Healey ready to make its marque again
By Andrew English, Motoring Correspondent (Filed: 26/01/2006)
One of the most famous British sports car names is due to return this year,
in the hands of an all-new company that plans to build two new Healey models.
An English American consortium, HFI, has purchased the famous 1950s British
sports-car manufacturer Healey Automobile Consultants (HAC), and is
planning to launch a range of cars badged as Healeys.
HFI's managing director, Tim Fenna, who owns Frontline Spridget, a
specialist spares and modification for original Austin-Healeys, said: "I'm
pretty excited about it all. We've been working on this for two years,
talking to the Healey family, and getting the funds and the team together.
It was important to involve the Healey family because they own the Healey
name and it would have been foolish to do something without their involvement."
This deal will call into question plans announced last summer by the GB
Sports Car Company and MG Rover's Chinese owner, Nanjing Automobile, to
build sports cars at Longbridge badged as Austin Healeys and MGs.
The Daily Telegraph understands that although the Austin-Healey name is a
separate legal entity from Healey, or Austin, it cannot be used without the
explicit agreement of the owners of Healey (HFI) and Austin (Nanjing).
Mr Fenna said: "I don't want to comment about GB Sports Car, because we are
not getting into a fight or a slanging match. Our focus is on this new
company. We've got a prototype car running now and there's also a prototype
platform for a second car."
Healey Automobile Consultants was founded in 1955 by Donald Healey, the
pre-war rally driver and technical director of Triumph, and his son
Geoffrey. From 1946 Donald Healey built cars badged with his own name and
in conjunction with other car makers.
The Nash Healey and Jensen Healey are just such examples, but the most
famous was the co-operation between Donald Healey and Leonard Lord of
Austin, which resulted in the Austin-Healey Sprite as well as the 100 and
HAC is now under the directorship of Donald Healey's daughter Margot, and
his granddaughters (Geoffrey's daughters) Cecilia and Kate, all of whom
will maintain an interest in HFI.
Margot Healey said: "We have been committed to developing and protecting
the brand and are very pleased to have reached an agreement which will
result in the manufacture of a new Healey in the UK. We look forward to
seeing the great British sports car back on our roads soon."
Kate Healey said: "I'm very pleased. We've been working for 10 years for
this to happen and it's been rather an emotional roller coaster. This is
not just any name, it's my name with the past of my sister, my grandfather
and my mother and father in it, too. Tim [Fenna] is a decent, honest and
innovative engineer and a worthy custodian of that name."