The 10th production and alloy bodied 1953 Austin-Healey 100 BN1 Roadster Chassis no. 138040 Engine no. 1B 139008
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three-speed gearbox equipped with overdrive on the top two ratios was an unusual feature of the original BN1, which was superseded by the short-lived, conventional four-speed BN2 for 1956.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 a team of drivers including Donald Healey and George Eyston set a host of international and AMA speed records at Utah's Bonneville Salt Flats driving two Healey 100s. Highlights including a maximum speed of 143.626mph and 1,000 kilometres at an average of 127.00mph achieved by the tuned car and 24 hours at an average of 104.3mph set by the AMA-selected 'off-the-showroom-floor' example. 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.
Left-hand drive chassis number '138040' was completed circa 20th June 1953 on the same day as the first production model ('138031'). It is only the 10th production car and the 29th if the 19 pre-production prototypes are included in the total. The body number is 'JM29', 'JM' standing for Jensen Motors, Healey's sub-contractors. These early 'production' cars share many of the prototypes' characteristics and differ from later examples in various ways; in this case the body panels, wings, doors, bonnet and boot are made of 'Birmabright' aluminium while the chromed parts differ from those of later cars.
Finished in Healey Green with matching interior, like the three works 'Special Test Cars' entered in the Mille Miglia and Le Mans in 1953, '138040' was shipped new to the USA and was in un-restored condition when it was bought from a dealer in California in 1988. Currently registered in Denmark, the Healey was restored over the period 2008-2009 and is described by the private vendor as in generally very good condition. In 2008 the car gained a 3rd place award at the European Healey meeting in Sweden while in 2009 it took 1st prize at the Schloss Dyck Classic Days event in Denmark.
The original designer, Gary Coker, now living in USA, was guest of honour at the 2008 European Healey meeting. On seeing this car he said: 'how nice to see that you have not fitted bumpers - I designed it without bumpers. Bumpers are something the engineers fitted afterwards.'
Subsequently the car was fitted with bumpers for the Mille Miglia, as the per actual 1953 Austin-Healey 100 Mille Miglia entry (number '552') together with a Lucas fog lamp. Other noteworthy features include a period louvered bonnet and leather strap (as per Le Mans regulations), a Derrington wood-rimmed steering wheel, Lucas interior mirror and 'Le Mans headlights', which gave superior illumination during the nighttime phase of the race.
Eligible for the Le Mans Classic and many other prestigious historic motoring events including the Mille Miglia, which it finished in 2010, this early BN1 is offered with sundry restoration invoices, FIVA Passport and Danish registration papers. A high-power starter motor and electronic ignition is the only notified deviation from factory specification.