it's funny you should ask about austin-healeys -- i've had more of them
than I've had datsuns! (two healeys, one roadster)
healeys are GREAT cars -- generally well-built and most have lasted
pretty well (in california, that is) due to their strong frames, aluminum
shrouds (front and rear), and strong Austin tractor engines.
the worst part about healeys is the current crop of owners -- and i say
this not trying to disparage them, but to be completely honest about the
situation. the reason i got a datsun and not another healey was because
of the wannabe-elitists that seem to dominate the current healey club and
publication scene. imagine a late-middle-aged guy with a bad Hair Club
For Men rug glued onto his dome, rolling his $50,000 restoration off a
trailer at a wine-and-cheese-style event, and sneering at the other cars
who didn't drop/lose as much $$$ on their restoration, and you get the
picture. in a word, NO THANKS! (ok, that's two words)
by the way, if you think i'm just being a proletariat-type here, i'm not.
i was nearly born in a 1960 3000 Mark I (back in 1963), and owned my own
1963 Mark II tricarb throughout highschool and into adulthood, until my
kids started arriving and the cash scene made that cool old car in the
garage just too tempting to sell to support the family. i re-entered the
hobby about 8 years back, and was amazed to discover that the
driving-type healey guys had unloaded their cars to these
trying-to-recapture-youth types during the big price run-up of the late
i've been into healeys my whole life, but quite frankly, i prefer the
more everyman-type camaraderie found with datsun owners these days.
still, healeys are truly great drivers, loaded with power and good looks.
the earlier models (100-4s, or "100s" as the snobs call them) are
four-cylinder cars with 4-speed gearboxes and cool folddown windshields
-- really kickass driver cars. there are rare variants (100M and 100S,
both of which have been copied many times in the aftermarket, so be
careful to fully document any potential purchase). 100-4s have the
"smiley" triangular mouth for a grille; the later 100-6s (with the new
six-cylder engines) adopted the more common oval mouth/grille and ran
until 1960, when BMC debuted the 3000 -- bigger six-cyl displacement,
better trannies, and overdrive. the later models (Mark IIIs) have rollup
windows, wood dashes, and more comfortable interiors -- but also come
with higher price tags, mainly due to the fact that they're the preferred
driver of the bluehairs who dominate healey ownership these days.
my recommendation -- 1963 Mark II tri-carb -- only one year of
production, great power, still side curtains (no rollups) and roadster
(as opposed to later Mk III convertible tops) orientation. if you see my
old one (black plate: LTH496), please let me know! i loved that car, and
it saved my life more than once.
have fun shopping, and don't get run over by the bluehairs!
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