100, 100-6, 3000 Restoration Guide (Osceola, WI: MBI Publishing Co, 2000); The Auto Editors of Consumer Guide, “1953-1967 Austin-Healey 100 and 3000,” HowStuffWorks.com, 20 August 2007, auto.howstuffworks. com/ 1953-1967-austin-healey-100-and-3000.htm, accessed 10 March 2012; “Austin Healey 100 and the Triumph TR3,” Australian Motor Manual 15 September 1956, pp. 22-25; John Baker, “Healey 100-3000,” and “History of the Company,” Austin Memories, 2006, www.austinmemories. com, accessed 21 August 2010; John Bolster, “John Bolster Tests the Healey ‘Hundred,'” Autosport 24 October 1952; Peter Browning and Les Needham, Healeys and Austin-Healeys including Jensen-Healey, Second Edition (Sparkford, Yeovil: J.H. Haynes & Co., Ltd., 1976); John Chatham, “The Austin Healey 4000,” Classic and Sportscar Magazine Vol. 10, No. 5 (August 1991); Anders Ditlev Clausager, Original Austin-Healey 100, 100-Six and 3000, Second Edition (St. Paul, MN: Bay View Books/MBI Publishing Co., 2002); Marty Clear, “The man who designed COOL,” Coyote’s Classic Cars, 2 May 2005, www.dcoyote. org/ healey_history.shtml, accessed 10 February 2012; Brad Constant, “Austin Healey involved in racing’s deadliest crash sells for more than $1 million,” Autoweek 2 December 2011, www.autoweek. com, accessed 9 February 2012; Mike Covello, Standard Catalog of Imported Cars 1946-2002, Second Edition (Iola, WI: Krause Publications, 2001); S.C.H. Davis, “Profile: 1954 Austin-Healey: A sports car for the young and for the young at heart,” The Autocar 1 April 1955; “Donald Healey,” Austin Healey Club, 2012, www.austinhealeyclub. com, accessed 8 February 2012; “Donald Healey and the History of the Big Healeys,” Unique Cars and Parts, n.d., www.uniquecarsandparts. com.au, accessed 8 February 2012; Craig Fitzgerald, “Donald Healey,” Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car #8 (April 2006), p. 56; Tim Harry, “Classic car reviews: Austin-Healey 100-6,” Helium.com, 11 January 2011, www.helium. com, accessed 29 March 2012; Geoffrey Healey, Healey, The Specials (London: Gentry Books, 1980); Steven Kingsbury/Air Tight Productions, “A Conversation with Gerry Coker: Austin-Healey Style,” 3 July 2008, YouTube, “Gerry Coker Part 01,” https://youtu.be/D-68_4xzHo0 and “Gerry Coker Part 02,” https://youtu.be/ANWoaOZPN9I, uploaded 12 April 2011, accessed 10 February 2012; “History and Specification: Austin-Healey 100/6,” Vanilla Classics, n.d., www.vanillaclassics. com/ car.php? v=12, accessed 19 March 2012; David Knowles, MG: The Untold Story (Osceola, WI: Motorbooks International, 1997); Tom McCahill, “McCahill Drives the Austin Healey,” Mechanix Illustrated November 1953, pp. 96-99, 209; Alex Meredith, “SIA Interview: Donald Healey,” Special Interest Autos #67 (February 1982), pp. 58-62; “Over the hills and fast away” [advertisement] The Motor 4 March 1959, p. 27; Frederick Pearce, “The Big Healey Stretch,” Auto Magazine August 1973, englishcars. com/ austinhealey/ 4000/ ah4000.html, accessed 21 March 2012; “Road & Track Road Test No. F-3-56: Austin-Healey 100M,” Road & Track Vol. 7, No. 1 (September 1955), n.p.; “Road & Track Road Test No. F-11-55: Austin-Healey ‘100S,'” Road & Track Vol. 8, No. 5 (January 1957); “Sale 19293, Lot 433,” Bonhams, 1 December 2011, www.bonhams. com/ eur/auction/19293/lot/433/, accessed 9 February 2012; “Setting the pace for tomorrow” [advertisement], The Motor 13 March 1957, p. 25; “The Autocar road tests: Austin-Healey 3000 (No. 1852),” The Autocar 22 December 1961, pp. 1038A–1038D; “We haven’t yet built a sportscar capable of flight” [advertisement], Autocar 3 September 1965, p. 12, Jonathan Wood, “Obituary: Geoffrey Healey,” The Independent 16 May 1994, www.independent. co. uk, accessed 15 February 2012; Walt Woron, “It’s Really That Good!” Motor Trend Vol. 5, No. 11 (November 1953), pp. 22-25; the Wikipedia® entries for Pat Moss (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pat_Moss, accessed 20 March 2012), Donald Healey (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Healey, accessed 8 February 2012), the Donald Healey Motor Company (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Healey_Motor_Company, accessed 11 February 2012) and Geoffrey Healey (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geoffrey_Healey, accessed 8 February 2012); and the Healey Museum website, www.healeymuseum.nl, accessed 10 February 2012.

