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Collector Car News

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1960 austin healey 3000 mk ii


There is no mistaking the lines of an Austin-Healey. Perhaps second only to the seductive curves of the Jaguar E-type, the long flowing lines of the front shroud and powerful haunches of the short rear fenders make this car an icon of the golden decades of sports cars. Remarkable is the fact that the lines of the Healey were penned by a 24-year-old designer named Gerry Coker, who had never designed a car before in his career. More remarkable is the fact that the design was so inspired that its essence was unchanged from the first prototypes in 1952 to the last car assembled in 1968. The grille was changed twice, a small scoop was added to the hood, the shroud was modified slightly to accommodate two back seats for occasional use and, in the last version, a curved windshield, roll-up windows and a convertible top were added. The changes were so subtle that only aficionados of the marque can identify the slight variations among the models.
The combination of inspiration of styling and consistency of design means that all Healeys are almost equally desirable. Among the rarest of the cars is the two-seat roadster with the six-cylinder engine, usually called a "BN7" from the body style prefix of its serial number.
Produced alongside the two-plus-two body style introduced in 1957 (the "BT7"), less than 3,000 of the two-seat six-cylinder cars were built (including 355 built with the triple-carburetor engine), compared to 15,000 of the two-plus-twos. They shared the simpler rear shroud of the original Healey Hundred but had the smoother and potentially more powerful six-cylinder "3000" engine. The straight-six put out 124 bhp as new, but could easily be tuned to much higher horsepower levels. Weather-proofing still left something to be desired, however. Even with the side-curtains installed and the soft-top pulled from behind the seats and erected-a two-person job taking at least five minutes-driver and passenger could count on getting more than a little damp in a driving rain. Nevertheless, the sleek lines today are preferred by many to the successor convertibles that entered production in 1962.
However, when these cars were new it seemed as if nearly everyone wanted the model with the extra rear seats, even though they were only practical for children under the age of ten. So when the nifty new convertible model was introduced to replace the roadster in 1962 in response to competition from the Sunbeam Alpine, Triumph TR4 and MGB, the two-seat body style was dumped as well.


{analysis}{auto}599{/auto} This BN7 fetched $47,250 including commission when it sold at Barrett-Jackson on January 19, 2001. Even the seller was pleasantly surprised when the hammer dropped at this price, a level that previously had only been reached by a few unusual big Healeys. But the relative rarity of the body style doesn't explain why this car sold for so much. Two other Healeys also sold at Barrett-Jackson for similarly unprecedented prices, a nicely prepared Mark III convertible, and a 2+2 BT7 roadster, plain vanilla except for its gorgeous black finish, and with all the same mechanical specifications as the BN7.
We believe instead that it was the quality of the restoration, done by a Healey specialist with a well-deserved reputation for excellence, which caught the eye of the buyer. A car with an undamaged, unrusted chassis was taken down to the frame, stripped to bare metal, then primed, painted and clear-coated in the very desirable Healey Blue, an original cool ice-blue metallic color. The engine, transmission and rear end were rebuilt to original specifications, with all parts repaired or replaced as necessary. Finally, the car was reassembled and the interior trimmed following the Austin-Healey clubs' concours-original specifications in the original dark blue leather and vinyl, piped in white. The two other record-setting Healeys had also been restored to a comparable quality by professional dealer-restorers.
For $50,000, a buyer who knows what to look for can find a pretty nice E-type Jaguar or XK 150. The theory of some market watchers is that the rising wave of baby boomers now entering the expensive hobby period of their lives
arrive at a car auction with a list of several nostalgic marques in mind and a budget of around $50,000 to spend. When they see the evocative lines of a freshly restored Austin-Healey in pristine condition and find that the Jaguar E-type available at that price isn't quite as nice, they don't consult the price guides; they just go with their emotions.
These sales do, however, raise the price ceiling on the very best of the Healeys. But if you've got an old Healey sitting up on blocks out in the back forty, don't assume that a rise in the prices of top-quality restorations automatically raises the value of your project car. These benchmarks simply assure owners that if the current market conditions are sustained, Healey enthusiasts will be able to come closer to recovering the costs of a decent restoration.-Gary Anderson
(Photo courtesy of Skip Dusseau.){/analysis}

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