Stored Since Woodstock: 1959 Austin-Healey 100-6

I have never owned a British sports car but I’ll admit, I’m fascinated by them. I think it’s the rawness and simplicity that holds my attention – imagine building something like that today. And besides the existential aspect of what comprises a British sports car, it’s the number of different manufacturers that were in the mix. And then there’s the fact that most of them have gone by the wayside – sad. But there are many examples that still grace our shores so let’s take a look at this 1959 Austin-Healey 100-6, located in Canton, Georgia, and available here on eBay for a current bid of $16,355, reserve not yet met.

Austin-Healey was in business for twenty years, between 1952 and 1972, and the 100-6 model was produced from 1956 until 1959. Two different body styles were offered, a 2+2 and a two-seater. It is thought that about 14K 100-6 copies were assembled during its four model years.

The seller cautions prospective buyers by stating, “Looks fairly ugly but don’t let the photos fool you. All it needs is paint and some interior work – or drive it as it stands”. There is something oddly chic about the appearance, at least you wouldn’t worry about parking lot rubs. But an esteemed roadster like this Austin-Healey deserves better. The seller states that this Healey has been off the road since 1969 but it is a rust-free example (one of the most rust-free that he has encountered) and admittedly, the floors and underside look fine. There is rust manifesting itself, however, in the lower, passenger side fender but it’s hard to make out how extensive it is. The seller adds that this Healey was a California and then a Georgia residing car so those geographies may have lent a hand in preserving the body. Interestingly, this roadster comes with a removable, fiberglass top that fits well, though the reseller does not know its origin. There is no folding convertible top, frame, or side curtains and the windshield needs to be replaced. The seller concludes that this Austin-Healey was repainted silver about 200 years ago, it looks it! I think he means 20 years ago but I’m not sure why one would paint a car that had been sitting and continues to sit, for such a long period of time. Anyway, the silver has flaked off revealing a red under- finish but apparently the car was black at its inception.

Under the hood, the original 2.6 liter, in-line six-cylinder engine has been replaced with a 1967 vintage Austin-Healey 3000 motor, which is a 3.0 liter, I-6 configuration and capable of generating 150 HP. The seller claims that this Healey runs perfectly and the oil and valve train are very clean – the engine supposedly has only experienced 3,600 miles of operation. The running perfectly has been limited only to driveway carousing. Apparently the metallic brake shoes need to be “broken in” and the handbrake is not connected. The transmission employed is a four-speed manual and the seller adds, “The transmission is an original Austin Healey 4 speed side shift with overdrive. Everything works perfectly. The transmission was removed and partially disassembled for inspection and it was like brand new inside. Shiny clean with clear oil, needing nothing. Actually looks like it had been rebuilt yesterday – probably at the same time the engine was installed. Clutch and throwout are new, having been replaced when the new engine was installed. Overdrive works fine.” So we’ll go with the assumption that the older gearbox is perfectly adequate for the larger, more powerful engine. The new clutch is a definite benefit.

Inside needs help and the seller as much admits it. He recommends new upholstery for the seats which are apparently “BJ8” seats meaning that they are from an Austin-Healey 3000; whether it’s the one that donated the engine is unknown. While the dash auxiliary gauges work, the speedometer and tachometer don’t. The speedometer is missing its cable and the tachometer needs to be modified, or its connection, to operate properly with the larger engine. The steering wheel is missing a chunk or two as well. But all in all, it’s not too bad, the floors, in particular, are very solid.

It’s important to not judge a book by its cover. I was completely prepared to say, “OK, here’s another that might be salvageable with a wing and a prayer, but this Austin-Healey has had all of the tough-stuff performed. It seems that it is down, or mostly down, to cosmetics. Mostly down because there are still plenty of things that can jump up and bite you with a car that has had this much reconfiguring and is still an unknown in real-world driving. And there is wiring and accessory operation still to consider. That said, this Healey appears to be a pretty solid base that is well beyond the project stage, but it’s not at the completed stage either, there is still work to do. The listing and images are very comprehensive, one of the best that I’ve encountered, I suggest that you check all of it in detail. There is the statement included in the seller’s description section, “This is a low reserve auction”. Hard to say how “low” low is. There are five bids tendered so far and three days to go so we’ll watch this one and find out. What’s your opinion, worth taking on, or are there still too many unknowns?

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  1. angliagt angliagt Member

    I bought a 100-6 in ’75.I paid $1000 for it.
    It was the first car my Wife went out with me in.
    The Healey’s gone,but the Wife is still here.
    I sold it to a dealer in Honolulu (Love-Thomas Motors)
    for $2100.I thought that I’d made a killing on it,until I saw
    the prices go crazy.
    It was red,with chromed disc wheels,& steel bars
    in place of the bumpers.It was a four seater.
    I wonder if it’s still around?