Additional background information on other BMC vehicles of this period came from “1950 Austin A70 Hereford,” Autofiles.org, n.d., www.autofiles. org, accessed 26 February 2012; “A Resume of the Origin and Life of Vanden Plas,” Vanden Plas Owners’ Club, 2004, www.vpoc.info/ History.htm, accessed 10 March 2012; Keith Adams, “Fireball XL5 – BMC’s broken arrow,” AROnline, 25 June 2011, www.aronline. co. uk, accessed 2 April 2012; Keith Adams and Declan Berridge, “In-house designs: Rolls-Royce projects,” AROnline, 25 June 2011, www.aronline. co. uk, accessed 2 April 2012; John Baker, “A90 Atlantic,” “A90/A95 Westminster,” “A99-A110 Westminster,” “Austin A105,” “Austin Taxi,” “Austin 3 Litre Saloon (ADO61),” “Princess 4 Litre ‘R,'” and “Vanden Plas,” Austin Memories, n.d., www.austinmemories. com, accessed 25 February to 30 March 2012; Martin Cannell and Craig Tiano, “A brief history of the 4 litre R,” Vandenplas.com, 2000, www.vandenplas. com, accessed 10 March 2012; Paul Niedermeyer, “Automotive History: The Curious F-Head Engine,” Curbside Classic, 20 February 2011, www.curbsideclassic. com/ automotive-histories/ automotive-history-the-curious-f-head-engine/, last accessed 2 April 2012; “Riley Pathfinder,” GB Classic Cars, 2011, www.gbclassiccars. co. uk/ riley_pathfinder.html, accessed 10 March 2012; the Wikipedia entries for the Austin A70 (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Austin_A70, accessed 26 February 2012), Austin 16 hp (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Austin_16_hp, accessed 26 February 2012), the Austin Atlantic (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Austin_Atlantic, accessed 26 February 2012), the Austin Champ (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Austin_Champ, accessed 10 March 2012), the Austin FX3 (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Austin_FX3, accessed 29 February 2012), the BMC C-series engine (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BMC_C-Series_engine, accessed 30 March 2012), and the Wolseley 6/99 (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolseley_6/99, accessed 30 March 2012); and an email to the author from John Baker on 8 March 2012.

Exchange rate values cited in the text represent the approximate equivalency of British and U.S. currency at the contemporary exchange rate ($2.80/£), not U.S. suggested retail prices, which are cited separately. Please note that all exchange rate equivalencies cited in the text are approximate, provided solely for general reference; this is an automotive history, not a treatise on currency trading or the value of money, and nothing in this article should be taken as financial advice of any kind!


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43 Comments

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  1. Excellent story Aaron I never managed to get a Healey always wanted one having owne a few mechanical donors in the shape of Westies and an Isis which were good fast comfortable sedans in their day. Healeys pretty much mirrored Westminsters for new developments.

  2. The Healey was, to my mind the most beautiful of 1950’s production sports cars. I never found the TR3 attractive,and the MGA looked nice, but nothing was as instantly appealing as the Healey, especially with the two-tone paint. I went to a lot of SCCA races in the late 50’s and early 60’s, and they were quite common on the tracks. And, now a correction; the driver mentioned is Maurice Gatsonides, not Gastonides. Beyond his motorsport career, he is infamous for his invention, the “Gatso” speed camera, which all sporting drivers hate.

