Stored In ’69: 1960 Austin Healey 3000

Jeff LaveryBy Jeff Lavery

The hit TV show Wheeler Dealers recently did a segment on the rescue and restoration of an Austin Healey like this one – the classic “big Healey”, or Austin Healey 3000. I had never had much interest in these cars previously, but after seeing one come together on TV – and hearing the sounds it made with a set of sidedrafts – well, consider me interested in cars like this one. Find this project-grade example here on eBay with a $17,500 asking price. 

Is a big Healey in my future? Not likely. Even the projects are out of grasp cost-wise, and the end result on Wheeler Dealers revealed that their car brought huge money at auction. This particular car is said to look worst in pictures than it actually is, though I’m unsure that this corrosion counts as “typical” Healey rust as described in the eBay listing. The good news, however, is that it appears relatively complete despite showing a few layers of paint.

The Healey does not run but the seller claims the motor does still turn over, and amazingly, the brakes still work. Despite having been driven into storage in 1969 and not turned a wheel since, the Healey could be a runner without as much work as its appearance may imply. It has less than 60,000 miles from new, and as Ray T. points out below, I was mistaken in my initial assessment: the VIN breaks this down as a left-hand drive, four-seat 3000. Not as rare as the two-seater, but still worth saving.

The interior remains in higher state of preservation that you might expect for a car slumbering since the 1960s, but perhaps it was stored carefully in a longtime owner’s garage. Yes, you’ll still likely want to rebuild the armrest and replace the upholstery (maybe even the carpets) but as-is – assuming the seats don’t collapse the moment you sit on them – this is an area you could address after the mechanical restore is complete. I’ve sold myself on this car; anyone else?

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Comments

  1. RayT Member

    Jeff, this is NOT a “two-seat” Healey. You can see the “occasional” rear seat in a couple of photos, and the serial number prefix — HBT7L is a left-hand drive, four-seat 3000; a two-=seater would be HBN7L — makes it clear.

    My father had a very similar 3000 (with a red interior) which he purchased new. The two of us put more than a half-million miles on it before I was forced to part with it. If finances permitted, I would already have another. Fully restored.

    For me, there is nothing like a Big Healey!

    • Jeff Lavery Jeff Lavery Staff

      Ray, thanks for spotting this. I will make the appropriate edits. Clearly I am a Healey novice.

      • RayT Member

        No problem, Jeff. Considering how many cars you report on regularly, a slip-up like that is small potatoes indeed!

    • Brakeservo

      35 – 40 years ago, a friend’s father in Burbank, CA bought a half million mile Healey, I wonder if it was the same car, there can’t be too many of them.

  2. johnfromct

    Jeff, I strongly suggest you drive a fully restored one first before diving in. I used to love these for their looks. But I drove one of these after driving a Jag XK150 and there was no comparison. Jag has better performance, better comfort and if you go with the non S (2 carb) version, not much if any more in price.

    Driving the AH reminded me of an MG Midget I had owned previously, just bigger. Same seats, same floor, even identical annoying rattles ftom gearbox.

    Kinda like a handsome, but dumb horse. Nice to look at but not to ride.

  3. LAWRENCE

    Looks like a pretty ruff 9 years on the road or poor storage ?

  4. Dolphin Dolphin Member

    I owned a ’62 Tri-carb Healey 3000 back when it was close to new, and at the time it was one of the most impressive cars I ever drove. But…..

    These were designed in the 1950s, so they have limitations, like a very heavy cast iron engine up front. The early ones, like this one on Ebay, have very little ground clearance. A lot of these ended up with frequent exhaust problems because the mufflers kept getting ripped off.

    The ‘climate control’ mainly consisted of the windows and the removable top. They were hot in the summer and cold in the winter. The front shocks are part of the front suspension, and the shocks usually started to lose their oil after about 30 to 40K miles, depending on how hard they were driven.

    And of course the rust protection was limited, so a lot of them ended up rusty if driven in winter in the rust belt. I don’t have a lot of sympathy for complaints about that because these just aren’t made to serve as daily drivers in rust belt winters.

