Absolutely Breathtaking:

1955 Austin-Healey 100/4
BN1 V8!

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Not many post-war sports cars can boast of a better provenance than the Austin-Healey 100, first introduced at the 1952 London Motor Show. Brainchild of Sir Donald Healey, the sexy, envelope-bodied Roadster featured matinee-idol looks . . . and a rugged 4-cylinder engine, lifted straight from Austin's delivery van, producing a whopping 90 hp!

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Its anemic power plant did not make the stock Healey a contender on the American market, where big V-8 engines producing raw horsepower and gobs of torque reigned supreme.

Carroll Shelby initially aspired to transform the Austin-Healey with V8 power but could not agree on terms with Sir Donald Healey. Instead, he wound up implanting a 260 cu. in. FORD V-8 heart into the staid AC Ace to create his immortal Shelby Cobra. Scores of privateers went the same route with their Healeys, creating some of the most exciting Anglo-American Specials in history. As it turns out, changing the weight-to-horsepower ratio from 28:1 to something like 7:1 makes all the difference in the world!

The 1955 Austin-Healey BN1 featured here is such a rare bird. VIN *1B227250M* was reportedly converted to V8 power in the late 1960s or early 1970s.

We discovered this proverbial survivor in a California garage back in 2018 and subsequently sold it to a fellow enthusiast in Minnesota who went through it with a fine-tooth comb, turning this "Cobra Killer" into a veritable, crowd-pleasing show car. Recently, we welcomed the car back to our stable in a trade involving an early Porsche 911.

From January 2019 to September 2021, $10,542.14 was spent on a wide range of cosmetic and mechanical improvements, all documented with receipts for parts and labor, summarized in this detailed excel list.

Let's now examine this Big Healey in detail, starting with its American heart, the indomitable Ford 289 V8.

Basically a mildly hopped-up, mid-Sixties 289, the engine features a Web Cam performance camshaft and is topped by an Edelbrock hi-rise intake manifold with a 650cfm Holley carburetor [checken]. A Mallory Unilite electronic ignition and Promaster coil round out the picture. The rare OG Shelby finned aluminum valve covers were a lucky swap meet find! With an estimated 300hp on tap, this rev-happy small block surely gets the job done.

Work performed during the most recent ownership included the installation of a high-performance aluminum radiator (yes, she runs cool at all times now), a carburetor rebuild and tune-up, and replacement of header gaskets, motor mounts, plugs, wiring harness and all coolant hoses, including transmission cooler hoses and lines. Leaky header flanges were carefully straightened and welded as needed. With its true custom side exhaust, the car sounds amazing!

Cosmetically, this 67-year-old Big Healey presents stunningly smooth. Its steel and aluminum coachwork remains largely stock, with just a few unobtrusive, purposeful mods like functional side vents to aid engine bay heat extraction and a slightly altered rear fender lip as meatier rubber was prescribed by Doc Shelby.

Speaking of rubber, the Healey is fully sorted in this department. A brand new pair of 185/80-R15 tires was installed up front just a few hundred miles ago and the powder-painted wire wheels with chrome knock offs arrived at the same time from MOSS MOTORS. Rear tires are near-new TEMPEST radials of the size 215/75-R15.

Since the car was always garaged, our Healey's shiny black paint remained in a beautifully preserved state, save for some age spots marring the front and rear "bonnets." Those were professionally refinished to the tune of $2,700.00 and match perfectly.

Four rows of functional louvers, leather bonnet straps, gleaming chrome fittings and OEM emblems perfectly accentuate the glossy black paint. Being from Calfornia, the car's coachwork has remained free of corrosion or damage; there's no waviness or body filler in evidence, anywhere. Doors, deck lid and engine cover reveal excellent, even gaps all around.

It's the details that count: from the custom made, chromed radiator grille fashioned from original pre-war Packard grille mesh, to the functional, authentic British fog and driving lights and protective headlight grilles, the alloy door sill panels, the TALBOT mirrors and the custom British "UNCOUTH" license plate, no stone was left unturned to create a bona fide crowd pleaser.

Being a true-blue British roadster, weather equipment is limited to a snug-fitting tonneau cover.

Tonneau seals the interior to protect it in the event of a surprise rain shower or from prying eyes when parked unattended.

Truly unique is the 100/4's fold-back windshield, which can quickly be lowered to an almost horizontal position, providing more exciting wind-in-the-face fun than found on any other sports car in existence!

Healey's sparse interior is dominated by this very attractive dashboard. A gennie alloy panel was sourced and expertly covered in tan leather to match seats and interior paneling, then fitted with a set of working Stewart-Warner instruments that were inset behind custom clear polycarbonate panels.

Note location of big FARIA tachometer atop steering column and speedometer on trans tunnel. Neat!
Simple, but well thought out details like these definitely set this car apart from the plethora of less-well-designed V-8 Specials.

It's all in he details!

From the leather-wrapped, OEM "Banjo" type steering wheel to the authentic -- and very expensive -- vintage HALDA SpeedPilot , this Healey oozes class and the abiding desire to create The Best. Kudos and a tip of the hat to William and his son Andrew, the prior owners, who spent hundreds of man hours during two long winters in their hobby garage to transform this vintage sports car into a veritable jewel.

What would a 1950s British Roadster be without a pair of leather-clad bucket seats?

Tan leather is very supple, free of cracks or rips. Functional three-inch lap belts look tough.

Roadster features very nice, black cut pile carpeting throughout.

Polished alloy cockpit surround is the icing on the cake. "Stunning," as overused as the word may be, here it certainly applies!

The 100/4 is one of the few 1950s sports cars to actually feature a useable luggage compartment. Let's have a look.

Well, seems like the spare wheel takes up most of the space here, and the battery is also located in the trunk. Hmmm, duffle bags, anyone? Thankfully, there's additional stowage room behind the seats.

Very important on any 1950s car: the condition of its undercarriage.

This one's not only very clean but also impresses by the complete absence of any corrosion, the #1 enemy of old British iron.
Note beefy longitudinal frame connectors, providing additional strength needed to handle engine's extra torque.

Every last detail has been touched, cleaned and massaged by knowledgeable and loving hands to ensure perfect functionality. Recent maintenance work included replacement of u-joints and repair of parking brake.

Memorial Day, when we took these photos, proved to be a perfect opportunity to put the Healey through its paces. After the morning fog had lifted, we enjoyed a leisurely 25-mile test drive all around San Buenaventura and then along the shore, to Channel Islands harbor and beyond.

This black beauty is an attention getter, bar none! A huge crowd pleaser at any gathering, be it a "cars and coffee" or a serious show event.

Equipped with a tight suspension and responsive steering, as well as updated front disc brakes and a C4 transmission, this brawny BN1 provides vintage motoring, British bulldog-style, at its best.

With Cobra prices in the Million Dollar range (heck, even plastic replicas sell for more than $100k), this "Shelby-ized" Austin-Healey represents a fantastic value among the highly collectible sports cars of the Fifties. Pedigreed (but less powerful) British classics like the Jaguar XK, Aston Martin DB2, or Allard routinely fetch more than $150.000.00 at auction. This powerful V-8 Healey, arguably the nicest one in captivity, could indeed be the bargain of the year.

"UNCOUTH" just for the uninitiated, not a fiberglass replica but the real deal, fully sorted and ready to be enjoyed without worries, this unique "100/8" Healey runs every bit as good as it looks. A crowd-pleaser wherever you take it, this utterly fascinating car would be impossible to duplicate.

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