Thursday, August 5, 2010

1953-1956 Austin-Healey 100

"The Austin-Healey '100' is a fast car, and looks it, the smooth aerodynamic lines of the body providing a delightful picture from every point of view. Indeed, wherever it is seen this model is the centre of interest and the subject of much favourable comment."

This english-born Austin-Healey is one of the few exotic sports cars that still populate cuban roads. Mind you that Havana before the Castro-regime was a pulsating, rich city, and european sports cars were popular among the wealthy citizens, being a welcome alternative to the ubiquitous Detroit Iron.

Donald Healey had conceived the Healey 100 in the early 50s. Engineered by a small team around his son, Geoff Healey, and beautifully styled by Jerry Coker, the Healey 100 had a stellar impact upon its introduction at the London Motor Show in October 1952. By good fortune, Leonard Lord, the boss of Britain's largest car manufacturer BMC, fell in love with the Healey, and got into business with Donald Healey right away, founding Austin-Healey as another division in BMC's GM-like conglomerate of brands. The manufacturing power of BMC allowed Healey, to produce the new car in much larger numbers than it would have been possible by his original small enterprise. Hence a substantial number of Austin-Healeys arrived at american shores, and sold well, as the Healey name had already a good reputation here since the fast but pricey Nash-Healey of 1951. As an interesting side note, because of the Austin-Healey, Leonard Lord had even mothballed the pending development of the MG-A (thanks, Caristas), another successful english roadster in the U.S. and in Cuba.

During it's 15-year long production run, the Austin-Healey received quite a few confusing changes and versions, in real british manner of that era. Planned product development and yearly facelifts, like it was practiced by the Big Three, didn't work for the inventors across the Atlantic.

The first series of Austin-Healeys, pictured here and named 100 BN1 and BN2, was produced from 1953 until October 1956. Then, together with a new six-cylinder engine, the Austin-Healey received a new oval front grille and an airscoop on the hood. In 1957, the wheelbase was stretched by 2 inch, making the crammed interior a little more comfortable. The sales-brochure described this tiny cockpit in a truly euphemistic way: "In the neatly designed interior which incorporates two individual bucket seats, there is compact comfort for driver and passenger. Controls are handily positioned, a short central gear lever being employed, and closely grouped instruments are readily visible through the steering wheel. Driving vision is excellent, the low sloping bonnet offering an uninterrupted view of the road ahead."

1 Kommentare:

Anonymous said...

Those alloy wheels look like they are from a 1984 Chevrolet Corvette.