Donald Healey was a former RFC pilot and 1931 Monte Carlo Rally winner, who worked as Technical Director at Triumph during the 1930s. Following World War II, he established a new company in Warwick, England called the 'Donald Healey Motor Company, Ltd.' The first car was completed in 1945 and full-time production followed a year later. The first commercial model was a 2.4-liter, Riley-powered sports saloon resting on a strengthened, welded-up chassis and employing Healey's own trailing arm independent front suspension.
The 'Silverstone' model was a dual-purpose vehicle, equally at home on the road as it was on the race track. It wore a two-seater design courtesy of Len Hodges that was crafted in aluminum and built by Abbey Panel and Sheet Metal Co., Ltd. of Coventry, at a cost of £150 per copy. It was distinguished by cycle wings and closely spaced headlamps mounted behind the radiator grille. In the back was an unconventional spare wheel positioned in the tail, doubling as a bumper. The tubular metal, ladder chassis with central cruciform bracing was designed by A.C. Sampietro, known as 'Sammy', who had worked as an engineer for Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Thomson & Taylor, and Talbot. The wheelbase measured 102 inches, had a length of 168 inches, and stood 54 inches tall. It had a four-wheel independent coil-over suspension, live rear axle, hand-made aluminum body, and Lockheed hydraulic brakes (11 inches at the front and 10 inches at the rear). The 2,443cc Riley 'Big Four' inline-4 cylinder engine had a 3.2-inch bore, 4.7-inch stroke, produced 104 horsepower at 4,500 RPM, and 132 lb-ft of torque at 3,000 RPM. The water-cooled engine used two SU H4 carburetors, dual high-mounted cams in block, and two overhead valves per cylinder. It was paired with a four-speed manual transmission with a Borg & Beck single plate clutch and transmitted the power to the rear wheels.
The Healey Silverstone model was announced in July of 1949 and was described by the company as a 'light 'competition type' two-seater on offer at the basic price of £975'.
The Silverstone was promoted through a series of competition outings by Donald himself and co-driver Ian Appleyard. Among the accolades they achieved were second in class and second overall in the 1949 Alpine Rally. Other noteworthy international successes included Peter Riley and Bill Lamb's class win in the 1951 Liège-Rome-Liège Rally, Peter Simpson's 6th place overall in the 1951 Isle of Man Manx Cup Races and Edgar Wadsworth and Cyril Corbishley's victory in the 1951 Coupe des Alpes.
There were two prototype 'X' models and two production generations designated 'D-Types' and 'E-Types.' The D-Type used the Riley 2.5 liter powerplant and rear axle, along with a front anti-roll bar and stiffer springs. The updated E-Type was introduced in 1950 and had a wider body resulting in a more comfortable cockpit.
The Healey X 1 project, nicknamed the Red Bug and later the Dryden Special, was headed by Geoff Healey and built atop a Healey chassis. Power was from a 2.4-liter Riley four-cylinder engine, but the displacement may have been reduced to 2 liters at some point. The prototype of the Silverstone was designed X2 and registered as JAC 100.
Between 1949 and 1951, a total of (approximate) 104 examples of the Silverstone were built including 51 D-Types and 54 E-Types. One hundred examples were needed to meet homologation requirements.
Briggs Cunningham, the famous American millionaire racing driver (sportsman) acquired two Silverstone with one being in standard configuration and the other as a rolling chassis. The bare chassis was given a Cadillac overhead-valve V8 engine and raced successfully in the United States for several years.
by Daniel Vaughan | Sep 2022
Related Reading : Healey Silverstone History
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