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Car Tales: Timeless Beauty, The Austin-Healey 100-4

‘It is like something from another world altogether. 
‘Which it is really: 67 years old, if it is a day, the 1955 Austin-Healey 100-4 Convertible Sports Car we presently have for sale at Beverly Hills Car Club.
1955 Austin-Healey 100-4 for sale
‘The car is featured with matching numbers and finished in a gorgeous color scheme of white over red gracefully combined with a red interior.

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‘This beautiful and rugged rogue of the road – a quintessential ‘Big’ Healey with its by now iconically beautiful shape – is equipped with a manual transmission with overdrive, Birmingham SU dual carburetors, single exhaust outlet, floor-mounted shifter, body-color dashboard, Smith dash gauges, forward-folding front bucket seats, Tonneau cover, Lucas-branded fog lights, badge bar, a folding windscreen, Austin-Healey bonnet badge, chrome bumpers, three-spoke steering wheel, Austin-Healey branded floor mats, wire wheels with knock-off spinners, Vredestein Sprint S80 tires, jack, and a full-size spare tire fitted in the trunk.
1955 Austin-Healey 100-4 side view
‘If that isn’t enough, amenities include a dash-mounted mirror, driver-side mirror, door pockets, a passenger dash grab handle and armrest. In addition to the equipment, this original California car comes with manufacturer’s literature and service receipt copies totaling over $4,600 for an engine overhaul completed in 2011.
‘This is a charming and exciting British sports car that is mechanically sound.
‘The revered Austin-Healey marque was a British sports car maker established in 1952 through a joint venture between British Motor Corporation (BMC) Austin division and the design firm Donald Healey Motor Company.  
‘Built at BMC’s Longbridge plant in the south-west of Birmingham in the English Midlands, the ‘100’ was named by Healey for the car’s ability to reach the then magical 100 mph. The beautiful sports car was based on the mechanicals of the Austin A90 Atlantic, which in 1948 had been launched to mixed commercial response.
1955 Austin-Healey 100-4 rear view
‘And the 100 was developed initially by Donald Healey to be produced in-house by his small Healey company in Warwick, just over the Warwickshire border from Birmingham. For the 1952 Motor Show, at Earls Court in west London, Donald Healey built a one-off Healey Hundred. The poky, sexy – and ultimately timeless – body styling was by one Gerry Coker. Fascinatingly, Coker was not a professional designer, but a body engineer, specializing in fitting panels to the chassis. After Healey and he had discussed the concept of the car, Gerry Coker sat down with his pencil and paper – and came up with one of the definitive images of 20th century motoring.
‘Meanwhile the sturdy chassis was designed by chassis engineer Barry Bilbie: the frame comprised a pair of steel rails that ran the length of the chassis, the frame thereby passing beneath the live rear axle – to keep the overall vehicle height low that rear axle was underslung – and below the front lower wishbones. Innovatively welding the front bulkhead to the frame for additional strength, it was therefore a comparatively stiff structure upon which to mount the body.
‘At that London motor show the design impressed and excited Leonard Lord, the managing director of Austin, who was looking for a replacement for the relatively unsuccessful A90. Lord also recognized the sports car’s potential as an affordable rival to Triumph’s successful TR series.
1955 Austin-Healey 100-4 interior
‘It was then that the deal was cut between Lord and Donald Healey to build mass-market quantities of the car, the birth of the new Austin-Healey marque. The bodies, fully trimmed with painted body/chassis units, were built by Jensen Motors – another evocative name – which then were given the mechanical components at their plant in Longbridge. And the car was then renamed the Austin-Healey 100.
‘The 100 was the first of three models later called the Big Healeys to distinguish them from the much smaller sporty Austin-Healey Sprite. The Big Healeys are often called by their three-character designations versus their actual models, as the model names don’t adequately reflect similarities/differences.
‘In 1955 the upgraded 1955 Austin-Healey 100 was fitted with a four-speed overdrive gearbox and given minor bodywork changes. This – the 100-4 – is notable for being the first of the big Healeys to feature the now familiar two-tone paintwork. Its 0-60 mph time was 7.7 seconds.
‘From Day One Donald Healey’s vision had been to sell his new project by the bucket-load – hence his happiness about linking with, first, BMC, and then Jensen. The USA – and specifically the dry-weather state of California – was always the target market for the ‘100’.
1955 Austin-Healey 100-4 engine
‘Which became precisely the home of the lovely Austin-Healey 100-4 we have for sale at Beverly Hills Car Club.
‘Everything about this beautiful beast, the Austin-Healey 100-4, had gone to plan.
‘Just wait until you get the feel of it on the road.
-Alex Manos, Owner

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