✨ “Take it easy driving – the life you save may be mine.”
― James Dean


Friday, 19 July 2013

1962 Austin Healey 3000 MK.II

Many years ago, in the 1970's, I was at an Austin Healey show day at Patterson Park in Norwood (Johannesburg) and was impressed with a red Healey 3000 tri-carb on exhibit. My heart raced with excitement and I swore that one day I would own one of those, come what may!

Recently I heard of one of these beauties for sale in Cape Town and without seeing it, bought it over the phone and had it sent up to Jo'burg on a roll-back. You can imagine my anticipation when it arrived a couple of days later - British Racing Green with black Leather and white piping interior - immaculate condition - an ABSOLUTE dream!

72-spoke chrome wires, detailed engine bay and even a leather Tourneau! Magnificent! Had been a no-expense-spared rebuild back to standard in the U.K. and shipped to Cape Town by the previous owner.

As it came of the roll-back, I fired the motor and boy oh boy! talk about 3 SU growl - the sound is incomparable!

You can imagine that, in 1962, nobody could tune the 3 carbs, so Austin Healey went back to 2 carbs - the E-type proved the rest about 3 carbs.

In my mind, Austin Healey was one of the greatest sports cars ever produced.

 Getting ready to go to the car show

The original "big" Healey was the Healey 100, first shown at the Earls Court Show in 1952 and hastily adopted by BMC as the Austin Healey 100 with the 2.6-litre four-cylinder engine from the Austin Atlantic. Bodies were built by Jensen of West Bromwich, central England, with final assembly at the MG factory at Abingdon, Oxfordshire. In no way was the Healey a sophisticated motor car; it had a separate chassis, cam-and-peg steering and a solid rear axle sprung and located by half elliptic leaf springs.

In 1956 the six-cylinder BMC series C engine from the Austin Westminster was shoehorned into a stretched version of the car to make the 100/6. However, this wasn't entirely successful; performance was down compared with the torquey old four.

Redemption arrived in the form of the three-litre 3000 MK.I in 1959: outwardly the same pretty, shapely, low-slung two-seater but with a 2912cc 124bhp engine. Performance went up to 114mph (183kph), while new front disc brakes improved the stopping power. Overdrive, wire wheels and nominal two-plus-two seating were optional as before.

For 1961, BMC upped the power to 132bhp with triple SU carburettors for the MK.II 3000, followed a year later by the MK.IIa with wind-up windows, a curved windscreen and a proper, fully convertible hood. From this point, the cars were two-plus-two only and can be recognized by a vertical-slat front grille.

 On the way to the car show

Last, and best of the line, was the 1964 MK.III with improved breathing for 148bhp, pushing the top speed to over 120mph (193kph). Brakes were improved by servo and, inside, the car had a rather opulent wooden dashboard, somewhat at odds with its macho reputation as a rugged driver's car.

 North America was always the car's biggest market and it was American safety legislation that finally ousted the 3000 from production in 1967, after which BMC replaced it with the far less successful MGC. Despite its low ground clearance, the Healey was a formidable works rally car in three-litre form and was never quite the crude and rugged car of legend, certainly in later form. It remains one of the most sought-after British sports cars of the 1960's.

The Healey looks wonderful from the rear. The four-cylinder cars had the best handling.

1962 AUSTIN HEALEY 3000 Specifications 

Engine : 6-cylinder
Capacity : 2912cc
Power : 124-150bhp
Transmission : 4-speed, optional overdrive
Top Speed : 114-120mph (183-193kmph)
No. Built : 49,926 all types


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