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AUSTIN-HEALEY

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Austin-Healey was a British sports car maker. The marque was established through a joint-venture arrangement, set up in 1952 between Leonard Lord of the Austin division of the Brtish Motor Corporation (BMC) and the Donald Healey Motor Company, a renowned automotive engineering and design firm.

Austin-Healey cars were produced until 1972 when the 20-year agreement between Healey and Austin came to an end. Donald Healey left the company in 1968 when British Motor Holdings (BMC had merged with Jaguar Cars in 1966 to form BMH) was merged into British Leyland. Healey joined Jensen Motors who had been making bodies for the "big Healeys" since their inception in 1952, and became their chairman in 1972.

Donald Healey Motor Company

History

The business was founded in 1945 by Donald Healey, a renowned auto engineer and successful racing driver. Healey discussed sports car design withAchille Sampietro, a chassis specialist for high performance cars and Ben Bowden, a body engineer, when all three worked at Humber during World War II.

His new enterprise was based in an old aircraft components factory off Miller Road in Warwick. There he was joined by Roger Menadue from Armstrong Whitworth to run the experimental workshop. In later years they also had a now-demolished showroom (formerly a cinema) on Emscote Road, Warwick, commemorated by a new block of flats called Healey Court. The cars mainly used a tuned version of the proven Riley twin cam 2.4 litre four cylinder engine in a light steel box section chassis of their own design using independent front suspension by coil springs and alloy trailing arms with Girling dampers. The rear suspension used a Riley live axle with coil springs again. Advanced design allowed soft springing to be combined with excellent road holding. Lockheed hydraulic brakes were used.

When it was introduced in 1948 the Elliott saloon was claimed to be the fastest production closed car in the world, it was timed at 104.7 mph over a mile. Unusually for the time the body was tested in a wind tunnel to refine its aerodynamics. They also had a 34 ft. turning circle.[1] In 1949 the most sporting of all the Healeys, the Silverstone, was announced. It had a shorter chassis and stiffer springing and was capable of 107 mph. It is now a highly sought after car and many of the other Healeys have been converted into Silverstone replicas. These cars had numerous competition successes including class wins in the 1947 and 1948 Alpine rallies and the 1949 Mille Miglia.

Government planning and controls required any substantial expansion of production to be for the export market alone. So in 1950 Healey built the Nash-Healey using a Nash Ambassador engine with SU carburettors and Nash gearbox. Initially the 3848 cc unit was used but when in 1952 body construction was transferred from Healey to Pininfarina the larger 4138 cc engine was fitted. The final car was the G-Type using an Alvis TB21 engine and gearbox. This was more luxurious and heavier than the Riley engined models and performance suffered.

In 1952, a joint venture with the British Motor Corporation created the Austin-Healey marque and later on the Austin-Healey Sprite.

Donald Healey became a director of Jensen Motors in the late 1960s and a result of this was the Lotus-engined Jensen-Healeywhich appeared in 1972.

Donald Healey Motor Company was finally sold to the Hamblin Group, although Healey Automobile Consultants and the engineering parts of the company remained in the hands of Geoffrey and Donald Healey.

Models

TypeEngineApprox ProductionYear
Healey Westland Roadster 2443 cc Riley 4 cylinder 64 1946-50
Healey Elliott Saloon 2443 cc Riley 4 cylinder 101 1946-50
Healey Sportsmobile 2443 cc Riley 4 cylinder 23 1948-50
Healey Silverstone 2443 cc Riley 4 cylinder 104 1949-50
Healey Tickford Saloon 2443 cc Riley 4 cylinder 222 1950-54
Healey Abbott Drophead Coupe 2443 cc Riley 4 cylinder 77 1950-54
Nash-Healey 3848 or 4138 cc Nash 6 cylinder 506 1950-54
Healey G-Type Roadster 2993 cc Alvis 6 cylinder 25 1951-53

Images

  • Riley engined cars
  • Silverstone roadster

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  • 1947 Sportsmobile

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  • 1949 Westland roadster

  • 1952 Abbott drophead coupé

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  • 1953 Tickford 2-door saloon

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  • Westland "Woody" brake(ca 1950)

  • Nash and Alvis engined cars
  • 3.8-litre roadster
    Nash Ambassador engine

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  • G type roadster
    3-litre Alvis engine


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