Big Project: 1959 Austin-Healey 100/6

1959 Austin Healey 100-6

The Big Healeys have been on a steady upward climb value wise. They really are beautiful and amazing cars, so I can understand why people want them so bad. Sadly, these things have a tendency to rust away and many have been lost to the tin worm. With demand up, it’s no surprise that ones that were previously consider parts cars are now being purchased as projects. This ’59 100/6 BN4 is quite rusty, although I’ve seen worse restored, and can be found here on eBay in Wylie, Texas with a BIN of $9,800 and the option to make an offer.

1959 Austin Healey 100-6 Interior

The asking might seem high considering all the rust, but I found a project in even worse condition with an asking of $9,750 here on Hemmings. While I’m sure both sellers will take less for these project, it’s still shocking to see how much these cars are worth!

1959 Austin Healey 100-6 Engine

When you look at what project 356s, 911s and Jaguars are going for, it actually makes these Healeys seem like a deal! Donald Healey always envisioned his cars as being performance equivalents to the Jaguars, but without the price tags. The 100 had a top speed just over 100 mph and could almost keep up with the Jags, but for considerably less money. It really was a lot of speed for the money and they look pretty good too boot!

1959 Austin Healey 100-6 BN4

Rust is a huge issue for this Healey and it won’t be a simple project to restore. Thankfully the original engine and drivetrain is still in the car, but no word is given on it’s condition. The carbs are off the engine, so I would assume the worst and hope for the best. This won’t be a clean it up and drive it kind of project anyways, so whether it’s a huge issue, I can’t say. I’d be more concerned about all the structural rust than if the motor is free, although it’s something I’d check into anyways. So do you think Healey prices will keep going up enough to justify restoring this one?

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Comments

  1. Howard A Member

    Here’s a money maker for Collins Bros Jeep. ( at least these dealers always have good pics) Probably got $500 bucks in this car, if that. IDK, my brother had a ’58 100-6, with a ’64 3000 engine, and we darn near had the speedo buried in O/D. Needle was bouncing around, but we took an average of the bouncing, and it must have been 110-115. This big Healey is not the best sports car, and many will attest to that ( if you’ve actually spent any time in one). Fast, heck yeah, comfortable, no, hot/cold, yes, under steer, yes, ( front heavy) odd driving position, and low to the ground ( tore off the exhaust many times). It’s no Jag, that’s for sure. Don’t get me wrong, they are cool cars, but I still maintain my position on these rust buckets. These cost a fortune to restore, and this one is pretty shot ( and what’s an O/D going to cost you?) They certainly aren’t rare, Hemmings has 120 alone, with prices all over the place, naturally, but seems the median is about $50g’s. Save your knuckles ( and possibly your marriage) and leave this one alone. Seems these have cooled off a bit, probably because the market is flooded with them, and people found out, if you’re going to spend 50g’s ( or more) just go with the Jag.

    • Eric Dashman

      You’re spot on, Howard. I had mine up to 100 on the way back from DC one time, going with the traffic….really. But I backed off soon as it was doing a bit of shaking. Everything you said about them is true, but you left out one thing…their exhaust note is unlike any car you’ve ever heard, an incredibly powerful sound when you wind them up…and somehow different from other awesome 6 cylinder engines. It’s guttural and tough and not at all like a Magna-flowed or glass-packed SBC. Super fun to drive in the fall and spring. In my car’s case, Rust ‘R Us, but the engine is strong after my rebuild.

      • Howard A Member

        Hi Eric, for sure. Something about the design of that motor, it’s no “stovebolt” 6. Lots of power in a relatively light package. At the 115 mph I mentioned, was with the top down, in OD, and that thing was a shakin’. That’s why it was so hard to get an accurate speed. The needle was bouncing between where 125 would be and 110. So we figured 115. It was white knuckles, not like a friends ex-state patrol Plymouth, that did 120 no problem. The ground clearance is about 3 inches from muffler to road. Several times, going into parking lots or driveways with steep approach’s, would tear it off. You thought that motor sounded nice with a muffler, it barked with open pipes. Sadly, someone pulled out in front of my brother, at speed, again, pretty low and hard to see, he mashed the brakes, the LF grabbed before the right,and spun the car around, sliding over a traffic island, bending both right side wire wheels under, wasted the RF suspension, bent the rear axle, and yup, tore off the exhaust, again. Ins. dude said it was totaled, and he got $250 bucks for it.( 1973) I’m glad I got to drive it. It was a cool car.

