Out of many famous classic care marques the Austin Healey has to be one with the most loyal following. Over the production run from 1953 to 1971 this striking classic sports car evolved through several distinctive models, and with versions in need of restoration available fairly inexpensively, it is an ideal project for someone interested in classic cars.
There is an awful lot of specialist information available on the subject of Austin Healey restoration, making it an ideal project for the novice. But which model should you choose? To help here is a short time-line detailing the various models in its evolution.
The Austin Healey is a British sports car however it was originally produced with the north American market in mind, with over 89% of the production being exported to the USA.
Austin Healey 100
It was developed by Donald Healey to be produced in-house by Healey’s small car company in Warwick England. The mechanical workings were based on the pre world war 2, Austin A90 Atlantic. However only one was produced and exhibited at the 1953 London motor show. This ‘Healey Hundred’ so impressed the chairman of the Austin motor co that a deal was struck to mass produce it at the companies Longbridge car plant, and so the Austin-Healey was born.
The 100 was produced up until 1959, and was the first version of the car. From 1956 it was renamed the 100 six because of the new six cylinder engine. The 100 in the model designation was chosen by the car designer Donald Healey, because of the cars’ ability to reach a speed of 100 miles per hour.
Austin Healey 3000
This model is the best known of the ‘big Healeys’, and the one you are most likely to find as a restoration project as it was produced in larger numbers than the 100. The number 3000 refers to the size of the engine which is a 3 liter engine.
This model found much success on the rally racing circuits of Europe, and was produced from 1959 until 1961, in both two and four seat variants. Some enthusiasts still race the car to this day.
Austin Healey Sprite
The Sprite is the smallest of the line, and it was described at its launch in 1958 as an affordable car for the masses. The MK1 became known as the Frogeye in the UK and the Bugeye in the USA. This was because its headlights were perched on top of the front wings. They were originally designed to retract into the wing, but this feature was abandoned as a cost cutting measure.
The Sprite was made at the MG sports car factory at Abingdon, and the success of the sprite lead to an MG version named the midget. Often the Sprite and MG Midget are referred to as ‘Spridgets’ by fans of the type.
No matter which model you have, Austin Healey restoration is a great project for anyone looking to get involved in classic car preservation.