The “Big Healey”
My first sports car was a Triumph, and I probably would have never heard of it had it not been for World War ll.
Millions of GI’s had gone through the UK before, during and after the war, many taking notice of the small sporty machines that Brits were driving all over England.
Smitten by the exhilaration of these cars in contrast to the much larger American automobiles they were used to, guys found a way to ship them home or pine for them on their return to the US.
Expensive Jags and cheap Triumps and MG’s couldn’t be built fast enough. But in 1952, designer Donald Healey saw unfilled ground and in a joint venture between the Austin Division of British Leyland, the Austin Healey came to be.
Much has been written of the original 4 cylinders cars, but only recently have the 6 cylinder “big Healeys” become sought after by collectors.
The early 4 cylinder cars were tiny compared to the new straight 6’s. More suitable to those British back roads, Healey 4’s were woefully underpowered and made you row through the gears to get any kind of performance. Spartan machines, the interiors were neither comfortable or capable of protection from the elements.
Everything changed in 1959 when Austin Healey introduced this car, the Austin Healey 3000. An inline 2.9 liter 6 cylinder engine replaced the smaller motors and suddenly the “big Healey” was the car to own.
In 1960, 124HP was a lot of horsepower and front disc brakes could haul down the now the much faster cars, though Healey still used drum brakes in the rear. Top speed was about 115 MPH and 0-60 times were in the 11 second range.
Honestly, Austin Healey didn’t do much to improve on weather protection, but now the interiors were beautifully redone. More than just a sporting machine, owners could take this car on long trips in something approaching comfort.
The Austin Healey 3000’s were extensively raced and competed at sports cars tracks all over the world, including Sebring and Le Mans. Healey 3000’s also enjoyed rallying successes in Europe.
The big Healeys, race prepped, were said to give Ferrari 250 SWB drivers fits on the track, with great road holding ability and gobs of torque.
I’m a big fan of always-buy-the-best, and this particular car, a 1960 3000 MK1, was fully restored in 2008. British Racing Green with tan leather, this Austin Healey BT7 is fitted with parcel-shelf sized occasional seats, suitable for some storage without have to access the boot.
Through the 4 speed trans and into overdrive, the Austin Healey 3000 will cruise effortlessly at 100 MPH.
These are great and affordable car for rallies, concours, or a Sunday morning trip down memory lane.
Only 10,825 of the BT7 2+2’s were built and unfortunately it’s anyone’s guess how many remain.
Interested in Austin Healeys or just want more pics? Here’s a link to everything Healey. http://www.healeydata.com