Warehouse Find: 1965 Austin-Healey 3000

Some cars lend themselves to family restoration projects better than others. Classic British sports cars are a perfect example. The engineering and construction tend to be elegantly simple, which can make them ideal for that role. This 1965 Austin-Healey 3000 BJ8 is an excellent example because it looks like it could be a straightforward prospect for restoration. It is a project that stalled before it could start, meaning that the buyer won’t be left wondering about the quality of any prior work. It is located in Canton, Georgia, and has been listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding has reached $10,400, and the reserve has been met.

The owner of the Healey is quite candid about the vehicle. He is happy to point out the good, the bad, and the ugly with this classic. He states that it started life wearing Colorado Red, but received a repaint in its combination of maroon and silver many years ago. It will need to be stripped back to bare metal if the buyer intends to achieve a high-end finish. This could be done by hand, but I would be inclined to have the body media-blasted. This will expose the full extent of any rust problems and allow these to be addressed appropriately. The Healey has the usual rust problems in the lower body areas, but replacement sections are easy to locate. The same is true of the floors, which are rotted. Many companies can supply replacement steel, and this is remarkably affordable. Full floors can be found for $160 per side, while toe boards sell for about $50 each. Structurally, the news is quite good. The frame has a good coating of surface corrosion, but no apparent rot. This is one component that I would be having blasted because the result should be well worth the effort and cost. It could then be painted or powder-coated, depending on personal preference. The frame for the convertible top works as it should, but the top itself will need to be replaced. The trim and chrome is all present, and anything that doesn’t present well would still be able to be restored. The wire wheels are looking tired, and if they are to be reused, they will need to be restored by a specialist. An alternative would be to replace the wheels entirely. New wheels with the correct finish sell for about $270 each, or bling could be added by choosing chrome wheels for $320 each. The 2-ear knock-offs are also surprisingly affordable, and an owner can source a set of four for around $210. Adding further confidence with this car is the fact that the owner actively encourages potential buyers to inspect it. That suggests that this is a person with nothing to hide.

The Healey is a numbers-matching car, and it comes with a British Motor Heritage Certificate that verifies this. What we find is a 2,912cc 6-cylinder engine that would have produced 150hp in its prime. Hooked to the back of this is a 4-speed manual transmission with the optional Laycock overdrive unit. This combination allowed the 3000 to cover the ¼ mile in 16.3 seconds and to nudge 120mph. The owner states that the Healey ran when he bought it, but the engine is now locked. He has not attempted to force it to move. However, he has removed the plugs and filled the cylinders with oil. With a bit of luck, it might free it up. He says that the transmission shift through all gears with the vehicle sitting stationary. He has hooked-up a battery, and the solenoid for the overdrive unit operates correctly. If the engine does require a rebuild, this is not something that would be earth-shattering. These are an elegantly simple motor, and rebuilds are possible if the owner is mechanically competent. Even if a professional is required, the cost shouldn’t be outrageous.

The area where people usually need to swallow hard on an Austin-Healey restoration is when they reach the point of attacking the interior. Apart from a lack of carpet, the interior is complete. The dash looks like it might be okay, and could respond well to some careful cleaning. The seats look serviceable, but the overall appearance of the upholstery is that it looks tired. This is where the wallet can take a hit that hurts. A complete retrim will cost somewhere in the region of $3,000, and that’s provided the dash is okay. If the walnut needs to be replaced, then a further $500 will need to be added. It’s a lot of money, I’m not going to deny it. What I will say in its defense is that you are talking about a one-off expense. If the car is maintained correctly, then the interior should be good for 50-years or more. Depending on your age, that means that the cost of any subsequent work could be someone else’s problem. See, the glass is half full.

The owner of this 1965 Austin-Healey has a good history selling cars on eBay, and the positive feedback that he has received will instill a sense of confidence in any prospective buyers. The BJ8 marked the final derivative of the 3000, with production ending in 1967. More than 90% of these British built sports cars found their way to the US, and they remain a firm favorite amongst enthusiasts today. Finding a good one for less than $30,000 is pretty close to impossible. If you have $35,000 in your pocket, you will secure yourself a clean car that can be enjoyed immediately. Fancy a pristine example? Then you’d better have a wallet that will hold $70,000 because you are likely to need it. Some of the costs involved in restoring this one might seem high. But with a potential value like that, it does leave a lot of room to move on a restoration. It makes this a classic that is worth a second look. The family might just love you for it.

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Comments

  1. BarnfindyCollins

    The Orange Picture Poser is back with another delectable selection for the garage.

  2. A.J.

    If I was a bit younger and still working full time I would jump on this project. I’ve wanted another Healey since I sold my ’63 when I went into the service. Prices sure have changed! I paid $1200 for mine and sold it for $1000 a year later.

  3. Eric H

    Seller says engine is free now, needs new solenoid.

    Like 1
  4. steve

    I just finished a BN4 here in Gville Florida, removing the fenders are tough, the top bolt over the wheel well moves one flat at a time with a flip-over of the wrench, the brakes are a nightmare to bleed. I also did an MGB with a nickel and dime of over $8000. for interior bodywork paint worn out everything that moves under the skin. This is a strip it down pull the motor trans, suspension to do it right. a good car to get the do-over,however if you are paying to have the work done you can kiss $ 35000.00 good by.All that said she is a beauty and a keeper.

    Like 1
  5. Johnny

    The more I look at the MG,s–Triumph,s–and Austin Healy,s the more I like them. I,m also learning more about the–the more I look at them. I like the Triumph,s idea of the whole front end lifting out of the way.To do anything under the hood. I like the frame under the Healy. I haven,t see any under the MG,s or Triumph,s yet. I believe if I had this Healey . I,d lay down a 1/4 sheet of steel between the frame and body. The put about a 1 inch block between the body and steel. To help protect the floor pan. Hopefully this time next year I,ll be able to get one. Until then. I,ll keep noticing and learning as I go and be able to get one then.

    • matt

      Johnny,

      The Triumphs have frames, the MGA’s, MGTD’s, Spitfires have frames. The sprites and midgets were unibody. That is not a complete list, but I thought I would mention it. I have a ’69’ TR6 that you might be interested in seeing.
      matt dot jadud at gmail.com

  6. Paul

    The owner stated that this car was in their “warehouse” for 35 years. Must not have been a dry storage based on the amount of rust on the frame and floorboards. My suspicion is that it was not in a warehouse and that it was exposed to a lot of moisture. Floorboard rust from the top after being exposed to water, it appears the floorboards were exposed a great deal of water.

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