1 of 25 Built: 1949 Healey Sportsmobile

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Rare is the car that only 25 copies are ever built, but that’s the case with the Healey Sportsmobile. Each one was built on order between 1948 and 1950, a 2-door, 4-seat “drophead” (aka convertible) coupe. This one has an interesting story, was restored about 15 years ago, and is available with a dealer in Cologne, Germany. Available here on carandclassic, this rarity is going for $44,604 USD or the nearest offer. Thanks, Kyle K, for this cool tip from “the other side of the pond.”

The Sportsmobile was considered an expensive car for its era and may be unique due to its aluminum body panels. They came with a 105 hp, 2443-cc Riley OHV inline-4 fitted with dual SU carburetors. As was the norm of the day, these were rear-wheel-drive automobiles with a 4-speed gearbox. Light in weight overall, these little cars could haul the mail, reaching up to 105 mph.

According to the seller, this Sportsmobile is one of only five that are known to have survived and is the nicest example available in Europe. We’re told it made the rounds after first being registered in Germany, making it back to its homeland at least once over the years. It’s participated in several rallies and other sporting events, including the Oldtimer Grand Prix at Nürburgring. The car is not in perfect condition with a few little scratches, attesting to it being used from time to time rather than living atop a pedestal.

Donald Healey Motor Company began building cars in 1945. He was a successful car designer and rally driver and focused on producing high-quality, high-performance cars which were inevitably expensive. The last of the Healey-specific autos were built in 1954 before the company was sold to the Hamblin Group. During its brief run, the Sportsmobile appears to be the lowest production vehicle the company attempted.

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  1. RMac

    WOW now that’s an ugly duckling looks like a Citroen mated with a saab

    Like 4
    • nlpnt

      It’s from a time when everyone was going to full-width pontoon bodies and nobody had quite figured out how to style them attractively.

      Like 3
  2. Howie

    You need parts for a what?

    Like 4
    • John EderMember

      Kragen Auto Parts employee: two or four door? Manual or automatic? What engine? Two or four wheel drive? What color interior?

      Sorry, I have to order that…

      Like 2
      • Rick

        Sounds like when you walk into any run of the mail chain auto parts store these days and ask for some 12 mm drain plug gaskets. When they ask what they’re for and you tell them for a generator they freeze ’cause there’s “nothing in their system” for that. Then you ask if they have 12 mm drain plug gaskets “out on the floor” and maybe they can steer you to what you need.

        Like 0
    • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskeyMember


      Around 1978 I was working on my dad’s 1940 Packard 180 Super 8 limousine with the 356 straight 8, and it used Champion Y-4 10mm spark plugs. I needed a set of new plugs, so I headed over to the local independent auto parts store.

      Walking in, I asked the teenage boy behind the counter for a set of 8 Champion 10mm Y-4 spark plugs. He asks me what they fit. I told him just pull me a set of 8 Champion Y-4 plugs. He insisted that he had to look it up by vehicle application so he gets me the correct parts.

      So I said “They’re for a Packard 356.” to which he replies [with a perfectly straight face]; “We don’t sell foreign car parts here”. . .

      I told him to call his dad to come up front. On his arrival, I said “Carl, I need a set of Champion Y-4s. He said no problem and told his kid to get them for me.

      Like 4
  3. HoA Howard A ( since 2014)Member

    I always wondered what car those kiddie rides at Funtown were modeled after,,here you go. Kidding aside, this was a very cool car for 1949. The motor is a DOUBLE OHC, and anything over 100 mph in the late 40s, was noteworthy. It went 105 mph ( which is odd it’s the hp rating), and was coined a fancy Humber or Singer. I never heard of it, but additional research shows, this car has been around a while. England was a mess after the war, and just the wrong timing. I bet it’s a blast to drive. The “kiddie” version was too boring for me.

    Like 1
    • Walt

      I don’t think that’s a DOHC engine, I think we’re looking at rocker arm covers.

      Like 2
    • BeeJay Australia

      Hi It is not DOHC. Riley has 2 cams high in the Block.

      Like 2
    • Peter Starkey

      Sorry you’re wrong on the double over head cam , its actually a hemispherical head and the two valve chests have very short valve push rods . The inlet manifold is fed with hot exhaust gasses from the exhaust manifold which preheats the gasoline going into the combustion chambers. This engine was used widely and was raced in much modified form in the ERA racing cars.

      Like 2
    • HoA Howard A ( since 2014)Member

      Thanks, looked DOHC.

      Like 0
  4. bobhess bobhessMember

    The Healey historians labeled this car “the only ugly car Healey ever built”. It was said that only 25 were built because of problems getting parts in post war UK. Just as well as they were working on the 100 series cars which turned out very popular with the the buying public.

    Like 3
    • scottymac

      Those writers must have been in the club that thinks the “bug eye” Sprite is CUTE?

      Like 1
      • bobhess bobhessMember

        Yup… them and a million others.

        Like 1
  5. Solosolo UK Solosolo UKMember

    Donald Healey built several different models to this car. This one was known as a Healey Elliot.

    Like 4
    • bobhess bobhessMember

      Nice looking car in coupe form, especially this example.

      Like 1
  6. Solosolo UK Solosolo UKMember

    And another. Most of them not being very pretty.

    Like 1
  7. Solosolo UK Solosolo UKMember

    These were a lot prettier!

    Like 2
  8. Aridgerunner

    The engine is not a double overhead cam engine. It has two camshafts down in the block that operate a separate set of valves. One cam does the intake while the other does the exhaust. So it’s a twin cam OHV.

    Like 3
  9. HoA Howard A ( since 2014)Member

    You know what’s great about this site, make a mistake, and all the “experts” come out of the mist, which is great. Most are cordial, and since most of us have never seen this car or motor, I’m not the only one who would think it’s a DOHC. Many times, additional info isn’t available, and we must rely on folks that know. Thanks again.

    Like 1
  10. Martyn H

    I have a Healey Sportsmobile which was once owned by racing legend Lt. Col. Goldie Gardner. Apparently, he was quite fond of the car.

    According to my father, when he purchased the car in the early 1970s, he believed it to be a 1947. However, from my research it is more likely to be a 1948

    Like 0

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