- Original left-hand-drive delivery
- Matching numbers and colors
- No-expense-spared restoration from 2015 to ’16
- 4-speed manual/overdrive gearbox
|Vehicle:||1956 Austin-Healey 100-4 BN2 Roadster|
|SCM Valuation:||Median to date, $66,000; high sale, $133,778 (this car)|
|Tune Up Cost:||$400|
|Chassis Number Location:||Plate riveted to scuttle|
|Engine Number Location:||On step at right front of block|
|Club Info:||Austin-Healey Club of America|
|Alternatives:||1953–55 Austin-Healey 100-4 BN1, 1956–59 Austin-Healey 100-6 BN6, 1951–54 Jaguar XK 120 roadster, 1958–60 MGA Twin-Cam roadster|
This car, Lot 30, sold for €120,750 ($134,516), including buyer’s premium, at Bonhams’ Zoute Sale in Knokke-Heist, Belgium, on October 7, 2016.
In production for only about 11 months from late August 1955 through July 1956, the BN2 series was an update of the original Series BN1 Healeys, with several minor changes and one major improvement: a 4-speed gearbox replaced the awkward 3-speed box.
While the Laycock de Normanville overdrive would later become an option for Austin-Healeys, it was standard on the BN1- and BN2-series cars. Operating on third and fourth gears, the overdrive gave the BN2 six forward ratios, and when mated to the torquey, low-revving A90 engine (pointless and risky to exceed 4,000 rpm), the result was a tremendously flexible sports car offering the perfect ratios for twisting mountain roads. Yet it’s also capable of high-speed highway cruising. After all, the 100 was named for its ability to achieve 100-plus mph, which was no mean feat in the era.
Gerry Coker’s graceful and smooth-flowing design, the result of Donald Healey’s instruction to “see what you can come up with,” looks like the trace of wind over an airfoil. It has also stood the tests of changing styles and technology, and today it is evocative of the era and still contemporarily pleasing.
Our subject 100-4 BN2
This example is a near-quintessential representative of the model. Finished in classic Healey Blue and with a blue interior, it was restored to standard specifications. The former owner resisted the temptation to add a louvered bonnet and have the car masquerade as a “Le Mans model.” Bravo.
That said, there are a few deviations from originality.
On the exterior, one immediately notes the cloth top where vinyl was original, but this could be viewed as an upgrade rather than a transgression (after the fit is properly adjusted). Ditto the chrome wire wheels, which many prefer over the painted versions originally supplied.
However, speaking as a recovering concours judge, the owner will need to practice his best soft-shoe steps to avoid deductions for these upgrades, should he be masochistic enough to submit the car for judging. Otherwise the exterior appears sales-brochure-perfect.
In search of further nits, there is a period-style wooden steering wheel (again, widely regarded as an upgrade and not a sin). The red high-tension leads are wrong (they were basic black from the factory). The aftermarket rocker cover is incorrect, and there are some incorrect hose clamps. The absence of the generator (presumably installed after the photography) stands out, and the boot-lid weather strip was installed on the shroud instead of on the boot lid.
However, all these imperfections add up to zero, as they are easily correctable and, let’s face it, not really very important.
An honest Healey 100
My bottom line on this car is that it is a very lovely example of a standard Healey 100 in the best color for the marque.
It is also notable that there was no attempt to make it anything other than a standard car, avoiding the temptation to add some “Le Mans bits” and claim unverifiable provenance or “special model” status or even ownership by Donald Healey.
Such claims are all too common, and it’s getting to the point where the standard cars are unusual to find. It is refreshing to see a good one honestly represented.
A Belgian gentleman who owns another 100 that he intends to use in regularity rallies consigned the car, and the restoration was carried out in a private craftsman’s home garage.
Well sold — but worth it
At the auction, interest in the car was high because of the quality of the restoration and the left-hand drive. The car also is eligible for the Mille Miglia, which is particularly important in Europe. In the end, while the locals helped to push the price above SCM’s Pocket Price Guide levels, it was a U.K. collector who took it home, where it will join a stable of nicely restored British sports cars of the 1950s and 1960s.
These cars were not originally rare, as 4,604 Series BN2 cars were produced, but they are by now unusual to find. It is especially unusual to find an example in such excellent condition and restored to standard specification.
The price achieved was notably high, and while I do call it well sold, let’s also credit a high-quality restoration and Bonhams marketing it in the right venue (a North Sea coastal resort in Belgium) that undoubtedly helped to achieve the high number.
There is no harm done to the buyer, who now owns a beautiful, defining example of an iconic British sports car. ♦
(Introductory description courtesy of Bonhams.)