Nasty Boy: 1954 Austin Healey 100

nasty-boy-healey

We never understood the whole Nasty Boys trend of shoving V8s into Austin-Healeys, but some people obviously enjoy the whole thing very much. Sure, it is great fun having all that extra power, but cars like this rare BN1 were so great in stock form that it is a shame to hack them up. Give those guys a Cobra replica and we will keep our inline-four powered, lay-back windscreened Big Healeys. Which side do you align with? Should they remain just the way Donald Healey intended, or is it okay to spice things up a bit? Either way, this one on British V8 needs to be saved! Thanks goes to Robert J. for the submission.

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Comments

  1. Chuck

    Just give me 50/60’s American iron. I am not into these foreign “wanna be sport cars”.

    • Scheese

      Chuck, do you know what a “Sports Car” is? It’s not a Chevelle.

      • Chuck

        Not sure where you came up with Chevelle. I have a Corvette–a real Sports Car !!

    • Michael

      Amurika didn’t have a successful sports car that could win at Sebring or LeMans until the vett finally was sorted out in around 62 when one beat an E JAG at Santa Barbara–and then was found to be cheating!

      • Scheese

        Yep Chuck. There is something called finesse. I was driving a basic Elise. I had to pull over and wait for quite awhile for the guy that was chasing me in a Callaway Vette. The road had turns so he had no chance. Once we got on the interstate (which was clear) I gunned it and was at 155 mph in no time. I looked in the rear view and saw the Callaway quickly gaining on me. The Vette can kill in a straight line but I bet it would not even have a chance with my 60 BN7 on the twisties. The Healeys are great sports cars that won the rally classes back in the day. that is one of the reasons why they are so expensive today. See ya on the road if you can keep up. Cheers

    • Foxxy

      I think it’s amazing how folks make statements before ever thinking about what they are saying.

      • Kent Covington

        They think only in a straight line too, I guess….

    • jhowell

      If you dislike them so much why even bother looking at it? I didn’t know America invented the sports car.

      • Chuck

        Very good question—I guess the only reason I read the posting is because of the title “NASTY BOY” I was curious & still don’t know what the title means. Probably obvious to fan’s of these cars. It surely was not my intention to offend anyone—I am just a 50/60″s iron man. We are all entitled to our own opinions>

    • Ian

      Idiot

      • Chuck

        Your eloquence is noted.

      • paul

        Allright lets be civil we are all car guys on here.

  2. Jim

    I have no problem with someone trying to squeeze a bit more juice out of these, especially if the original engine is gone. But, I do admit some are a bit crazy! A 478 Hemi in a bug-eye Sprite?? That’s insane!

    http://www.modifiedhealeys.org/Photos/126Marian/Marian.htm

  3. paul

    Useless waist, can the chassis handle all that extra torque & by having all that weight up front the thing probable understeers horribly.

  4. Tim H

    I have never been satisfied with cars the way the manufacturer made them. Modifying has always been part of the fun. Other people seem to like cars all original. Why do we need to through rocks at each other? We have so much more in common then we have that is different.

    Myself, I would rather have a hacked up Berkeley, made just the way I like, then Cobra replica.

    • Jesse Mortensen

      Our commentary was all in good fun Tim. We appreciate all sorts of cars, even modified ones. This was just a conversation starter. No “rock throwing” intended.

    • paul

      @ Tim not attacking you, don’t take it personally. When engineers sit down & come up with a car they have to figure in so much, when this design is altered than all that work goes out the window, admittedly back in those days they didn’t always configure all aspects but if I want a car like this it needs to handle like a sports car should & if I want a drag racer then I would look for something else.

