Donald Healey's stylish Austin-Healey 100 caused a sensation when it debuted at the 1952 London Motor Show. Intended as a low-cost, high-performance, limited production sports car and aimed at the US market, which took almost 100% of production initially, the Austin-Healey 100 sourced its major components from the Austin Atlantic saloon. In fact, the car first appeared at Earls Court badged as a 'Healey Hundred' and was re-badged 'Austin-Healey' while still on its stand after Austin boss Leonard Lord bought the rights to the design. It was just as well that he did, for Healey would take over 3,000 orders during the Show yet his company had never made more than 200 cars in a single year!
Lord had been happy to agree to supply Austin Atlantic components as the model had not been selling well in its intended market - the USA - and was scheduled for deletion. Low-revving and torquey, the Atlantic's 2,660cc four-cylinder engine produced an unremarkable 90bhp but when installed in the lighter and more streamlined Healey the result was a genuine 100mph-plus car capable of reaching 60mph in under 11 seconds. A three-speed gearbox equipped with overdrive on the top two ratios was an unusual feature of the original BN1, which was superseded by the short-lived, conventional four-speed BN2 for 1956.
In 1953 the works team entered two Austin-Healey 100s in the Mille Miglia, both of which retired from this notoriously punishing race. However, fortunes were restored at Le Mans in June when the car of Johnnie Lockett and Maurice Gatsonides finished 12th overall and 2nd in class, averaging 89.66mph for 2,153 miles. It would be the first of many international competition successes for the 'Big Healey'. A muscular sports car to delight the purist, the 100 was not bettered by its six-cylinder successors in terms of outright performance until the introduction of the Austin-Healey 3000 in 1959.
Manufactured in July 1954 and delivered new to Central Garage Ltd, Bradford, this early Austin-Healey 100 retains its original engine, gearbox and rear axle, while the original wheels, rear bumper, tool box, tonneau cover and soft top are also included in the sale. 'PDT 549' has been repainted in its original Old English White livery and has covered only 470 miles since its last service, which was carried out at Joe Macari. Mille Miglia eligible, the car is offered with BMIHT certificate, FIVA Identity Card and Swansea V5 registration document.