Category Archives: Austin

Austin

Bring Home the Austin Healey 100/6

The legend of 100/6 – Austin – Healey started with a bunch of 6-cylinder convertible cars built by the staff in Warwick. This iconic roadster came with a charismatic body and a super powerful engine. Hence, it was often teased with a pet name ‘Handsome Brute’. Only a true convertible enthusiast would know that this car wasn’t cut out for everyone.

Austin Healey 100/6

While the Jaguar and the MG were rapid in their production and shipping the sports cars to the United States, Austin Healey looked at it as an opportunity to introduce the beautiful 100-6. This beautiful roadster could hit 100 miles per hour. Even though it started humble as a rugged roadster, the Austin – Healey was upgraded to the luxurious convertible – 3000.

Brash and Bold Inside:

Built with the reinforced chassis that was borrowed from the Austin – 100 S, it was prepared for the race. While some charm was added to the already interesting looking roadster, its British sporting character was well-retained. In the year 1959, 100-6 was installed with the 26D engine that made a brash exhaust sound. It surely did great and managed the second spot in the race but won the hearts of the racing car enthusiasts.

Different from 100S:

Many people these days who are taking a keen interest in the vintage cars and classic roadsters, often confuse between the Austin – Healey 100S and the Austin Healey 100/6. However, both are distinctly different. With slightly under performance and 2 + 2 seaters, it was viewed to be a disappointment. It was the 6-port engine that gave the car a tremendous boost.

100/6 – Austin – Healey Upgrade:

Soon, it was decided to bring in some serious changes in the 100/6. A strict 2-seater was confirmed for this convertible. This helped the manufacturer to cut down the prices significantly. All the roadster lovers who could only dream about owning one were now able to buy one.

Charming Exterior:

The dashboard of the Austin Healey 100/6 came with a vinyl coating and chrome trimmed oval panel. Even the simplest twist in the switchgear gave this roadster a perfect look that made the driver take pride in every ride. There were changes in the design, but it certainly made up with its new look and an excellent engine performance.

This beautiful roadster had cleaner lines and original design that makes it favorite amongst most of the car enthusiasts. What lies ahead is the opportunity to buy it in this era. The internet is flooded with restoration experts who maintained and gave back this convertible its original charm. You might find few upgrades to match the current roads. But, do not hesitate to try your hand given an opportunity. Long back this convertible was designed to give the best of the roadster experience to people with a strict budget. This element continues in this generation too and possibly you might stumble upon this classic which you can actually afford.

How A Dream Named Austin Healey 100S

One will be mesmerized to know the tale of Donald Healey’s motor company which was established just after the World War II. A team of insanely talented and dedicated people formed a group to come up with interesting convertible cars. While the economy struggled to come to stability, Healey’s vision helped him come up with an automobile company. It was in 1952 when he decided to collaborate with Austin and assemble the Austin Healey 100S. There were only 50 of such cars produced with the first chassis in them.

Austin Healey 100S

Making this convertible was severely well-thought and execution was undertaken with perfection by Healey. Here is the inspirational story behind the 100S:

[I] Conception:

It is believed that Healey never wished to create the 100S for tapping in the profits. His aim was to build a superior image for the marque and place it on the race tracks across the globe. Even though the Austin Healey 100S appeared to be similar to the standard 100 convertibles, it came with scores of modifications.

[II] Modifications:

  1. Body Weight:

With Healey’s vision to bring 100S on the racing track, he worked on the weight of this convertible. It is the weight of the car that determines its performance on the track. Hence, he worked on keeping the all-alloy body of the roadster simple and light. In fact, he built the substructure of the car with alloy.

  1. Look:

In the further attempt to keep the weight in check, Healey shed the bumpers of Austin Healey 100S. The large windscreen made of glass was given up too. There were some side curtains on the top, which were pulled out to give a serious look to this racing convertible. This way Healey developed around1876 pound convertible for racing.

  1. Engine:

It was not just the body that was worked upon but also the engine. Since the dream was to put 100S Austin in the top racing cars, the engine was made powerful. The brake horsepower was raised from 90 to 132. A specially modified aluminum Weslake cylinder head was installed so that the exhaust and the intake would be smooth.

  1. Brakes:

The most interesting change that this convertible car witnessed were the brakes. The famous Dunlop hydraulic disc brakes which were in the four corners were considered to be unnecessary. Hence, Healey and Dunlop arranged for an original design. The new brakes pumped up the engine to make it the best among the racing convertibles.

All the modifications certainly placed the car amongst the best during its racing history. It was the large carburetor, high-lift camshaft and the compression pistons that gave the big power to this convertible. There are ample car connoisseurs, who have to try to rebuild their version of this car. While there are proud owners, who are auction the original classic. Though you may not find all the features in this classic, it will certainly stand out to be a stunning piece you could ever own.

The Dream Behind Austin-Healey 100:100M

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.

Austin-Healey-100:100M

  • 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.