  5. geomechs geomechs Member

    Vintage cars are artifacts and should be kept/restored to their original glory. We are only stewards of them before they are passed on to other generations. Modifications destroy the originality sometimes to the point where they are mere shadows of what they once were. That said I’ve seen some very well done hotrods/streetrods over the years, and have even indulged in them myself (I still crave a lowered ’36 Ford pickup with a hopped up ’53 Merc under the hood). But the older I get the more I’m dedicated to preserving my collection for the future. We can’t afford to lose anymore old cars (how many original ’32-’34 Fords are still around?). My grandkids are just getting to know my ’49 Chev ‘JELLYBEAN;’ my ’54 Meteor with its ‘STINKY’ engine, and my ’47 Ford pickup with its ‘PIANO KEYS’ grill. These Healy’s with their SBCs definitely go faster and are a thrill to race (in a straight line) but when the rush is over, all that’s left is an overstressed chassis/body that is beyond repair and an SBC (or an SBF). I’m sure many are going to disagree but I’m not the only one who feels this way.

    • Tim H

      This is where it starts, “We should”, “We are stewards”.
      You may be a steward but I am just an old guy having fun.
      It’s my money, do I really need your permission?

      • geomechs geomechs Member

        Like I said, many are going to disagree. And you’re right when it comes down to spending your money the way you want; you HAVE that right. Fortunately we still live in a land that grants us that freedom. I’m an old guy having fun too. I have fun preserving and restoring. And in doing that I’m finding out a lot about the histories of my cars and trucks. I’ve got stories and pictures of some of my vehicles when they were brand new and I’m not only getting to know my vehicles but the people who associated with them. One day it’s going to be someone else’s turn and, if all goes well, we’ll still have a government that will still allow those who take over to have a choice. I would hope that they would continue to preserve but it’s still their choice.

  6. Lemble

    If the car is a basket case with nothing but a shell , Just make it work with what you have .
    If you start taking parts off to put other stuff in the engine bay then why do you not start with a kit car of some sort. You could get one cheaper than buying a nice older car. Funny thing about Chevy guys. They say they are the best, but want to be seen in everything else. :)

  7. rawcar2long

    I to hate to see an original big Healey modified to this extent, however I’ve seen some very nice conversions to V8 power. This is nothing new, back in the 50’s it was being done for street and track. I can’t help but feel that Donald Healey himself would approve. If the big Healey happened 10 years later I believe it would have had a V8.

  8. FRED

    I THINK IT COMES DOWN TO WHAT CARS YOU RESTORE MORE OF. IF YOU BUILD BRITISH CARS YOU WILL HAVE MORE BRITISH STUFF AROUND THAN A GUY WHO BUILDS AMERICAN CARS.IF YOU HAVE A BRITISH MOTOR LAYING AROUND PUT THAT IN AND BUILD FROM THERE. IF YOU HAVE CHEVY,FORD OR MOPAR MOTORS LAYING AROUND PUT THAT IN AND BUILD FROM THERE.IT’S YOUR CAR YOUR BUILD DO WHAT YOU WANT AND WHAT YOUR GOOD AT. IN THE WORDS OF RODNEY KING “CAN’T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG”.

  9. John D

    I tend to go with the restoration crowd. Keep them as original as you can. But I have an acquaintance with a very nice 1932 Ford roadster. It was a show winning restoration. Then he turned it into a street rod, but with period performance parts. It is still a beautiful car. Yeah, I like them ‘souped up’ and to extend that thought process, I would say modify the original engine is the first step, swapping an engine in is the next step. When you get radical with the body, then I would look for a kit car.

    The problem starts when you want to build an off make. It is popular to build Model A’s and 32’s or 33’s or T’s, but what if you want to build an off year Auburn or an Imperial or Plymouth. There just isn’t the depth in the industry for that kind of demand. Nor would people want to give up a nice 32 Plymouth PB to have a mold made to make one kit. I have always wanted to do a build of a 32 Plymouth PB Phaeton, but there is like only 6 left rolling around. Sure, you can replicate the car from steel or cut down a sedan, but that also is tons of work. No, now I am thinking building a 32 or Model A sedan delivery either with a motorcycle engine for the gas economy or a small 4×4 drive train, be it something like a Geo Tracker or some atv drive train. Again, I am thinking of fuel economy rather than speed because of the current high fuel prices.

    I would restore this Healey. If they are that hard to find, it is justified. If you cannot find the proper engine and transmission, I would stick a bigger Healey engine in it, keeping it configued as close to stock as possible. There is a big Healey running around town with a Mopar 440 in it. This got me to thinking about putting a Mopar 360 in my rather rusted out TR3. I never got that far and sold the car. The guy restored it up enough that now it is running vintage race events in France.

