SOLD for £44,625
‘The Austin Healey 3000…superb, timeless styling and classic proportions”. ‘The Times’
Launched in 1959, the 3000 further raised the ‘Big Healey’ game after the manly efforts of the 100/4 and 100/6. It was equipped with the 3 litre iteration of the C Series engine providing even more brawn (124 bhp at a lolloping 4,600 rpm) than its far from effete 2.6 litre predecessor, along with front disc brakes to rein in the extra get up and go. With the fantastic publicity gained from Austin Healey’s participation in motorsports, sales of the new model were as rapid as its performance. It would have been a great relief to Donald Healey that demand for the 2+2 far outstripped the two-seater cars as he had only reluctantly re-introduced this configuration at the end of the 100/6 production run with the BN6 model; he always believed that customers wanted the 2+2. In fact customer demand was so high that the 2+2 accounted for 85% of sales in 1960 and a whopping 93% of sales in 1961 conclusively proving that The Boss is always right!
Possibly more rapidly than any other time, the market was evolving and soon creature comforts such as wind-up windows were demanded and the BJ7 of 1962 duly obliged, also providing improved levels of trim and an ‘easy up’ hood arrangement, though the loss of a carburettor (three down to two) pegged performance back a little. Eighteen months later and the Mk III ‘BJ8’ became available offering further improvements to the driving environment in the form of an opulent walnut-veneer dashboard. The real man’s sports car was not going soft on us though and power got a useful hike to 150 BHP via bigger 2” S.U. carburettors, a new higher lift camshaft and valve springs to suit plus a redesigned exhaust; the far side of 120 MPH was now within the car’s reach. The previously optional servo had proved so successful on the Mk II that it was standardised, very much in line with the slight civilisation process the Healey was going through.
The pinnacle of 3000 development was reached in 1964 with the Mk III, Phase II. Always an Achilles Heel for the Healey was its lack of ground clearance, even in pre-sleeping policemen days; a chassis redesign for the Phase II at last provided some respite for owners, if a drop-off in income for 1960s KwikFit fitters. At the same time revised rear suspension was introduced with twin radius arms replacing the Panhard rod of the earlier cars.
Returned to the UK in the 1990s, this US market 1965 Austin Healey 3000 BJ8 is now in right hand drive form, sporting appropriate British Racing Green coachwork with black Connolly hide seating and matching carpeting. It was sold at auction, along with the Tony Elshof collection of Austin Healeys in September 1999, to its previous owner and kept by him for the best part of twenty years. Extensively restored and documented by a vast array of bills on file, it is now in fine condition throughout having covered just 2000 miles in the last twenty years. Quite unusually for a US market car, it was ‘optioned’ with a Smiths heater for those chilly early mornings, along with a laminated windscreen and an adjustable steering column. It was also supplied with the popular overdrive option on 3rd and 4th gears which makes these 1960s icons so useable in the 2010s.
The interior is almost ‘as new’ with the Connolly leather seating, carpets (protected by Austin Healey floor mats) and other internal details in excellent condition throughout. A beautiful Moto-Lita wood rim steering wheel is in place along with an Austin Healey logoed wooden gear knob. The touch of luxury walnut dash is in really nice condition and the centre console houses a lovely ‘mini-jukebox’ AM/FM radio and chrome speaker grill. The black hood is also virtually new in appearance along with its associated frame and various catches; it is tight and well fitted with a rear window free from ‘misting’. The boot is correctly trimmed and complete with spare wheel wearing a slightly worn tyre. The fuel tank looks to be new and a decent sized battery is fitted along with a handy safety/security cut off switch.
The bodywork appears to be in excellent condition with good panel gaps and the all-important swage lines are well aligned. These key indicators are unfortunately not always this sharp with restored, or even unrestored cars and the Big Healey sits ‘just right’.
The paintwork is good throughout with a fine level of shine and depth without it looking excessively thick. There are a few spots on the boot lid along with a couple of slight cracks in the front wings where it looks as though the doors have been able to open too far; please see and assess these small blemishes in the photo gallery.
The chrome-work, and there is a generous amount of it, is also very good for the most part with just a small area of flaking on a rear over-rider as can be seen in the photo gallery. Pair of lovely slightly ornate wing mirrors make for easier progress in 2019 but are straight out of 1965.
The Healey is shod with top quality Michelin XZX 165 SR 15s sporting copious remaining tread and they are wrapped around painted wire-spoke wheels (so much less ‘bling’ than chromed versions) with contrasting chromed spinners.
Mechanically, the engine starts on the button (except these later cars had dispensed with such things so you just use the key) after a gentle swing of the starter motor and it quickly settles down to a lovely straight six burble at 700 RPM, showing oil pressure of 45+ PSI; with a little warmth in its fluids, it shows 55 PSI at 1600 RPM. Further up the rev. range, the exhaust note hardens a little though the engine remains unstressed and millpond-smooth. On our short run the Austin Healey rode more smoothly than many we have driven including one that seemed minded to visit every passing hedge... This is doubtless due in part to the rear telescopic damper set up but also everything being relatively new and in good order.
The underside is exceptionally clean and finished in body colour. While there are one or two repairs and slight evidence of jacking malpractice, essentially all is very solid and looks like staying that way with a little ongoing maintenance.
There is evidence of new bushes and clean, painted suspension arms, plus a re-cored radiator ahead of an undented sump. Admirably free from extraneous fluids there is a small amount of flaking paint near the exhaust, a hanger rubber for which is just starting to perish slightly. There is plenty of grease on the greasy bits and up top the engine bay is really most presentable; super-clean, tidy and dry. A holed corrugated fresh air hose needs replacing but that should not prove to be too expensive.
To standard Factory specification throughout we could spot barely a nut or bolt that wasn’t where it should be on the Healey. In the engine bay it is nice to see the brass tops to the SU carburettors are still in place with the original Cooper brand air cleaners and original engine driven metal fan.
The Healey’s history file is suitably ‘big’ with sheaves of invoices detailed the work carried out and parts purchased to date. The current V5C document is present and though the Healey no longer requires it, it is MOT tested through to the 14th March 2020 having been tested virtually continuously since 2006.
Great looking machines with gutsy performance and a soundtrack to match, is there anything that epitomises the Great British Sports Car better than the Big Healey? A last of the line Phase 2 Mk III is arguably the pick of the range and the ten month only sub-set of cars with the more delicate ‘single side and indicator’ front lights, of which this March 1965 example must be one of the last, is possibly the best of the best. For an enthusiast looking for a good quality car that has had significant money spent on it over the years, this would be a great option. With the recent decline in the value of Sterling, importing cars has suddenly become a lot more expensive so this is an opportunity to acquire, at a very sensible price, a thoroughbred classic that has already had any necessary work done and is ready to go.