    1. Thanks for the correction — I’ve amended the text. I had no idea he developed the Gatso cameras, although that will certainly help to remember the proper spelling of his name.

  3. Nice article – but a couple of errors in 100S caption. All 100 cars had the swage line – from the BN2 on it continued behind the rear wheel. And the standard 100S colour scheme was Old English White over Lobelia (dark blue) not black.

    1. Thanks for the clarifications. The paint color issue had puzzled me a bit: the lower color looked like dark blue to me, but the paint combination chart in Anderson and Moment’s restoration guide described it (for whatever reason) as white over black. Since each of my computer monitors tends to render colors differently, I was wondering if it was an optical illusion or if it was just a particularly bluish shade of black. I have several print references handy, but unfortunately all their photos of the 100S were in black and white…

    2. Excellent article, well researched and written however, actually Anderson and Moment do have the 100S colour correct in their book [i]Austin – Healey 100/100-6/3000 Restoration Guide[/i].
      Page 14 center column.
      [i]Most of the cars were painted in “United States” racing colours of white over blue, using a distinctive Lobelia Blue for the lower panel.[/i]

      1. Ahh — I was looking at the color chart and missed that reference. In any case, I’ve corrected the text.

    3. The swage line on the side did not extend past the rear wheel of ALL BN2s but came on stream well into that production. Since most four cylinder cars were BN1s the full swage line is thus a rarity before the six cylinder cars. More importantly is the front fender opening, cut much higher on the BN2 for a more rakish look with additional clearance for the wheel in turning. Healeys were slim sided relative to their tread width and that wheel stuck way out when steered.

  4. This article led me to look up more info on the FB60 engine, which I’d been somewhat aware of. I was really intrigued to learn that it was an F-head. Does anyone know why it was?

    The other F-head that came to mind for me was the Willys “Hurricane” engine, which Barney Roos designed by making an existing flathead engine into an F-head. In that case, he was trying to get more power on a very tight budget. A full OHV engine would have been ideal, but given the tight budget, moving the intake vales into the head was more cost-effective than moving the exhausts.

    Rolls-Royce was presumably working on the FB60 some years after Roos was designing the Hurricane, and they wouldn’t have had his cost constraints.

    I also can’t help thinking that the MGC would have been much better with the FB60.

    You mentioned that Healey wasn’t happy with Jensen’s quality control, an issue that also came up with the Volvo P1800.

    1. This is a very interesting question, and it led me to do some additional research and make a small addition to the text (about the abortive ADO30 project, which was also slated to use the FB60).

      The FB60 was developed around 1958. Around that time, Rolls-Royce apparently started being interested in doing a smaller, cheaper (relatively speaking) luxury car, probably to be sold primarily as a Bentley. At the time, Rolls was still using IOE sixes in its other cars (although the V8 was already in development), as well as the B40 and B60 engines used in various trucks and military vehicles. My assumption is that Rolls conceived the FB60 as a smaller, lighter engine that could use at least some of the existing tooling. Since the point of the exercise was to make a cheaper car, not having to invest heavily in new equipment would have been desirable, even for Rolls-Royce.

      I don’t know exactly how much architecture the FB60 shares with the B60 used in earlier Rolls and Bentley passenger cars. It has the same bore, a much shorter stroke, and an aluminum block (the B60 already had an aluminum head). While the FB60 may depart from the earlier engine in other respects, it seems pretty clear that the B60 was the starting point for it.

      Incidentally, Rolls and BMC considered a bunch of possible Bentley-branded smaller cars, including the Bentley Java (which would have been quite similar to the Princess 4-Litre R and probably inspired the styling of the latter), the Bentley Bengal (based on the Austin 3-litre), and a coupe called the Bentley Alpha, based on the ADO30. All would have used the FB60 engine.

    2. The web has someplace a long article on Rolls Royce engines by one of their principals in the engineering ranks. In it there was a statement that the FB alloy F-head was dimensionally close and sometimes identical to the last 4.25 liter RR iron six. Of course, Rolls had already forsaken sixes for their huge V8. Perhaps this explains the retrograde F-head being found on the units being supplied to the Princess?

