About The Marque
The Austin-Healey marque was established through an arrangement set up in 1952 between Leonard Lord of the Austin division of the British Motor Corporation (BMC) and Donald Healey, a renowned automotive designer and engineer.
Over the next twenty years, 74,000 Austin-Healeys were produced, making it an iconic part of automobile history.
Donald M. Healey
The British Motor Corporation
Leonard Lord of The British Motor Corporation sponsored an informal design competition for the development of a new sports-car to use Austin and BMC components. The competition was fierce, with MG in the running and putting forward the design that would eventually become the MGA.
However, it was Donald Healey's prototype "Healey Hundred" (finished just before the Earls Court motor show of 1952), which would go on to win the competition. Upon seeing the car on show opening day Lord offered to take it over at once and re-named it "Austin-Healey."
The Big Healeys
The Donald Healey Motor Company would go on to produce several different versions of the Austin-Healey.
The Healey 100 (produced from 1953-1956) eventually became the 100-6 (1956-1959) and then the 3000 (1959-1967). These are collectively known as the Big Healeys, and they are by far the more popular option from this marque. The incredible design, and impressive speeds made these vehicles a success, including on the racetrack.
The Austin-Healey 100 is, of course, the original Austin-Healey. Although a straight six-cylinder engine is usually associated with Big Healeys, this model is the exception with only four cylinders.
The 100 came in two variants: the early BN1 Series cars (10,030 built) with a three-speed transmission, and the later BN2 Series cars (4,604 built) with a four-speed transmission, both with overdrive. After that there are not any significant differences within this model.
The Austin-Healey 3000 is perhaps the best-known Healey. Like the 100-6, it came in two variants: the four-seater BT7 series (10,825 built) and the two-seater BN7 series (2,825 built). This model represents the heyday of Austin-Healeys, when they were being driven to impressive victories and class wins on the European road rally circuit and generally grabbing the attention and imagination of sports car enthusiasts worldwide.
Big Healey Photo Gallery
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The Austin-Healey Sprite was a small, low-cost sports car designed to fill the hole in the market left by the small pre-war Austin Seven. It used a tuned version of the Austin A-Series engine and as many other components from existing cars as possible to keep the cost to a minimum.
Six models of the Austin-Healey Sprite were produced between 1958 and 1971
The Austin-Healey Sprite series AN5 (produced between 1958-1960) is of course the original Sprite. It is perhaps better known in North America as the Bugeye, and elsewhere as the Frogeye. This nickname is owing to the unique headlight mounting, sitting as they do on the bonnet in two pods.
Sprite Photo Gallery
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The Beginning of The End
The beginning of the end came in 1967, when new US car safety regulations were announced that the Healey 3000 did not meet. BMC decided that there was no way the Healey would be able to comply, and so it was discontinued. Sprites were produced for a few more years, but when the 20-year agreement between Healey and Austin came to an end in 1972, the Austin-Healey was no more.