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Launched at the London Motor Show in October 1952, the Austin Healey 100 was a sensation. Under the beautiful body designed by Gerry Coker was a simple underslung box-section chassis. Front suspension was by wishbones and coil springs, and at the rear was a rigid axle on semi-elliptics with a Panhard rod. From Austin came the 94bhp, 2660cc, four-cylinder engine, and gearbox with overdrive on third and fourth Leonard Lord, boss of the recently formed British Motor Corporation was so impressed with the new car, he struck the deal almost immediately, which created the Austin Healey and early the following year the 100/4 was on sale to the public. This guide details the history of the Austin healey models from the 100/4 to the 3000 Mk3, spanning 1953 and 1968.
The first of the line included a deep grille style; 26600cc four-cyclinder engine; three speed gearbox with overdrive and fold-flat windscreen. BN2 model with four-speed gearbox and more robust rear axle arrived in August 1955, running until introduction of the 100-six.
The first major redesign, the 100-Six arrived in 1956 with the new grille and new six-cylinder C-series power unit. At the same time the wheelbase was slightly lengthened, to give more cabin space and two occasional rear seats added. From late 1957 the new six-port cylinder head raised power to 117bhp (BN6) and two-seater was reintroduced as an option.
The Austin Healey 100 S was a very special model built in 1955 solely with racing in mind, the S designation standing for Sebring. The lightweight model featured aluminium bodywork with extra air-intakes on the bonnet, an elliptical grille and Dunlop disc brakes all-round. It also had a light-alloy cylinder head and re-worked gearbox. Only 55 cars were produced, the majority in special blue/white livery.
The BN4 and BN6, which completed the Austin Healey 100-Six era at the end or March 1959, were immediately succeeded by the 3000. The familiar six-cylinder pushrod engine now bored out to 2912cc, produced 124bhp, the compression ratio having increased from 8:5:1 to 9:1. Girling disc brakes were fitted at the front with drums at the rear. Available as a two-seater (BN7) or 2+2 (BT7).
The 3000 Mk 2 appeared in 1961 with a new vertical-slatted radiator grille and tripple-SU 132bhp engine. From 1962 the car received wind-up windows in place of the side-screens, and wraparound screen. Also, the two-seater version of the 3000 was discontinued so that the 2+2 BJ7 version, sometimes referred to as the 3000 MkIIa, solely remained.
The 3000 MkIII BJ8 arrived in November 1963 and featured a 148bhp version of the familiar 2912cc inline-six. There was a revised interior with full-width wooden dash, tunnel console and better trim. Phase II cars from May 1964 used radius arm, instead of Panhard rod rear suspension. The 3000 Mk 3 was priced new at £1,106 (1964). For many, this was the definitive Big Healey.