Considered as the original Austin-Healey, the 100 BN1s and BN2s were built from 1953 to 1956. Equipped with a four-cylinder engine, the 100 BN1 series cars featured a production run exceeding 10,000 units, while only about 4,500 of the later BN2 series cars were produced. Most enthusiasts do not differentiate the two series substantially, as the only noticeable variation on the BN2 was the adoption of a four-speed/overdrive gearbox in lieu of the three-speed/overdrive on the earlier cars. Fitted with highly sporting coachwork, Austin-Healeys were and still are extremely attractive. With their sleek folding windshields, these roadsters had the look of great touring cars, which consequently they were by almost every definition. Spartan interiors created a racy atmosphere in the cockpit and the engine, though a modest four-cylinder, provided ample power that few complained about. The big four gave the Austin-Healey 100/4 two-thirds more power than its MG-TD contemporary and 120% more torque, all in a streamlined, lower and better balanced package that weighed no more than the MG. It is no surprise that production got underway quickly and ramped up to the rate of 100 cars per week, mostly for the important American market where they fit neatly into the price gap between Triumph's TR2 and the larger and more expensive XK 120 and XK 140. The 100/4s are true two-seat roadsters, with a purity of line and sense of purpose that makes them cherished motorcars today. Finished in its original color combination of Carmine Red with black interior, the Austin -Healey pictured here is a very correct example that recently underwent a comprehensive restoration by Brian Moore and is in excellent restored condition. It has been used sparingly and on a recent road test the Healey performed proficiently with all major components working well. An original left-hand drive car, it has been under the care of its 100/4-enthusiast owner for more than 10 years. With its very fresh restoration and proper ownership, this Healey is a great two-seat sports car suitable for anyone who enjoys a proper driving experience based on solid engineering principles and execution.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1954 Austin-Healey 100-4 BN1 roadster
Years Produced:1953-55
Number Produced:10,688
Original List Price:$2,995
SCM Valuation:$18,500-$24,500
Tune Up Cost:$200-$300
Distributor Caps:$9
Chassis Number Location:Right side of firewall
Engine Number Location:Plate on front left side of block
Club Info:Austin-Healy Club of America, PO Box 3220, Monroe, NC 28111; 877-5HEALY
Alternatives:MGA Twin-Cam, Morgan Plus 4, Triumph TR3

This vehicle sold for $19,800, including buyer’s premium, at RM’s Arizona Biltmore auction on January 18, 2002.

In the interests of full journalistic disclosure, I’ll reveal right at the start that this little bundle from Britain, with its 1954 California black plate, is now sitting snugly under a car cover inside my garage while a classic Vermont snowstorm carries on outside.

Ever since I saw my first ad for an Austin-Healey 100 in Road & Track back in 1954, I’ve yearned for one of these cars. Having sold them as good and not-so-good used cars-along with new Healey 3000s-I was aware of their inherent faults, including vulnerability to rust in both body and chassis, temperamental overdrive units and weakness in the gearboxes if these units were not treated with respect. I also knew that on a hot day the floorboard temperature could rise to shoe-melting levels.

Nevertheless my desire for a Healey 100, with their everlasting good looks penned by Jerry Coker, never really went away. I missed buying one that was in need of some freshening last year for $12,000 because I dawdled too long.

So when I saw this car at RM, resplendent in its fresh red paint and looking nearly flawless in all areas, the old Healey lust went surging through me again. This car had been declared sold at RM’s Monterey event for $21,450, but the deal unwound so it appeared on the Biltmore lot list.

Despite being offered with no reserve, the estimate was a realistic $20,000 to $30,000 and it could very well have gone for more than that if two Healey enthusiasts got into a checkbook-butting contest. It opened at $10,000 and advanced quickly by $2,000 increments until it stalled at my bid of $18,000. Suddenly I was gripped by the thought that I might just end up with this lovely little roadster. And a few seconds later I did.

It had taken the better part of 50 years for my Healey 100 dream to materialize, but there it was. Assuming that the mechanicals check out (something I’ll let SCM readers know about this spring), I feel I got a real bargain.

There may be a lesson here for potential bidders-no matter how fancy the event, or how intimidating the lineup or venue (I wasn’t sure if the limit on my Visa card would even get me into the parking lot of the Biltmore), there are bargains to be found. Compared to the ex-Jack Warner Mercedes 540K Special Roadster and the other six- and seven-figure cars at the auction, my Healey, luckily for me, turned out to be the wallflower of the event.

Meanwhile, I’m waiting for the snow and salt to disappear from our roads, wondering if I should put asbestos soles on my shoes, and anticipating, with the coming of spring, the fulfillment of a 50-year dream.-Dave Brownell

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