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The past two Saturdays here on ViaRETRO, we’ve looked at a couple of rather tasty youngtimers, claiming that these are now the affordable way into classic car ownership. However, there are some enthusiasts who just aren’t ready for a modern classic quite yet. There are also some enthusiasts who have a bit more cash to burn. Nothing wrong in that! So where do you go for a truly conventional and widely acclaimed classic from the fabulous fifties?

We all dream of a sports car. Must be wind-in-hair al fresco motoring. Preferably a bit of a man’s car – if one is still allowed to use such a term in these politically correct days. Oh, and a rorty straight-6 would be nice too. Well, it’s got to be a Big Healey then!

As you no doubt already are aware of, the Big Healey was in production for 15 years, but in a variety of forms. It all started in 1953 with the Austin-Healey 100. Donald Healey had developed the car and through a collaboration with Leonard Lord it was put into mass-production with Austin’s help, and thus became the Austin-Healey. Until 1956 it was produced with the large undersquare 4-cylinder engine from the Austin A90. It was then heavily revised to become the Austin-Healey 100/6. Several changes were made such as a thoroughly re-designed front, two inches longer wheelbase, an occasional rear seat making it a 2+2, and of course that all-important straight-6 engine in the shape of BMC’s C-series engine initially as a 2.6-litre. Two years later the option of a pure 2-seater was re-introduced. Then in 1959 the C-series engine grew to a 2.9-litre and the front axle received disc brakes – which of course resulted in the famed Austin-Healey 3000. With the mk.I, mk.II and mk.III it remained in production until late 1967, by which time just short of 72,000 Big Healeys had been produced.

All the Big Healeys have become true icons. They are quite frankly the quintessential British sportscar! As such, prices have also increased significantly across the range. However, short of works racing and rally cars, it’s the later mk.III – also known as the BJ8 – which seems to often attract the highest prices, sometimes even getting remarkably close to six digits for the very best of the best. But less will suffice. Here at ViaRETRO we always maintain that “Any classic is better than no classic”, and one could equally argue that “Any Big Healey is better than no Big Healey”. Besides, I personally tend to often prefer the first and original incarnation of any given model. They tend to display a purity which more often than not is lost with every single facelift and revision that a car is put through. That’s probably why everybody wants a flat-floor E-type and a swb 911. So how come the earliest Big Healeys aren’t as popular as the later? Go figure…

And that’s what we’ve got here. A 1957 Austin-Healey 100/6 BN4. The private seller from Cornwall in the UK openly admits to the Big Healey having plenty of aged related patina. Apparently both paintwork and brightwork could easily be improved upon. But read the description once more – and slowly. You will notice that unless you’re into winning concours events, it reads almost like a textbook description of a healthy and entertaining classic sportscar; one which is ready to be used; a true driver. The seller claims that the Healey 100/6 is rustfree, and adds that all wings and doors are still correct steel items – this is in my opinion rather important. Furthermore, he has recently had the engine overhauled, and apparently to a standard where he feels comfortable mentioning by name the company who did the work. Add to that a new stainless steel exhaust, new brake cylinders and shoes, new anti roll bar bushes, and even 5 new period-correct Michelin XAS tyres. Of course any classic car should always be very thoroughly inspected before purchase, but this sounds like a winner to me! Just look at these pictures, and then tell me you aren’t tempted…

All of this can be yours for £32,500. Granted, that’s still a fairly large amount of money – certainly more than I have lying around at the moment. But for a Big Healey in what appears to be mechanically good condition it seems quite reasonable. Top-Tip: Buy it if you have the means, embrace the patina, keep all mechanical components in perfect working order, and then just drive it at every given opportunity as far and wide as you possibly can. I’m pretty sure it’ll leave a smile on your face, and as an added bonus, you won’t even have to worry about stonechips. Besides, a proper man’s car shouldn’t be too well manicured…
See the full advert by clicking here:  1957 Austin Healey 100/6 BN4

 

 

With our Saturday instalment of Prime Find of the Week, we’re offering our services to the classic car community, by passing on our favourite classic car for sale from the week that passed. This top-tip might help a first-time-buyer to own his first classic, or it could even be the perfect motivation for a multiple-classic-car-owner to expand his garage with something different. We’ll let us inspire by anything from a cheap project to a stunning concours exotic, and hope that you will do the same.
Just remember – Any Classic is Better than No Classic! We obviously invite our readers to help prospective buyers with your views and maybe even experiences of any given model we feature. Further to that, if you stumble across a classic which you feel we ought to feature as Prime Find of the Week, then please send us a link to primefindoftheweek@viaretro.co.uk

4 Responses

  1. Claus Ebberfeld

    You’re well into looking for little signs here and there in the description, Anders – and I agree that it is a science analyzing sales adverts for “between-the-lines” meaning. I like the fact that the owner fitted 5 new Michelin XAS-tyres. That’s a sign of good caretaking.

    Reply
  2. Anders Bilidt

    Indeed Claus, not only did he opt for the more expensive, but also period-correct and high quality Michelin tyres, but he also splashed out on replacing all 5 tyres. A very good sign I think.
    As I already mentioned in the article above, my account is sadly not overflowing with 32-and-a-half grand just now, but if it were, I honestly would be having a closer look at this Big Healey…

    Reply

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