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 litre 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 March 1955 and was delivered through Dove Limited, Croydon London with a heater and wire wheels. The chain of ownership can be traced back to Mr Van Santen who owned the car in Middlesex from 1961 to 1970. The car changes hands twice in two years before a December 1973 Motorsport Magazine highlights the car for sale. Detailed letters dating January 1974 show correspondence between the new owner and the Healey owners Club. Correspondence in the cars file confirms it underwent a detailed restoration at this time. The car changed hands again in 1979 to 1989, where it was the property of Mr McIntyre ( A Director of the Royal Automobile Club) and formed part of the well regarded Sorn Castle Collection. In 1989 the car was sold to Mr Summers who owned the car until 1991. Denis Welch carried out an engine overhaul at this time. The car moves to Cumbria in 1992 where it remained the property of a Mr Coulthard until changing hands to the present keeper in 2000.
In 2005 the car underwent its second restoration by Colin Groom of Newton Abbot, Devon. Details are in the file. Between 2002 and 2009 £30,000 was spent on a variety of works, both mechanical and to the body. With over £5,000 spent with Molesey Coach trimmers re-trimming the vehicle to a very high standard indeed.
With its M specification upgrades, and larger radiator this car has been caressed by its fastidious owner to insure it has become an excellent example mechanically- performing as well in London traffic as it does on a country lane this well sorted example, with a large history file would be perfect for continental tours and events.