1956 AUSTIN HEALEY 100M ROADSTER
Donald Healey is one of the great characters of the British motor industry. A former RAF pilot in WWI, he went on to own a successful garage business, making a name for himself as an accomplished rally driver along the way and, beginning in 1945, entering the ranks as a manufacturer of high-quality performance automobiles that appealed to a very select and eccentric group of motoring enthusiasts. With their Riley-sourced engines the Healey Silverstone and Elliot were among the fastest of the era. But as supplies of the Riley engine dwindled, Donald Healey went in search of a new partner; one that could far exceed his previous production numbers. After a brief foray with Nash in America, he made a bold move; building a prototype using common Austin A90 mechanicals, and showing it at the London Motor Show in 1952. Healey’s goal was to impress the top brass at Austin so that he could land the partnership of a lifetime. Luckily, his gamble paid off and a deal was struck to assemble the new Healey 100 sports car at the famed Longbridge assembly plant alongside the Austin A90.
Mr. Healey was a savvy promoter and knew the value of motorsport in selling his cars. In response to demand, a factory high-performance option on the 2nd generation 100 was offered to satisfy serious sporting buyers. The 100M of 1955 appealed to those who wanted to use their new Healey in competition, particularly in the burgeoning club-racing scene in the USA. Based on the BN2-series chassis, the 100M was a comprehensive performance package comprised of reinforced front suspension, larger S.U. carburetors, air box intake, new 8.1:1 high compression pistons and a revised cam, raising output from 90 to 110 horsepower. The body featured a louvered hood to expel heat and a leather bonnet strap for safety at speed. Initially, the 100M was a factory-only option and 640 were built at Longbridge. Eventually, customers could order the 100M performance parts as the Le Mans Engine Modification Kit through BMC dealers and have them retrofit to existing cars or fitted prior to delivery.
Our featured 1956 Austin Healey 100M is one of the genuine, highly desirable, factory-built examples, documented by a British Motor Industry Heritage Trust Certificate as well as by the Austin Healey 100M Le Mans Registry. This factory left-drive 100M wears serial number 232949, and was originally delivered to the USA in 1956. It is believed that the car was raced in the New York region of the SCCA in its early days, and in the late 1960s was sold to its second owners, Dick and Sharon Gunthell of North Salem, NY, who kept the car for the next 30 years. They eventually treated the car to a comprehensive restoration which was completed in 2002. The car was refinished in Old English White over a blue interior and was enjoyed for several years before being sold to the third owner, who in late 2010 handed the car over to BMC Classics of Florida for further restoration work and freshening.
While in the care of BMC Classics, the Healey was extensively refreshed and meticulously detailed to concours standards, with the work exceeding $20,000. This included a new interior trimmed in correct blue leather with white piping, and extensive under bonnet and suspension detailing.
Today, this rare and highly desirable factory-built Healey 100M remains in beautiful condition, most recently part of an important collection of post-war sports cars. The Old English white paintwork remains in very good condition overall and the chrome and detailing is finished to a high standard. It retains the correct original louvered bonnet with leather strap, and of course the signature 100-4 folding windscreen. The Healey sits low on the road as it should, with its uprated dampers and sway bars and riding on chrome wire wheels wrapped in Dunlop radial tires.
The interior has been thoroughly restored and presents beautifully with blue leather piped in white with excellent dark blue Wilton carpets. The leather on the bucket seats remains in very fine condition, showing little in the way of creasing or use. The original banjo-type steering wheel has been nicely restored, and the gauges are properly presented in the silver instrument panel. Aside from the basic factory switchgear, the dash also features a 100M Registry membership plaque as well as a period-correct Heuer Hour-Decimal stopwatch and mounting bracket for rally duty. The trunk is lined in correct black materials, and features correct original tools and jack in their appropriate pouches. A correct pattern blue vinyl top complements the interior and is accompanied by a set of factory side curtains as well. To protect the interior when the top is down, a full tonneau cover is also fitted, made of blue vinyl to match the top.
Austin’s torque laden, 110 horsepower four cylinder is nicely presented in the engine bay in correct Healey Green paint; well detailed with correct hardware and fittings. Correct “LeMans” package parts include the high lift camshaft, twin S.U. H6 carburetors and the special airbox. As with other BN2-series cars, the engine is mated to the factory correct four-speed gearbox with electric overdrive that makes this Healey a surprisingly capable high-speed tourer. Fully documented and verified as one of just 640 genuine 100M LeMans built by the factory, this beautiful little Healey is a fabulous rally or event car, ready for action on the open road.
STOCK NUMBER 6093
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