The Austin-Healey 100 model was introduced during the Motor Show in 1952 and came with a beautiful body designed by Donald Healey’s Motor Company and with an engine by Austin that had been previously used in Austin’s light trucks and the company’s A90 Atlantic model.
The early models had a 4-cylinder engine so they are now referred to as Austin Healey 100-4s. The first significant changes to this model took place in 1956, the year that the company replaced the 4-cylinder engine with a 6-cylinder engine. The Austin-Healey 100-6 model was slower and heavier than the 4-cylinder model, the car’s interior was completely redesigned, and its wheelbase was increased slightly which allowed for two additional but very small seats so this model was called the 2+2 version.
In the year 1959, the company upgraded the 6-cylinder engine and that meant that Austin-Healey’s famous classic-3000 actually was born. On both sides of the Atlantic, Austin-Healey’s 100 model became a great success and the classic car is still regarded as among the most desirable British classic cars.
Austin-Healey’s 100-4 model was actually the first of three more or less similar models that later became known as “Big Healeys” to distinguish these models from the far smaller Austin-Healey Sprite models. The Austin-Healey 100-4 models were produced in the years 1953 through 1956 and can be divided into two main models, the Austin-Healey 100-4 BN1 model and the Austin-Healey 100-4 BN2 model which replaced the BN1 in mid-August of 1955.
The Austin-Healey 100-4 BN2 that came out in 1955, came with a real 4-speed manual transmission as well as an overdrive on the top gears whereas the BN1 models had a blocked-out 1st gear. The BN2’s front wheel arches were also a bit larger while optional 2-tone paint now also was available. The most popular color combinations were Reno Red/Black, White/Black, Healey Blue/White, Florida Green/White, and Black/Reno Red. Apart from these differences, there were only a few more that differentiated the BN1 model from the BN2 model.
If you’re looking to get hold of an early Austin-Healey 100-4 model, you may want to do a full inspection and verify engine and chassis numbers to make sure you’re getting an original car and to see if its a BN1 or BN2 model. See also this post about the Sprite Model.
A few Buyer’s Tips
When you want to purchase a pristine vintage Austin-Healey 100 model for a private collection or for an interesting restoration project, there are definitely some factors you need to consider and take into account. Of course, the car’s condition is playing a key role to determine classic or vintage car’s value, but to make sure you’ve got indeed the intended and correct model for what you want is also crucial.
Maybe the most sought-after Austin Healey model is the 100-S. This car was built primarily to race and the company made just 50 aluminum-body production models of the 100-S plus an extra five specially hand-built test cars that came from Donald Healey’s Motor Company in the Warwick plant. The 100-S was actually the world’s first regular production car that had disc brakes both at the front as well as at the rear which makes this model the highest-desired of all Austin-Healey cars.