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      Let’s be realistic Howard. There are no $500 Austin-Healeys out there anymore. If you find any though, please send them my way!

      • Howard A Member

        Hi Jesse, oh, I know.I only give those numbers to prove what it was like in the ’70’s. These cars were cheap, nobody wanted them. Before the AH, which he paid like $1,000 for (in ’73) he had a ’63 Alfa Spyder, that he paid $500 bucks for, and the guy “threw in” a very tired TR-4, that we got $250 for. I know most must think, “get with the times, old man”, and I realize, it’s not 1973 anymore, but just to put things into perspective to younger readers, that may think this is what these cars are worth, and I suppose they are. It’s just we had a lot of fun for peanuts with these cars, and some may never get to experience what it’s like to drive these, because the price is way out of reach. And that’s a shame.

      • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

        But you made it sound like the seller only paid $500 for this particular car, so I don’t understand how that proves what things were like in the seventies.

      • Howard A Member

        I’m sure this dealer got this on a trade, and doesn’t have peanuts in it, and that’s ok, that’s how dealers make money. I’m just saying, we did it for a lot less and that’s the hard part.

      • Eric Dashman

        You never know what you will find. In 1978 I bought my 65 3000 MIII (BJ8) for $2500 when I was still inexperienced (and stupid) and found I had to rebuild the engine and that it had some (hehehe) rust hiding under the pretty exterior and beautiful interior. Later that year I bought a rust-free 1959 MGA for $500. In 1982 I bought my 71 E-type (still in wrecked condition) for $1000 with an extra birdcage and a bonnet that had 50 pounds of bondo in it. When looking for parts for the E-type in the early 80s, a young guy had a private shop in which he had an E-type he was restoring beautifully, a 356B coupe, and a real Mini Cooper. He took me out to has farm to get some parts and he had a complete and mostly rust-free TR3A sitting there (among numerous other cool stuff) that he said I could have for $500. No, I didn’t have $500.
        Looking back on life is a really cruel exercise in masochism for us car people.

  2. Leo

    Actually this is cheap for a project big healey. As mentioned prices have been slowly creeping up. There has always been big healeys for offer on the market and really donr see the market as “flooded”. Restoring any big healey isnt cheap so be well aware of that aspect.

  3. Dolphin Member

    Years ago Big Healeys shot up in value in the collector car world. Then when that brought lots of them out of their hiding places, prices crashed. I would be very careful here.

    They made 11,294 BN4s, which have been selling recently at auction at a median price of $33.5K for what are usually the best ones. The highest price recently paid for one is $50,050.

    That average selling price is down 11% recently according the the SCM Guide database, so this car is no bargain. In fact this car is probably one of the worst collector car purchases anybody could make right now.

    Look at this car all over and ask yourself if you can get there from here. I think the answer is: Not A Chance.

  4. boxdin

    In 1970 I bought a 1960 Healey 3000 BN7 2 seater. It was just a 10 yr old car then that needed 60 bux a week in parts to keep it running. I had to park it up the hill so I would start in the morning. Still it was an amazing experience, I could beat the then new 240z w a rolling start in 2nd gear using OD to leap ahead.. Wow the memories.

  5. ?

    Josh, what makes these cars ‘amazing’? I don’t know much about them.

  6. Dolphin Member

    Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to give the impression that I don’t like Big Healeys. It’s just that a car like this one on Ebay can be a really bad purchase as a project.

    My Big Healey story is definitely a good one, but it took place from 1963-1965 when I owned a 19,000 mile TriCarb car, when highways were well maintained and had no potholes. It would run up to an indicated 125 MPH pretty quickly, which was probably an actual 120 or so.

    It was OK at that speed, and didn’t shake (you need well balanced wheels and zero slop in the suspension or steering), but nowhere as stable as my current M3 at that speed. As performance cars, the 2 are like night and day. But one of them is decades older than the other, so not a fair comparison.

