Perhaps inspired by his work with Nash, Donald Healey began working on a prototype automobile built using British running gear and presented in October of 1952 at the London Motor Show. American servicemen in Europe fueled the growing popularity of the British sports cars, and Healey hoped to capitalize on this lucrative U.S. clientele. His two-seater wore a design by Gerry Coker which caught the eye of Leonard Lord, head of Austin-parent British Motor Corporation. Lord struck a deal with Healey to build the motorcar in quantity. Jensen Motors was tasked with building the bodies and mechanical components were courtesy of Austin built at its Longbridge factory. The car was renamed the Austin-Healey 100 and entered production in 1953.
True to its name, the Healey was capable of achieving 100 mph. Its successor, the Austin-Healey 3000, would be been named after its 3,000cc engine displacement size. The 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine powering the Austin-Healey 100 offered 90 horsepower. The undersquare engine had a 3.4-inch bore and a 4.4-inch stroke. The original three-speed gearbox was replaced by a four-speed unit with overdrive in 1964 and the model designation was changed from BN1 to BN2. 11-inch Girling drum brakes at all four corners provided the stopping power. The suspension was comprised of modified Austin A90 components with an independent setup in the front with double wishbones using coil springs, while the rear used a rigid axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs. The steering was by Austin's worm and peg system.
Zero-to-sixty mph was accomplished in 11.2 seconds and the top speed was 106 mph. Before the BN1 was replaced by the BN2 model in AUgust of 1955, a total of 10,030 examples were produced.
The Austin-Healey 100 BN2
The BN2 came with a four-speed manual transmission with overdrive on the top two gears. Two-tone paint was optional, and different rear axle and slightly larger front wheel arches were among the distinguishable changes. Two-tone optional paint schemes included Healey Blue/White, Florida Green/White, Black/Reno Red, Reno Red/Black, and White/Black.
Including the 100M versions, a total of 4,604 examples of the BN2s were built through July of 1956.
The Austin-Healey 100M
The 100M was a high-performance version of the beloved Austin-Healey 100, with high-lift camshafts, 8.1:1 compression pistons, larger carburetors, and a cold air box to increase engine airflow. Horsepower was rated at 100 bhp at 4,500 RPM. Along with improvements to the engine, the suspension was stiffened, a leather belt secured the bonnet, and louvers were added to the bonnet. Most (approximately 70 percent) of the 100Ms were finished in a two-tone paint scheme, including one White over Red and another in Black over Pink for display at the 1955 London Motor Show.
The factory-built 640 examples of the 100M, and these high-performance components were also available for purchase and installation through BMC. It was known as the Le Mans Engine Modification Kit and could be installed in either a BN1 or BN2.
The Austin-Healey 100S
The 'S' in the 100S nameplate was for 'Sebring' and these models were built primarily for racing. Their highly-tuned engines delivered 130 bhp at 4,700 RPM, and only 50 of these aluminum-bodied 100S were hand-built by the Donald Healey Motor Company at Warwick. Five 'Works' development cars, with 'SPL' chassis number prefix, were built during 1953 and 1954, with one winning its class at Sebring in 1954, prompting the 'S' designation.
A Weslake designed aluminum cylinder head replaced the cast iron unit, and the overdrive unit was not installed. Bumpers and hood were removed, the grille reduced in size, and a plastic windscreen replaced glass. Dunlop disc brakes were placed all-round, earning the 100S the distinction of being the world's first production car so equipped in front and rear.
The Austin-Healey 100-6
In late September of 1956, Austin-Healey announced a two-seater roadster named the 100-6. It would serve as a replacement for the Austin-Healey 100 and would remain in production from 1956 to 1959. Its successor was the Austin-Healey 3000.
The 100-Six, alternatively known as the 100-6, was the first update of Donald Healey's very successful Austin-Healey 100. It brought more power and performance courtesy of its twin-carbureted version of the Austin Westminster's 2,639-cc 'C-Series' inline six-cylinder engine, expertly tuned by Geoff Healey, Eddie Maher, and Harry Weslake, with engine output raised to 102 bhp at 4,600 rpm. Additional updates included a wider and lower oval-shaped radiator grille, a fashionable and functional hood scoop, a slight streamlining of the body, and a thoroughly revised cockpit.
The 100-6 was produced in two model designators, the 2+2 BN4 from 1956 onwards and the 2-seat BN6 in 1958 and 1959.
In 1957, a revised intake manifold and cylinder head brought output to 117 bhp. The previous standard overdrive unit was made optional. With the 117 bhp engine, zero-to-sixty mph was achieved in 10.7 seconds and had a top speed of 103.9 mph.
Production at the Longbridge plant was transferred in late 1957 to the MG plant at Abingdon. By the time production came to a close in 1959, a total of 14,436 examples of the 100-6 had been produced.
To generate publicity for the upcoming launch of the new six-cylinder Healey and to prove the effectiveness of its power unit, special competition versions were built and dispatched to the fabled Bonneville Salt Flats during the summer of 1956 for an assault on a number of speed records. Driving duties were handled by Donald Healey and American driver Carroll Shelby, and by the time the many speed runs were concluded, the six-cylinder Healey had broken 28 International and American records, including a record beyond the 200-mph barrier in a supercharged Healey.
The Austin-Healey 3000 was produced from 1959 to 1967 when it was replaced by the MG MGC. It was powered by a 3-liter BMC C-Series engine and added disc brakes for its front wheels.
by Daniel Vaughan | Dec 2021
Related Reading : Austin-Healey BN6 100-6 History
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1959 Austin-Healey 100-6
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1959 Vehicle Profiles
Chassis Num: BN4L-0/75787
Engine Num: 26D-RU-H/75787
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Performance and Specification Comparison
|1964||Chevrolet (2,318,619)||Ford (1,594,053)||Toyota (1,068,321)|
|1963||Chevrolet (2,237,201)||Ford (1,525,404)||Fiat (957,941)||8,348|
|1962||Chevrolet (2,061,677)||Ford (1,476,031)||Fiat (957,941)|
|1961||Ford (1,338,790)||Chevrolet (1,318,014)||Volkswagen (807,488)|
|1960||Chevrolet (1,653,168)||Ford (1,439,370)||Toyota (1,068,321)|
|1959||Chevrolet (1,462,140)||Ford (1,450,953)||Volkswagen (575,407)|
|1958||Chevrolet (1,142,460)||Ford (987,945)||Volkswagen (451,526)|
|1957||Ford (1,676,449)||Chevrolet (1,505,910)||Plymouth (726,009)|
|1956||Chevrolet (1,567,117)||Ford (1,408,478)||Buick (572,024)|
|1955||Chevrolet (1,704,667)||Ford (1,451,157)||Buick (738,814)|
|1954||Ford (1,165,942)||Chevrolet (1,143,561)||Plymouth (463,148)|