It was with an Austin-Healey 100-Six in basic production trim that Tommy Wisdom and Cecil Winby won their class in the 1957 Mille Miglia, while three factory entered 100-Sixes went on to take the Manufacturers' Team Prize at the 1958 Sebring 12 Hour race. The same year saw the first factory rally team of 100-Sixes show real potential, including Pat Moss, sister of Stirling, taking her first Coupe de Dames for a penalty-free run. Shortly afterwards, the first lady of rallying took a magnificent fourth overall and another Coupe des Dames on the grueling Liege-Rome-Liege Marathon, as well as winning both the Unlimited Class GT and Touring Class categories; the Healey team also won the Manufacturers' Team Prize. The 100-Six's final works victory was on the 1959 Tulip Rally-by which time the engine had been modified to produce 160 bhp-where Jack Sears and Peter Gamier won the GT category beating Aston Martin, Ferrari and Mercedes-Benz.
This example, which was originally supplied to the U.S. market with left-hand drive configuration in 1959, has benefited from an extensive restoration. The engine was rebuilt in December of 1997, at which time the car was converted to run on unleaded gasoline and new fuel lines were incorporated. The gearbox and carburetors were rebuilt in July of this year and the car is described as being in excellent condition both inside and out. Finished in Healey blue, with a dark blue interior and top, and sitting on new 72-spoke chrome wire wheels, the car shown here is complete with a tonneau cover and side screens.
|Vehicle:||1958 Austin-Healey 100-6|
|Original List Price:||$3,395|
|Tune Up Cost:||$250|
|Chassis Number Location:||Plate on firewall|
|Engine Number Location:||Left side of engine block|
|Club Info:||Austin Healey Club of America|
The car pictured, a 1959 model from its serial number, sold at Coys’ auction in London on November 26, 1998 for £15,291 ($24,667 at a conversion rate of $1.65 per £1). The under-powered Austin-Healey 100-Six, first produced in 1956, is at the very bottom of the Healey food chain, slower and hence less desirable than either the earlier four-cylinder Healeys or the 3000s that followed it. BMC’s rationalization of engine production in 1956 meant that the Austin-Healey was forced to use the same 2639-cc engine as the Austin A105, Morris Isis, and Wolseley family sedans.
The 100-Six had eight bhp less, weighed 300 pounds more, and was three seconds slower from 0-60 than the 100M it replaced. The model had much in common with earlier Healeys, but a fixed windshield replaced the sporty two-position version, and “occasional” rear seats that had been added to broaden appeal seriously reduced trunk space.
The pivoting top of the 100 was replaced by one that provided only marginal rain protection and had to be completely removed from the car (a two-person job) in order to be stowed behind the rear seats.
Produced in January 1959 near the end of the 100-Six run, the Healey shown here has the “Mille Miglia” engine with separate manifold that added ten horsepower, which was introduced when Healey production was moved to Abingdon in 1957. As noted in the auction company’s description, 100-Sixes proved their durability in long-distance races, but the improvements made in the factory-prepared cars didn’t go into production until late 1959, when the Austin-Healey 3000 was introduced with a more powerful 2912-cc engine, front disc brakes, and performance that finally matched the four-cylinder cars of 1956.
The auction price of this average condition 100-Six isn’t surprising, since Healeys are scarce and desirable in Europe, but would border on irrationality in the United States, where the car would be worth ten thousand less.
The 100-Six does have the desirable Healey features of elegant lines, a rorty exhaust note, and broad-shouldered appeal. Its engine easily can be rebuilt to match the performance of later Healeys. But don’t be misled into believing a 100-Six will be worth as much in the market as the other Healey models.
Market opinions in italics by Gary Anderson, Editor, British Car Magazine.