If you’re planning to purchase an enormous Austin Healey then it’s worthwhile to make completely certain you might be shopping for the precise mannequin in your wants, earlier than you even take one for a check drive. The proprietor might be solely going to allow you to out for a brief check run of about 10 to 15 minutes. This can be lengthy sufficient so that you can determine if the automobile is in ok situation to purchase and that every little thing is working. However it is not lengthy sufficient so that you can determine whether or not it’s the proper mannequin Healey for you or whether or not you may stay with it or not. And if you’re planning to spend over twenty thousand Kilos on an Austin Healey then you might be in it for the long run. The most effective factor to do is rent a automobile of the mannequin that you’re planning to purchase, to see when you actually prefer it and might stay with it.
First it’s worthwhile to perceive the variations between the varied Healey fashions after which a number of the practicalities of proudly owning and driving one. Having selected the precise automobile for you, it’s worthwhile to discover one in every of that mannequin and rent it for a day or weekend. Right here I’m speaking in regards to the automobiles which can be typically referred to as the “Massive Healey” versus the Austin Healey Sprite which by anybody’s definition would have been a really “Small Healey”. The Massive Healey went via varied evolutions, as most automobiles do, from the unique Healey 100 of 1953 via to the ultimate Healey 3000 MkIII which ceased manufacturing in 1968.
The Healey 100 was launched on the 1952 Motor Present with a physique constructed by the Donald Healey Motor Firm and the Austin engine that had been used within the A90 Atlantic and lightweight vehicles.
In what has change into one of many tales of motoring legend, Leonard Lord of Austin was so impressed with the automobile deal was completed and the automobile was as an alternative launched because the Austin Healey 100. The 4 cylinder engine was a protracted stroke 2,660cc overhead valve (OHV) model which developed solely 90 bhp however 150 lb ft of torque. Early fashions now are usually often called 100/four.
The unique automobiles had a 4 pace gearbox fitted the engine produced a lot torque that 1st gear was deemed pointless and was blanked off. A Laycock de Normanville overdrive was fitted which labored on 2nd and third (now high) gears, successfully giving the automobile 5 gears. A Le Mans equipment was supplied giving 110 bhp which might flip your automobile right into a 100M and a restricted version of 50 competitors variants had been offered because the 100S (Sebring) giving 132 bhp.
However there are a number of downsides to the automobile.
Brakes had been drums all spherical with no servo help and labored effectively however wanted common adjustment. Steering was by cam and peg making it pretty heavy and barely imprecise. The 16½ in diameter steering wheel, which was fitted to provide adequate leverage to lighten the steering, left little room within the cockpit for the motive force’s legs. The leather-based seats had been very fundamental bucket ones, with no choice to recline and weren’t very comfy. Home windows had been clip on facet screens and erecting the hood was a prolonged advanced course of akin to erecting a tent. There was little or no warmth insulation constructed into the automobile with the outcome that a lot of the engine warmth would bleed into the cockpit. This and the truth that the passenger was sitting above the exhaust meant Healey passenger was by no means chilly, however the cockpit might change into extraordinarily scorching in summer time in a heat nation.
In 1955 the three pace gearbox was changed with a greater four pace one with overdrive on third and 4th, giving it 6 gears.
The primary main revision to the automobile got here In 1956 with the 100-Six when the 4 cylinder engine was changed by a 6 cylinder engine of two,639cc. This engine was smoother however had much less torque than the 100/four and because the automobile was heavier the automobile was slower than its predecessor. The inside was re-designed and the wheelbase elevated barely to permit 2 small seats to be fitted, providing a 2+2 structure. The cylinder head was modified in 1957 to extend the engine energy. To maintain the worth down, some gadgets which had been customary on the 100/four had been now non-obligatory extras, together with overdrive, wire wheels and even a heater!
Healey 3000 MkI
In 1959 the six cylinder engine was upgraded to 2,912 cc and the Healey 3000 was born. Energy had elevated to 124 bhp though adverts claimed 130 bhp. Overdrive was nonetheless an non-obligatory additional and braking was enhancing with disks on the entrance. The two+2 variant continued to be supplied and home windows had been nonetheless clip on facet screens though now had a sliding panel as an alternative of the sooner hinged window to permit for hand indicators.
Healey 3000 MkII
In 1961 the MkII was launched with a triple carburettor engine rising energy barely to 132 bhp after which in 1963 the Sports activities Convertible was introduced, changing into the primary Healey with wind up home windows. The hood was fully revised in order that it folded down usually and might be erected in seconds with only one hand. That is retrospectively known as the MkIIa. The troublesome triple carbs had been modified again to a pair of SUs however the automobile benefitted from having a brake servo as an non-obligatory additional, drastically enhancing the braking capacity of the automobile.
Healey 3000 MkIII
The ultimate incarnation , the MkIII ran from 1964 to the tip of manufacturing in 1968 and is probably the most quite a few of all of the fashions constructed. The automobile lastly turned civilised with a extra luxurious inside, polished walnut veneer dashboard with lockable glove field and provision for a radio and a single speaker. The seats had been improved and the rear seats folded all the way down to type a flat baggage shelf to extend the in any other case poor baggage capability of the automobile.
