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Heart Transplant: 1955 Austin Healey 100 BN2 With a TR4 Engine

Here we have an ambitious endeavor: the transformation of an early Austin Healey from BN2 configuration to 100S wannabe. The 100S was a low-production race car produced in 1955 as a factory race car. Constructed in aluminum, these cars competed at Sebring, Le Mans, Carrera Panamericana, and the Mille Miglia. They are worth around $500,000 to $1 million, depending on race provenance. Our subject car began a more ordinary life as one of 4,600 BN2s made by Austin Healey in 1955 and 1956. The motor went missing at some point. The body was given a rotisserie restoration, painted in a color resembling Healey Blue, and treated to a new interior. For motive power, a TR4 drivetrain was installed – without mangling the engine bay. This car is for sale here on eBay, bid to $25,100, reserve not met. It is located in Land O’Lakes, Florida.

The owner claims that the 2.1 liter TR4 motor generates 107 bhp, revs faster, and accelerates better than the BN2’s original larger displacement 2.7 liter. The installation is very sanitary, looking new from the factory. A special annoyance of mine is plastic dashpot dampers that just scream, “I’ve been replaced!” These are the correct brass type. Of course, the speedometer is inoperable due to the motor change, but research will probably turn up a solution for that, even if it’s a TR4 gauge. The remaining gauges and switches work.

The car rides on new tires wrapped around new deep-dish Dayton wire wheels with fresh three-eared knock-offs. The underside shows modest corrosion but otherwise, everything looks fresh. The owner indicates that the brakes and suspension are rebuilt from new parts. The wiring harness was replaced. The gas tank was swapped out for a longer-necked type allowing for an external Le Mans type gas filler.

The interior is dark blue with black carpets and what appear to be two-point racing seat belts. The steering wheel is original though the gearshift knob is not. The dash needs some spiffing. There is no heater or convertible top, so perhaps warm weather use is in order. The car does come with a jack, a spare, and a knock-off hammer. The owner will supply a tonneau for an extra charge. Though the car is not identical to the splendid 100S, it has its charm. Is this a driver you would be proud to take to a Cars & Coffee?

Comments

  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    This is a nice car. Disregarding the reason for the engine change this is a nice clean build. As for the shift knob, me and everyone else I’ve known who bought a British car went out and bought a leather shift knob to put in it.

    Like 5
  2. erik johnston

    Very nice-as a american muscle car fan, I like this one with nice upgrades,

    Like 2
  3. Martin Horrocks

    Nice build but struggling to see the point. Most engine swaps are about power or convenience upgrades. In fact, the TR engine is a contemporary of the original Austin 4 banger, both had very humble commercial applications for origins, sports car use was an after thought.

    Most of all, seems an expensive way to lose value, as few AH people will want to sleep with the enemy and performance wise, just a different way to achieve a similar result.

    Like 1
    • Gramos

      the TR engines were a more modern design and although there may have been other reasons , it was lighter and had a much better fuel economy .

  4. Martin Horrocks

    Also curious why seller is fixated on the 100S. He says do your research, but the most obvious feature of the 100S, a unique front clip and grille, is absent. This is just a 100/4 body.

    It’s like building a fake 2.7 Carrera RS and deleting the ducktail.

    Like 5
  5. Jack Quantrill

    One of the best looking drop-head roadsters of all time!

    Like 2
  6. Joe Haska

    No expert on these cars ,but to me it is all about the looks and it looks great ! I would probably not care about the mechanics if it drove reasnonably well.

    Like 1
  7. Laurence

    I agree with Martin that there is no real connection between this TR-4-powered BN2 Austin-Healey and a 100S. It has neither the engine nor the body details of an S and I would add to what Martin said: no louvred bonnet with strap…

    While I am sure that the car runs well with Triumph’s erstwhile tractor motor, I view the engine swap as a downward move. A handful more horsepower but less torque… It just adds up to an incorrect engine that brings down the value. If whoever undertook the swap was unwilling to be patient about sourcing a correct Austin powerplant, then he or she could have carried out an almost similarly easy engine swap, but with considerably more power. An all-alloy 3.5 Rover V-8 would have fit tidily, and not added weight. Without trying to increase the power radically with racing parts, all that would have been required, probably, would have been an easy conversion to Austin-Healey 3000 disc brakes in the front. With about double the power with no weight penalty and those looks, such a BN-2 nowadays would probably be worth at least as much as a totally original one…not around a third less.

    Like 2
  8. chrlsful

    asa kid these were the kinda thing I’d p/u cheep (in junk yard or private sale some 1 was tired of / had lill maintainence). Mostly Italian but a sprite or 3000 now’n then. Could never aford a nice one but: get safe, do a lill rest0mod and daily B4 sellin for the nxt lill jewel that caught my eye. Lota fun but laughed @ by ‘the crowd’ as they had the muscle a parent bought them (1st gen stang, 442, makoshark vette, etc). I dated a different kinda girl, those I perferred, as well. Not the brash cheerleader type. Comprendende`?

  9. philthyphil

    I just don’t get it ,its a fake 100s with the wrong motor….which is not hard to find…if it has wrong motor why not a 5 speed for the tr motor.?..available..or a modern engine with power ? nice workmanship but wasted in my opinion get it cheap enough lots of possible things

  10. James Fisher

    I had a 1964 TR-4 shaved the heads put in new cam lifters and big boar aluminum pistons oversized and racing rods. Not sure of the H/P but that car was fast drove with 105 octain from sonoco.

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