Sold for $1,012,000 at 2015 RM Sotheby's : Amelia Island.
Chassis #: AHS-3504
Engine #: 1B222705
Already a main character in Our Gang and, for more than 50 years, the youngest ever to receive an Academy Award for Best Actor, John 'Jackie' Cooper, Jr. would be a rising star in pre-war Hollywood. But while Jackie Cooper would make a name for himself in 'Tinseltown', he would also make some important acquaintances within motorsport, and these characters would enable Cooper to make a name for himself on the track as well.
Having participated in an apprenticeship with the Royal Flying Corps beginning in 1916, Donald Healey would soon earn his wings and would serve the British on a number of night bombing raids and anti-Zeppelin missions. Sadly for him, and a blessing for motorsport, he would be shot down by British anti-aircraft fire and would end up spending the rest of the war inventorying aircraft components.
While his wings may have been clipped, Healey would look into flying a little closer to the ground. Having taken an automobile correspondence course, Donald would open his first garage in 1920 in the coastal town of Perranporth.
Motor racing would soon become his passion and he would soon relocate to the Midlands where he would end up working at the Triumph Motor Company. During his tenure with the company he would create the Triumph Southern Cross and then the mighty Dolomite 8.
Unfortunately, another World War would interrupt Healey's automotive aspirations. However, it would provide the man with an opportunity. Following the end of the war, training and active bases were littered all across the English landscape. This meant an abundance of unused hangars and space in which to develop, build and test automobiles. Healey would make use of an RAF hangar in Warwick, setting to work creating some of the first Donal Healey Motor Company automobiles.
Class victories at such races as the Mille Miglia only stoked Healey's fire. Success would continue to come Donald's way as he not only designed the cars, but raced them as well. However, his creations were often too expensive. He had a goal. He wanted a rather inexpensive sports car, and it needed to be able to go 100mph.
Unveiled at Earls Court in 1952, the Austin-Healey 100 would be a hit and demand would be such that British Motor Corporation would actually be contracted to manufacturer the very popular small sports cars.
If the car wasn't popular enough, Healey would develop the 100S, which was a tweaked version of the 100 meant strictly for competition. Developed throughout 1953 and 1954, the 100S would be an impressive improvement upon the 100 despite the fact the two looked very similar.
Weighing less than 1900 pounds and utilizing a 2.6-liter inline four-cylinder engine producing around 130bhp, the 100S would be a significant evolution of the 100 and would bring people like Jackie Cooper calling.
The Austin-Healey would be all about performance. From its increase in horsepower from 90 to 130bhp to its innovative use of Dunlop disc brakes, Healey's creation not some sportscar found wanting. This was exactly what Cooper wanted.
Already driving a 100, Cooper had developed an affinity for the Healey brand and had even befriended Donald Healey. Cooper would be such an institution within the motor company that he would travel to some events with the company, and, would even narrate special publicity films from time to time. Already a stalwart Healey fan, Cooper would be among the first to receive the new 100S.
Chassis AHS-3504 would be just the fourth car to be completed. However, the car's rarified nature would only deepen as it would be one of just fifty to be built with a special alloy racing model body. Cooper would have one other request—it had to be finished in Spruce Green, the only 100S to ever be so colored.
Many elements of Cooper's 100S would be one-of-a-kind. This would include a YCM Mallory distributor, the Spruce Green livery and the lack of a plaque on the dash claiming relation to the 100.
Cooper would co-drive the car with Roy Jackson-Moore in the 1955 12 Hours of Sebring. There would be a fleet of 100S Healeys and top-flite drivers to pilot them, including none other than Stirling Moss and Lance Macklin. Cooper would come close to finish 2nd in class behind Moss and Macklin. But, in the end, the bumpy Sebring circuit would play havoc with the wiring causing battery failure. Cooper wouldn't give up though and would push the car about a mile to finish in 42nd place. The effort would result in magazine articles and pictures and even being named Auto Sportsman of the Month.
The rest of 1955 would be busy for Cooper. He would use 3504 in races all over the east coast, and even the Bahamas. The car would continue to race for years to come, despite the fact it would change hands a number of times.
In 1976, Bill Wood would by a 100S. An avid Austin-Healey collector, Wood had purchased a 100S that was a little worse for wear. Needing various parts, Wood would place an ad in a popular automotive magazine and would soon receive a call offering him a 100S engine and gearbox. After buying them, Bill would find out they belonged to 3504. Later, he would come across a 100S being prepped for installation of an MGB motor. A better option, Wood would make a trade for the body only to find out it was chassis 3504. Nearly the whole of the car, inside and out, had been brought back together again.
Quickly a full restoration would begin. And, in 1990, the car would roll-out as one, just as it had done 35 years earlier. In 1997 the car would be sold to Italian Tommaso Gelmini. He would use the Austin-Healey to take part in the Targa Florio and Mille Miglia Storica in 2001. One year later, the car returned to the United States and would change hands a couple but would continue taking part in some vintage races.
Purchased by the current owner in 2010, the 100S has become something of a regular at British car shows. Still with its original engine and some unoriginal body panels as a result of racing damage, this 100S just oozes history. Having been owned at one time by Jackie Cooper, raced on the same track as Stirling Moss and unique in just about every way, 3504 is absolutely among the most desirous of the 100S family.
Offered as part of RM Auction's 2015 Amelia Island event, the 1955 Austin-Healey 100S certainly will be a highlight and, quite possible, a show-stopper. Still bearing its unique Spruce Green, original engine and numerous other original parts, 3504 would be worthy of attention in its own right. Add to that the connection to Jackie Cooper, Stirling Moss and others and it would not be very difficult to surmise the pre-auction estimates of between $975,000 and $1,375,000.By Jeremy McMullen