1959 Austin-Healey 3000 Mk I (BT7)
Donald Healey is an icon of the British motor industry. He was born in Perranporth, Cornwall, in the south west of England on the 3rd July 1898. He studied engineering and had a passion for all things mechanical, including aeroplanes and motor vehicles. In 1945 he founded the Donald Healey Motor Company and its mission was to build excellent quality performance cars. In 1946 the company introduced the Healey Westland Roadster and the Healey Elliott Saloon, both built through until 1950. Other subsequent models included the Healey Sportsmobile (1948-1950), Healey Silverstone (1949-1950), Healey Tickford Saloon (1950-1954), Healey Abbott Drophead Coupe (1950-1954) and Healey G-Type Roadster (1951-1953). The most successful car built in this era was the Nash Healey of which just over 500 examples were built from 1950 – 1954. Healey’s cars were good and they enjoyed much success in competition, including class wins in the 1947 and 1948 Alpine rallies as well as the 1949 Mille Miglia. They were also expensive and business was tough going.
The Donald Healey Motor Company struggled and Healey decided that he needed to build a cheaper sports car in far greater numbers to be successful. In 1952 Austin-Healey was formed through a joint venture between the Austin division of the British Motor Corporation (BMC) and the Donald Healey Motor Company (Healey). As they say ‘the rest is history’ and Austin-Healey went on to become one of the world’s most successful sports car manufacturers.
The first Austin-Healey was the Austin-Healey 100 introduced in 1953. These were true sports cars in every sense of the word, an open two seater with minimal weather protection. They were powered by a 2,660cc 4 cylinder engine generating around 90 bhp, enough to propel the car to a top speed of 100 mph, hence, the designation Austin Healey ‘100’. The first series cars were designated BN1 and in 1955 the second series or BN2 was introduced. The BN2 had a four speed manual gearbox (compared to a three speed in the BN1), with overdrive on the top two gears. The BN2 has slightly larger front wheel arches and a different rear axle. Interestingly, the BN2 was the first Austin-Healey to offer optional two-tone paint.
In 1955 Austin-Healey introduced the 100S, which was built for the race track. Featuring light aluminium body work, engine improvements that delivered 135 bhp, a strengthened chassis, disc brakes on all four wheels, suspension upgrades and no bumpers (to keep weight at a minimum) the Austin-Healey 100S was a great success. Only 50 cars were ever built and they are today amongst the world’s most desirable and collectable cars. Hot on the heels of 100S, Austin-Healey introduced the 100M, a high performance road going model that with engine modifications increased power from 90 bhp to 110 bhp. In total 640 Austin-Healey 100Ms were built in 1955/56.
In 1956 Austin-Healey introduced the 100/6 that featured a more powerful 6 cylinder engine and provided occasional rear seats in a 2+2 configuration. These cars were designated as BN4 Healeys. A two seater roadster version, the BN6, was introduced in 1958. In 1959 the last of the ‘big Healeys’, the Austin-Healey 3000 was introduced. The 3000 was powered by a 2,912 cc 6 cylinder engine and introduced front disc brakes to the model range. These Healeys were available as a roadster or as a 2+2. The MkI roadster was designated as BN7 and the MkI 2+2 was designated as BT7. The MkII Austin Healey 3000’s were introduced in 1961 (available as a roadster – BN7 and 2+2 – BT7). In 1962 the BJ7 was introduced which was another big step change for the model. This car was more sophisticated and targeted the expanding American market. It featured a wrap around front windscreen, wind up windows and other creature comforts. In 1964 the final iteration of the Austin-Healey 3000 was introduced, being the MKIII BJ8.
In excess of 70,000 Austin-Healeys were built from 1953 through until 1967 and a large percentage of these cars were left hand drive and sold into North America.
Oldtimer Australia is delighted to offer for sale a lovely 1959 Austin Healey 3000 MkI.
According to the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust – Certified Copy of a Factory Record this is a North American delivered car that was completed on the 22nd April 1959 with a date of despatch of the 11th May 1959. The car was finished in ‘ivory white’ with a black interior and a black soft top. The destination dealer was in Jacksonville, Florida in the USA.
Little is known of the car’s early history, however, it found its way to Australia as a restoration project. The car was imported into Australia in 2003, as confirmed by the Import Approval on file. Its then owner from Mittagong in NSW never got to restore the car and it changed hands in circa 2007. The car’s new owner immediately set to work to have the car restored. There is a photo album on file containing around 150 photographs of the restoration. There is a date pencilled against the first photograph of June 2007, which is most likely when the restoration was started. The body and chassis looked to be in poor condition and the car was totally stripped and treated to a body off rotisserie restoration. At this time the car was converted to right hand drive. The engine was totally rebuilt and there is a dyno test on file dated 4th August 2010 which shows the engine delivering just under 90 bhp at 4,500 rpm. In a letter from the owner who restored the car he specifically mentions that the engine was rebuilt with new big end bearings, the head was serviced & new exhaust valves fitted, new brake discs were fitted & the callipers overhauled with new pistons, the radiator was re-cored, a new stainless steel exhaust system and new 5½ inch wheels were fitted. From the photographs it is evident that the car was totally rebuilt. Once restored, the car was registered in NSW as 38173H. The car has been upgraded with an engine and gearbox from an Austin Healey 3000 MkIII, which is a desirable improvement.
This Austin-Healey 3000 changed hands in March 2014 and it has remained with the same family ever since.
Whilst the restoration was completed some 10 years ago, it has travelled very few miles since.
Today this car still presents beautifully. The bright red paintwork remains in excellent condition with a strong depth of colour and high gloss. There are a few minor blemishes here and there, but they are hard to find. All of the external trim, including the chrome, lenses and the glass are in very good condition. To be really fussy there is some very light scratching on some of the chrome. The car has a rare and desirable hard top that is in good condition. When restored, the owner opted to have the hard top painted white which perfectly compliments the red paintwork. The car has an older black soft top that is in reasonably good condition. There are also side curtains. The painted wire wheels are in excellent condition and the car is running Yokohama 195/65R15 tyres all round. Inside the cabin the interior remains fresh. The upholstery is essentially like new with no rips, tears or damage noted. All of the instruments and controls are crisp and clean, though it should be noted that the fuel gauge is not working. Even the carpets present like new.
The engine bay is exceptionally clean, neat and tidy, though it should be noted that the paint is starting to blister on the block. The boot looks to be unused and the spare wheel is present along with a wheel hammer and an aftermarket bottle jack.
Healeys look the part, but they are genuinely great fun cars to drive. This example needs full choke to start and it does take some persuading to fire up. Once started you do need to blip the throttle to prevent the engine from stalling, though as the engine begins to warm up it soon settles into a smooth idle. Out on the open road the car performs well once the engine reaches operating temperature. The engine pulls strongly through the rev range and the gear change is smooth up and down the box. The steering is light and direct and this car handles and stops as one would expect. This Healey has a raspy exhaust note and the more you drive this car the better it gets.
This car is offered for sale from a deceased estate and it is probably suffering a little from a lack of use in recent times.
Accompanying this car is a Heritage Certificate, restoration photo album and some receipts for servicing and other work done in recent times.
Today the odometer reads 879 miles which is quite possibly the distance travelled post restoration.
- A desirable ‘big Healey’ finished in a stunning colour scheme.
- Desirable hard top / soft top (with side curtains) combination.
- A photographic record of the restoration is on file.
- Whilst an older restoration this remains a beautifully presented car.
- Austin Healey 3000 MkI (BT7)
- 879 miles