Launched at the 1952 London Motor Show, the Healey 100 sports car was developed by Donald Healey and was based on the mechanical elements of the Austin A90 Atlantic.
The design so impressed Leonard Lord, managing director of Austin, that a deal was struck with Healey to build it in quantity at Austin's Longbridge factory. The car was immediately renamed the Austin-Healey 100 and was finished alongside the A90 at Longbridge based on fully trimmed and painted body/chassis units produced by Jensen in West Bromwich.
The first 100s (series BN1) were equipped with the same 2.6-litre four-cylinder engines as the stock A90, but the gearbox was a modified three-speed unit with overdrive on second and top. Braking was by Girling 11-inch drums all round with independent front suspension using coil springs and a rigid rear axle with semi elliptic leaf springs. The steering was by a cam-and-lever system.
The BN1 models were built from May 1953 but were replaced by the BN2 in mid-1955, now with a four-speed overdrive gearbox, slightly larger front wheel arches, a different rear axle and optional two-tone paint. In all, 4,604 BN2s were built, but such was the drive to satisfy Britain’s export markets, just 165 found their way onto the home market during the 10 months of production making this UK-supplied RHD model exceptionally rare.
This particular car was supplied by the Healey Motor Company and retains its period Warwick registration number, UAC 277. The vendor, a great Healey enthusiast, has owned this car for more than 30 years, during which time he has improved it greatly and enjoyed it immensely.
Developed to mirror the factory ‘M’ specification, the list of works carried out is comprehensive. Major works include an engine rebuild about 20,000 miles ago by Richard Parker Race Engines Ltd, which includes a gas-flowed aluminium cylinder head, Omega cast pistons, works 649 profile camshaft, lightened flywheel, alloy sump and fully balanced crankshaft assembly. In September 2012 this engine was rolling road tested and found to produce 185bhp at 4,500rpm - an extremely impressive figure given that it is almost double the power output of the A90 engine from which it is derived.
Other work carried out recently includes a gearbox and overdrive rebuild, disc brake and telescopic damper conversion, and a replacement aluminium radiator. Over the 2012/13 period, the car was the subject of a bare metal respray, during which time the engine was removed and re-painted and a new boot lid fitted. To complement this new paint, fresh trim was also installed.
The owner celebrated this work by taking the car to Le Mans (and not for the first time). This trip, along with detailed maintenance records, are recorded in a log book which also lists trips to Spain in 2010 and Italy in 2011 – the latter journey being a trouble-free round trip of 2,300 miles. The car has also been used extensively in the UK too, with numerous jollies to the Highlands 3 Day Trials.
The car comes with a Heritage Certificate which shows that it was originally all red, but the present colour scheme suits it well and was a popular period option. Other factory fitted options are a heater and laminated screen. Being a late BN2 this car also has the wider track hypoid-bevel back axle which gives improved road-holding.
The 'Big Healey' is widely regarded as the quintessential British sports car of its era and in the past, the six-cylinder engined cars have always held the spotlight. More recently, those in the know have realised that the 100/4 is a better-balanced car and truer to Donald Healey’s original idea and, of course, the four-cylinder engine can be made to produce prodigious power, as can be seen here. The 100/4 is also Mille Miglia eligible, unlike the 3000.
This fine example has had an understanding and enthusiastic owner for the last 30 years who has not stinted in his care for this car. It is all a 100/4 should be, with an impressive specification and appearance upgraded to ‘M’ spec. It is a car that is sure to give its new owner much enjoyment - lucky thing...