Big Healey Barn Find : 1959 Austin-Healey 100-6

The Big Healeys are among the most beautiful cars of the 20th century, a fact reflected in the prices commanded by pristine examples. The potential for return on investment can influence the decision to restore a car whose condition might otherwise relegate it to donor status. It’s up to the buyer to decide on which side of the line this 1959 Austin-Healey 100-6 falls. Offered here on eBay with neither reserve nor title, this car has inhabited the same barn in Chelsea, Michigan, for almost three decades. At the time of writing, the bid rests at $3,000 with just under four days remaining in the auction.

Introduced in 1956, the BN4 series Austin-Healey enjoyed a somewhat cool reception. Despite the move from a four-cylinder to an inline-six, the overall displacement went down, and several sources state that the new engine was noticeably less powerful. While the fellows at the factory might have hoped that the 2+2 configuration would make the BN4 more appealing to the driver with small children, the additional seating did not make the side-curtained Austin-Healey into a comfortable family car and certainly did not impress those customers looking for a more sporting offering. Though the coming of the BN6 series roadster in 1958 would address the image problem of the 2+2, the damage had been done: the 100-6 would continue to be regarded as less desirable than its predecessor.

In the meantime, the horsepower issue also received attention. This BN4 was built after 1957, when the six-port engine was adopted. A new cylinder head, re-worked manifold, and larger carburetors increased output to 117 bhp, with 149 lb.ft. of torque, rocketing the car to sixty in a little under 11 seconds. That power was sent to the rear wheels via a four-speed manual. As revealed by the car/engine number, this car came with the optional overdrive, though there’s no telling the state of the transmission or its components at the moment.

The gash in the front left of the car runs partly along the seam between the fender and the rest of the body: a quick panel replacement will not do the job here. Even worse, the owner states that the frame may need replacement and that it is “very rusty on the bottom.” The lower edge of the one door that has been removed bears this out. Seats are gone, as are the components of the top. On the other hand, replacement parts, body panels, and even chassis components can be found, meaning the question of whether to restore this car becomes one of time, money, and aggravation. So maybe it’s not all that different from any other restoration, after all.


  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    Someone imfamous said “you can restore anything”. I think we have an example of “anything” here.

    Like 5
    • JudoJohn

      Very true. It’s just a matter of time and money and manpower. A shop like F40 (Wayne Carini) could do it. Easily 100K, maybe 200K.

      Like 2
    • Morris Robert R

      My brother restored one far worse than this out of MI and had won numerous awards. Takes a lot of love and patience but it is rewarding.

  2. Rodney - GSM

    As the coroner famously said, “I’ve seen worse”.

    Like 5
  3. trdave

    This could easily be a $50K+ car with only a couple years and $70K

    Like 13
  4. RL Stienmetz

    The frame appears to be seriously sagging.
    That passenger door looks like it’d never close.

  5. Hemidavey

    70K will not be enough.

    Like 2
  6. Dave Peterson

    In all my years of whoring the car business, I have never owned or even driven one of these big A-H models. They seemed to gain traction – monetarily – at a very early date. So, I have no subjective experience. I do know how to lose money, unfortunately, and this looks like a dubious project. Insert the Count from SCTV yelling “scary, kids”.

    • Solosolo Solosolo Member

      Yep, those front fenders and the surrounding shroud are aluminium and are very expensive, ask me how I know!

      Like 1
      • Frank

        Ouch! I’ve seen many in the restoration shop that I worked part-time at. My friend the owner of the shop said never buy vehicles that need this much work UNLESS its rare or is a family heirloom. Buy one that the previous owner put his kids college tuition money into expecting to make a fast buck.

  7. Brian M Member

    The slight misalignment of the passenger door kind of begs the question: “Is there still a frame under there?” Expensive parts car although the Old Cars price guide lists a number “6” (parts) car at $4K. Someone would really have to have a lot of money and unrequited love to make this usable again.

    Like 1
  8. Clay brant

    Now this one will get ya’ going. Slice it in half for a wall mount and sell all the parts off to pay for the free display. For the blind or extremly drunk make sure you wall hang the passenger’s side. Gift wrap the driver’s side and gift wrap it for Christmas and give it to one of those in your universe you really “love”.

    Like 1
  9. matt


    You made me laugh !!!

    Like 1
  10. DNieuwenhuis

    Seems like a Lombardi next to it

  11. John Harmer

    It would take quite a body man to fix this car. It would take a good fender and shroud section to repair correctly. Big Healy are fun to drive. And i was lucky to learn to drive my Dads at 14.

    Like 1

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