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No Reserve: 1961 Austin-Healey 3000 BT7

Finding an affordable classic British sports car project can be challenging, but this 1961 Austin-Healey 3000 BT7 could be a prime candidate. It looks pretty tired, but the fact the seller is offering it with No Reserve may prove irresistible to some. It will take deep commitment to recapture its glory days, but it is essentially complete and unmolested. The Healey is listed here on eBay in Cincinnati, Ohio. Bidding sits at $3,500, with time remaining for interested parties to decide whether to throw their hat into the ring on this beauty.

It appears this Healey has led a colorful life, and I mean that literally. The photos suggest that the Blue paint gracing its panels isn’t original, with evidence that it once wore Tarian Red and Austin Ivory. Stripping the panels to bare metal would be a wise strategy. However, the accumulated surface corrosion across many areas suggests that tackling this as a nut-and-bolt build would be the best way to guarantee a high-end result. The photos offer limited information, but it seems the worst visible penetrating rust is in the passenger-side rear quarter panel. This is typical, and with repair patches retailing for under $80, addressing the issue won’t break the bank. That could be the tip of the iceberg because the seller uses the phrase “somewhat rusty” in their description. We can only speculate about the state of the underside, but a dose of media blasting might be on the agenda for this classic. The soft-top is gone, but its frame is intact and restorable. It is a similar story with the beautiful wire wheels, although, with high-quality reproductions selling for under $400 per set, that approach might be the most cost-effective. Many trim pieces require a trip to the platers, but the result of this effort and expenditure should be worth it when we assess the Healey’s potential value.

The passing years have not been kind to this classic’s interior, and a total restoration is the only solution. It isn’t missing any major parts, so the new owner will have a solid base from which to work. This won’t be a cheap undertaking, with a trim kit and carpet lightening the buyer’s wallet by around $2,600. Whipping the dash into shape adds approximately $1,100 to the tally, while a replacement “banjo” wheel retails for $400. That represents an outlay of $4,100, but the interior would present in as-new condition. It’s an eye-watering figure that could be justified if the winning bidder scores this car for a reasonable price.

The theme of significant corrosion continues when we lift this Healey’s hood, and the overall condition suggests its 2,912cc six hasn’t roared into life since the previous owner parked it more than thirty years ago. It produced 130hp and 175 ft/lbs of torque, with shifting duties falling to a four-speed manual transmission. A ¼-mile ET of 17.4 seconds and a top speed of 110mph were both respectable, but it is worth noting that the occupant’s proximity to Planet Earth made things feel significantly faster. Whether the engine turns freely is unclear, but budgeting for a rebuild would be wise. These are not complicated powerplants, meaning a competent person could potentially complete the task in a home workshop.

The longer I examine the supplied photos of this 1961 Austin-Healey 3000, the more convinced I am that the only approach worth considering is a nut-and-bolt restoration. There is no shortage of surface corrosion requiring attention, and tackling that before it deteriorates would be a wise long-term strategy. It is worth noting that a high-end result will produce a classic worth over $60,000, and with values climbing, it would be worth the effort for its investment potential alone. So, what do you say? Are you tempted to join the bidding on this British classic?


  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    The last bastion of the pure old Healeys. No roll up windows, light weight, good power and everything else that makes a fast open roadster fun. Might take a lot of work to get to the fun part but worth the effort.

    Like 10
    • Greg in Texas

      On a dry hot summer day, take it to a self-wash car wash. Apply degreaser everywhere underneath, engine bay, wheels and wheel wells, body. Decide on floorboards based on your abilities to be careful near instruments and wood. You can’t hurt what hasn’t already been exposed most places. Let it soak. Then High pressure soap, then high pressure wax. No need for rinse as high pressure wax last step is your rinse. The easiest way is up on a flatbed. I have bought cars I do this with tipping the flatbed driver $100 tip escorting the tow in my own car to let me wash it while he waits on the flatbed. By the time you’re home, it’s mostly dry. Having clean old parts to start, you can decide if you’re going to do a “just get it driving” mechanical and electrical going through or not. Sometimes even in need of a full restoration, getting a rough car running over the span of a year of weekends, you might drop a couple of grand to get it slithering and coughing around. But you’re researching the entire time and might get lucky it can be that old car still trying. There’s a charm in going through the brakes as they are, getting them working. Finding that the automatic transmission fluid soaking in the engine cylinders through the removed sparkplug holes before you try turning it over, squirting oil in the holes every weekend, while you’re doing other things (trans & diff as well), then draining and refilling with correct fluids, replace plugs correct gaps, all the coil wires and coil, points, cap. Carbs, tank, pump…. If it’s all there I’m going to see if it can run. If something is seriously wrong, you’ll learn soon enough. If it runs, however, I’m only going to baby limp it around. If the engine has no unusual sounds, I have a good motor to rebuild. Why do all of that? Numbers matching. If I have to go find another engine, I might just drop in all BMW straight 6 drivetrain underneath. But it will be worth much more original. If it’s got major engine problems, I want to know. I love this car. Like every day on BF, I got too many. This would be my favorite project otherwise. I envy whoever nabs this old toe.

      Like 0
  2. Steveo

    Meh. You’ll spend money to make it driveable – enjoyable, but you’ll get it back when you sell it. It’s not like folks are going to suddenly stop wanting this.

    Like 4
  3. Raymond Pockalny

    One of “THE” cars I have lusted for since childhood. I may have to take a ride to check these out. If only ‘collectors’ would not horde, more of us would have our dream cars done by now.

    Like 4
    • Greg in Texas

      If hoarders didn’t hoard, it would all be gone. American Pickers wouldn’t exist, not the TV show nor real pickers. And barn Finds wouldn’t exist either. Duh?

      Like 1
  4. bevis

    Notice no shots under the car, likely due to they couldn’t jack it up without it falling in half.
    Strong pass on “rusty”

    Like 5
  5. Kurt Member

    Engine compartment almost looks like there was a fire at one point. No es bueno.

    Like 2
  6. MGSteve

    ” . . . somewhat rusty” is the same as “somewhat pregnant.”

    Like 4
  7. Greg in Texas

    Doors line up at the top edges, trunk lines good, hood lines good. Probably a solid car. When an old car is in dire straits, the sagging shows up in all fitment. Warp from weakened chassis still isn’t impossible to correct, but this car’s panels look decent. I’m betting metal looks structurally good.

    Like 0

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