Official Healey manufacturing ceased in 1968 however numerous corporations have supplied replicas of Healeys with extra fashionable operating gear. The chassis and physique shell tends to be primarily based on the 3000 MkIII and the engine is usually a V8, typically the three.9 litre utilized in late mannequin Rovers and the MG RV8. The automobiles are variously described as both a Healey MkIV, Sebring, 3000 S and so forth.
The assorted Austin Healey fashions are usually described by lovers, and due to this fact in traditional automobile adverts by the primary three characters of their chassis quantity:
BN1 Healey 100/four
BN2 Healey 100/four with four pace gearbox
BN4 Healey 100/6 two plus two
BN6 Healey 100/6 two seater
BN7 Healey 3000 MkI & II two seater
BT7 Healey 3000 MkI & II 4 seater
BJ7 Healey 3000 MkIIa 4 seater
BJ8 Healey 3000 MkIII
What are the practicalities of the completely different fashions?
The Massive Healey is usually considered a ‘bushy chested’ sportscar being designed to be pushed by males. This isn’t a sexist remark because the automobile is genuinely heavy to drive. The shortage of energy steering and no servos on the early automobiles imply that driving one is sort of onerous work and may be tiring on lengthy journeys. Overdrive was an non-obligatory additional on some fashions, however makes such an enormous distinction when cruising that I’d regard this as important when shopping for an Austin Healey.
All Healeys are very gentle on baggage area. The boot is brief and curves down and is due to this fact very small and never helped by the truth that the battery and spare wheel between them, take up about half the accessible area.
All Healeys are very low, with little or no floor clearance and a low slung exhaust that runs underneath the rear axle. If you’re planning to take the automobile rallying then you might be more likely to have issues on tough roads. The profusion of pace bumps in every single place from residential streets to pub automobile parks implies that each the sump and exhaust are at all times in danger. At The Open Street we fitted our BJ7 with a sump guard after one buyer holed the sump on a tough highway and have added an additional hanging bracket to one of many rear bumper irons to offer added help for the exhaust.
In case you stay in a rustic that suffers, or advantages, from inclement climate, then you actually need to purchase one of many later BJ7 or BJ8 automobiles with wind up home windows and hood. BJ7 and BJ8s additionally profit from being fitted with a brake servo making the automobile extra drivable in fashionable visitors situations.
All automobiles as much as BJ7 had the indications in with the facet lights and brake lights. In fashionable visitors which means that the indicator shouldn’t be very seen as it’s a flashing brake gentle. The giant amber indicators on the BJ8 are rather more seen and arguably, safer.
Regardless of being known as the “Massive Healey” these automobiles are very small inside. They’re solely massive compared with the Frogeye Sprite and are smaller than the opposite 2 seater sports activities automobiles of the identical period, the MGB and Triumphs TR2, TR3 and TR4. The cockpit could be very slender with brief doorways. In case you weigh greater than 18 stone (250 lbs, 115 kilos) you might be unlikely to suit.
Whereas a number of the automobiles had been constructed as 2+2 , latest European laws states that babies (underneath 4ft 5in or 135cm in peak) have to sit down on a booster and this makes it fully impractical. I personally would not need a small baby to be carried at the back of our personal BJ7 and due to this fact as proprietor of The Open Street I inform all our traditional automobile rent prospects to deal with our Austin Healey as a 2 seater.
Which is the very best one to purchase all is dependent upon private style?
As with every mannequin automobile there are a variety of folks that consider the unique incarnation is the purist, by which case you must determine between the 100/four and 100/6. You need to grapple with the early awkward gearbox and luxury is minimal from the bucket seats. There was no provision made to put in a radio, not that you just’d have the ability to hear it. If it rains you both hold driving or get moist when you match the home windows and erect the hood.
The Healey 3000 produced progressively extra energy and the interiors improved barely with the MkI and MkII. However when you desire fairly civilised motoring then it’s worthwhile to go for the MkIIa (BJ7) or MKIII (BJ8) with wind up home windows and a correct hood. The MkIIIs had area within the dashboard to suit a radio though you continue to could not have the ability to hear it above the noise of the engine, exhaust and the wind.
If you need additional data on the Healey then Haynes publish a superb e-book as a part of their “Nice Automobiles” collection and that is accessible from Haynes direct, most specialist booksellers and The Open Street.
Hiring an Austin Healey before you purchase one
Having picked the precise mannequin Healey, you then want to rent one for a day, and even higher a weekend’s touring. The early Healey 100s are very uncommon with just one accessible for rent in England and one for rent in Italy. Healey 3000s are extra quite a few with a alternative of 10 accessible for rent within the UK and others accessible in Austria, Germany, South Africa and the USA. After you have determined which mannequin Healey suits your wants, take a look via the Marques web page on Basic Automotive Rent World. Choose Austin Healey and this may present you a listing of all of the Healeys of varied fashions which can be accessible for rent around the globe.
A weekend away could price you anyplace from £500 to £1,000 for the automobile rent, resort, a pleasant meal and all of your petrol. However it’s effectively price it for 2 causes:
1) You’ll have a fantastic weekend away
2) Higher to spend £1,000 or so and determine you may’t stay with an Austin Healey, than discover this out after you might have parted with £20,000 to £30,000 or extra of your hard-earned money.
Deal with your self and rent the precise automobile for a day or so. At greatest it would be sure you purchase the precise one, at worst it might remedy you of the Austin Healey bug – however most likely not!