Tree’thousand: 1960 Austin-Healey 3000 MkI

Scotty GilbertsonBy Scotty Gilbertson

My wife is a master gardener and I’ve always wanted a 1960 Austin-Healey 3000, this could be a match made in heaven! Well, other than this car needs just a little more work than I normally do on a vehicle, not to mention that it needs more pruning than I normally do on a vehicle, or on a tree. This arborist’s dream car is listed on eBay with a current bid of.. wait, there’s a bid on this thing?! Wow, some brave person has placed a $1,284 bid on this car! And, the best part: the reserve isn’t met! You won’t be driving this one home from Loudon, Tennessee but it’ll sure look cool on its $900 ride home on the back of a trailer to your yard where it may take root again.

Jamie is our resident British vehicle expert and I’ve been to his house and he does have trees in his yard. Coincidence? (no clue what that means).. The Austin-Healey 3000 is a very desirable and normally expensive car. Hagerty lists a car in #4 fair condition as being worth $28,200! This car must be in #14 tree-ridden condition, I have no idea what it would be worth? $1,500? $2,000? Could this car possibly be restored? Maybe so, Hagerty lists a #2 excellent condition car as being worth $76,000 and a #1 concours car as being worth $105,000! Yikes.

This car was found behind a barn where it had been parked 36 years ago. It’s sure in rough condition, but obviously there are more than a thousand dollars worth of usable parts on it. The seller says that this A-H 3k “is not pretty or driveable, but it offers a good base for a total restoration or use as a parts car.” The very definition of root rot, or rust, as we say in the car business, has taken hold of this car and it may be a death grip. I know that almost any vehicle can be restored, but is there a restoration in this car’s future or is this a parts car? There are parts that I’m sure are valuable, such as the windshield frame and, the.. er.. uhh..

I’ve had a couple of motorcycles in storage since 1986. I know, I’m not proud of it but at least they’ve been stored indoors. How does a car like this 3000 come to be just left outside for almost four decades?! Was it really not worth anything in 1981? Back then a person could have gotten Jaguar E-Type convertibles in nice condition for $10,000 all day long, how much would an Austin-Healey 3000 Mk1 have been worth that it was just left outside to rot and become an aphid habitat? It doesn’t appear to have been in an accident so I’m assuming that it was some sort of mechanical failure that caused it to be neglected for that long. What a shame. There isn’t much left of the interior, as you can see from the photo above, and from this one, and also the photo of the speedometer.

And you thought that modern engines had a lot of hoses and wires! Wait, those are branches, never mind. There is no AC to “need charged”, but this entire engine “needs trimmed”. This is, of course, a 3,000 CC (2,912) inline-six that would have had around 125 hp, or about 40 times the horsepower that the average chainsaw has. Speaking of chainsaw, the seller says that they “will remove the tree growing on the engine if you wish.” Why would you do that, this thing is a fantastic piece of yard art just as it is. Believe it or not, there is a clear cut.. I mean, a clear title that comes with this car. What are your thoughts on this one, can it be saved or is it a parts car? And, what parts are worth more than $1,000 on this thing?!

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  1. jdjonesdr

    Words escape me.

  2. Fred W.

    My first impulse was, “Maybe this isn’t quite as bad as it looks”. So I went to the Ebay listing and looked over the photos. Wrong- it’s bad! “Engine needs trimmed” gave me a good laugh.

  3. jimbunte jimbunte Member

    Very sad!

  4. Howard A Member

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. This is all that’s left folks. Since all the nice ones are accounted for, people are dragging out every derelict hulk, a mere shred of what it once was, to cash in. Nothing wrong with that, really. It’s rough, and a gold mine in parts ( even the restored ones break) but to try and rebuild this is what I’d call an “ambitious restoration”. With the popularity of these, and the lack of fixable ones left, I bet someone will sink a college education into this. Remember, in the late 60’s and 70’s, this was probably just a car to someone, and drove it as such, year ’round. When they fell through the floor, that was it. Many looked like this where I come from.

