Donald Healey was a successful garage owner, an accomplished rally driver, decorated WWI RAF pilot and all-around gifted self-promoter. Beginning in 1945, he added automobile manufacturer to his already impressive resume. Before the war, Healey served as Technical Director of Triumph, before moving to Humber where he spent much of his time working on armored cars. While at Humber, he teamed up with Ben Bowden and Sammy Sampietro to design a new sports car in their off hours. The chassis and bodies were designed by Bowden and Sampietro, while Healey secured a deal with Riley to supply their 2.4 liter, hemi-head four-cylinder engines. With its lightweight coachwork by Elliott of Reading, the new Healey was the fastest four-seater of the day, reaching 110 mph at Jebbeke, Belgium in 1947.
When supplies of Riley engines dwindled, Donald Healey went in search of a new partner; one that could far exceed his previous production numbers. After a brief foray with Nash in America, Healey took a bold move; building a prototype on a rigid box-section chassis, using common Austin A90 running gear, which he named the Healey Hundred. Healey showed the car at the London Motor Show in 1952, hoping to impress the top brass at Austin so that he could land the partnership of a lifetime. Leonard Lord, then head of the newly-formed BMC was impressed, and he saw it as the perfect opportunity to break into the American market after the failure of the Austin Atlantic. A deal was struck to build the new Austin Healey 100 sports car at the famed Longbridge assembly plant alongside the Austin A90, and one of Britain’s most storied sporting marques was born.
The 100 saw incremental improvements in the first few years, with the addition of the 2639 cc 6-cylinder from the Austin A90 Westminster marking the first significant change. The new engine gave a welcome boost in performance, putting the new 100-6 in within striking distance of Jaguar’s exotic, twin-cam XK series and earning it the nickname “Big Healey.” By 1959, the engine was enlarged to 2912 cc, and the model renamed to 3000. The Austin Healey 3000 would become one of the most popular of all British sports cars, enjoying success in circuit racing in America, rallying in Europe and selling over 40,000 examples in total.
The final version of the beautiful Austin Healey 3000 range was officially known as the MkIII, though it is commonly known by its chassis prefix “BJ8.” These models featured the more comfortable interior of the MkII with a wraparound windscreen, wind-up windows, and improved folding roof. Power increased from 130hp to 150hp thanks to larger SU HD8 carburetors and a high-lift camshaft. Two versions of the BJ8 were made, with Phase I built from February-May of 1964, and Phase II from May 1964-onward. Phase II rode on a modified chassis to improve ground clearance, and a few other minor changes were made. The last Phase II models received separate indicator lights from March 1965 to the end of production in 1967. Healey enthusiasts have long cherished the BJ8 series for its additional power and superior refinement while still maintaining the muscular charm that made the Austin Healy 3000 a true sports car legend.
Our featured example is an early Phase II BJ8, built in October 1964. This lovely Austin Healey received a complete rotisserie restoration in 2007, and it remains in beautiful condition today. It is presented in period-correct Healey Blue Metallic over a dark blue interior, and it has been well maintained and enjoyed in the hands of the most recent owner. According to the Heritage Certificate, this is an original left-drive, North American Export model equipped from new with laminated windscreen, heater, wire wheels, adjustable steering column, and overdrive. The presentation is beautiful, with high-quality paintwork and body panels showing consistent, factory-appropriate fit. Bumpers, trim pieces and wire wheels all present in excellent condition with minimal polish marks and bright, clean reflections in the plating.
The interior is equally well-done, with the seats, door cards and console trimmed in dark blue, period-correct Ambla vinyl. The soft trim is in excellent condition, appearing very nicely maintained and with minimal aging since the restoration was completed. Carpets are similarly well-kept, correctly presented down to the molded rubber “Austin” heel pad. Smiths instruments and Lucas switchgear are excellent, set in a refinished burl wood fascia. The original banjo-type steering wheel is retained, and the shift lever topped with a walnut AMCO shift knob. With the blue vinyl top up or down, the interior is comfortable and inviting.
According to the Heritage Certificate, this car retains its original, numbers matching 2,912 cc engine. The big Healey six wears twin S.U. HD8 carbs topped with correct pancake air cleaners. Proper Austin green paint is in very good condition overall, showing only some minor wear associated with moderate use. The engine bay and undercarriage are correctly detailed, with proper wiring looms, hardware and ancillaries used. The engine runs strong, emitting its signature six-cylinder growl through twin exhaust pipes while the optional overdrive and the additional ride height of the Phase II chassis, allow the Big Healey to bridge the gap between a sports car and grand tourer.
The well-documented restoration has been well-maintained, and in addition to the Heritage Certificate, the sale includes a factory owner’s handbook. This fine Austin Healey 3000 is a beautiful example of the desirable late-production BJ8 that is ready to enjoy on the open road.