Racer or Restoration? 1956 Austin Healey 100/4

The new owner of this 1956 Austin Healey is faced with a few interesting options for this project, and it will be interesting to see what path they choose to take. You will find this Healey listed for sale here on Craigslist. Located around Decatur, Georgia, it is being offered for sale with a clean title. The owner has set a sale price of $13,500 for the car.

It appears that this Healey has had a racing past, but its history is pretty well unknown. The body has certainly undergone some modifications in its day, but a close look at the work seems to back the seller’s claims that the workmanship is quite good. The front of the car is fiberglass, while the rear is aluminum and steel. The vintage Torque Thrust wheels fill the flared arches nicely and are in character with the vehicle as a race car. The seller states that the frame is solid, with only a few pinholes to deal with. It appears that the little Healey has had a racing background, and there are some event-specific stickers on the car which may aid the new owner in tracing the vehicle’s racing history.

The interior is about as bare as you would expect from a former race car. The vintage racing seats look to be in good condition, and there are some obvious signs of fabrication work that are also in keeping with the car’s competition past. This is where the first option opens for the new owner. With the modifications that have been performed on the car, coupled with the event-specific stickers, it may be possible to trace some or all of the racing history of the car. If the car has any historical significance, then it may be an option to restore it to its former racing condition. Older racing cars with any historical significance can command some pretty healthy prices today.

The dash is also pretty bare bones, with only a couple of gauges, and what looks like a protected ignition on/off toggle switch. The sticker on the right side of the dash may provide a clue to the car’s racing past, as it is for the National Road Races at Sears Point in July 1970. Someone out there may have an entry list or photos that could assist the new owner in a racing restoration. If you are interested in getting a more detailed look at the car as it currently stands, you will find an album here that contains over 80 photos.

A racing restoration is by no means the only option open to the next owner of this little car. The seller is also including a reasonable pile of original parts and components should the new owner wish to restore the car to its original specifications. The rear axle fitted to the car at present is a Chevrolet item, but there is an original rear axle included in the sale, along with brakes, hubs, wire wheels, and body panels. There is certainly enough components to at least start a restoration.

Included among the components are a stock cylinder block, cylinder head, rockers, and crankshaft. There is also an overdrive transmission with a bell housing. Once again, this is a healthy head start on a restoration to the car’s original specification.

So, you could restore this Healey to its racing specifications, or you could restore it to its original specification? That is an interesting choice. Personally, I’d love to do some detective work on the car’s racing past, regardless of whether I was going to restore it to a racer or back to original. A third option could be to take the car as it is and finish to your own specifications to create a track-day car. That’s also an attractive proposition. Which way would you go?

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  1. Dirk

    Neat car! Why in the world would anyone in their right mind restore it back to original configuration at this point? Sell off all original parts and put the money into your race car fund, you’re gonna need it. In the end, it will make a great vintage racer or street racer especially if it has any kind of a decent history. A Healey/Cobra isn’t an original idea but they can sure be a lot of fun and this car is well on its way!

  2. Steve R

    I didn’t realize these went for that much money, $13,500 for a roller with no engine or transmission seems like an awful lot of money. It’s rough, any race history will likely be hard to prove. Turning it back into a track car won’t be cheap, I’d price turn key race cars before committing to this one.

    Steve R

    • Steve

      The ad states, and photos show, both an engine and transmission. Granted the engine and possibly the transmission are not together, and obviously the car isn’t running, but nonetheless…

      I cannot debate the value of this car, but I feel that the seller’s starting point is good. I would be willing to bet that this car will go to someone for around $10k.

      As far as potential engines, I would have to skip the SBC as there is a 2.0L Ecotec turbo out of a Pontiac Solstice GXP for sale locally. They can be made to make 300 hp fairly easily and reliably… Hmmm…

  3. Rustytech

    This ones been road hard and put up wet more than once, but still a very good project at a fair price.

  4. Beatnik Bedouin

    Shame there’s no engine compartment shot, as I’m guessing that this Healey had had a SBC swap, which was pretty common.

    It would make a fun classic racer…

  5. Kirk

    Love this car! I am workin on my ’56 100-4, V8 project, barn find after stored since 1978. It’ a hot rod parts Time Capsule of the 70s. A spotless New Boss 302 block dated 1971 w\ big valve 289 HiPo heads, never started, B.W. T-10 four speed w\ Hursts super shifter. Flared fenders over Custom alum.rim Wires. 7×15 front, 8×15 rear, Shelby traction bars….. I’ve added 289 Cobra headers and 3 point roll bar. An all Calif.car I found for a mir 10,000 delivered. In the 1970s we called this a “Poor Man’s Cobra”. Not my first one either guys

    • Frank Smith

      GT40-P heads from 99 Exploder would make the 289 hipos seem like 221 Fairlane heads…

    • Wayne Kirkpatrick

      Kirk here again w\ my ’56 100-4 V8 project, mine will not only be a Racer @ The Texas Mile [google that], but also run with the The Texas Spokes Autocross Club. She will be street driven also… in the ’70s we always went huntin to kill new Corvettes w\ my first “Poor Man’s Cobra”….piss’em off big time, every time man…

      Drive em like you stole em boys…….

  6. Ric Parrish

    That is not a 100-4 windshield.

  7. mainlymuscle

    Yeah baby,an “outlaw Healey”.I had an all original 61 AH 3000,really not overly exciting.The Healeys are beautiful cars,and I would never advocate butchering one,but the damage is done here.Hot Rod all the way !

  8. Tort Member

    Back in the mid sixties a friend put a 301 sbc in one like this. It was scary fast. This car looks great as is, just put a sbc, Ford, or Chrysler motor in it and have fun.

  9. Bill Wilkman

    This car is overpriced and beyond restoration to stock configuration. I’d suggest a price of about $5000 less than asking and the new owner should fix it up as a hot rod. While I’m no fan of radical modifications to Healeys, it is possible to create a nice example. Attached is a photo of a modified Healey that was done to a very high standard.

  10. Chad

    I’ll go w/the (is it?) 850 in the background – looks like it’s runnin.
    Not gunna americanize this one.

  11. KevinLee

    My two cents; the wheels are 200s, not Torque Thrust.

  12. Bryan W Cohn

    So many questions, so little time…..

    A single dash plaque does not mean it was raced. Those were given to drivers, all of the volunteer SCCA workers and more.

    Those are injection molded seats which were NEVER legal for SCCA racing. They are also a bit modern for this cars era. The fire extinguisher placement is also not SCCA (or any other road racing organization) legal, it has to be within reach of the driver while belted in. The gauges look to be original Smiths. While Smiths were used in many race cars they aren’t what anyone would ever call racing gauges, they are just good quality parts that do the job.

    My guess is it was drag raced if anything.

    As for what to do with it? Given the prices restored big Healey’s are bringing this one might be worth restoring if breaking even is acceptable, or if its a labor of love. As a hot rod its only worth what someone will pay for it and as we all know, one man’s treasure is another man’s junk.

  13. Gene Parmesan

    LOVE how this thing looks with the flares, meats, and daisy mags. This would be an excellent “Nasty Boy” Healey candidate. Drop a hot small block in it, a little suspension and brakes, and immediately destroy every back road and irritate every neighbor.

  14. Wayne Kirkpatrick

    right, no it’s not, best part about my ’56 100-4 V8 IS the fold down windscreen

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