1953→1955 Austin Healey 100 BN1

The original Austin Healey was the 100 produced in 1953 as a sporting alternative to the Austin A90 Atlantic which shared some components. It was named after its ability to reach 100 mph.

Ex-racer Donald Healey was keen to take advantage of his racing successes and manufacture a car under his name. The One Hundred was envisioned by his small team as a comptition car. The first prototype was immediatly tested in Belgium and reached a top speed of 111 mph with the front windsheild in its folded position.

The car was designed by a small team at the Donald Healey motor company utilizing many parts availble from the Austin line when BMC came on board during the production process. The small team at Healey’s included Barrie Bilbie who designed the chassis and Gerry Coker who was resposible for the body and interior shape.

When the Austin Motor Company Limited went into regular production of the Big Healey, its large 2.6-liter engine ranked it above the MG TD and Triumph TR2, but below the larger and more expensive Jaguars and Aston Martins of the period.

Austin described the car as an open two-seater with individual bucket seats with an enclosed rear luggage space. Full weather protection was provided by a folding fabric top and detachable perspex side-screens. A unique feature of the 100 was it’s folding front window which made for a very sleek profile.

After producing 20 protoypes for promotion duty, regular production of the BN1 began in May of 1952 at the Longbridge facilty in Birmingham under the BMC banner. For ease of production, the body was manufactured in steel.

Total production of the BN1 reached 10010 cars from the 27-month production from May 1952 to August 1955. These were replaced by the BN2-series cars which were fitted with a four-speed manual transmission with overdrive.1

Sources & Further Reading

1, Anderson, Gary & Roger Moment. Austin-Healey 100/100-6/3000 Restoration Guide. MBI: 2000.

Story by Richard Michael Owen

In Detail

submitted byRichard Owen
typeSeries Production Car
production years1953 – 1955
released at1952 Earls Court Motor Show
built atLongbridge, Birmingham, England
body stylistGerry Coker
interior designerGerry Coker
engineersBarrie Bilbie
engineA90 Inline-4
positionFront, Longitudinal
block materialCast Iron
valvetrainPushrod OHV, 2 Valves per Cyl
fuel feedTwin SU Carburetors
displacement2660 cc / 162.32 in³
bore87.3 mm / 3.44 in
stroke111.1 mm / 4.37 in
power67.1 kw / 90 bhp @ 4000 rpm
specific output33.83 bhp per litre
bhp/weight92.21 bhp per tonne
torque195.2 nm / 144 ft lbs @ 2000 rpm
body / frameAluminum & Steel Body over Steel Frame
driven wheelsRWD
wheel typeSteel Wire Spoke
front tires5.90-15
rear tires5.90-15
front brakesGirling Hydraulic Drums
rear brakesGirling Hydraulic Drums
f suspensionDouble Wishbones w/Coil Springs, Hydrualic Shock Absorbers
r suspensionLive Axle w/Semi-Elliptical Leaf Springs, Hydrualic Shock Absorbers
curb weight976 kg / 2150 lbs
wheelbase2290 mm / 90.2 in
front track1240 mm / 48.8 in
rear track1290 mm / 50.8 in
length3850 mm / 151.6 in
width1540 mm / 60.6 in
height910 mm / 35.8 in
transmission3-Speed Manual with Overdrive
tran clutchSingle-Plate Borg & Beck
final drive4.125:1
top speed~165.73 kph / 103 mph
0 – 60 mph~11 seconds
0 – 1/4 mile~17.5 seconds
fuel capacity54.6 litres or 14.41 gal.

Auction Sales History

1953→1955 Austin Healey 100 BN1

1953 Austin-Healey 100 BN1-L/144642 – sold for $77,000 A very early Austin-Healey 100. Restored by Kurt Tanner, with an engine upgraded to 100M specifications. Documented by a copy of its BMIHT Certificate. A sporting and attractive British roadster with improved power.
Auction Source: RM Sotheby’s Monterey 2015

1953→1955 Austin Healey 100 BN1

1954 Austin-Healey 100 BN1L 222344 – sold for $74,250 A true survivor, only 25,000 documented miles from new. Matching numbers example. Three registered owners from new. British Motor Industry Heritage Trust certificate included. Comprehensive and detailed records from 1958.
Auction Source: The Scottsdale Auction 2015 by Bonhams

1953→1955 Austin Healey 100 BN1

1955 Austin-Healey 100 BN1 – sold for $75,000 Rare 1955 Austin-Healey 100 BN1. Very rare low production numbers matching Austin-Healey 100 automobile. Restored to original factory specifications. Red exterior and Black interior with Black convertible top. Documented with original bill of sale, ownership history, original books and manuals, body production card and full receipts for all work preformed. Certified copy of factory record from the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust.
Auction Source: Kissimmee 2014, #WhereTheCarsAre by Mecum

1953→1955 Austin Healey 100 BN1

1954 Austin-Healey 100 BN1-L/157169 – sold for $101,200 Exceptional restoration by Richard Jenkins. Finished in its factory delivered livery of Spruce Green over Green. Matching numbers example, eligible for the finest Concours or rallies. Factory delivered with larger 1 ¾” SU Carburetors. Offered with Heritage Trust Certificate.
Auction Source: 2013 Quail Lodge Auction by Bonhams

1953→1955 Austin Healey 100 BN1

1956 Austin-Healey 100/4 BN1 Le Mans 1B220605 – sold for $82,500 Upgraded with Period-Correct Le Mans Modification Kit. Restoration Completed During the Late 1990s. Tended by the Same Restorer for 15 Years. Classic English Sports Car Livery One of the Most Desirable Big Healeys.
Auction Source: The 2013 Scottsdale Auctions by Gooding & Company

1953→1955 Austin Healey 100 BN1

1954 Austin-Healey 100-4 BN1 150976 – sold for $45,000 An early BN1 that was first sold in Brussels, Belgium to a military officer. Fully restored. Heritage certificate.
Auction Source: 2012 Daytime Auction by Mecum

1953→1955 Austin Healey 100 BN1

1955 Austin-Healey 100 Le Mans BN1L/225762 – sold for $92,400 Beautifully Presented Restoration. Upgraded to “Le Mans” Specifications. Striking Color Combination. An Ideal Entry for a Wide Variety of Driving Events. Accompanied by Books, Tools and BMI Heritage Certificate.
Auction Source: 2011 Pebble Beach Auctions by Gooding & Company

1953→1955 Austin Healey 100 BN1

1955 Austin-Healey 100 BN1L/227462

When reading the August 2010 issue of Octane magazine, one finds an extremely interesting article telling the incredible story about this exact 100-4. The story begins in late 1955, when a General Electric executive from St. Louis, Missouri, bought this car new. A hot item in post-war America, the fortunate executive would race it on weekend excursions. After a small mishap, the executive left the car at Continental Cars for some minor repairs before eventually moving to Indianapolis and, for the sake of convenience, sold the car to Continental in January 1958. This opened an opportunity for Healey enthusiast, Lyttleton Morgan “Sonny” Tough III, who longed to acquire an Austin-Healey after spotting one on the side of the road. Mr. Tough bought the car from Continental Motors.

Auction Source: 2010 Gooding & Company Pebble Beach Auction