  10. kman

    I just want a Sebring 5000 replicar. Better than a Cobra because you get a real lid and roll up windows with all that power and they run about $15,000 for a nice used one. The Healy 4 didn’t have windows, (been there with side curtains), and the Cobra doesn’t even have a top. A BIG 3000 is a whole different story but they now cost more than an E type at $75k and up. You still get intimate with Lucas the prince of darkness for that. With a Sebring you get modern reliable drivetrain, body and all the other mod cons. Yeah, I’d love a 3000 if I could afford it but….

  11. Rob

    Chuck we are all here because of the huge variety of flavours. Do you just want one? Drive a 3000 Healey along a tight mountain highway, smorgasbord.

  12. Dan Farrell

    What would make more sense is a replicar kit designed for a V8, you will spend so much more money either restoring or beefing an Austin Healey to receive a V8 than you will with a car designed for a V8. The problem with the car hobby is that it seldom makes sense, especially to the wife.

  13. Michael

    I personally like the car to represent WHAT COULD/WOULD be done in it’s era, no an and mos bits in an oldie.
    WE DID build them from the start, a Frontie A or T is also a historical marker as is an eddie meyer intake on a 40 ford

  14. Mbzgurl

    I’d be tempted to buy it just to prevent it from encountering further torture from some chevy guy trying to make it something it isn’t. Parts and engine aren’t impossible to find to restore to it’s natural beauty. AND, it is a beautiful SPORTS car.

  15. Bernie H

    Years ago when I was very young and STUPID!, I did a SBC conversion into one of these. At best, it was a hacked-up, torch fitted abortion into a questionable chassis that had too much rust to be safe. It burnt the rear tires to pieces, laid big black streaks at the local hamburger joint( until i was asked not to come back). It wouldnt stop, couldnt corner, mufflers exited regularly from the frame, and the cops new me well and where I lived. My dad solved the problem, sell it or junk it. I think he saved my life more than once. Soooooo, my vote here is find the original drivetrain parts, restore and sell for probably pretty good $$.

    • Tim H

      But Bernie didn’t you have a great time?

  16. rancho bella

    If I had a choice, I would go with the early four banger Healey (BN-1). Light and fairly nimble. Not Lotus nimble, but fun.

    I think you need to be a Healey fanatic to go for this, and have some disposable dough sitting around. The early ones are just so swoopy……..swoopy………is that word?

    • rancho bella

      I would only want the Healey specific parts…….So 11K is on the optimistic side.

    • kman

      Not so light. A sbc weighs less than the stock 4. Let alone the stock 6.

  17. Blind marc

    When I was about 10 or so (1970) my dads friend had one with a built 289. It was his daily driver, and after my dad took me for a tire smoking, power slide ride, I was in heaven….ps The stock brakes with a V8 do make it hard to stop.

  18. Bill

    Big Healy chassis is a wet noodle, so I question the earlier chassis. Stuff more power & watch it wiggle. Replicas are fiberglass so one does not have to deal with all that nasty rust.

  19. Foxxy

    To me modifying this Healy would be the same as putting a huge V8 into an early, ’53.’54 vettes. I’ve been a gearhead all my life. I believe I was born to it. I’m now 61 so I’ve seen a lot of things done to the automobile, and motorcycle. In my early life I had a neighbor that was a sports car guy, and in the years with him a bug was set in my head. I have modified just about anything with wheels on it. Not for show, but to just go faster. I learned in the 70’s that you have to watch how you modify. I was one of the first guys where I lived to put a small block chevy into a vega. It completely ruined the way the car handled. If you wasn’t real careful it would swap ends in a split second. I live in WV where a straight piece of road is tough to find, well it was prior to the interstates anyway. I learned early that if you want to be fast and survive you have to consider handling as much as horsepower. I have gave in to the bug I mentioned earlier and own an MGB. It’s the perfect car for where we live, but I know if I put a big V-8 in it , I would turn it into a deathtrap. I rode in the first Big Healy when I was in the 7th grade and it was my favorite of all the cars my friend had, and that included a couple 356’s. I loved the sound of the Healy sixes and would love to have one, but with my income it will never happen. In the sixty’s they were all cheap and Kenny horse traded all the time. I never knew what he was going to bring home next. Anything from an Amphicar to a Fiat 850 Spyder. I have more fun in my B up in the mountains than I ever had with any of my monsters. In my book the Healy’s are just as much a part of history as the Duesenberg’s. Just my two cents.

