Austin Healey to a younger generation may be the name of a rugby player, for me its the name of an iconic British sports car – one of the ultimate convertibles.
A pal, Hugo, had a 1966 white Healey 3000 Mark III with red leather and white piping that had been imported from the US and when combined with his apartment off London’s King’s Road made for a very cool guy with many cool friends.
Austin Healey was a long term cooperation, initiated in 1952, between British Motor Corporation (the forerunner to British Leyland) and the well known engineering and car design firm headed by Donald Healey.
Early cars included the compact and uber cute, “Frogeye” aka “Austin Healey Sprite” first built between 1958-61. Not sure why “Frogeye”? Check out those round chrome headlights – get it?
A staple of club motoracing for many years and featured in this remarkable – though seemingly silent Pathe footage from 1958/9 at Silverstone Austin Healey Sprite – and the deerstalker driver….
Between 1959-67 the Austin-Healey 3000 – “big Healey” – complete with Jensen Motors built coach work were produced in Abingdon – alongside MG – by BMC. Initially, a two-seater the 3000 became a 2+2.
By 1963 91.5% of all 3000’s were exported, in the main to the USA.
In 1964 the 3000 Mark III BJ8 was launched with an engine overhaul adding a new camshaft resulting in an increased horse power up to 150 bhp. Production of the 3000 Mark III ceased at the end of 1967 – which saw the end of all Austin-Healey production. During its production run over 17,000 3000 Mark III’s were made.
A definitive British convertible sports car, the Mark III with its distinctive lines, timeless styling and elegance has made this fabulous car one of the most collectible of all the mid-1960’s classics.
Given the extent of the numbers exported it is not usual to access good quality Austin Healeys from the US – particularly those dryer States where the local climate has favoured the storage of 3000’s and other classics. That said they are valuable – a 3000 Mark III in great condition will currently cost circa £75,000 but that is perhaps fifty percent cheaper than the equivalent Porsche and significantly cheaper than similar Aston Martin models from the same era.
Donald Healey joined Jensen Motors and later to become Chairman.
It seems that the name Austin Healey may be owned by SAIC Motors a Ch
If you are tempted to buy a “Big Healey” why not get a little advice first – check this guide to Austin Healey’s on AMAZON
Whenever you do decide to take the plunge and add an Austin Healey to your stable of classic cars you are surely going to need the definitive Haynes Manual on your precious purchase…..
Personally, I am buying one of these cool Cafe Press long sleeved T shirt with a Austin Healey 3000 design on it – check this AMAZON link
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Photo credits – with thanks to Haynes, Hemmings and Austin Healey.