  5. Francisco

    Some vintage British marques are firmly rooted in tradition.

  6. David Frank David Frank Staff

    Great write up Scotty! Treating this car like this was treeson! Sadly, the damage appears to have been leaful. It will need devine intervention.

  7. Red'sResto

    Ran when barked…

  8. Todd Fitch Todd Fitch Staff

    The last car I considered that had a tree growing up through it was an original SCJ Mustang and…. that’s still true. Unless there’s a gold brick in there somewhere I can only see endless possibilities for buyer’s remorse. Maybe few parts could net a profit on eBay.

    • Ross W. Lovell

      Greetings All,

      During my younger days, a car friend of mine told me about a boneyard that had a tree growing through an Austin Healey.

      I went to look at it and purchased it.

      When I saw it, it wasn’t an Austin Healey, but I knew someone who would buy it.

      Turned out to be an Aston Martin, otherwise known as Astounding Martin if I didn’t catch spellcheck.

      My friend, already owned one, was amazed it turned out to be one, but then he didn’t actually stop and check it out, he only slowed down.

      It was worth restoring. I made some panels for it.

      The tree was 5-6″ around, paid the chainsaw guy extra for the way he minimized the chances of damages.

      The reason for the second post? The first one did not let me edit and then this one showed up, sorry.

      Feel free to remove the first one Moderator.

  9. Jose Cantu

    Lazarus looked better than this after being dead four day. Leave it alone.

  10. Ben T. Spanner

    I once biught a 1955 100 4 which had been stored in a barn over a lump of cow manure etc. The outer body panels, (which I wanted) were nice, even the rockers. The floor and the frame were shot. It looked nice on the outside, and horrible on the inside. It smelled bad all over.

  11. SunbeamerStu

    Buy this one and you’re in the weeds.

  12. Milt

    Even if there was a Steve McQueen connection, it probably will not help this car. Parts only.

  13. Dolphin Dolphin Staff

    Some great, wise, and very funny comments here.
    Thanks fellas. This was a hoot to read.

  14. healeydays

    I see someone asked a question about shipping it to the UK. Not sure this car will pass thru UK Customs.

    Quote from Guidance for individual travellers bringing food or other products with a plant or animal origin into the UK for personal use, or receiving such products by post.

    “When travelling from outside the EU, there are strict rules about bringing food products, plants and plant products back into the UK for your own personal consumption or use.”

  15. Bob

    Don’t belittle chainsaws, my old Husky 2100 has 7 hp, If your math is correct, I want that motor. That would mean that it would put out 280 horses. The down side is, that it would weigh over 1000 lbs and that would make weight distribution a bitch.
    They are a pretty car in driving condition. I saw one drive by the house the other day, and the look of the car with the wire wheels and the beautiful sound the straight six makes took me back to the late 50s when they were a common sight. It is an irony that they are so pricey now, when the whole idea of the Healey was for the middle class to have fun..

  16. Brakeservo

    But if you want it – be quick before ol’ Alex and the boys at Beverly Hills Hair Club snap it up! Oh, on second thought, this might be to good for their inventory

  17. jcs

    Here you go folks! A little spit and polish (and a chain saw) and you too can have a $105,000 A-H! Now who said America is no longer the land of milk and honey?

  18. Alan

    I’m crying for crying out loud. Crying, it’s so sad

    • Bob

      Roy Orbison wrote a song about crying. Too bad he’s gone.

  19. Richard V

    Well, it does have overdrive!

    • Howard A Member

      Hallelujah,,,I think they all did.

      • healeydays

        No, they didn’t all come with overdrive. I had a 59 AH 3000 that came overdrive delete. People did that to get in cheap or get the better rear end gearing (if they knew better) and added the overdrive later as my car’s owner did.

    • Francisco

      Did you mean overgrown?

  20. Jerry

    Park it in your front yard, fill it up with dirt and plant some flowers in it.


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