  20. Dolphin Member

    One way to look at performance cars is to decide that the chassis needs to be capable of holding the road when the power is made by the engine. If it isn’t, you have a performance car that has a problem, both for the driver and for the other people using the road. This is why the maker of some of the best handling cars on the planet long ago adopted the principle that “The chassis should be faster than the engine”.

    Unfortunately, an Austin Healey 100 chassis is quite a bit slower than a built LT1, and that’s why it’s not such a good idea to put one into a Healey 100 chassis, in my opinion. Better to sell the LT1 and Nash box and source a 100 drivetrain, like Rancho said.

  21. whiskey runner

    i guess the question of original over modified will always be “discussed” in our circles.. i love original and prefer to restore cars that way, but so many times the economics force the modify with what you have route. i just did a 74 mgb for a friend.. it had a great body.. not so much drive train.. he also had a rolled over later model S-10 chevy with a low mileage 2.2 -5 speed with the complete wiring harness and computer..it fit the MG great and makes a very nice, good looking, dependable daily driver.. i cant help but to think we made the right choice in that situation

    • paul

      Whisky I think that was a great choice, modern engine a 5 spd, but the big difference to what you did was possible a lighter engine / gearbox or maybe the same weight but I’m sure more HP as apposed to a hugely heavier engine causing a vast weight distribution difference.

  22. Robert J

    The cool thing about the internet is that if you want to put a V8 in your little British car you can refine your own build before even turning a wrench by reading up on what others have done. This is what I have been doing with my MGB V8 build. I assure you that it is going to be a very driveable and enjoyable car on completion.

    http://forum.britishv8.org/read.php?13,27521“>http://forum.britishv8.org/read.php?13,27521

  23. Karl

    The “drop-a-V8-in-it” crowd has a point–after all, who would remember the AC Ace if Carroll Shelby hadn’t dropped a Ford V8 into it. I would have to say that it depends on the skill of the modifier. If it’s well done, good. If it’s a hack job, then it’s just a ruination of a good car that somebody else could have done something with. Craigslist is littered with project cars that are “95% finished”, and all that’s needed is a mechanical genius with a vat of liquid money in which to submerge the project and solve all its intractable problems. The only consolation in most of these cases is that the original “modifier” is losing his shirt due to his own stupidity.

  24. Jesse Mortensen

    It should be noted that the “Nasty Boys” is an actual chapter of the Austin Healey club. We do respect them for basically creating a new genre of car in the much the same R Gruppe has done with Porsche.

    There is nothing wrong with modifying a car that would otherwise be lost to the crusher, but an automobile as rare and special as this early 100-4 should never get hacked up. This car represents Donald Healey’s interpretation of what a true sports car should be. Later cars made concessions to appease the bean counters and the luxury-minded consumers, and lost much of what made them so great as a result.

    If you must drop a V8 in an AH, then please do us all a favor and use a later car. The frame will hold up better and fewer purists will condemn the act. Then again, we doubt the Nasty Boys built their reputation by following the advice of a bunch of guys chatting online…

    • paul

      The thing of it is, these cars are worth so much the way they are from the factory that doing this mod throws all value out the window.