    Like 3
    • JohnfromSC

      I’m astonished at how many folks out there will pay so much money for a non original car that will cost exactly the same to bring to a nice level as a car with it’s original configuration, yet be worth substantially less when finished. There is a ton of work and cost to do on this one, and that’s without any surprises from the drivetrain.

      I simply don’t get it. Maybe multiple fools and their money…

      Like 3
    • healeydays

      If you know the serial number, you can look it up and see if it’s registered.

      • angliagt angliagt Member

        I had it written down on a piece of paper,
        but haven’t been able to find it.

  2. Howard A Member

    Another blast,,,in the early 70’s, my brother, who had the ’63 Alfa Spider, traded or bought, I forget, a ’58 100-6 with a 3000 motor. Apparently, that was a common transplant. I thought he traded the Alfa and like $500 bucks for it, or something ridiculous like that. Saying the car was fun would be a gross understatement. It was the 2nd car I went 120 mph ( a neighbors ’65 Plymouth ex-patrol car, being the 1st) It was an exhilarating experience, fer sure. And fast off the line, not much could beat it, especially any foreign car of the time. However ( here it comes) AS a car, it’s not the best. The big motor produced iffy handling, hot in summer, uncomfortable and I can’t tell you how many times he tore the exhaust off. Sure sounded neat when that happened. He got drafted, and just before he left, someone pulled out in front of him, he hit the brakes, the LF grabbed before the right, it spun the car around, mowing over a traffic island, and wasted the wire wheels, bent the steering and the rear axle,and most of the underside. Ins. company totaled it, and that’s where that went. I’m glad that I got to experience driving one. Fantastic cars.
    This is an odd one. 1st, I rarely, if ever saw a hardtop, very handy, even though you have no business driving one in snow( although, I bet many did) the heater barely deiced the inside of the windshield, but it kept drafts out, and 2nd, I don’t think I’ve ever seen one with steel wheels. 99.9% had wires. I like how wires look, but are a constant PITA, and with these hubs, you could get some nice looking mags. While $16g’s may sound like a lot,( usually to me) this is probably the best deal you’re going to find on one of the neatest vintage British roadsters made. I almost guarantee, you won’t be disappointed.

    Like 4
    • ken tilly UK

      I bought a 1960 BN 7 3000cc, triple SU carburetters, which the next owner discovered actually had a 2.6L engine! It was as hot as hell in all weathers, so low to the ground that the exhaust scraped over every hump in the road. The left rear shock absorber mount broke off in the middle of a hard right flyover at about 70 mph and the car rocketed off into the steel Armco barrier which shortened the car by half a metre! Insurance paid for the rebuild but as the wife wouldn’t ride in it because of the heat I sold it on. Oh, by the way, it also had a hard top and steel wheels when I owned it but the next owner had it fitted with wires. One of those gorgeous cars that I should never have sold! (Along with about 200 others!)

      Like 5
  3. Pat

    My 58 100-6 had a bj8 engine in it too, with the side shift transmission. Have to agree with what everyone has said; hot as heck, tons of low end torque made it fun off the line, best sounding car EVER, exhaust system had about 2” of clearance. Loved that car, wish I still had it, but my Miata is a fun substitute.

    Like 1
  4. piston poney

    tbh i kinda like the red and silver combo. tho i would like it better if it was red with silver stripes and hood side and normal racing stripes, just saying it would look pretty cool.

  5. RayT Member

    My dad bought a ’58 (maybe ’57) 100-6 in 1959. Didn’t have many miles on it, but it had been ridden pretty hard before he bought it. He didn’t like the brakes very much, as they weren’t really up to the kind of use he put them to on mountain roads….. The wire wheels needed attention (and new tires), and the shocks were getting worn.

    But I think his biggest problem was that he didn’t like owning someone else’s used sports car, so after a year, it was traded in on a shiny new 3000, which he kept for almost 30 years before passing it on to me. And no, I should never have let go of it, even though it had more than a half-million miles on it (and needed some minor rust repair on a couple of fenders, a retrim and fresh paint). I simply couldn’t afford to treat it as it deserved.

    Oddly enough, in 1965, just before I got my learner’s permit, I spotted a red 100-6 in a nearby town. Dad’s had a couple of very minor details that set it apart from the rest. I got off my bicycle, took a close look, and sure enough…. After some father-and-son discussion, it was decided that we didn’t need two Big Healeys. Fortunately, I found a Frogeye soon after that dad thought was a good deal.

