Disclosure: This site may receive compensation when you click on some links and make purchases.

First Of A Few: 1951 Healey Abbott

Before Austin-Healey, there was the Donald Healey Motor Company.  The Healey Abbott was one of the fastest cars in its day, with a tuned twin-cam motor capable of speeds over 100 m.p.h. The example featured here has the added bonus of being the first of 77 cars made and the Healey display car from the 1950 Earls Court Motor Show in London. Find it here on eBay with bidding at $3,550.

Founded in 1945, the company reflected Healey’s sporting approach to motor cars. It also catered to buyers seeking luxurious accommodations. Healey partnered with Abbott, a British coachbuilder that produced bodies for the likes of Aston Martin, Daimler and Talbot. When creating the Healey Abbott, a traditional ash frame was paired with aluminum body panels. The seller of this rare find notes that the frame is in good condition and the body panels appear straight but needing a respray.

A Riley-sourced 2.4L twin-cam four-cylinder powered the Abbott. The motor made headlines for its top-speed capabilities that were unheard of for production cars in the early 50s. The car featured here has been in storage for 37 years, but the seller notes that the engine still turns freely. It’s fun to picture Britain’s early sports car fans inspecting this very engine while the Abbott sat on display at the motor show.

The interior fittings were luxurious, a direct influence of Abbott’s partnerships with the world’s most expensive auto makers. Leather, wool and walnut finishes were the key ingredients in the interior, and amazingly, this car’s cockpit has survived largely intact. The driver and front passenger enjoyed leather buckets while rear seat occupants could relax on a bench seat with a center armrest. Walnut trim lined the dashboard and door cappings. All of these elements have survived, though a closer inspection would be required to determine their actual condition.

The car comes complete with its original log book and shows only two owners since new. The show car still retains its original tool kit, hand crank, jack, workshop manual, and spats. The survival of these components indicates to us that this car has been treasured by someone despite being locked up all those years. The seller says that whoever restores the first Abbott could benefit from a financial reward at the end – but we are not so confident… The car has been on the market for a while and the reserve price is likely to be high. It will be interesting to see what becomes of this unique Healey.


  1. scot c

    ~ wow! way cool. i’m not qualified to guess the value. when restored or as it sits, it is not replaceable.

    Like 0
  2. Wil

    Thought I recognized that engine–just bought a LHD Riley 2.5L RMD (convertible), they have alot in common besides the engine. Similar body style, construction method, & interior appointments.

    Like 0
  3. Bob Denton

    I believe this car actually is the un-restored Abbott that was owned by Bill Emerson who wrote the Healey Book. If you are at all interested in Healey history, his book is the way to go. I personally have two cars in it. My 1947 Healey Sportsmobile has the same Riley running gear. If you google image search Healey Sportsmobile, mine is the Burgundy one. I also have a flawless BN6, 1958 100-6 Austin Healey in the book.

    Like 0
  4. Dolphin

    This car is an impressive combination of luxury and performance—relative to the post WW2 period in which it was designed and built of course. But the pastel color combination can’t be right; I assume that one of the two owners decided on a whim to spruce it up, and maybe regretted it. The red wheels and the red showing through suggest the pastels were a repaint.

    The other remarkable thing about the car is the Morgan-like use of an ash wood frame, but supporting aluminum panels instead of steel. Although you can’t tell for sure in the photos, the body looks intact. I would have expected this car to have aluminum panels that were like lace where they overlay the wood due to corrosion from contact with the presumably wet wood……it does rain once in a while in England! Maybe Abbott used some special technique that let the aluminum survive—anyone know?

    Like 0
  5. Bob Denton

    Dolphin, the aluminum is very high grade. You have to remember that all that was available was scrap from aircraft used during the war. My bumper supports on the Sportsmobile are gun barrel cores from wing guns, rifling and all. Aluminum panels for coach builders came from wings.

    The unique thing about the Riley engine is that it is a twin cam but not overhead. The cams are in the block. By the way, Healey bought complete rolling chassis’ from Riley, not just engines.

    Like 0
  6. BradL

    This one sold at Coy’s Auction at Acscot last May for £8,850 ($14,300).

    Other than shipment to the US and a good cleaning, it’s pretty much the same. We’ll see if it meets reserve.

    Like 0
  7. Bob Denton

    Good call Brad. It’s the same car!!!!!

    Like 0
  8. BradL

    The seller’s website list the sale price as $35,000!! That’s quite a profit margin.

    Like 0
  9. BradL

    Also, what on earth did they clean this with that would remove that much paint!!

    Like 0
  10. Bob Denton

    This one looks like they dragged it across the ocean. I think they started to strip it to repaint and gave up. Here is a “restored” one for sale in the USA. http://www.topoldtimers.com/marketplace/ViewAdsDetails/USA/Missouri/1953-Healey-Abbott/2483 This is not much more money.

    Like 0

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.


Get new comment updates via email. Or subscribe without commenting.