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Austin Healey 100/6 vs TVR Chimaera

Austin Healey 100/6 vs TVR Chimaera Published: 7th Jan 2019 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Austin Healey 100/6 vs TVR Chimaera
Austin Healey 100/6 vs TVR Chimaera
Austin Healey 100/6 vs TVR Chimaera
Austin Healey 100/6 vs TVR Chimaera
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Austin Healey 100/6

Why should I buy one?

Big Healeys are the grand daddy of hairy-chested sports cars of the 1950s and still loved because of this. Simpler, cheaper and easier to maintain than the XK Jaguars, it’s an even more appealing raw sportster that can be made better than ever.

What can I get?

Bigger isn’t always better! Remember that the transition from 100/4 to 100/6 and then onto the 3000 Healeys was down to pragmatism and production reasons. The actual engines sizes were pretty similar (2.6-litre) but power initially dropped from 110bhp to 102bhp before it was upped to 124bhp when the 100/6 evolved into the 2912cc 3000 – subsequently raised to 130/132bhp (1961) and 150bhp tune in 1964. Along the way a 2+2 was also offered because naturally there’s more to a car’s evolution than pure power and the six-pot Healeys did gain more refinement and civility as well, although as a result the A-H’s character changed over the years. Most folk lean to the 3000s but the 100/6 is as good, if slower. But there are some rarities that make the earlier car most appealing, such as the early Longbridge-built examples and the ultra rare 1006/S which was factory built sporting disc brakes and a higher tuned engine for racing homologation purposes. As only 50 were made, these can match 3000 values and not so long ago one sold for £56,000 – usually the model realises two-thirds the residuals of a compatible 3000. Otherwise you are looking at the thick end of six figures for a concours 3000 of any declination. Compared to the TVR this sounds exorbitant but you’re looking at the A-H’s ever growing reputation.

What are they like to drive?

You can compare character not performance with the TVR but a Big Healey was – and is – a thrill because it remains the epitome of a scruff-of-the-neck drive where you have to show who’s boss! But it’s a heavy lumbering beast flitting between nose-laden understeer to tail happy antic depending on the road and your right foot. Only the last 148bhp models, if in good tune, cracked the 10 second skit to 60mph but as ever in real world driving the car doesn’t hang about and there’s pulling power to spare. When a 3000 MkIII is running properly it’ll accelerate from a standing start to the magic ton and back again – in 29 seconds. And that’s pretty impressive even by modern standards. What’s more the ‘six’ always benefited, over the more thoroughbred 100/4 from a proper four-speed gearbox with overdrive. What is also hot is the cockpit thanks to all that heat soak! It’s a very antiquated cabin with few creature comforts as you’d expect despite all the wood and leather found on the later Healeys.

What are they like to live with?

No problems in the main. One of the car’s many beauties is its well-proven, if rustic, mechanicals providing easy but heavy-duty DIY scope (much of the hardware taken from big BMC saloons like the Westminster) with wide parts availability and help from an army of specialists. Even new bodyshells are available if you so need although proper restorations are involved and pricey.

We reckon

True, the TVR Chimaera will always have the edge for performance and raw speed but the Healey has it well covered when it comes to character and sense of occasion. It’s your call… but the dream garage should have both!

TVR chimaera

Why should I buy one?

If you yearned for the Big Healey but really feel that such an old timer isn’t right for you, then only TVR’s Chimaera provides the perfect substitute. As much as half the price of an equivalent Healey they are even more fun and have a style that’s not so extrovert as later ‘Wheeler wonders’, that’s important for many.

What can I get?

As is usually the case, the latest cars are the best but having said that many probably wouldn’t notice the difference between the first and the last and condition counts the most. There are no less than five engines to choose from, all Rover V8 derived. If you are not used to supercar go the lowest powered 240bhp, 4.0-litre is ample but there’s also a HC 275bhp, 4.3 280bhp, 4.5 285bhp and the super scary 169mph 5.0 325bhp. Power steering (originally optional but standard from 1994), is so good that you just don’t notice it. It’s best to avoid the early cars which had the Rover SD1 gearbox which, by early 1994 was replaced with a much slicker and stronger Borg Warner T5 unit. That summer the new ‘Serpentine’ engine employing a single poly-vee belt driving a new alternator, power steering and water pumps was fitted and before 1995 the 5.0-litre (325bhp) was offered. There is little visible difference between the first cars and the latest; in 1996 the door opening buttons were moved to the mirrors, the boot lip lengthened, the rear panel colour-keyed and the grille divided. For 1998 the number plate lights were changed, a year later the boot hinges were hidden and in 2001 a revise saw a nicer nose and the seats improved, and all for as little as £15,000.

What are they like to drive?

It’s shatteringly fast but yet a car you quickly feel at home with rather than intimidated by thanks to an excellent driving position. The clutch is light with a progressive action and the later Borg Warner gear change is rifle-bolt precise. The power steering is geared to a fantastically quick 2.2 turns lock-to-lock resulting in the most incredible responsiveness yet without twitchiness. This TVR just goes where it’s pointed and thanks to modern fat low profile tyres for many the levels of grip are rarely taken to the limit on the road. That said,while the car has amazing grip, naturally with this sort of power to weight ratio care has to be taken in slippery conditions. The handling is totally neutral and by any standards the ride quality is Lotus like. Then there’s the towering performance where even in 4.0-litre tune the Chimaera is right up there with the Porsches and Ferraris. This is a Healey on steroids but without the old car disadvantages.

What are they like to live with?

Pretty good all round to be honest thanks to fine specialist and club support. TVR Parts Ltd (a factory venture to support older models) and Racetech Direct, an independent parts supplier and maker have most you need, plus the car is robust. Properly maintained these V8s are long lasting and the only issue is that they chuck out a lot of heat which can cause coil leakage and problems with starters, clutch cylinders and the fan switch. Chassis rust is a major worry though.

We reckon

Chimaera is the closet modern interpretation of the Big Healey 3000. Uncompromising, hairychested, a driving delight, yet fairly easy going, it’s a modern daily driving classic that’s still good value



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