AUSTIN HEALEY

Austin-Healey_Sprite_Mark_II

Donald Healey was born in Perranporth, in Cornwall, England in 1898. He became a successful competition driver, engineer and finally a car manufacturer with his own business. In 1931, driving a 4.5 litre Invicta he won the Monte Carlo Rally outright, and joined Triumph in Coventry in 1933 and shortly after became their Technical Director.

At the end of World War II he started his own car manufacturing business in Warwick producing Healey cars using engines sourced
from Riley.

In 1952 BMC’s chief executive, Leonard Lord, sponsored an informal `design competition’ for the development of a new sportscar to use Austin/BMC components. One of the entrants in this competition was MG, even though they were already a part of the BMC group, and the design they produced eventually became the MGA in 1955. However, Donald Healey had just finished developing the `Healey 100′ in time for the Earls Court motor show of 1952 and he succeeded in taking the prize with this car. At the opening show day Lord inspected the car, offered to take it over at once and renamed it Austin-Healey. It was produced at Longbridge in Birmingham and it went on sale in the spring of 1953.

The car was designed to use a chassis frame welded to the body shell which was powered by an Austin Atlantic 2660cc engine. This was a 90hp engine developed for the Austin A90 but as that car had a rather poor reception in the showroom there was a good stock of engines available. The transmission from the A90 was also used after modification to produce a five-speed unit.

The sleek body was in the form of a two-seater with a shallow but practical luggage boot with perspex side curtains and this body shell, style and chassis continued until the end of 1967, when the Austin-Healey 3000 finally went out of production.

Production comprised the four-cylinder BN1/BN2 versions, the latter having an improved four-speed transmission; a redesigned model 100-6 which had a slightly longer wheelbase and a 2639cc BMC C-Series six-cylinder engine with a modified body incorporating a pair of `occasional’ seats; the two seater was once more made available and sold alongside the 100-6 and finally the legendary Austin-Healey 3000 was born.

The 3000 started out with a 2912cc engine, front disk brakes and a top speed of 185 kph. Over the next 8 years the engine power was progressively increased by 20%, a curved windscreen added as were winding windows in the doors and towards the end of its life a wooden facia, and a more plush interior. By the end of 1967, when series production ended, over 57,000 six-cylinder engine cars had been produced.

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