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.
Double Wishbones w/Coil Springs, Hydrualic Shock Absorbers
Live Axle w/Semi-Elliptical Leaf Springs, Hydrualic Shock Absorbers
976 kg / 2150 lbs
2290 mm / 90.2 in
1240 mm / 48.8 in
1290 mm / 50.8 in
3850 mm / 151.6 in
1540 mm / 60.6 in
910 mm / 35.8 in
3-Speed Manual with Overdrive
Single-Plate Borg & Beck
~165.73 kph / 103 mph
0 – 60 mph
0 – 1/4 mile
54.6 litres or 14.41 gal.
Auction Sales History
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
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
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
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.