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Austin Healey 3000

Published: 24th Jun 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

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Fancy owning a motorsport legend for road and track use? Paul Davies looks at true classics that made their names on stages and circuits, and still provide fine drives today

The Big Healey never had its really big moment. Flying Finn Rauno Aaltonen loved the hairy six-cylinder sports car, and he desperately wanted to win the RAC Rally in one. So desperate in fact, he was prepared to pass over the all-conquering Mini Cooper S and for 1967 – the final year of production for the Healey – persuaded BMC competitions manager Peter Browning to let him have one last try in the beast. Rauno should have known better than anyone how the odds were stacked against him. Two years previously he’d snatched RAC Rally victory from the works Healey of Timo Makinen when the rear drive sports car just could find traction on a icy Welsh hill: Aaltonen’s front-driveMini made it to the top, the Squealy didn’t. The following year Bengt Soderstrom’s Ford Lotus Cortina had been the victor, but Rauno still wanted that win in the Big Healey. But the big confrontation – Aaltonen’s Healey was the most powerful ever with triple Weber carbs on an all-alloy engine, and Makinen’s Mini was fuel injected for the first time – never happened. Just days before the start foot and mouth disease was declared throughout the UK, and the rally was cancelled. The works Healey (that last car was Peter Browning’s own) was history. It was pre-Second World War rally driver Donald Healey (he won the 1931 Monte Carlo in an Invicta) who created the legend. Healey’s masterstroke was to put the 2.6 -litre, fourcylinder, engine from the unloved Austin A90 Atlantic in a two-seater body built by Tickford. A deal was done with the British Motor Corporation’s Leonard Lord, and the Austin Healey 100/4 was created. Production started (Jensen making the bodies) in 1953, and by 1956 the 100/4 had gained two cylinders (in fact, the 100 Six boasted a totally different engine) and, in 1959 the first Austin-Healey 3000 appeared. The sports car rapidly established itself in SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) racing, and the Healey-run factory race team took honours at events like Sebring, and raced at Le Mans. Early rally results went to John Gott, Peter Riley and Jack Sears. Pat Moss beat the men on the Liege-Rome-Liege marathon, and Donald and Erle Morley won the Alpine Rally twice. But compared with the Mini, the old 1950s Healey was yesterday’s car. Then, in 1968, along came the Ford Escort Twin Cam. Rauno and Timo drove them as well! Needless to say the Healey became a race and rally winner all over again in later years’ classic motorsport with - amongst many – former Donald Healey Motor Company apprentice Jonathan Everard, Ted Worswick and Denis Welch. Now, although ex-works Healeys command big money, road cars are readily available and affordable, and spares and advice are plentiful.

Austin Healey 3000 Summary

Production

100 Six: 1956-59; 3000: 1959-61; 3000 Mk11: 1961-63; 3000 Mk111: 1963-67. Total – 57,902

Technical

Engine: Front mounted six-cyl in-line, BMC C Series. 100 Six: 2639cc (101-117bhp), 3000: 2912cc (124bhp), 3000 Mk11: 2912cc (142bhp), 3000 Mk111: 2912cc (150bhp). Race/rally cars to 200bhp.
Gearbox: Four-speed with overdrive.
Drive: Rear, live axle.
Suspension: coil spring front, leaf spring rear.
Brakes: front discs (from 3000), rear drums.

Claim to fame

Liege-Rome-Liege: 1st 1960 (Moss/Wisdom). Alpine Rally: 1st 1961/62 (Morley twins). Spa-Sofia-Liege: 1st 1964 (Aaltonen/Ambrose). Four RAC Rally top three finishes. Numerous race wins in the UK and USA.

Famous names

Pat Moss Carlsson, John Gott, Don and Erle Morley, Peter Riley, Rev. Rupert Jones, Timo Makinen, Rauno Aaltonen, Paddy Hopkirk, Clive Baker, Bob Olthoff, Ronnie Bucknum,Warwick Banks, Paul Hawkins, Jack Sears, Jonathan Everard, Ted Worswick, John Chatham, Denis Welch, Richard Hudson-Evans

Where to buy

Classic specialist press, AH experts such as JME Healeys (http://www.jmehealey.co.uk) Rawles Motorsport (http://www.rawlesmotorsport.co.uk), North Street Garage (http://www.northstreetgarage.co.uk) and the AH Club’s own web site. Some LHD cars from the USA appear at auctions.

What to look for

Rust, especially in the chassis members within the sills and the door posts, but replacement chassis and body panels are available. Check for undeclared competition use (roll cage mounts, sump guard brackets, dented floors). Engines bullet-proof, but prone to rear bearing oil leaks. Check overdrive works.

What to pay

100 Six cheaper than 3000. £15,000 buys a reasonable early car that will need work, £25-30,000 a top-notch Mk111. Be wary of ‘restoration projects’. Genuine ex-works rally cars (few and far between) have gone for £200,000!

Clubs

Austin Healey Club; http://www.austin-healey-club.com

Classic sport

Now outpaced in top-level rallying but still a force in the right category on the race tracks. Ideal for (nondamaging) classic tours.

Maintenance, tuning and sport

Several specialists have parts for repair and performance tuning. AH Spares (http://www.ahspares.co.uk), Ahead4Healeys (http://www.ahead4healeys.co.uk), and SC Parts (http://www.scparts.co.uk) can supply parts, whilst restorations are undertaken by Orchard Restorations (http://www.orchardrestorations.co.uk) and Northern Healey Centre (http://www.northernhealey.co.uk). Denis Welch Motorsport (http://www.bighealey.co.uk) specialises in competition preparation.

Competitive Rating: 6



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