This exemplary 1956 Austin-Healey 100M has been certified by both the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust and the 100M Le Mans Registry as one of 640 factory-built 100M Le Mans replicas, restored on a cost-no-object basis by marque-specialist Fourintune for racer Bobby Rahal.
Donald Healey introduced his new sports car at the 1952 Earls Court Motor show as the ‘Healey Hundred’ – promoting its promised top speed of 100mph. In short order, agreement was reached between Healey and Chairman Leonard Lord of Austin to produce the car in greater numbers as the Austin-Healey 100. Two “special test cars” raced at Le Mans in 1953, both finishing near the top of their class. In 1954, the factory made available conversion kits enabling car owners or dealers to update standard 100s to “Le Mans” specifications. Going further, the factory produced a special 100M Le Mans model between September 5, 1955 and July 16, 1956. Just 640 factory-built 100Ms were produced, with perhaps as few as 260 of these original cars surviving. Factory modifications to the 100Ms included 1- ¾ ” S.U. carburetors and special inlet manifolds, a cold air box and air tube, high compression pistons, a high lift camshaft, special distributor and a race-type anti-roll bar. Other factory fitted equipment included wire wheels, a laminated sliding windscreen and a factory louvered hood with a Le Mans regulation leather strap. Horsepower was increased from 90 to 110.
According to factory production records, this Austin-Healey 100M was built on April 12, 1956 as a LHD North American Export, finished in Healey Blue and Ivory White. It is known that sports car racer Mike Rahal – father of future Indianapolis 500-winner Bobby Rahal – owned an original Austin-Healey 100M; that car was finished in the original colors of Florida Green and Ivory White. Thus, when Bobby Rahal later set out to find and restore an authentic 100M a change to the colors of his father’s original car had already been decided.
Many other carefully considered modifications were made to this 100M during the restoration, with care always taken to preserve major original components. The engine was fitted with an alloy head, stainless steel valves and a Welch cam, together with a 3.90 rear end, all to enhance performance, as well as high-powered Cibié headlamps for safety. Modern disc brakes were installed at the front wheels and sixty-spoke wire wheels were fitted at all four corners in place of the original 48-spoke wheels.
This 100M is visually stunning and appears to have seen very little use since restoration. The exterior paint and trim are both excellent. Panel fit is very good, including ideal door fit and gaps, as well as hood and trunk fit. The interior has been restored with new black leather and black carpet and period correct quick-release competition style lap belts have been installed. A handcrafted Moto-Lita wood rim steering wheel has been installed in place of the original wheel that has been preserved. The new black top and full tonneau cover are vinyl, as correct to the 100M, as are new side curtains with clear vinyl panels surrounded in black. Everything under the hood is correct and the level of detailing is over-the-top including paint colors and fittings. The trunk is also fully detailed, as well as the undercarriage that appears to be as new in every respect.
Receipts provided show that the original, correct and numbers matching 100M was purchased for $85,000 prior to restoration, with an additional $105,000 spent on the restoration itself. Other property provided with the sale includes a binder filled with restoration notes and receipts, a photo album recording the restoration, the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust Certificate and the 100M “Le Mans” Registration Certificate. Also provided are the original cast head, 48-spoke wheels, steering wheel and a spare key.