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Austin Healey 100 and 3000 MK III: daredevil or fine spirit?

Arturo Rivas
Austin Healey 100 and 3000 MK III
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W he decided to buy an Austin Healey 3000 Mk III decides, has basically done everything right. With the 150 hp of a sleek six-cylinder in-line engine, you are still amazingly confident on the road today, because the stocky Brit weighs only 1,077 kilograms. In fourth gear, the popular classic even scratches the 200 km /h mark with overdrive engaged.

Prototype of the masculine roadster

Many Austin Healey 3000 owners also see the prototype of the robust, unadulterated, masculine roadster in their vehicle. Its real wood dashboard, the small racing armchairs, the large steering wheel, the low belt line, the 150 HP chassis, and the hurricane from head to knees from 60 km /h are hard to beat in terms of their original British style. Or does it? Maybe even from the older and weaker original model? Let's find out.

At first glance, our two Austin-Healey only differ in the color and shape of their radiator grilles. The silver-gray 100 from 1956 (BN2) with its fan grill largely corresponds to the original Healey from 1952. Donald Healey equipped his sports roadster with the drive technology of the Austin A90 convertible, whose long-stroke 2.7-liter four-cylinder generates 91 hp only produced 4,000 rpm. That is enough for a top speed of 100 miles (160 m /h), which explains the model name '100'. This tried and tested engine has so much torque that the first unsynchronized gear of the Austin gearbox was blocked. The rest of the three-speed transmission received a selectable overdrive (new four-speed transmission again with overdrive from 1955).

The birth of the Austin-Healey

Donald Healey presented the new 100 in 1952, the body of which he went with its designer Gerry Coker designed at the London Motor Show. Of course, Austin boss Leonard Lord also took a look at the new Healey roadster, which he already knew existed from the technology sales negotiations. Lord was enthusiastic about the car and included it in the official sales program. The Austin-Healey was born.

Our Austin-Healey 100 in Gunmetal Gray corresponds with a few changes to the original Healey from 1952. It still has the foldable windshield, the gearshift lever placed next to the center tunnel and the asymmetrical one Dashboard thatFully retractable hood, doors without interior panels and handles, and only one door opening cord.

And that's exactly how owner Michael Schlaich likes his Austin-Healey 100: 'The ingenious body design comes out best in this early, purist version come into play. ' The spartan equipment would also be typical for a sports car from this era, 'because you wanted to save money and weight with it', which worked convincingly with the Healey 100 with its 980 kilograms. But now let's try out what can be done on the road with 91 hp.

More fishing boats than sports cars

In the Austin-Healey 100, in the style of pre-war racing cars, you sit pretty close behind the wheel. The shift lever installed offset to the left is a pleasant way to meet us, continental Europeans sitting on the left. At the push of a button, the engine starts, which reports from behind with a robust, large-piston babble: more fishing trawler than sports car. We engage the clutch just above idling speed and the Healey picks up speed so spontaneously and quickly that after ten meters you shift into second and then third gear. The steering works with little play and is astonishingly direct for this vintage car. The driver quickly gains confidence in the flat roadster with the elongated bonnet.

The engine hangs on the accelerator with pleasure and works with pleasantly low vibrations up to 4,000 rpm. The Austin-Healey 100 doesn’t need any more speed in everyday use. If the gears are fully turned down to around 4,800 rpm, the 100 manages the 60-mile sprint (96 km /h) in just 10.9 seconds - just one second longer than the Jaguar XK 120 with a powerful 160 hp. Back then, as now, the four-cylinder Healey is perfectly motorized.

From 1956 there were 2 jump seats in the Austin-Healey 100

Nevertheless, Austin carried out an intensive model upgrade, which eventually became the Austin in many steps -Healey 3000 Mk III with 150 hp led. So in 1956 the old four-cylinder was replaced by a new 2.6-liter six-cylinder with 102 hp. The roadster called 100-Six (BN 4) was basically a completely new design: longer wheelbase, a larger cockpit with two jump seats and longer doors. Despite this, almost nothing changed in the external body shape. On the other hand, the new oval radiator grille, which came from the legendary four-cylinder racing model Austin-Healey 100 S, which now costs well over 500,000 euros, and the air scoop on the hood, which is now hinged at the rear, are clearly different.

With the Enlargement of displacement to three liters in 1959, the model name changed from Austin-Healey 100-Six to 3000 (two-seater: BN7, 2 + 2-seater: BT7). Now the Austin-Healey made 124 hp. From 1961 the 3000 Mk II shone with three carburettors and 132 hp. This version received a new, more convenient one in 1963Operating hood, which was no longer completely behind the emergency seats in the body, but protruded beyond (BJ7). In addition, there were crank windows instead of plug-in windows, which is why the engineers had to reduce the door opening with an attached chrome strip.

Plenty of wood in the cockpit of the Austin-Healey 3000 Mk III

With the 150 After 13 years, the British renovated the dashboard with a powerful Austin-Healey 3000 Mk III (BJ8). It was now made of wood and looked really noble. A lockable glove compartment and a radio speaker integrated in the center console completed the transformation to a comfort convertible. The shift lever, which was initially offset, was placed in the center of the center tunnel in 1961.

And now we take a closer look at the red Austin-Healey 3000 Mk III from 1966 and see that it is quite a different automobile compared to the 100 . Most of all, we miss the cut-out cockpit with its wonderful curves in front of the windshield, the integrated hood and the asymmetrical sheet metal instrument panel. Instead, the oval radiator grille of the 3000 makes the car appear flatter and more aggressive. But does the six-cylinder Healey drive as well as its 60 more horsepower promise?

The 3000 needs a stronger hand

First surprise: after exactly ten years of construction, the seating position near the steering wheel has remained exactly the same. Otherwise, the cockpit is now very conventionally designed and could also belong to a Jaguar or Triumph. But no question about it, the six-cylinder works. Its run, which is quieter than the 100, encourages more revving up to over 5,000 rpm. And it's going much faster. However, you can also feel the almost 100 kilograms higher weight. Not when braking, but in tight bends that the Austin-Healey 3000 needs to be forced into with more muscle power than the 100.

The four-cylinder Healey stands for authentic, puristic roadster fun, while the Austin -Healey3000 appeals more to comfort and performance-oriented customers. But one thing is certain: A Healey is always unmistakably a Healey.

Hardly any differences in the price of the Austin Healyes

The current market situation is somewhat surprising: the prices for the two Austin Healeys are on the same level. The market observer Classic-Analytics states a price of 64,000 euros for an Austin-Healey 100 (BN2) in condition 2, the 3000 Mk III is not even 2% higher at 65,000 euros. In state 4 the prices are 28,000 and 26,000 euros.

The Austin-Healey 100-6 (BN4 and BN6) is worth a little tip. The two-seater BN6 was built in 1958 and 1959, has the cockpit from 1952, but already the six-cylinder. The price of the 100-6, which has only been built 4,150 times, is 49,000 euros (condition2) and 22,000 euros (condition 4) significantly lower. The 2 + 2-seater BN4 was manufactured from 1956 to 1959 and currently costs 47,000 /20,000 euros (condition 2/4).

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