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 their success, these agile 4-cylinder sports cars attributed to the Austin Healeys further marketability 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 100-4’s would be realized during the production run. As such they are a rarity, and perhaps the most important production Healey’s extant.
The 100M Modifications are all minor, but they add up to a 20HP increase from 90HP-110HP, and ultimately an experience and presentation that is stunning. Modifications from the factory included a louvered bonnet, special aluminum cold air box, special cam, tuned carburetors, higher compression pistons, and modified ignition amongst other subtleties. This formula produced a potent little racer that was much quicker than the original with sporty looks and overall a superb performer.
The example on offer here, Chassis # BN2L230787 is indeed a factory built and genuine 1956 Austin Healey 100M LeMans. It has been verified through both the British Heritage Trust as well as Bill Meade’s 100M registry as such, and carries all of its correct, matching, and original equipment from day one. Early history on this particular car is unfortunately not known at this juncture. However, we do know that it was produced on the 9th of February, 1956 and was destined for the USA as North American Export car in LHD. It was finished exactly as viewed today in Healey Blue with White Coves and a Blue interior/top. It shows to have carried engine number 1B230787-M when new, which it still retains today. By the mid 1980’s we know the car was with Harold Brandner of BMC Classic’s in Florida. Harold, a renowned restorer of Austin Healey’s and other related Marques enjoyed this car in its current driver state until about 1995 when a total nut and bolt restoration was completed over the course of about 1 year.
During the restoration nothing was overlooked and the car received a total strip and inventory of all components. It was then the body work was started and the panels put perfectly straight, primed, painted and ready for reassembly. All while the total drive line was completely disassembled, rebuilt and restored to factory correct specifications. The car was soon put back together and was done so with careful attention to detail and correctness throughout; rendering the finished product a year later as a near perfect and highly correct example. It was at the completion of the restoration that it was then privately traded to well known collector Kirk F. White, also of Florida. During Mr. White’s ownership the car was carefully enjoyed and easily concours ready. As such it was invited to the 1998 Amelia Island Concours D’elegance where it was shown in the “Cars of Donald Healey Class” and subsequently it also won “Best Open Car”, quite the achievement. As a result the car was then also featured in the June 1998 edition of “Chatter” the Austin Healey Club Magazine. The car was further enjoyed sparingly with service and care a top priority while in the Kirk White Collection. It wasn’t until 2002 that it found it’s most recent home in the care of well known Bucks County Collector, a Mr. Campbell. It so suitably resided in this collection as one of the favorites amongst some very special post war sports cars. However, it was still very active and shown often at the Buckingham Concours, New Hope Auto Show, and various other Healey Club events. During this custodianship it received a plethora of awards and was carefully enjoyed by both its owner and onlookers as the restoration has always presented beautifully, even to this day. It went without neglect and during this ownership was also well serviced by John Davies as needed.
Today it shows incredibly well, the restoration has aged gently and the car is easily still show worthy. It could make for an excellent entrant at any concours but is also ready to be enjoyed on rallies such as the Colorado Grand, Mille Miglia, or the New England 1,000; really an ideal event car, and highly eligible for events worldwide. With age and time sometimes come blemishes as a result of enjoying almost any classic car. This example has fared well over the past 17 years but does have a small item or two that needs disclosing. There are two small chips near the windshield posts, and the rear turtle deck near the cockpit trim has also seen some chipping. In addition there are two very, very small bubbles near the rear of the car where the fender meets the beading between the two body sections. Again, very minor, hardly noticeable and certainly not worth enough attention to refinish, present however.
Cosmetically we see a very deep and well completed paint jobs on straight panels with superb fitment. The gaps for the bonnet, trunk, and doors are excellent for a Healey, and all of the bright work and rubber is also excellent throughout. The two tone presentation is beautifully done and was quite obviously color sanded and buffed to perfection at the time of completion. During Mr. White’s ownership the wheels were changed to the same white as the coves for the “100S” look, while not totally correct to the Austin Healey Concours Judge, it adds a nice touch and could easily be changed if deemed necessary. The windshield is crack free, and the headlights are the correct Lucas type along with a set of fog and driving lamp(s). The badge bar carries the 100M Registry Badge and is a nice addition. In addition to the overall correctness and many proper attributes this car sports, we have also taken note to the highly original “100M” lightning bolt badge on the grill which is indeed an original and not a reproduction as so many are, a very nice touch.
Upon entering the interior we notice clean and correct aluminum door jams that are nicely trimmed. The seats and interior are finished in the highest quality and correct materials throughout. They show wonderfully with only signs of use and enjoyment since the restoration. The dash is finished correctly and all of the gauges and accessories have been refinished or rebuilt as necessary. Under the dash is tidy wiring and the continuing trend of high quality craftsmanship. As expected from any Healey of this level, all of the weather gear is present including the side curtains, tonneau, and top; all of which are nearly new and in excellent condition. In addition, there was nothing skipped and as a result the top frame was also refinished as were all of the latches and various other minor small components on this car. Everything was tended to in a thorough manner, and as a result, the car shows consistently well as a restored example, everywhere.
The engine bay on a 100M is a key component in determining the correctness and genuine attributes of a factory built 100M. This example checks all the boxes and is very correct from the right casting numbers to the factory bent shroud support, and even the steel louvered bonnet. The engine bay is nicely detailed with signs of use from the years of enjoyment. It is however very presentable correct, and could still be polished to be considered a contender for concours. Ideally however, this is a car that has been proven by its prior awards, and has also stood the test of being driven and enjoyed. Which ultimately is the basis by which a proper and well done restoration should be considered; it has the ability to perform without fault but also win shows.
The underside and trunk are of the same consistency as the rest of the car and show as expected. The undercarriage is straight and very clean with no issues to be noted anywhere. While most British cars tend to leak even when in superb mechanical condition, this example hardly contributes to that stereotype. The rockers are clean as are the floors, outriggers and doglegs which are so often the downfall of a proper Austin Healey restoration. The trunk bottom is excellent as well and there are no indications that this was ever a seriously rusty example or that it was ever hit like so many have been. The trunk shows the correct matting, and is also nicely finished. Offered in the boot is the spare, jack, hammer, side curtains with bag, and two tonneau covers.
Most importantly is the experience behind the wheel, in which this little Healey hardly falls short. The car starts easily and once warm shows strong oil pressure between 40-60 pounds at all times. The cooling always stays in the middle of the range and would be hard pressed to break 190. The clutch engages easily as does the selecting of any gear. Plenty of power is available at any time as these engines produces lots of torque, as needed. While in 4th, the electric overdrive engages and disengages without trouble and the overall experience is trouble free whether in a tight turn or hard on the brakes. Overall it’s a lovely place to be, especially with the windscreen in its unique downward position.
It has only been in recent years that the collector focus has finally matured in shifting to the early 4-cylinder Healey’s as the true basis of the company’s early success and focal point of importance in its great history. As the trend continues upward and onward, these cars will prove to be some of the more important sports cars of the 1950’s. These facts combined with the rarity of a genuine factory built and certified 100M LeMans makes for a cocktail of incredible fun, grade A investment potential, and a car that can be enjoyed in events worldwide that will always be recognized amongst many other important cars. This is an opportunity not to be missed by any serious collector or enthusiast looking to acquire a finely restored and genuine example. Please inquire with any additional interest or questions.
Available Documentation: (Click on the links below to view the file)