  7. SarahW

    I own 2 Austin-Healeys, my 65 3000 that became my “restoration from hell”, and my 67 3000 driver that was sold new in Florida, that I bought since I never thought that my 65 would ever get finished. It only took a court case that I eventually won, and a lot of stress and sleepless nights to get her finished! My 65 was sold new in Vancouver with plenty of rust hidden away behind undercoating, and ever since my first prerequisite in a collector car purchase has been that a car is a southern US state car with little to no rust.

    I know how expensive and extensive rust worm can be and why Healeys are so expensive to restore. That is probably why ones in excellent condition obtain the high prices they do. Let’s face it, an old Honda Accord beat the pants off an E-Type and a DB5 Aston Martin on Top Gear, but that isn’t why many of us like to drive old collector cars. I love the lines of Healeys and the purr of their engines is the best in my opinion, along with the Triumph 6s and the XK Jaguar 6s.

  8. Bruce Best

    I have owned a 1959, a 1962 and a1966 3000 MK III and most of the comments are accurate. As for the seating position 3/8′ to1/2″ Nylon block shaped to fit under the front of the seat and the seat frame will do wonders to the seating angle and as for the exhaust all I can say is pay attention and quick couplers.

    The real problem with these is not the rust. I have help restore more than a few of them and this is one of the very few cars with almost no adjustment in the body. It goes together one way and one way only. If it get wrecked badly getting it right again is possible but a major pain and is very very expensive. On the good side almost everything is available.

    I have had 6 of them that I also picked up over the years with bad electrical wiring. I got then very cheaply and replaced the wiring harness and as necessary repaired the starters, generators, voltage regulators and or fuel pumps, replaced all the belts, cleaned them up and generally tripled my money within a couple of weeks.

    Every thing is simpler than a Jag XKE except the body that is worse, much worse. That being said on a fall day as the leaves are falling a morning run will keep you smiling as long or longer than anything else.

  9. Jersey Joe

    I have a super nice one I will be advertising for a friend late next week. A 1963, black with red interior (as pictured) project with the drivetrain out, Rebuilt engine, OD unit, lots of new parts. Might be original panels. I need to confirm that. Only looking for $30K, but most people are stuck in the 1970’s thinking it’s better buying junk for a song hoping they can put it back together for 15 grand.

  10. pat k

    nothing to me sounds as good as a big healey accelerating away……Its an iconic and unique sound that always turns my head…gosh I miss mine

  11. Bruce Best

    Also please note that only the outside of the fenders are steel both front and rear the center section is aluminum and is very soft and easy to dent. It too can dissolve as well but generally they do not. This car must have sit outside for an extended time for those engines leak so much oil the rust is generally minimal.

    As for the over drives they are surprisingly easy to fix and generally the problems I have see with that system is electrical. Heavy as concrete overshoes but kind of kool to work as you drive.

  12. John H. in CT

    Sorry to disagree. 15 years ago I was infatuated with 3000 BJ8’s. I looked at a few. Every one had welding marks on the frame from fixing prior rust worm. I finally found a decent one to drive. Expecting a great experience, instead it felt like I was sitting directly on the floor and the transmission made the same awful sounds as my old MG Midget. So, a very good looking car but certainly not a joy to drive.

    After much research and three years of searching I decided on and found an XK150 Jaguar instead, and in ten years have never looked back. Much more of a car than even the difference in price to the Healy.

  13. John

    These were great looking cars. That is likely the only good part about them. I had an early 3000 – the one with three carburetors. It was simply a horrible car that drove like a truck. It was fast. It had overdrive. I think it worked twice. It was fragile beyond reason. They are beautiful and the exhaust sound was wonderful. They have no other redeeming qualities.

    …and they rust.

  14. don

    I found one back in the early1990s. under the bonnet was a 300ci ford inline six. I immediately closed the hood and left, looking back I wish I had bought it. can’t remember the price but it could have fun and that is really what it’s really about isn’t it

  15. Moose Feather

    All that being said, anyone know where an early 100 is with no motor or transmission. I don’t think I’ve seen one of these rat rodded and I have a vision, foolish or not. Buy your car for what you want a car for and I’ll do with mine what I like. I have a ’63 that runs fantastic willing to consider trades with cash.

  16. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    yes the buy low sell high guys……

  17. Roger

    Is there any other way lol?????

  18. OhioMark

    This car has sooo much rust that you’d be upside down financially when you’re done restoring it. I don’t see much more than a parts car if even that at this point>

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