  25. Tim H

    Jesse you forgot to say “and God is on our side”

  26. dennis

    Gosh guys I am 70, loved cars from the start, I was lucky in 1970 picked up a 59 100-6, it was pretty much pristine and complete, $800, not knowing much, good looks, thought going to college save gas money, concerned I lost original value, but a Ford small block fit pretty well, so of course the power ratio blew my mind. Yes I considered the originality. I would have one original pristine for show or value, and then of course the thrill of HP, perfect swap, remember Shelby? So my 59 has been restored to near perfection, I mean show quality yet kept the stock look, so yes I would not sell it for 100k, later I will tell you details, but I will say best parts in you can buy, has 5k miles on the motor, recent dyno tune 450 HP,

  27. Rod Evans

    Give me a break! I spoke with Donald Healey over 35 yrs ago on this very subject of engine swapping.He was after all a racer at heart and that’s the bottom line.He had no problem with whatever engine was in the engine compartment,he liked speed and handling.I want to gag every time I hear some cheese and wine sipper moaning about how a vehicle must remain exactly as produced or it is ruined crapola.That mindset to me is just unbelievable.How can anyone accept a car straight from a mass produced factory and assume it is perfection right outta the box,they all have faults.I’am pulling the small block Chev out of my BN2 which has been in it since 1958 and swapping in a L72 425 horse 427 big block Chev next week,hope ya don’t lose any sleep over it.

  28. Rod Evans

    If you swap either a aluminum headed big block Chevrolet or a small block Chevrolet V8 into a Healey you wind up with a lighter and much better handling automobile.While the stock 4 cylinder engine sounded great,that lump of cast iron weighed in at damn near 730 lbs!The small block came in at about 575lbs and aluminum headed Bib block in the neighborhood of 600 lbs and may I remind you that Donald Healey aproached Gm for Cadillac engines and Carroll Shelby’s original idea for he Cobra was a Chevrolet -Healey but,both Austin and GM turned his requests down.At least in the case of a BN1 or BN2 with a small block installed is as close to a 50/50 balance as a guy can get and besides cars are still cheaper enertainment than a dame.

  29. Rod Evans

    After listening to a gaggle of people for over 40 yrs on how if a V8 is installed in a Healey it’ll be nose heavy and not handle worth a damn it wears a little thin.With a small block Chev installed as Shelby originally wanted to do it is simple enough to easily triple the horsepower,come very close to a 50/50 weight distribution so handling is wonderful,not to mention acceleration is breath taking.The frame is strong enough that the extra horsepower and torque does not create a problem,the wheelbase is 90 ins, same as the Cobra and my car weighs in at 2163 lbs.If the price of used Healeys had’nt risen like they have over the past 25 yrs and half of them han\d’nt rotted out on theirt rip over here in the boat there would be a lot more of them roaming the streets of America like they did in the 60’s.The engine swap winds up to be a win/win situation and the only reason that the Chev/Healey swaps outnumber the Ford/Healey swaps is that the Chevs were being swapped in for at least 6 yrs before the small block Ford was even created in 1962,the first Chev/Healey swap that I can recall was in 1956 and I believe that it was featured in the June 56 edition of HotRod magazine.Sorry about my attitude but,the swap is a true sweetheart of a swap and the car is a all around dream to drive and not a nose heavy barge or ill handling pig,it is quite the oppisite in fact,it is just too bad they’re so expensive now so it is prohibitive to start with just like a lot of older Ford coupes and roadsters nowadays.

    • Kent

      I’ve restored a Dec 53 100 healey to concourse ,would never hot rod a car that could be brought to final original finish.
      That being said it’s companies like Moss or Victoria British with there over priced body parts and everything else to to build a healey to concourse quality it understandable healeys get hot rodded.At least it puts a great looking British car back on the road. I made fiberglass moulds from my 100 and built a body for my next 100 healey project. 84 corvette engine a suspension( $500 scrapyard roll over). A nasty boy without trashing a restorable 100 at 1/4 the price!

  30. James Ramsey

    Been there, done that. Put a 283 SBC (220 hp) in a 54 BN1 Healey back in ’63 when these conversions weren’t so common. Was a budget job but I ran it up/down the interstate to college for several yrs. Surprised a bunch of GTO’s and Vettes along the way. Could spin the hubs out of those old 48 spoke wire wheels if I wasn’t real careful in first gear (4:13 rear). Between 40 and 80 it was unbeatable. Yes the V8/trans were lighter than the OEM powertrain. Cooling always a challenge.

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