The name Austin Healey might not mean much to modern car enthusiasts, but it holds a special place among Classic Car lovers. Famous for making the Big Healeys, it wasn’t just a brand that made beautifully designed elegant cars, but it made extremely fast sports cars. The very first of which was the iconic Austin Healey 100 and this is its story!
The birth of Austin Healey
It all started back in 1952 when Donald Healey joined the London Motor show to showcase his build, the Healey Hundred. Before this, Donald had successfully started his own automotive engineering and designing firm called the Donald Healey Motor Company.
One major achievement of the company was the 1946 Healey Elliot which became the first production saloon to hit over 100 mph. The same characteristics followed in the Healey with the Hundred taken from the car’s ability to reach 100 mph.
But the new Healey Hundred was not just super fast, it was also extremely beautiful. So beautiful that it immediately impressed the chief of BMC’s Austin division Leonard Lord. And he decided to partner up with Donald Healey, hence establishing the brand Austin Healey.
Austin Healey 100
With the birth of a new car brand also came a brand new car, the Austin Healey 100. The first series was called BN1 and it was very much based on the Austin A90. The design of the new Healey was handed over to Gerry Coker who, inspired by the Italians, made it a two-seater convertible.
The Healey 100 offered a low riding stance with a long hood, wide shoulders and smooth lines leading to wide rear fender flares and curved back. The exterior was highlighted with chrome trims that added a unique shine to the body. These features made the Healey 100 extremely beautiful and attractive.
Though it wasn’t just the beauty that made it so memorable. While it used the engine from the Austin A90, with a little modification and a lighter body, the 4-cylinder engine could churn out 97 bhp that pulled the Healey from 0-60 mph in just 11 secs. Such speed in the mid-1950s was insane. The grunty exhaust note made the ride even more appealing.
Being a sports car, the Healey 100 was also extremely fun to drive. It used the A 90 four-speed manual transmission but was modified with overdrive on second and third gear. The suspension was kept stiffer with an independent front and double wishbone setup in the rear to give it great stability. Even the chassis was made stiffer so the car stays rigid and connected to the road.
The fast engine, timeless design, and roadster styling made the Austin Healey 100 a dream car.
Second Generation Austin Healey 100
Following the BN1 was the BN2 series of Healey 100 introduced in 1955. Featuring the same engine, the BN2 now used a real four-speed manual transmission instead of a modified one with the same overdrive gears.
The only changes made to the BN2 apart from this were cosmetic changes with options for new paint schemes. The BN2 was produced till July 1956 and was succeeded by the Healey 100-6.
Austin Healey 100-6
The Austin Healey 100-6 was a more powerful variant of the original Austin Healey 100. Introduced under the BN4 series, the 100-6 offered a powerful straight six which was a tuned version of the BMC C-series engine. It now produced 102 bhp and was later exceeded to 117 bhp.
Aside from the boost in power, the Austin Healey 100-6 was longer in size with a more streamlined body, fixed windscreen, a wider radiator grille and an added air scoop. Initially, the BN4 came in a 2+2 seating configuration which later shifted back to 2 seat roadster with the BN6.
The Austin Healey 100 series including the 100-6 lasted only till 1959 and was later replaced by the bigger Healey 3000. Due to the bigger engine displacement, the Healey 100, the 100-6 and the Healey 3000 were later called the Big Healeys.
The Rarest Austin Healey 100
With a combined production of only 14000 units, every Austin Healey car is a rare collectible. However, between the two series of Austin Healey 100 were two unique Healey models made by Donald Healey specifically for racing.
One was the Austin Healey 100M which was a variant of the BN2 Healey 100 introduced in 1955. The 100M produced 110bhp thanks to a larger carburetor, high lift camshaft and 8:1:1 compression ratio pistons. The suspension was stiffened and aerodynamics bits were added to make the car faster and stable.
The rarest model however was the Austin Healey 100S which was built only for racing. It featured a lighter aluminum body, used aluminum cylinder, Dunlop disc brakes, a smaller grille and a plastic windscreen all of which reduced its weight by 200 lbs. The lighter 100S was powered by a more fierce 132 hp engine that enabled it to win many races in its class.
Austin Healey 100‘s Legacy
Donald Healey was a British rally car driver and record holder that made Healey with the intent of racing. And Racing it did. The 100 S managed to score third overall in 1954, racing at Sebring in the 12-hour race. It also participated in 24-hour Le Mans between the years 1952-55.
A special, Streamliner variant of the Austin Healey 100 was made to race the Bonneville salt flats where it scored a top speed of 192mph in 1954 using a 224 bhp engine. Donald Healey came back to Utah’s Bonneville flat in 1956, this time joining the 200 mph club with a speed of 203.11 mph.
Unfortunately, the legacy of the iconic Austin Healey 100 came to stop in the 1960s with the introduction of the Healey 3000. The company itself came to an end in 1970 ending the production of the last Healeys.
The Revival of Austin Healey 100
However thanks to the effort of Revival Auto, the legacy of the Austin Healey 100 is being brought back to life. Blessing people with the ability to relive the days of the past, Revival Auto is reviving the classic old cars with a modern twist.
A full restoration to the body makes your classic car as good as new while converting it into an electric automobile puts it on par with modern automobile and government standards. Allowing you to live the fun days of the past while enjoying the benefits of the future.