      1. In the late fifties and early sixties, Rolls-Royce seriously considered doing one or more cheaper Bentley models as a way of boosting sales volume and making up for slower sales of the ‘senior’ cars (analogous to Packard’s move with the original One-Twenty in 1935). There was the Bentley Burma, which I believe ended up being more or less the ancestor of the Silver Shadow, followed by the Bentley Java (based on the Austin Princess 3-Litre) and the Bentley Bengal, which would have been a Bentley version of the Princess 4 Litre R.

        As far as I know, the rationale of the FB was to give these cheaper cars (at least the latter two of which would have had a lot of BMC hardware) proper Rolls/Bentley engines without the expense of tooling a new ‘small’ engine for those cars. The F-head six might have been retrograde technologically, but it compared pretty well with contemporary OHV sixes in terms of output and the DOHC version, which never got past the prototype stage, would have given the Jaguar XK engine a run for its money. So, it made a fair bit of sense.

        Of course, for various reasons, none of the Bentley cars ever materialized and a lot of Rolls-Royce’s FB capacity went unused.

  5. -One of the first cars I drove, illegaly, of course, was a friend’s 100-4. It had a three speed transmission with electric overdrive that was supposed to make it a five speed.
    -The shift pattern was also reversed from US normal, that is, second and third

    1. Yes, the shift pattern on the BN1 cars was very odd. I think they resolved that with the BN2, with the taxi gearbox.

    2. . . . . . because, at age 17, it was the first antique auto I helped restore (I didn’t have my own antique car for another year) and the beginning of my 45 year involvement with antique vehicles (cars, motorcycles and bicycles). I still remember the car, helping the owner sand down the primer for painting.

  6. Very interesting as usual Aaron. I suppose it would improve with familiarity but the 4000 prototype looks ‘odd’, really time for a new bodystyle even if it was only an early prototype. There was a car built locally with a Rover V8 (from memory) that had a similar body widening mainly to fit wider tyres, I think they might have altered the grille a bit to keep it more in proportion.

    1. Well, the initial prototype was created by essentially slicing a BJ8 body in half and splicing in a 6-inch section. If it had made production, I suppose they might have come up with a new grille — it would probably have been relatively cheap to do. Still, it’s hard to avoid the feeling that the 1953-vintage design had been nipped and tucked a few too many times by then.

      1. Hi Aaron, the above comment was mine.

        Last weekend I actually saw the featured 4000 prototype, as well as Lance Macklin’s Le Mans NOJ 393 a replica of one of the streamliners amongst dozens of other A-H’s at a car show. I’d say the 4000 looks better in the flesh, but it is still a significantly wider car that would not have the same sporty feel of the original.

        1. The people who’ve driven it tend to say the same thing. It was reportedly a lot more comfortable than the 3000, with a better driving position and more elbow room, but felt and sounded less sporty, particularly with the automatic. Perhaps too civilized for its own good.

  7. Another excellent article – just wanted to say how much I appreciate the effort that goes into this and the skill at presenting it in an interesting and cogent manner.

    And no, I don’t want to borrow any money.

    thanks

  8. Aaron,

    Will you be moving forward with this amazing historical portrait, looking at the Jensen Healey?

    1. I will, although I decided that three Healeys in a row might be a bit much.

  9. Familiarity with early Healey Hundreds suggests there were at least two front wheel arches during their production. The red one depicted, a BN1 is a very much chunkier section than the BN2. It might have fouled the tire (tyre) at steering lock at least with the tall spec tires of the era. The car officially got a larger valence that looked sleeker as a running change. The difference in height causes problems in terminating the two toned flanks which are often found on LeMans replica cars. The swage line does not truly intersect the top of the arch on early ones but requires a looped return, which anyhow works out okay in practice.

    1. Thanks for the info. There are a lot of minor details that I’m only able to touch on in these stories.

      1. I’d hope I had mentioned once before referencing a Mustang article, but will enjoy doing so again. Your monographs are amazingly concise distillations of complex stories, done with great adherence to, and respect for facts. I recommend them to all my friends.

