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The Automotive Chronicles

Monthly newsletter published by McLellan's Automotive History. Dedicated to literature collectors, restorers, museums, publishers, manufacturers and investors who collect and preserve automotive literature
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October 2012 Issue
 
ARTICLE
The Big and Little Healeys
By Robert McLellan
 

In the early 1950s, MGs were all the rage with sports car enthusiasts. They could be driven to work during the week, and raced on weekends at Sports Car Club of America events at the popular abandoned World War II air bases. MGs were not cheap but they were the least expensive of the available sports cars. If you had the money, you bought a Jaguar, and if you were rich, you bought a Ferrari. But there were other cars competing for your money in the popular range between MG and Jaguar. One was the Austin-Healey.

Donald Healey, a very capable auto engineer and successful racing driver, wanted to capture that low-mid range and introduced the new Healey in 1952 at the Earls Court Motor show in London. Named the Healey Hundred, it would do 100 miles per hour. Faster that the MG but not as fast as the Jaguar XK-120, also using its model name to denote its top speed. The Healey Hundred featured a sleek 2-seater sports body and was powered by a 2.6 litre 4-cylinder Austin engine. It attracted a great deal of interest from the public and received the blessing of Sir Leonard Lord of Austin, the manufacturer of Austin automobiles. An arrangement had been made to put the Healey Hundred into production at Austin's Longbridge factory. It was sold as the Austin-Healey 100 and did very well on the race track which was very good publicity and sales took off.

This same car was later fitted with a six cylinder engine and became known as the 100 Six, and after further development ultimately became the Austin-Healey 3000 (no, it could not go 3000 mph). Production of a small sports car, the Austin-Healey Sprite began in 1958, and it was powered by the BMC A series engine. The Sprite proved to be extremely popular and became fondly known as the Frogeyed Sprite in England and the Bugeyed Sprite in America. This characteristic was due to the positioning of the headlamps which protruded above the low bonnet to meet lighting regulations. Austin-Healey continued production right up until 1972 when the 20-year production agreement between Donald Healey and British Motor Corporation came to an end (Austin had merged with Morris to form BMC).

A brief selection of the popular Austin-Healey literature available:

 
Click on thumbnail for description
 
Austin-Healey literature

1953

1954

1957
     

1959

1960

1960
     

1962

1968

1969
     
 
 
The Automotive Chronicles, October 2012
 
 
 
 
 
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