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 produced.
The beautiful BN1 Austin-Healey 100 on offer was built in 1954. A left-hand drive model built for export it is finished in the most iconic cream colour scheme and fitted with painted wire wheels, all of which were considered optional equipment.
Most notably this car won the one of the most gruelling and well respected rallies worldwide- The legendary Carrera Pan-Americana in 1992. Since it has remained part of a significant German collection , and today is offered with German road papers along with all important FIA’s make it eligible for the most prestigious events worldwide.
To many collectors and enthusiasts, the Austin-Healey 100s are the purest of the big Healeys. They’re sleek, stunning to view and have that big, torquey engine. And though a good example like this one is ideal for carving up deserted back roads, it is also capable of keeping up with modern traffic. In a market where many cars are declining in value, there is an ever-increasing demand for these early Austin-Healeys.