  10. The “Haldane” was a rather proper looking replica Hundred out of fiberglas with Ford Kent motivation, differing only in a lower hood line. The “Harrier” was an upmarket effort with Rover V8 and independent suspension that I believe Geoff Healey was pleased to endorse. Both were better looking, or at least more authentic appearing than the 4000 prototype with the half a foot widened body shell. Sad that larger customers and side impact requirements dealt such a blow to the original aesthetics of the first car. Look to the Ford GT to understand how an enlargement if required should be undertaken in EVERY dimension so that proportions that initially delighted can be maintained.
    One must mention in passing the Saxon and Sebring kit cars that hint of the Healey legacy in rather unconvincing ways.

  11. The Healey Hundred has more shape in its flanks than people realize. It swells in width at the cockpit and is already narrowing over the rear fender. That shows Jerry’s modern three dimensional spatial thinking.
    To have gotten more width where necessary for the cockpit without destroying the lithe appearance from the three quarter view might only have required wedging out the fore-body. That would have allowed a front track perhaps 2 inches wider than the rear, whereas it is actually a half inch shy of the rear on the existing cars. At that point it would have virtually equalled the later Jag E-type series III cars track. The span of the headlamps of the Healey could have been increased without visual harm though not by a half a foot.

  12. In 1972 & 73, I worked in the service department of Donald Healey Motor Co in Warwick and was lucky enough to drive one of the manual 4000R’s The car had been re-chassed following a road accident by the then owner, a gentleman who lived in Wales, I think. I road tested the car over several hundred miles and so was able to understand the car well. I had driven a number of E-types up to that time and the comparison was most interesting. The 4000R had excellent road holding and outstanding handling. The acceleration was good as the engine revved well, the gearchange and ratios good too. Performance was good, I saw over 125mph on a number of occasions. The car braked well and overall, I enjoyed the car more than E-types. I would be happy to hear from anyone else who drove these cars and hear their views.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts, Tony. The consensus of all the accounts I’ve heard of people who’ve had the chance to drive the 4000 was that it was a definite improvement in all-around performance (although one can easily imagine the carping the automatic would have provoked at the time). I think the downfall of the car, had it made production, would have been the styling. Combining the new engine with the fixed-head coupe might have been a different story, although then the 4000 would most definitely have been an E-type rival…

  13. Aaron

    I have tried in vain to contact Tony Pomfret for the last four years and now find he has contacted you recently. As he drove my 4000 when in the UK I would love to talk to him, may I have his email or could you send him mine so we can chat please.

    Regards Peter Rowland Melbourne Australia

  14. i thoroughly enjoyed reading your well researched article and it got me thinking about some unexplained unusual features and history facts surrounding our 100/6 BN6. We recently bought her as my wife spent much of her youth around the Warwick area and she happens to be of the same vintage as the car!
    According to the build records the car was built in June ’57 but according to a copy of the original owner log book was not registered to her first owner until January ’58. This in itself is unusual as cars were generally built to order.
    This brings me to the next unusual feature that she was supplied to her first owner with Dunlop disc brakes on front and rear axles. Trying to find any documented information about the 100/6 on disc brakes seems to be a bit of a best kept secret so I am wondering if anyone reading this might have some answers?
    I recently spoke to the UK A-H Club marque model expert who said he was aware of only two other examples, both of which are BN6, here in the UK and he referred to them as being the ‘homologation specials’ of which he said approximately 40-50 cars were retro equipped by the Healey Works at Warwick and at a time in ’58 when much Works backed rallying was taking place. Are any examples of these BN6 cars known to exist in the U.S. Or other markets?
    If some facts could be brought to light, then this would make for an interesting twist to the Big Healey story

  15. What was the weight of the 2660 cc 4 cylinder engine out of the BN1 and BN2?I’am considering putting a 427 CI Chevrolet V8 into my BN2

    1. That’s a good question — I don’t think I’ve ever seen a figure for the four, and because the BN4 was also a physically larger car, simply comparing BN2 and BN4 figures doesn’t give much indication. The C-series engine was a big sucker, though (more than 600 pounds in 2.9-liter form), so even if the 2,660cc four were more than 100 pounds lighter, it may still have been in the neighborhood of 500 pounds. My very rough guess would be that an iron-head SBC would about split the difference and an iron big clock would be at least 70 pounds heavier up front than the BN4, but someone may have a more specific answer.

  16. Can anyone supply me with information (or direct me to information) on the twin cam cylinder head that was developed by Austin Canada for the 2660cc BN1 engine in the early 1950’s. I remember seeing an article on the subject many, many years ago. I understand 2 or 3 were built before management killed the project. Apparently, the performance was very impressive.