    But….a Tri-Carb Healey 3000 was just about king of the road back then. The only cars that could out-accelerate a Tri-Carb was a muscle car or an E-Type, and there weren’t many of the latter around anyway.

    And the sound? There was no car, short of a Ferrari V12, that sounded better than a Big Healey.

    But the car featured here? Be careful, my friends, be very careful. I think it has more needs than it seems to have from the photos.

    The rockers are toast. Probably also the fenders and the front & rear shrouds. That’s likely because those body parts are separated by those nice looking chrome trim strips that run along the tops of the fenders, between those body parts. The join tabs on those body parts are usually rusted to paper thin, if they are there at all.

    And then there is the corrosion that the aluminum shrouds usually suffer. From the photos the frame is also suspect. The variable gaps between many of the panels suggest that the frame might be bad (weak).

    Then there is the interior, the instruments, the non-running engine…etc, …etc. Even the rad looks like it will need to be recored.

    I would save a bit more money, or even take out a loan if necessary if I really wanted a Healey 3000. You would almost certainly be driving a lot sooner, and probably also a lot cheaper, than if you try to bring this car back.

  5. KEN TILLY

    Back in 1955 I bought a new Austin Healey BN1 four cylinder, 3 speed gearbox (although I discovered later that the original first gear was blanked off at the factory making second gear the new first gear, why I have no idea) and I was very impressed. Many years later I bought a BN 7 Big Healey fitted with triple SU carbs but I was unimpressed as it didn’t seem to be much faster than the 4 cylinder. I crashed it into an Armco barrier, had it repaired, and sold it on. Twelve years later I was a vehicle examiner/roadworthy tester and the new owner brought it to me for testing. Well! What a car it turned out to be. Evidently before I owned it, someone had fitted a 2600cc motor to it but it had now been totally restored with the correct 3000cc engine. Yes, it did get very hot inside, yes, it was very low, and yes, it was tail heavy under too much loud pedal, but one of the best British cars that I ever owned. If I was under pressure from the wife and kids I would just go out into my garage, sit on a one gallon paint tin, and just look at the rear quarter of that car. Beautiful! Wish I could afford one now.

  6. Wayne

    I heard one of these when I was about 15 years old, and I can still remember that beautiful throaty exhaust note like it was yesterday, but it was 56 years ago. Not bad for a cast iron truck motor.I wish I had bought one when I was about 20. Nobody wanted them.

  7. Joe Haska

    Love the comment about a dumb horse, it is an excellent analogy, and I think I would really like to have a dumb horse!

  8. Del

    This looks way to rough for only 9 years on the road.

    Even bad storage would not do this.

    Buyer be ware

    • Gordon Thomas

      The old saying seems to ring true on this one: you can fool some of the people some of the time, but not everyone all the time. 60,000 miles on how many turns of the odometer. Rough rough rough for that few of miles and that much rust.

  9. Carey Hill

    come on guys…. stop pointing out all the reasons not to buy it… and think of all reasons why cruising past the cafe’s at your favorite beach with the big stainless exhaust burbling away…. wouldn’t make you the envy of even the most hardened tofu eating greenie

  10. Dean

    https://seattle.craigslist.org/see/cto/d/1960-austin-healey-3000-bt7/6410295328.html

    This one looks to be a better starting point for not much more money. My dream car at 16 was a Healey 3000 Mk2. I still think they look fantastic.

  11. Rusty Boot

    Been in a leaky barn and/or littel or no top covering interior. Rust will likely be pervasive. Count on sills, floors & outriggers.

  12. David Miraglia

    out of my price range, but I could still dream of owning one, just like the E .

  13. charlie

    In college in l962. Classmate had one, claimed he drove it at over 100 mph in Arizona on a hot day, just cruising along. Ford patrol car caught up but then, after about 5 minutes at speeds over 120 blew its engine and faded into the dust, Healy just motored on. I had a Jag XK 150 S which was incredibly fast and agile, when it ran. Paid $350 for it. Classmate’s observation was it was a $12,000 engine in a $6000 car.

