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Interior Details of the 6-Cylinder Two-Seaters

by Gary Anderson

Originally published in the Austin-Healey Magazine, March 1989

The small number of 3000 BN7s produced can make it difficult for the new owner to determine what is and is not original in the interior of his car. This article provides some guidance.

When the four-cylinder Hundreds were replaced by the six-cylinder Healeys in 1956, Donald Healey also convinced Austin that there would be a good market for a sports car with two additional "occasional" seats behind the driver and passenger seats. As a result, the 100-Six was introduced in a four-seater version only, the BN4. (Why there was a break in the production numbering series between the BN2 and the BN4 has been chronicled before in these pages with the story of the BN3 prototype.) While the addition of the two seats obviously required redesigning the rear of the interior, moving the spare wheel to the boot and replacing the two batteries with one, the remainder of the interior was re-styled as well.

However, by early 1958 the 2+2 BN4s were beginning to pile up at the dealers, so Austin put production of the four-seater on hold and quickly put a two-seater into production, the BN6. This was not actually too difficult, since they were able to use the tooling from the 100-Fours, which had been stored away, for the rear portion of the body. However, for whatever reason, the company designed a new rear interior and a new top which both differed not only from the four-seaters, but also from the earlier two seaters. Within a few months the BN4s were put back into production and the 100-Six was available in both a two seat and a four seat model, with no difference in price, through the end of its run.

In 1959 the engine was upgraded to (nearly) 3000 CCs, but from the outset was available in both body styles. Little was changed in the interiors with both the BN7 2-seaters and the BT7 2+2s nearly identical to the BN6s and BN4s. They were also identical to one another from the back of the seat tracks forward. The difference was all in the area behind the front seats.

However, in total only 7300 of the two-seaters were produced (counting both BN6s and BN7s), one-fourth the number of the 4-seaters, so they are not that usual. In addition, they have often been modified inside; making it more difficult for the restorer to determine what was original, and then finding the needed pieces.

The two pictures shown here, courtesy of Martin McGregor of McGregor Coachworks in Toronto, show the BN6/7 as it was originally trimmed. Here are some of the details you should look for in checking for originality.

Carpeting is the same as the BT7 up to the edge of the package shelf. The package shelf itself is covered in Armacord with vinyl edging, in the same color as the rest of the interior trim. The Armacord ribbing runs front to back. The exception is the gray interior, where Hardura (a pebble-grained material) was used instead of Armacord. Since Armacord is no longer available in colors other than black, your upholsterer will have to dye it to match the trim. In the BN7, the spare tire is contained in a cover made of carpet material, trimmed with vinyl welting and with a vinyl bottom. In the BN6, this cover was made entirely of vinyl, although the point at which the change was made is unknown. Missing in the picture, the tire is held down by a black strap fastened to a chrome bracket screwed to the battery access lid and passing through a slit in the wheel cover to a buckle inside the boot.

... for whatever reason, the company designed a new rear interior and a new top both of which differed not only from the four seaters, but also from the earlier two seaters.

Visible in both pictures are the pieces that are used to store the hood and hood frame. Against the inner rear side panel on the floor on each side is a vinyl-covered "cup" lined inside with carpeting into which the ends of the side bows rest. Further up on each side, screwed to the panel and the package shelf. is a "stirrup" also covered in vinyl, through which the side bow passes when stored. It may be interesting to note that the hood and frame for the two-seaters were one integral unit, with a side-rail that extended from the side support to the top of the windscreen, producing a hood which is much easier to mount and much more weatherproof than any of the other hood arrangements preceding the BJ7/8s. When erected, the hood dropped into two holes, surrounded by aluminum plates, about four inches behind the doors. Two smaller holes at the top of the door shut face accepted the pins on the hard top when that was mounted. A tonneau bow was not necessary, since the hood frame held up the tonneau when the hood was folded and stored behind the seat.

Also visible in both pictures are the straps which hold down the battery access door. These leather straps are fasted to the underside of the access door with flat-head rivets and end in Tenax or "Lift-the-Dot" fasteners which clip over posts screwed to the lower inner back panel. The side trim panels are vinyl, sewn over reinforcing panels that are considerably more complex in design than the four-seaters. In fact, overall the whole design looks as if it was done by a different person than the cruder rear portion of the four-seat interior.

Not what you were looking for? Don't forget you can check our back issues using the AHCUSA Magazine Index.

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