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Austin Healey 100/6

Austin Healey 100/6 Published: 21st Aug 2017 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Austin Healey 100/6
Austin Healey 100/6
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Why should i buy one?

With values going through the roof and enthusiasts clamouring for the 3000 in the main, the original Big Healey 100/6 is the cheaper option yet it’s not second best either because, while it enjoys the lustier six-cylinder engine, there’s still a strong retained flavour of the model that started it all and the most coveted: the Healey 100. Apart from a bigger engine and more power, the 3000s also benefited from front disc brakes – but you can easily uprate a 100/6 to suit, as many do.

What can i get?

They look the same – but they are not. Various unofficial tags were used; BN denotes an open-topped two seater with a B-class engine, for example. The 100-6 (BN4) was released in Oct ’56, featuring a longer wheelbase than before plus a 102bhp 2639cc six-cylinder engine taken from Austin’s Westminster saloon.

As the initial 100/6s were slower than the 94bhp 100/4, the engine was quickly uprated from 102bhp to 117bhp care of a 12 port cylinder head with larger valves and flat top pistons, fed by larger SU jugs.

Before the 3000 was introduced, some ‘specials’ were built to test the water such as the 100/6 S, of which 50 cars sported 3000 disc brakes along with a higher-tuned 2.6-litre engine fitted to homologate the car for racing purposes; it was all done at the Works to add to the appeal and, recently, Rawles Motorsport sold one for £56,000. This price is on par with a regular 3000, although in general 100/6s are some two-thirds the value of a 3000. Another rarity is the early Longbridge-built models, identified by their peculiar bonnet design.

Big Healey values have risen 20 per cent per year since 2015 and show little signs of abating. So, the message is clear enough: don’t delay or even a 100/6 may soon become, financially, out of reach.

What are they like to drive?

In a funny sort of the way, the 100/6 gives you best – and worst – of both worlds. Yes, there’s that beefy six-cylinder engine allied to a proper four-speed transmission, but first cars were heavier and no quicker than the nimbler 100/4, which puts it on par with a good MGB but where the 100/6 scores is with its lorry-like torque – it’s a lazy driver’s sports car and great for touring.

That said, any Big Healey is a joyful experience and a delight to drive in the same way a Jag XK is when compared to much more modern E-type; by that we mean it’s a ‘vintage’ feel that is best schooled by taking it by the scruff of the neck to show it who’s boss. The 100/6 relied on drum brakes and while discs are much preferred, shod with good linings, they are acceptable for the car’s performance.

What are they like to live with?

One of the big Healey’s advantages is its dead straightforward hardware that results in wide parts availability (new and secondhand) making it a classic that a reasonably competent DIY owner can service at home with ease, backed by a number of excellent specialists around the country for the more complicated repairs such as Bill Rawles and JME Healeys. It’s a wise move to obtain the excellent parts catalogue from A.H. Spares.

The easiest performance mod is slotting in the 3-litre engine (although the 2.6 is a bit sweeter) and, assuming that the basics are in good shape, Big Healey experts recommend a better front-anti-roll bar as the best single handling mod costing only £200, along with good quality tyres.

We reckon

Don’t dismiss the 100/6; it’s two-thirds of a 3000 and two-thirds (or even less) the price but has the similar rustic feel of the purists’ pick 100/4. Just don’t tell everybody…

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