Graham Robson remembers the car in BMC's U.K. press fleet, but there's no mention of Donald Healey having a Mk II as "a personal car"
Introduced in 1961, the Mk II version of Austin-Healey's highly successful 3000 model was visually distinguished by its vertical radiator grille bars and revised front air intake.
Sharing the same basic chassis design as its predecessor-independent front suspension, live rear axle, and disc/drum brakes-it enjoyed superior performance thanks to the adoption of triple SU carburetors. Available in two-seater (BN7) or 2+2 (BT7) guises, it was fitted with wire wheels and adjustable front seats as standard, while options included overdrive for its 4-speed manual gearbox and a detachable hard top roof.
This is a very well-known and special car, originally the Austin Motor Company Home Sales demonstrator, known as "Blue DON." Registered on June 22, 1961, it was the personal transport of Donald Healey until 1963, before being sold to a privateer for rallying some four years later.
In 1980, it was acquired by Healey guru Allan Cameron and modified for race use. It was one of the first cars to race in the Healey Drivers International Series during the early 1990s, taking in Silverstone, Dijon, and Nürburgring. It was returned to road use in 1994, with a total repaint and refit in 1996. The fourth and current owner acquired it in 2004 and has used it for touring, including three trips to Le Mans. "Selling, as kids have outgrown the rear seats!" he says.
It retains its Special Demonstrator equipment: Halda Speedpilot and Restall reclining seats, DMH Co. wood-rim steering wheel, and Works development triple HS6 carburetors. It is currently equipped with bumper overriders and side sports exhaust, and has reputedly still covered less than 68,000 miles.
As well as V5C and current MoT, "700 DON" comes with Halda Speedpilot instruction manual, FIA papers, and HSCC Vehicle Identity Form, plus a significant history file that includes a Heritage Certificate, original log book, tax discs, and several concours certificates and rosettes.
|Vehicle:||1961 Austin-Healey 3000 Mk II|
|Original List Price:||$3,051|
|Tune Up Cost:||$250|
|Chassis Number Location:||Embossed on plate screwed to firewall|
|Club Info:||Austin-Healey Club USA, 8002 NE Hwy 99, Ste B PMB 424, Vancouver, WA 98665-8813|
This Ex-Donald Healey 1961 Austin-Healey 3000 Mk II sold for $65,560, including buyer’s premium, at H&H’s Buxton , England, auction on April 16, 2009.
The words “provenance” and “history,” though generally considered to be synonyms, can have very different effects on the value of a collectible car, as this particular Austin-Healey illustrates. The record of ownership (the literal definition of provenance) cited in the catalog description of this car suggests that it should be quite valuable.
Certainly well-known, but not so special
However, the history of the car suggests otherwise, which is a reasonable explanation for the auction results. To paraphrase the catalog, this car is certainly well-known, but special it is not.
The 3000 Mk II has been visible in Britain for most of its lifetime, so it’s easy to check the claimed history. Noted Healey historian Graham Robson remembers the car as having been put into BMC’s U.K. press fleet soon after production to demonstrate the new triple-carburetor Healey Mk II, and it was also used for magazine tests and television reviews.
He wouldn’t doubt the claim that Donald Healey may have driven it for some period of time-after all, as Robson notes, “The bosses of the British auto industry at the time would have their pick of whatever vehicles were in the fleet,” and there would be public relations value in having the press photograph an Austin-Healey with DMH himself at the wheel. But there’s no mention in any of the DMH biographies of him having a Mk II as “a personal car,” and visitors to Healey’s Cape Works in Warwickshire at that time only recall seeing the 3000 Mk II there once. So on the positive side of the ledger, the car was one of the early publicity cars, and a faint connection does exist with Donald Healey.
However, the history of the car is equally easy to learn. Allan Cameron, who owned the car from 1981 to 2004, is well-known in the Healey network and was easy to reach. He notes that the car was red when he bought it, so the previous owner had painted it from its original Healey Blue. It’s likely that owner, as a privateer rallyist, was also the one who installed the period reclining seats, Halda Speedpilot, Derrington steering wheel, larger HS6 carburetors, and side exhaust, since they would have been appropriate rally gear for the period, but are definitely not what one would find on a press publicity car.
Allan repainted it Healey Blue after he bought it and then installed a Denis Welch engine for racing, where the car again was in the limelight and featured in several English magazines. When he acquired its companion, known as “Red DON,” in 2002, he restored it back to street use and painted it in the current non-original color scheme.
So on the one hand, what we have is a car that has been modified several times during its lifetime, and therefore can make no claims to being authentic to its condition when Donald Healey drove it. On the other hand, it is a very solid car and should be reliable for use as a weekend hobby car, with a nice story about the fact that it was once a press car and likely driven by Donald Healey. I’d say that the price paid was appropriate for this 1961 3000 Mk II, and it even includes a reasonable premium for its historical connections.