1956 Austin Healey 100/4 Convertible

By the late 40’s, Donald Healey had enjoyed moderate success building a variety of high-quality, high-performance sporting cars. His own Healey Elliot was briefly the fastest closed production car in the world thanks to its streamlined body and 2.3 Liter Riley power plant. In spite of its performance, the Elliot was expensive, and Donald Healey was well aware that his supply of Riley engines would not last much longer. Healey dreamed of partnering with a much larger company to produce a new car that was simple, affordable and accessible to the growing audience of budding sports car enthusiasts both at home and abroad. In 1952 at the London Motor show, a single prototype called the Healey Hundred was shown, which had a stylish body hiding humble Austin A90 mechanicals. Healey’s goal was to impress Austin bosses enough to embrace his project and thankfully, the gamble paid off. Austin loved the idea of having a proper sports car to boost their image and a deal was soon struck to assemble the Austin-Healey 100-4 alongside the A90 at BMC’s famed Longbridge plant. Bodies were built by Jensen and delivered to Longbridge painted and fully trimmed, just needing mechanicals and final assembly.

The Austin-Healey 100-4 BN1 was a great success, attracting buyers in the home market as well as in the critical American market where a sports car racing scene was exploding. The BN1 100-4 was quite basic, with only a 3-speed manual transmission backing the rugged Austin engine. The BN1 was produced from 1953 until August of 1955 when the BN2 was introduced to address many of the criticism of the earlier car. The front wheel arches were subtly changed, along with a few other minor details, but critically a 4-speed manual gearbox was fitted, along with overdrive for the top two gears, an enhancement that completely transformed the Austin-Healey 100 out on the road. Austin Healeys became the car of choice for many budding sports car racers in the US, thanks to the gutsy torque from the big “four” and nimble handling – a prime rival for the quirky Porsche 356.

Classically finished in Healey Blue over a blue interior, our lovely featured example is a 100-4 BN2 that has been comprehensively restored.  The body work is outstanding with very fine panel fit and high quality paint. The overall feel is of a very well restored, top level club-quality car that has been built to be enjoyed. It sits properly on a set of chrome wire wheels and period appropriate Vredestein radial tires. The chrome trim has all been restored to the same high level of quality, and of course it wears that signature Healey fold-down windscreen.

In the basic cockpit, dark blue leather is piped in white along with matching dark blue carpets. The leather is in very good condition, with no rips or tears. It has taken on a charming patina since the restoration, clear evidence that is has been driven and enjoyed on the road. Correct instrumentation, an original wheel and correct original weather equipment (including side curtains and full tonneau cover) are all fitted. Correct materials also line the rear of the cockpit, door panels and boot.

All of the work appears to have been performed to a high standard by someone who clearly understands Healeys, but it is also clear this is a car meant to be driven. Under the bonnet rests a very nicely detailed Austin big four with dual S.U. carburetors. The correct green engine paint is very nicely finished, and all of the ancillaries are detailed and extremely tidy. The only obvious addition beyond factory is an alloy radiator, a sensible and highly-recommended upgrade for any 100-4 that is meant to be driven. And that is exactly what this example is best suited for: Driving, showing, and fun. Healey purists consider the 100-4 BN2 to be the best of the breed. Gutsy, raw and thrilling, this 100-4 is an iconic British bulldog wearing a fine restoration, ready for enjoyment.

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