After the Second World War, Austin suspended the manufacture of sports models for lack of both capital and a truly competitive car. However, the door remained open in expectation of a propitious occasion. The merger with the Morris, which took place in 1952 and gave rise to the B.M.C., did not bring any contribution, at least in this field.Show More
Triumph, Austin A 90 and David Healey.
Meanwhile, the Triumph continued to reap success without being hindered by the presence of valid opponents. Precisely in 1952, David Healey, pilot and builder, presented the Healey 100, a two-seater spider with the Austin A 90 4-cylinder engine, 2,660 ce, three-gear transmission and independent front suspensions, at the Olympia Motor Show in London. For the Austin was the long-awaited occasion and did not let it escape. George Harriman, then managing director of the company, rushed to conclude an agreement with Healey according to which the manufacture was entrusted to the factory Austin Longbridge and the car went to carry the new brand Austin-Healey.
In 1955 appeared the modified version of the Healey 100, then called Austin-Healey, the 100 S, which, even with the same engine, had some modifications, such as the 4-speed gearbox (optionally with overdrive in the third and fourth), disc brakes on four wheels and two S.U. carburettors, a feature that was also maintained for later models. The 100 S quickly conquered the North American market, especially attracted by European sports cars during that time. Successes in competitions were not lacking either. In Bonneville, in 1953, a suitably modified car drove the kilometer with a thrown start, at 229.5 km/h and, at 12 noon, maintained an average of 197.72 km/h, which, in 1954, increased to 213 km/h; followed, in 1955, victories within its class in Sebring and in the 1,000 Miles, as well as a large series of optimal placements.
The 100 SIX, 102 horsepower arranged in 6 cylinders in line.
In 1957 the 100 Six model appeared with a 102 HP 6-cylinder engine, then increased to 117 thanks to a new cylinder head with six intake manifolds and special pistons. The following year, three 100 Six were awarded the special team classification at Sebring.
At this point, the fame of the Austin-Healey was assured, but there was a demand for a more economical car. Indeed, during those years motor sport began to lose the definition of elite sport and the new generations of drivers, rich in enthusiasm but not in means, asked for quality cars but at affordable prices. The Austin-Healey responded to their requests; thus was born the Sprite, the car for all. It was a completely new spider, with an original line and a 4-cylinder engine of 948 ce. capable of reaching and surpassing 140 km/h, being its price of about 2,000 dollars. In four years, from 1958 to 1961, were manufactured almost 50,000 Sprite, enough to give an idea of the success achieved. In the sporting field, the success was also resounding: numerous victories in rallies (Liège-Rome-Liège 1960, Acropolis Rally 1961-1962, Alps Cup 1961) and in competitions on international circuits (Sebring in 1959 and 1960, Le Mans in 1960, Brands Hatch GT in 1961, Sebring, 1,000 km of Nürburgring and 24 Hours of Le Mans 1965, etc.).
To understand the importance of these victories in long-distance races, it must be borne in mind that Austin-Healey did not have its own team and most of the drivers were private. Therefore, there was a lack of organization that often manages to “build” the victories and the pilots.
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