In the realm of sports cars there lives a certain breed that goes a bit further than just putting a large amount of horsepower under the bonnet, giving it handsome styling, and installing a shouty exhaust. There are a few that take it a step further and become much more focused and precise than a tire smoking AMG Mercedes. Cars like a BMW GTS, the Porsche 911 GT3 RS, or an Aston Martin Vantage GT have taken their engineering a step further to make the car perform not only on open roads but the track as well. They possess an element of duality in the sense that you are able to drive them to the track Sunday morning, drive the car hard, and then drive it home that evening. Cars that serve this dual purpose to this have been around for quite some time which brings us to the Austin Healey 100M.
Making its debut at the 1952 London Motor Show, the Healey 100 was one of the most raved about cars. It spurred such a ruckus amongst enthusiasts that the acting director of Austin, Leonard Lord, took enough interest to add “Austin” in front of the name through a partnership deal proposed by Donald Healey. With funding in place the Austin Healey 100-4 began its short production run from 1953 until 1956. As this new British sports car entered the market, it became evident that these little roadsters were quite a machine both on the road and the track. 100-4’s took to circuits worldwide as both factory race cars and privateer entrants. Proving themselves on the track, these agile 4-cylinder sports cars largely contributed to Austin Healey’s success as a road car, allowing for significant progression later evolving into the “100-6” and “3000” examples.
There is one instance in its brief history where the pinnacle of racing success was realized for Austin Healey. At the 1954 24 Hours of LeMans the 100-4 factory race cars, which were then “LeMans” prototypes, performed great winning second in class and 12th overall, an astounding achievement for the young company. It was decided then that for 1955 and 1956 a special edition of the 100-4 would be produced to commemorate the success and offer the enthusiast buyers of these fine sports cars an opportunity to enjoy the best of what the company could offer. It would end up that only 640 factory built 100M LeMans would be realized during the production run. As such, owners of standard 100-4’s who could not get their hands on the factory built examples went back to the dealer for the “M Modification” and upgrades. This included a louvered bonnet, special aluminum cold air box, special cam, tuned carburetors, and ignition amongst other subtleties. This formula produced a potent little racer that was much quicker than the original with sporty looks and a superb performer.
The example on offer is the fifth factory prepared Austin Healey 100M ever produced, chassis number BN2L228328-M and matching engine number 1B228328. The early history of this car is unknown except for what is provided by the British Motor History Heritage Trust. This example was built on September 5, 1955 with its destination for sale set as the United States. It was finished in carmine red over black and has been restored in those original colors. The extensive and complete restoration was completed by industry specialist BRC of Philadelphia (formerly BMC).
The exterior of the car blatantly resembles the qualities of a new restoration of a very high standard. The red paint is mirror like, crisp and consistent throughout with no inconsistencies of to report. Every panel is free of dents, major scratches or flaws with excellent shut gaps throughout. All rubber components including windshield moldings, door, trunk and bonnet seals are all supple and brand new. Additionally, every piece of chrome including bumpers, windshield chrome, handles, grill, and door moldings are all newly re-chromed and are free of flaws. The 100M Badge is fixed to the grill via safety wire per the factory installation and the 100M badge is a genuine original. Pulling the soft-top up you will find a new, correct vinyl top with clear rear window free of fading or scratches and a brand new boot cover for sunny, top-down days. All glass including the Lucas LeMans headlamps and accompanying period Lucas Fog Rangers, windshield, and doors are all excellent with no scratches or chips.
Entering the interior and the restoration quality continues. The door jams are tidy and correct with no flaws noted. The seats are newly upholstered with red pipping acting as a nice accent however not factory correct. This would be attributed to the upgraded leather interior, which is a common upgrade. The carpets and door panels are re-finished with any blemishes completely absent and an overall presentation of being new. The dash has a fresh coat of paint that compliments the rebuilt gauges very nicely, matching the exterior paint with a silver surround near the gauges per factory correct standards. On the passenger side of the dash a plate from the Austin Healey LeMans Registry certifying that this car is authenticated as one the original 640 examples built. Once seated in the car you are greeted by the correct steering wheel. A glance down to the gear shift area reveals two period Breitling time pieces, both stopwatches adding a tasteful touch to the car and the 100M’s history as a racer.
In opening the bonnet one will notice every component is correct and colored as the factory did when new. A glance down either side of the block will show that there are no leaks. All the proper markings and tags are present and attention to detail is evident throughout. Additionally, all of the numbers between the body number, chassis number, and engine number are all correct. The body number is evident on the bonnet as well as the trunk lid, and cockpit surrounds. The Carburetors have the correct etchings and the distributor is the correct type as well and likely original to the car per original 100M specifications. The cold air box is an aftermarket unit, as the originals are known for cracking. The restoration shop has also given a statement to this effect. The trunk area is of the same consistency with new material throughout. Removing the material shows nicely finished surfaces showing there was no area untouched on the restoration. The underside shows as the rest of the car, correctly painted in the carmine red that the body is finished in. A few components resemble characteristics of originality and the underside itself could use additional detailing to be considered perfect. Everything is plated correctly and there is no area untouched from the restoration.
Mechanically, every system has been carefully gone through and sorted making this example absolutely turn-key. The engine has received a total rebuild as well as the transmission and overdrive unit. A turn of the key and a push of the starter button and the 110bhp engine fires up with a clean smooth idle. Once out on the road the new clutch feels great, the gear changes are smooth, the brakes are firm, and the engine is very responsive. This example is equipped with electric overdrive that is fully operational and a welcomed comfort to have when an extra gear is needed; it engages and disengages without an issue. This is really just an utter joy to drive, very much a momentum car but the visceral experience it has to offer is second to none.
In short, this fully restored and genuine Austin Healey 100M that is cosmetically superb and mechanically excellent, ready for any show, rally or tour on a local or national level. The craftsman at BRC of Philadelphia have given this Healey new life and being the 5th prepared 100M “LeMans” factory car, have preserved such a rare example. Now it is looking for its next caretaker and custodian to be a part of this car’s humble history. Included in the sale are tools, jack, spare, hammer, Heritage Certificate, tonneau cover, restoration record and Breitling timing accessories.
Available Documentation:(Please click on the links below to view the files)