Debuting at the 1952 London Motor Show, the Healey 100 was a big hit. So much in fact the then 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 production. It was produced briefly from 1953 until 1956. As this new British Sports Car came to light it became evident that these little roadsters were quite successful both on the road and the street. 100-4’s took to circuits worldwide as both factory race cars and privateer entrants, proving success on the track these agile 4-cylinder sports cars attributed to the Austin Healeys success as a road car. Allowing for much progression and later evolving into the “100-6” and “3000” examples.
There is one instance in this brief history where the pinnacle of racing success was realized for Austin Healey. At the 24 Hours of LeMans the 100-4 factory race cars, which were then “LeMans” Prototypes experienced success in 1954 with 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 the 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 couldn’t 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.
Within Austin Healey Circles the breakdown is simple; there are two basic categories with correlating price differences: Factory 100M LeMans cars as verified by multiple sources, and one of the original 640 factory-built examples. Dealer 100M LeMans cars, are cars completed at the dealership or thereafter that have been totally converted, and done so correctly either in period or in recent years. So the enthusiast is left with two basic options, a Dealer 100M LeMans or a Factory 100M LeMans with about a $75,000-$100,000 price difference. Both however are a thrill to drive and both are widely eligible for many historic events.
The example on offer here, Chassis # BN2L228887, according to its BMIHT Certificate was delivered new to its first owner by A.F.I.V.A. in Paris, France in November of 1955 as an Old English White over Blue example fitted with a Heater, Laminated windscreen, MPH Speedometer, and Duplo (yellow) Headlamps. Exact early history on this example is not totally known, we do know however that the car was in the hands of a Mr. David W. Heck of Limerock, CT by the 1970’s. It is said that the car was a mostly original example and driven for many years by Mr. Heck until it was put away in the 1980’s. In 1997 the 100-4 emerged from dry storage and was offered for sale. It was then acquired by a Mr. Bill Fryrear of Louisville, Kentucky an avid Austin Healey Club member and knowledgeable enthusiast who immediately decided a total restoration was in order, but concluded that the car would be best suited and finished as a Dealer 100M LeMans. He embarked on a total nut and bolt restoration in 1997 slowly putting in the hours week after week and strictly following both a restoration guide and his own expertise of over 40 years of Austin Healey Knowledge. Over the course of the restoration a total spreadsheet-type list was developed of every nut, bolt, part, or item that was either purchased or refurbished. By the time the car was finished on July 9th, 2003 the total invested, not including labor, was nearly $60,000. Parts were acquired from well known sources including but not limited to British Victoria, Moss, Healey Surgeons, A-H Spares etc…
At the time of completion in 2003 the car emerged from Mr. Fryrears garage as a Red with Black Coves over Black interior example (a correct factory color combination) and was finished in a highly correct fashion, Dealer 100M LeMans format. It was nothing short of superb and was a painstaking effort, but all attributing to a job well done; a highly correct, and show worthy Dealer 100M LeMans. At this juncture the newly finished 100M was extensively shown at various concours and local shows including Austin Healey Club Sanctioned events where it received both “Best in Show” and “Best in Class” on multiple occasions. By 2009 the 100M had been to 18 different shows since its debut in 2003, and achieved 12 “1st“ place or “Best of Show” awards; a testament to one man’s dedication and to the cars quality.
To date this 100M has covered nearly 8,303 miles since completion and while it was a long time competitive show car, and still is, it has gracefully aged to that of a well dialed in example that can be shown, rallied or toured. More recently this example was acquired by its current enthusiast care-taker (a Mille Miglia competitor and collector) from Mr. Fryrear and it was decided that the car would be prepped for the 2014 Targa Florio Classic. He entrusted the services of Marque Expert Paul Tsikuris of Tsikuris Classics in Lakeland, FL. Tsikuris Classics completed a laundry list of items to qualify this 100M as fully sorted and reliably ready for any long duration rally. Everything from a new clutch, alloy cylinder head, rebuilt transmission, rebuilt braking system, updated cooling system, ignition system etc… was all tended to right down to new tires. Nearly $20,000 was spent ensuring this example to be dead solid, reliable, fast, and competitive.
Cosmetically the car presents very well overall in classic Austin Healey Livery, especially when the windscreen is in its unique downward position. The body panels fit well and the gaps are decent with a straight sight down the sides of the car. All of the rubber items, glass and chrome pieces are all from the restoration and are still in excellent condition and are easily considered show worthy. All of the cockpit moldings, small escutcheons, trim items and chrome pieces throughout are all present with nothing at all missing or inadequately restored. The Wire wheels are the newer but correct Dunlop Style and are well balanced with new rubber. Up front this 100M carriers correct Lucas lighting and a badge bar with the Blue Grass Austin Healey Club badge prominently centered. Upon entering the interior once can notice clean door jams, and a nicely completed interior that shows signs of use but nothing short of patina. The dash presents well with everything in proper working order and the cockpit is nicely trimmed throughout. We have noted the addition of a 3 port receptacle under the dash that has cleanly been installed to accommodate various types of equipment for rallies (GoPro, phone chargers etc…) a sensible addition to any car about to be rallied. The driver’s seat is no doubt a nice place to spend a Sunday afternoon, well finished, correct, and presenting very well overall the interior is excellent.
Starting this 100M takes very little effort, a quick pull of the choke and it fires within 3 cranks when cold. Once warm the car holds excellent oil pressure between 40-60 pounds under load, and holds temperature in the middle of the scale with no issues. The clutch, brake, and steering operation is clearly dialed in and very exact with no issues of any kind noted. The car shifts well, makes excellent power (more than most we have enjoyed), acts and operates as one would expect from a properly sorted and restored example. It would no doubt give plenty of enjoyment to any onlooker considering a 100M to drive regularly or competitively enjoy at vintage events.
The engine bay is a reflection of a well restored example that has since had the proper and tasteful modifications to put it in order as an example to be driven. As a result we see a clean engine bay overall with only a few items showing as non-original but acceptable per the application. The important aspect here is functionality, while perfection may not be present the car is absolutely dialed in and presenting very well everywhere, even under the louvered bonnet. The boot of this 100M was treated the same as the rest of the car and is very correct with matching spare, proper trimming and detailed nicely with no issues noted. The undercarriage of this example is testament to how well the restoration has held up, 8,300 miles later, it is still presentable, solid, and without anything needing tending to. It shows age but nothing is out of order, a little dirty, but a product of being driven and enjoyed as one of these cars should. The frame rails are straight, the dog legs solid and all metal is excellent as well. There is no indication of any serious prior rusting or accident damage that has ever happened.
The market always has Austin Healey’s to offer, but if one is seeking the ultimate Austin Healey for driving, especially in vintage events or to purely enjoy the original intent of Donald Healey’s design, the 100-4 or 100M is about the best way to do it. This example has all of the qualifications we like to see: it’s been well restored by a true enthusiast, shown and won, and then further dialed in and regularly used/maintained as a driven example for vintage events, rallies, and tours. This combination often leads to a very good car that has never been left to sit in a collection, rather it’s been perfected and enjoyed over the years and is now available for its next custodian to do the same.
Offered with a detailed restoration file, spare, jack, hammer, tools, all weather gear, BMIHT Certificate and various other documentation, this is a very complete Dealer 100M LeMans that will surely be enjoyed for years to come.
Available Documentation: (Click on the links below to view the file)