  14. That Guy

    My piano teacher had a few different British sports cars when I was a kid, and one of them was a Healey. He didn’t have that one for long, and the reasons why are lost in the deep mist of my memory. I do remember the dramatic noises it made, though, and eight-year-old me was mightily impressed. I still love the sound of a big Healey, and I wouldn’t care if it does drive like a truck, I’d just enjoy the symphony.

  15. Ron

    I purchased a 3-carb ‘62 big Healey in the summer of ‘68. It had been driven hard and put away wet, a lot. But, it did run like crazy, and yes it was low and the muffler dragged frequently. We lived about a half a mile off the main highway and my folks said they could hear me coming when I made the turn onto our street.

    The knee action shocks are integrated into the upper control arm, I had the bolts shear off the right front and the suspension dropped, fortunately I was going slow making a right turn so no major damage. Had it towed home and jacked it up and replaced the bolts and was good to go again. Definitely a fun car to drive.

  16. conrad alexander

    it would look good with my 215 buick engine in it.

  17. Bill Olver

    I love the 100-4 series Austin Healeys. They were real sports cars, ready to race on the weekends and one of the most beautiful cars on the road. I always considered the 3000 series Healeys, with jump seats, fixed windshield, fancy interiors with glass side windows and door handles, a car for the guy on his way to play golf. I had three 100-4 Healeys an one 100-6 Healey with a worked 283 Corvette and 4 speed, Dunlap disc brakes. I raced all of them in Florida.

  18. Allen

    Conrad,

    Save your Buick 215 for a late ’70s MGB. The engine will bolt straight in – as the car is designed for it. Putting the 215 in the Healey would just diminish the value of the Healey. There is huge club-support for MGB V8s – either the BOP-Rover that you have, or the Ford 302. V6s too – Mostly Chevy 2.8-3.4s. Lots of fun!

    Holiday Cheers,
    Allen

  19. Devin Williams

    I still own the same 1962 BT7 that I purchased from a neighbor when I was a teenager back in 1984. I had it restored about 10 years ago and my teenage son and I enjoy many road trips a year in it. One of the best things I did from a reliability and performance standpoint was convert it from tricarb (three HD6) to dual (twin HD8 like the last years, BJ8) had. The tricarbs were incredibly difficult to keep tuned. And the HD8s are faster.

    I find the asking price for this a bit high. I’ve seen unrestored examples of BJ8s go this high, but they tend to be a bit more desirable because of their roll-up windows and fold-down tops. But I prefer the lines of the roadsters because they don’t have that “lump” in the back when the top is off.

    Some criticisms are correct… they are hot in the summer. But they are not cold in the winter. If you live in an area that doesn’t salt the roads, they are great to drive in the cold months, esp. if you have a hardtop (like I do). Even with the soft top, they are warm… just a bit noisier.

    No, they aren’t the fastest cars. And yes, they sit low. But they are fun beasts to drive and get comments for how pretty they are wherever you go. My son, now 14, loves it and hopes to inherit it one day. I love it for not only the nostalgia from my youth, but of the memories I’m creating with my son. And you really can’t beat the exhaust note!

  20. Pete

    While I was tooling around in my 65 Spitfire I had to go pick up my sister who was baby sitting. When I got there I saw a AH 3000 MKII sitting in the driveway. I returned the following saturday and spoke to the man about his car. I want to remember him taking me around the block in it, but that was a fuzzy time in my memory. I do remember hear it running and seeing him driving it around my area and always thinking how cool that car was. It definately was a low rider. If I owned a car like that today, I couldn’t drive it out of my neighborhood because of the stupid speed bumps being so high. I would have to put it on a trailer and carry it to the main road. How ridiculous is that? LOL

  21. Jim Z Member

    I worked at a place that specialized in restoring these. Never understood their allure, but to each his own. Remember driving one with a 327 stuffed in under the hood…memorable!

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