Fresh Face For The Convertibles – Austin a90 Atlantic

Produced by the Austin Motor Company, Austin a90 Atlantic saw glory between 1949 and 1952. It was launched as a simple 4 seater convertible car at the Earls Court Motor Show – London in 1948. There were several models built in the meantime that hit the markets. The most popular model in the convertible cars that this company built was the 2-door coupé – A90 Atlantic Sports Saloon.

What made the Austin a90 Atlantic so special?

Austin a90 Atlantic

Right from the Scratch:

It was the Atlantic that was designed and built right from the scratch. The majority of the post-war cars were styled based on their old models. But this one was a thumbnail sketch by the Chairman of AustinLeonard Lord. Though there were slight similarities in the styling of Austin A90 Atlantic  with that model of the Italian Austin stylist Dick Burzi.

Few Inspirations:

Furthermore, the car came with a design that was inspired by Pininfarina Alfa Romeo cabriolet [1946]. It just happened to reach the Longbridge factory, around mid-1947. Around this time, the government back then came up with an edict – ‘Export or die’, under this the steel was reserved only for those who generated the money. This is why the Atlantic was designed to appeal and woo the North American tastes.

The Body:

Upon popular demand, the Austin a90 Atlantic was designed with a bonnet that looked somewhat like the Pontiac Chieftains who reigned in those times. What made this convertible one of its kind was all those little details. There was a wrap around the windscreen that was made of a flat glass section. It had curved end panels. The fenders in this convertible had twin ‘Flying A’ that swept down to its rounded tail. What the sports car and convertible car lovers like about this car were the spats that enclosed its rear wheels.

The Novelty:

The Atlantic Austin came with a centre mounting, main beam and a headlight which was built in a letter box style. This way the grille could breathe in some air. Hydraulically powered windows were a novel concept back then. But this convertible had not just the windows but also the hood hydraulically automated.

Bold Colors:

To reiterate, this car was a pure delight as it had everything new and unique to it. When the convertibles came with trafficators, this one had flashing indicators or the blinkers. To add to its charm, it made use of interesting colors and named the cars as ‘desert gold’, ‘seafoam green’ etc. Even though the bold metallics found itself a limited market in the UK, it did well overall.

Austin a90 Atlantic Interior

It was the A90 Atlantic which made a radical and bold attempt to venture into the lucrative yet and critical US market. This car was available to the car connoisseurs as a convertible as well as a saloon. The unique make and unusual features like the headlamp, ‘cyclops’, wind-down rear window, rear-view mirror, handle near the driver etc made it the most loved convertible of all times!

Austin-Healey Sprite MK II/III/IV: Charm of the 60’s

Around 1962 to 1969 Austin-Healey Sprite gained popularity. It was famously known as the ‘Bugeye’. This low cost, tiny sports car received good attention from the people. This car was not only affordable but way too fun minus the frills. Interestingly designed body and its definitive engine gave a boost to the sales and made this car a sporting success. Around 50,000 cars which were the initial models of the Sprite MK II were sold in just 4 years. It was in 1962 that the Sprite MK II/ III/ IV – Austin Healey was introduced in the industry of convertible cars.

What was kept and what was let go?

MK II:

1963_Austin_Healey_Sprite_MK_II

While the MK II Sprite model retained the Bugeye’s body it underwent a major transformation. The Bugeye had a cheerful visage, but the Sprite had conventional grille with headlight. It stood out to be an amazingly styled car.

In the beginning, MK II initially had the 948-cc A-series 4-cylinder engines. However, around 1962, this model adopted the longer stroke 1098-cc version. This engine offered it a good power increase from the regular 46 bhp to the amazing 56 bhp. The car had an outright straight line speed. However, it was limited because of the engine of the car got displaced and it affected its performance and power.

MK III:

Austin-Healey Sprite MK III

Thankfully it was lightweight and had a low center. This made the car a terrific handler and Sprite earned its reputation in the world of convertibles as well as the rally circuit. It was in the year 1964, there were some serious of revisions made in the MK III Sprite. Its new curved windshield and roll up side windows drove the people crazy. The exterior handles and a reworked engine simply enhanced the life of this convertible.

MK IV:Austin-Healey Sprite MK IV

As time passed, the model saw several revisions from 3 additional bhp to larger main bearings, from rear suspension to headlights was updated and improved at the same time as well. It was MK IV Sprite that hit the markets in October 1966. This one had a notably new and a detuned 1275-cc engine which was used for the Mini Cooper S. The power output was pulled up by 65 bhp in the process.

Disappearance:

Soon, the production of the Healey cars was stopped for nearly two years. The dealer network dwindled especially in the US. They found it difficult to market one car under three brand names. It was challenging for the dealers. Additionally, the MG’s arbitrary success Sprite simply disappeared from the markets.

Reappearance:

Currently, the Sprites MK II / III / IV are available much cheaper than the Bugeye Sprites. They do offer the classic driving experience and open for bargains. Convertible purists would go for the Mk II Sprites. However, the practical-minded would love to have Mk IIIs or the Mk IVs. It is simply because these models come with weather protection built and a superior suspension setup. Any of the models come with easy and straightforward mechanicals. You will not have to struggle with their parts as they are easily available in the markets!