Timing is everything and it’s something that British motor industry veteran Donald Healey knew a bit about. This was a man who had won the Monte Carlo Rally in 1931 driving an Invicta, but failed to finish in 1935 after colliding with a train while driving one of the three Triumph Dolomite straight-eights.
Following World War II, Healey struck out on his own and from his base in Warwick, UK, began building very high-quality sporting cars using Riley running gear. There were roadsters and dropheads and coupes. These were cars that an upper middle-class owner could drive to work and rally or race on the weekends. But they weren’t cheap. Next came the Nash-Healey sports car. But despite modestly priced-running gear from the American independent manufacturer, the chassis, suspension and coachwork still resulted in a car that cost more than $4,000.
Healey was well aware that he needed a car that could be built in larger numbers and sold at a lower price in the rapidly emerging sports car market in the new world. MG and Jaguar were selling the bulk of their production to North America and Triumph was readying the TR2. Using the four-cylinder 2.6 liter Austin A-90 engine and transmission, as well as other components from the parts bin of newly-formed BMC (a merger of the Austin and Nuffield/Morris companies), Healey produced a sleek and beautiful prototype styled by Gerry Coker. Healey showed his “Healey Hundred” at the 1952 Earls Court Motor Show in the UK and caught the eye of BMC supreme Leonard Lord.
Again, Healey’s timing was perfect. Lord selected his car over a new MG prototype, thus delaying the replacement of the old-fashioned MG TD, which was also in the BMC family. When it went on sale in 1953, the beautiful Austin-Healey 100 cost less than $3,000 in the United States and would top 100mph. Those first cars, designated BN1, used the 90 bhp Austin engine, a three-speed transmission with overdrive and were happily received in the United States, which took most of the 10,688 cars produce.
This is a fantastically rare, matching numbers “Barn Find” is one of the earlier and more desirable BN1’s. As can be seen from the heritage certificate, this car was originally finished in Healey grey (otherwise named Healey blue) with blue trim. The hood colour was never recorded so whomever decides to take up the task of restoring this exciting project may decide.