It was around the 50’s that Donald Healey noticed that there is a huge market for fast but cheap sports car. People wanted something that is better than the MG but certainly cheaper than the Jaguar. This is when he took up the project of building a roadster that will fit in the convertible cars section. Initially, it appeared to be an ambitious plan to come up with an Austin-Healey 100 that would not just look good but also go up to 100mph.
- How the Engine Evolved:
Healey creatively utilized the existing components in his and sought permission from the Austin Motor Company for using the engine and transmission of their model – A90 Sedan. He also used the suspension and the drivetrain assemblies, while assembling his new car. In simpler words, he used all his genius in crafting a convertible that every car lover would praise.
- How the Body was Designed:
While the engine was taken care of, he needed someone who could work on the looks of Austin-Healey 100:100M. He approached body designer Gerry Coker, who was famous for his Nash-Healey. And, the challenging task of designing a car around the available parts was entrusted on Coker. Being a fan of Italian design, Coker came up with an elegant two-seater roadster.
- Beginning with a Prototype:
Coker built a prototype with tailfins. Interestingly, its rear end was treated differently by working on the rear fenders. Healey did not believe in intruding the artistic work that Coker engaged in. But, he did suggest Coker that he should brighten up the slab sides that the car had. With a character line from the front fender to its rear wheel, he made the car look longer and lower.
- Improvements in the Prototype:
Coker wanted to position the air vent in the AUSTIN-HEALEY model on its front fender. For inspiration, he looked at the clip of the Parker fountain pen and came up with a sharp design for the vent. It acted like a cut-off line so that the roadster can be painted in two tones.
- The Debut:
The Austin-Healey-100:100M made a grand debut in 1952, at the Earl’s Court Motor Show. It was priced £850 back then. Since Healey alone could manage to build only 20 cars a week, Austin Motor Company’s head approached him with a proposal. He suggested that Healey should let Austin take over the production as the company and can manage to build 200 per week. Healey agreed to the proposal and the roadster was then available to the buyers at £750.
- The Review:
The automobile magazines pounced at the opportunity to drive the latest Austin-Healey convertible. The majority of them praised and reviewed positively. It was rated one of the 100 best all-rounder cars. The only suggestion was to work on the distinct sounds that came out of the exhaust.
The suggestions were looked upon genuinely and that gave rise to the next generation models. With a humble dream to build 100 cars, Healey along with Austin Motor Company came up with 3000 cars. The 100 in the Austin-Healey-100:100M now stands for the speed that Healey was determined on nailing it perfectly.