Its door gaps were as exact as a bespoke Tuxedo and the engine bay was spotless

Austin-Healey's highly successful six cylinder cars entered their final iteration in 1964 with the BJ8 series, or Mk III. This was the high point in driver and passenger comfort for the "big" Healeys, as they became more of a grand tourer rather than an all-out sports car.

Starting with the dramatically new four-cylinder 100/4 in 1953, Austin-Healeys changed to six-cylinder power in late 1956 with the first 100/6. The 3000 Mk I debuted in 1959, the Mk II in 1961 and the first of the Mk IIIs in 1964.

The Mk IIs differed from the Mk I in the front with a new radiator grille design incorporating vertical bars in place of the previous horizontal theme, and under the hood with three SU HS4 carburetors, which boosted output from 124 to 132 bhp. The MK IIIs reverted to a two-carb setup, while horsepower climbed to 150 thanks to cam, valve and exhaust system tweaks. Styling retained its original look through each generation: softly rounded lines, oval grille and a long hood and short rear deck. Healeys are one of the most attractive of production sports cars, with a style and appearance still pleasing to the eye today.

Mark III cars incorporated a number of mechanical improvements. The overhead-valve six-cylinder gained a new camshaft design and stronger valve springs along with SU HD8 two-inch throat carburetors. A new dual exhaust system with an extra muffler at the rear was in keeping with the emphasis on passenger comfort. Servo brakes became standard and the traditional push-button starter gave way to key start. The transmission was supplied with new ratios, but still had an unsynchronized first gear. The walnut-veneered dashboard now housed an electric tachometer and a 140-mph speedometer.

Other interior changes included seating material of Ambla, the British equivalent of high-grade leatherette. A center console including a padded armrest became standard and door pockets were eliminated. The small rear seating area featured a two-piece seat back that could be folded forward into a handy package tray. In keeping with market demands, roll-up windows had superseded the traditional side curtains, thereby broadening the car's appeal as a practical, everyday driver.

The 3000 Mk III offered here is a Phase II BJ8. Phase II cars began in May 1964 with chassis number 26705 and continued through the end of production in March 1968.

Mark III Phase II cars are the culmination of subtle but constant improvement, as they underwent even more changes than the first Mk IIIs. The chassis members under the rear axle were changed from previous cars. Six-leaf rear springs were now standard and the Panhard rod was removed. Wire wheel hubs now had coarser threads and the front sidelamps gained larger lenses, eventually changing to a set of four lenses for separate parking/directional indicators, as of chassis number 31336. Except for very minor changes, mainly to comply with new US and European traffic and safety laws, the Mk III Phase II would continue in this form until the end of series production.

The rugged six-cylinder, 150-hp engine has been proven through millions of miles of owner use and numerous rally and racing victories in the U.S. and Europe. Indeed, the Healey has turned out to be the kind of sports car that the British call a great "all-rounder," as capable of making the daily commute as it is competitive during a weekend of vintage racing.

SCM Analysis


This 3000 Mk III Phase II sold for $57,240, including buyer’s premium, at the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale auction, held January 16-19, 2003.

Finished in the correct Healey blue with dark blue upholstery, this BJ8 brought the biggest bucks for the marque at this year’s Barrett-Jackson-as well it should have. It sat correctly, door gaps were as precise as the cut of a bespoke tuxedo, and the engine bay was spotless. The only unauthentic notes in this Kurt Tanner restoration were the chrome wire wheels.

But I’ll admit that the chrome wires added to the car’s allure-this Mk III was real eye candy. I can remember these cars coming off the delivery trucks when new, covered in Cosmoline, needing a wash-down and some polish to be ready for the showroom. No brand-new Healey ever looked any better than this car.

If you have your heart set on a Mk III (or any Austin-Healey) be sure that the candidate you’re thinking about has a sound transmission. The non-synchro first gear is weak, and if careless former owners have been dropping the gearbox into first while the car is in motion, it may be ready to make expensive noises. Other than that, big Healeys aren’t known for any particular problems. Like all cars of their time, the bodies are prone to rust and rot-something the new owner doesn’t have to worry about with this gorgeous example.

Prices for excellent big Healeys, particularly the Mk III Phase IIs, have been heading upwards for the past several years and are now knocking on Jaguar XKE price levels for #1 cars. The big question remaining is when one will hit six figures at auction.-Dave Brownell

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