    Like 2
  6. Steve Bush Member

    Always thought these were beautiful cars, second only to the Jag E Type in that era. Surprised yours or any other Brit car from that era lasted 500k miles, Ray T. What did you do to keep it running and in good shape and what parts, other than the usual consumables, did you replace?

    Like 1
    • RayT Member

      Steve, during its time with us, the Healey had its engine rebuilt three times. The only odd parts replacement for the engine was the rocker shaft, as the original showed considerable wear the second time the engine was pulled apart. I believe the clutch was replaced once, and believe the gearbox was never taken apart.

      Everything else was just consumables, though dad did replace the SU fuel pump with a Bosch (?) unit when he got tired of whacking the adjacent inner body panel with a rubber hammer to unstick the points….

      I will say I suspect some of the car’s mechanical longevity was due to the fact that it was driven hard — but carefully — and serviced regularly. All by-the-book stuff..

      Like 1
  7. luke arnott Member

    A guy drove past my house this morning in a ’64 3000 – blue & cream,very pretty!

  8. Paul Hess

    Anyone have any idea whatever happened to my Healey? I abandoned it at the side of the road circa 1970 in London Ont. I had three wonderful gals riding with me, broke a wire wheel and like any entitled, dumb kid, just left it there. Brains were wasted on me in my teenage years, didn’t use them much. Black and red combo, absolutely beautiful and figured it would find it’s own way home.

    Like 2
  9. matt

    Funny that you mention the exhaust tear off !! A most common problem with the big Healeys. I thought from some of your past comments that you had been inoculated against British Car Disease.
    I was not, and my disease persists to this day !! But with two Brits in the garage I can’t buy a third – Where would I sleep then?


    Like 2
    • Howard A Member

      Truth be known, it was my brothers Healey that converted me from the muscle car punk, to the refined follower of fine British Motorcars, and like you, persists to this day. Almost bought a 1500 Spitfire, but went with a dual sport bike instead.
      in a side note, I was following a TR6 the other day, top down, the sky opened up, which is rare for my area, and this guy didn’t stop, pouring rain, top down, I thought, oh yeah, I’ve been there,,,

      Like 1
  10. Jimbosidecar

    My 2nd car, bought at 15, was a 1956 100.4. Paid $300 for it. It had the heat issue that others descrbed with their 3000s. I didn’t know they still had that issue with the 6 cylinder engine.

  11. Brian M Member

    Notice the orange on the fender in pictures of the exterior? When I was spending a lot of time on e Bay in the mid 200Xs, I saw a lot of British stuff on sale by probably this same guy, who always had an orange in the photo. I guess it was his signature. I think that I did buy some things from him for my TR. A classmate in college in NH in the early 60’s forgot to dodge a somewhat higher than normal manhole cover in the quad one day as he was racing to ROTC drill and yanked the exhaust system off of his 100-6. Pissed? yeah, I guess. His fault? Yeah, that too, as he had been dodging the cover for almost two years. As far as engine swaps, one night in early 64, a Healey 100 showed up out front of the dorm sporting a Chevy 283 or 327 and making one hell of a racket with tiny smittys somehow stuffed under the back. Didn’t stop worth a s**t, but who’s concerned about stopping when going is the idea?

    Like 1
    • Clive Roberts

      There is certainly a lot of work required to bring this old girl back to show condition, but I hope someone will undertake the task. I have owned an e-type Jag and a big Healey and the Healey handled by far the better.

    • Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

      Orange or orange ball on the fender, probably to identify his photos should they show up on somebody else’s ad. One of my favorite eBay sellers photographs everything laying on a specific colored piece of vinyl, instantly identifiable when I glance through dozens of thumbnail photos for used parts. Guess it is not much different than the big dogs that use a watermark on their photos so you can’t steal (or even save) for reference later.

  12. Doug

    I had a ’61 4 seater with a Ford 289 / Borg Warner 4 speed. That thing would pull to 7 grand easily – not sure what cam it had in it. Quicker than the ’67 4 speed 427/435 Stingray that lived up the street. Where we ran was less than 1/4 mile, not sure of the distance. I know 2nd gear would take me to just over 90mph, and I’d be in 3rd when it was brake time. ( I would have had to back off about then anyway- after about 105, the front end got REALLY light- the big Healeys were notoriously tail heavy at speed, and the small block Ford/ BW combo was about 150lbs lighter than the 3.0 6cylinder, which didn’t help ! )

    • Howard A Member

      Hey Doug, were you the guy at the gymkanas held at shopping center parking lots in MIlwaukee years ago? There was a guy with a 289 Healey that cleaned up on everyone.

  13. DavidM

    I have purchased from this guy in the past. First class gentleman and a straight-shooter. I would gladly buy from him again.

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