A GENUINE CLASSIC

One of the world’s most iconic cars was manufactured in England for about 60 years. The Austin-Healey 3000, one of the most beautiful sports cars in the world, was created by automobile genius Donald Healey. The car is from a time when Made in Britain meant the best, and it is still highly prized by a large fan base. A Porsche or Mercedes might be faster but Austin-Healey will always be the winner with its swept lines. And what it lacks as a racing car, it makes up as a GT. It’s a dream to drive in, and where better than the countryside of Cornwall in Southern England, its place of origin. BY FINN CLAUSEN PHOTOGRAPH: GETTY IMAGES
Austin Healey
The first model was named the Austin- Healey 100, because it could drive at more than 100 miles per hour. It had a top speed of 117 miles per hour.

Austin Healey

War hero and speed lover

Donald Healey, the man who created this beautiful sports car, was a war hero and a man who loved speed and fast cars. He was a bomber pilot during WWI, but was shot down during a raid when he was only 18 years old. A series of crashes ended his military career but his huge interest in engineering continued. He took correspondence course in automobile engineering and opened a garage in his hometown of Perranporth in Cornwall in Southern England.

Donald Healey loved to drive cars. Above all, they had to be fast. He competed in the Monte Carlo Rally several times and usually ended in a good position.

In 1931, he won the rally driving an Invicta, a British car that was huge during the 1920s and 1930s. This presumably inspired him, when he built the famous Austin-Healey later on.

Healey was the Technical Director of the Triumph Motor Company during the 1930s but after the war ended in 1945, he founded Healey Motor Company Ltd in order to fulfil his dream of building his own cars. He focused on expensive, fast cars. The Elliot Sedan appeared in 1948, which had a Riley engine. At the time, the car was considered the fastest sedan model in the world. Other cars followed, some open, some closed, some more saleable than others.

Austin Healey
1. Austin-Healey 3000 – a genuine classic. 2. The steering wheel and dashboard of an Austin-Healey are the definition of classic design.

Austin-Healey 100

Healey decided to replace the Riley engine with a much faster Austin engine in a two-seater sports car. The car was a competitor to the Triumph TR series, and looked to be a huge success when it was launched at the leading London Motor Show in 1953. British Motor Company believed it had huge potential and partnered on the project. Initially called the Healey 100, the car became officially known as the Austin-Healey 100. It was hugely popular in Britain and the USA, above all, because of its beautiful look with its swept lines, the low height and the large wheels with spokes. Unbeatable in terms of elegance, it made the most sporty American cars look clumsy in comparison. The price of an Austin-Healey was somewhere between an MG and a Jaguar. It’s name came from the fact that it could drive at over 100 miles an hour, with a top speed of 117 miles an hour (188 km/h). Even today, the car still looks sensational and is a popular investment object.
Austin Healey
Before Donald Healey made cars, he was a rally driver. Pictured here at Invicta in 1931.
Austin Healey
Nash-Healey was manufactured for the American market during the period 1951-1954.

Frogeye

The small and charming Austin-Healey Sprite was launched in 1958, and was called the Frogeye in England and Bugseye in the USA because of its headlamps. The original idea was that the headlamps would close when switched off, a feature used in cars many years later, such as with the Porsche 928. But there was not enough money to develop the mechanics, so the headlights ended in a position above the engine bonnet, which gave the car its quirky look. Donald Healey’s son was responsible for the Sprite, which was intended to be a simple, small and relatively inexpensive sports car, great to look at, great to drive on a racing track or road. The Sprite is highly prized among collectors.

Austin Healey
The front of an Austin-Healey 100 changed over time. This version is from 1956.

Big Healey

The iconic Austin-Healey 3000, also known as the Big Healey, was launched in 1959. An amazing car, with the finest details on the outside and in the cockpit. Beautiful to look at. Beautiful to drive. The Austin-Healey 3000 represents the very essence of a sports car and few other cars can match it. In many ways sublime – with a low centre of gravity, a beautiful and classic design with soft lines yet with enough horsepower to excite world-class drivers like Pat Moss. It was a leader on the racing tracks but was especially suited to rally driving, where it won the Monte Carlo and Mille Miglia. Its victory in the Liège-Rom-Liège rally in 1960 with Pat Moss behind the wheel, is particularly legendary. This stylish 2-seater sports car with its classic look is still ideal for driving on roads.

Austin Healey
An Austin-Healey on the track at Daytona International Speedway in 1961.

The Austin-Healey 3000 was a huge success. Between 1959 and 1967, 42,926 models were sold and it is still popular. Buying one today will easily cost EUR 134,000 or more, depending on the model. The most expensive Austin-Healey was sold for GBP 843,000 only a few years ago. This was for a completely unique Austin-Healey 100 test car that had won Le Mans in 1953 and was involved in a violent accident in 1955 and which had now been restored to its former glory. Prices for this elegant sports car are rising, so the Austin-Healey is a popular investment object among automobile lovers.

Austin Healey
Austin-Healey 3000 or popularly known as the Big Healey, was a huge success in the 1960s and remains popular among vintage car collectors.