  17. Good article.

    Have actually driven a 3 carb Healey 3000 back in fall 1963. Followed by a TR3, then a couple of years later an old MGA, followed by innumerable MGBs. Good time to enter college and meet rich boys from Montreal whose Dad’s could afford to give them such things.

    The Healey had a very twitchy rear suspension, quarter elliptics maybe? Steered on the throttle. Seemed very fast, but 2 1/2 inches of ground clearance helped that illusion. The TR3 was an old brute that seemed to have almost no suspension at all. The MGA was actually not bad, and I found the later mid ’60s MGBs a bit sterile, probably because it had an actual torsionally strong unitbody and behaved itself. Preferred the Volvo 544.

    Then I tried the Alfa 1750 Giulietta a few years later when studying in the UK. Different and far better league altogether.

    Memories. Pretty good ones as well.

    1. The big Healeys had semi-elliptical rather than quarter-elliptical springs — it’s just that they didn’t indulge in a lot of faddish niceties like compliance or wheel travel. It’s also conceivable that the owner also delved into competition parts or aftermarket accessories; given how stiff the stock rear springs were, I suspect trying to add a rear anti-roll bar would make the car particularly twitchy.

  18. Dear Sir, could you give me some informations about the story that the original 6-cylinder Healey engine was a formel Austin Tipper engine. In that time I was working for Austin in Amsterdam (The Netherlands) and later for Leyland Vehicles Benelux in Malines(Mechelen) and we have (my memories?) used spare parts for a Healey BT7 from a Austin truck engine. Because there is a Healey museum in Vreeland (The Netherlands) and they tell the visitors all about the history of (Donald)Healey and that part is missing. In that museum we have seen an AEC petrol engine (6-Cyliner), so we could accept this truck history. Please inform us, thank you in advance for your cooperation.

    1. All the big Healeys used BMC “corporate” engines, some of which were also used in trucks — the 2,660 cc big four definitely was. I’m not sufficiently familiar enough with BMC’s commercial offerings of that period to know offhand if the 2.9-liter C-series was used in trucks, although I wouldn’t be surprised. The truck and car versions of most of those engines were not dramatically different, although I presume the truck versions had some stouter components to suit more strenuous duty. It would make sense that where possible, the Healeys would have specified the heavier-duty truck components for reasons of durability. I would have to go back and do more research on the detailed engine specs to confirm that, but again it seems plausible.

      1. Dear Aaron, thank you very much for your assistance and reply in this matter. I will follow your comments and/or reply.

  19. As a matter of interest, the Riley engine used in the Healey Tickford and Abbott was indeed a twin-cam engine, but it wasn’t a twin-overhead-cam engine. The camshafts were mounted high in the block, and the pushrods were shorter than in most engines. But it was a pushrod design.

    1. Yup — a novel approach to solving the problem of how to actuate the valves with a hemispherical combustion chamber.

  20. I owned a Healy 300 in 1968-91 a C reg car. bought secondhand from Eddy Grimsteads at his Barking showroom in Essex. (EG’s was famous for pedal bike shops and the Lamberetta scooter ) He was a local business man. I saw the big Healey in the showroom window priced at just over £i. 000. I was driving a Triumph Vitesse at that moment, but i fell in love with the red Healey. Went in and bought it on the spot part exchanging the six cylinder Triumph for £400.00. Done the deal and drove it home in complete happiness.
    New wife wondered how i went out in a blue car and came home in a red one. After 50 years she still gets confused with my instant deals. I had to sell the car when a another baby was declared on the way. It was traded for a mortgage on a new house. So i lied with the car a distant vision of happier times. Then last week (Jan 2017) i saw an advertised 1960 BT7 fitted with a rover V8 (done in 1991) engine (not really what i wanted) but for a good working price range of what i thought was OK. Car was clean had many new parts no rust , and sounded fine. So i went into the house done the deal bought it and the seller drove it to my house.
    I was happy again. Wife loves it and loves me(so she says). Moral of the story be happy . JRL.

    1. I must say, if my spouse departed in one car and returned later in a very similar one that just happened to be a different color, I would wonder if something important had broken in my head!

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