The Austin-Healey 3000 (1959-1961) 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. 

The 3000 Mk I

 

The 3000—sometimes called "Mark I" to differentiate it from the later models—had a larger, improved engine from that of its predecessor. Capacity was upped to 2912 cc and the front brakes were changed from drum type to disks, both of which remained for the rest of Big Healey production. However, in appearance the 3000 is indistinguishable from the 100-6, save for the badges. As with the 100-6, many people prefer the lines of the two-seater, and this is usually reflected in the prices.

 

The 3000 Mk II

 

This model often causes confusion for those shopping for an Austin-Healey because there are actually two very different models with this same name. The first "3000 Mark II" was basically the same as its 3000 predecessor, except that power was increased by the addition of a third carburetor (previous Big Healeys had two) and the grill was changed from horizontal to vertical bars. Otherwise, it's very much the same car. This model also came in a four-seat version still called Series BT7 (5,096 built) and a two-seat version still called Series BN7 (just 355 built, making it the rarest production Austin-Healey and the last strictly two-seater). Note however that the three carburetors proved troublesome to keep tuned, and even the British Motor Corporation made a tacit admission of this when, in early 1962, they offered a kit to convert the triple-carburetor cars to two.

BJ7 Series

 

Also in early 1962, a Series BJ7 car (6,113 built) was introduced which had the marque's first roll-up windows; a curved, wrap-around windscreen; and pivoting wing windows. It retained the vertical grill bars but reverted to two carburetors. Also very importantly, this model was the first Big Healey with a more or less permanently attached folding top that provided real weather protection. It is sometimes referred to, especially in Great Britain, as a "Mark IIa" to differentiate it from the earlier version of the Mark II, but "IIa" was never an official name.

 

The Austin-Healey 3000 Mark III

 

Produced from 1963-1967, this model is one of the 1950's most endearing British sports cars. That is not a misprint. By the time the Mark III was built, everything about it was obsolete, except perhaps for the character that it oozes from every curve of its muscular bodywork. By the mid-1960s the Austin-Healey was truly anachronistic, representing the style and technology of the previous decade or even earlier.

 

That said, the 3000 Mark III is probably the most popular Big Healey. It has roll-up windows and a true convertible top that really does offer good weather protection, just like the BJ7. However, the BJ8 added a walnut burl wood dash panel and a center console that combined to make this the most civilized, most luxurious big Healey built. It is a wonderful car, although a far cry from the raw and simple Healey 100.

 

Additional improvements from the BJ7 include power-assisted brakes as standard, more power thanks to bigger carburetors, and a slightly softer ride. The first 1,390 examples of this model are sometimes called "Phase I" and included a cubby box at the rear of the center console. Then, about six months after production of the Mark III began, the ride height was increased and the cubby box was eliminated, with these cars called "Phase II." 16,322 examples were produced. The increased ride height was a particularly important improvement because earlier Healeys are known for scraping bottom and occasionally even knocking off the muffler when driving over relatively small obstacles.