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Austin-Healeys

bm196bm196 Posts: 6
edited April 1 in General
Looking for a (not too major) project car:
1954-1963.
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  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,990
    You should check out post # 96 in Topic 6.


    Topic 6, Classics Conference

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  • C13C13 Posts: 390
    I think a separate AH topic would be great. I hope we don't get consolidated into one of the big generics like "Cars: What Do *You* Think?".

    So Shifty:
    how about that Sprite that had a body that resembled the MG Midget? And here I'd thought that Bugeye Sprites were the only kind. Is my face red?

    Is it better than the Midget in any way? Nicer badge for one.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,990
    First thing for a Healey conference is we'll have to watch the typos and spell it right...or lose credibility.

    It seems that buyers don't much differentiate between the Midget look-alike and the AH sprite...personally, I feel the AH version should be worth a tad more. They are fun little cars and a bargain right now. You can buy nearly perfect Midgets and Sprites from 1968-79 (the non-bugeye was made from '67-71, the Midget up to 1979) for dirt cheap...$3,000 is close to top dollar no matter how nice it is. Along with the RX-7 coupes, the absolute "steal" of the current market, and so much fun to drive if you can fit in one. And they're easy to tweak, parts can be had anywhere, and as simple as a wood stove to repair...just imagine 90-100hp in a 1500 pound car that did 0-60 in about 12 seconds with 65 hp! And all this with your knuckles dragging on the ground.

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  • C13C13 Posts: 390
    Well, Anglische bein a [non-permissible content removed] stepchilde of teutonic and latin great grandparents (some of whose influence on currentspeak is direct while other strains come to England [let alone to the Yanks], after filtering through various Keltish tribes for centuries, thus producing several different versions of a given idiom), I figure there's a lot of flexibility.

    In other words, Healey's progenitors a few centuries back might have been Healy, Hielye or god knows what all.

    By the way, did you know that 'yankee' is an Americanization of a Dutch word for sailor and trader, and before that it, in Dutch it was an epithet, the equivalent of '[non-permissible content removed]' or 'sumbitch'? So the Dutch sailors were calling themselves bastards, and the working class people of New Amsterdam were calling themselves by the name the sailors had used. Eventually it came to mean 'Dutch colonials', and later 'Americans'.

    Ain't dat somethin?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,990
    I'm just waiting to see how you're going to bring all that back to Austin Healey Sprites...:)

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  • C13C13 Posts: 390
    Haven't a clue. I was hopin you'd do it.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,990
    Okay...here's some recent realized Healey prices, from the Barrett Jackson auction.

    56 AH 100M roadster (1 or 640 factory built) Condition 1 $48,000

    56 AH 100-4 (BN2) Cond. 2 $25,200

    60 aH 3000 MK I (BT7) Cond. 2 $33,328

    64 AH 3000 MK II (bj7) Cond.1 $29,138.

    No doubt about it, good Big Healeys from the 50s &60s are strong sellers right now.

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  • C13C13 Posts: 390
    Wow. Those are high numbers.

    So I guess this is a good time to sell and a lousy time to buy.
  • carnut4carnut4 Posts: 574
    I think back to 1963-64, when I was looking for my first car. I wanted an Austin-Healey in the worst way, and looked at several used ones. At that time, you could find a good used 58 0r 59 for around $1200- which was just a little more than I could afford. Now, they are almost as out of reach as they were then. A friend of mine bought a nice "62 3000 Mark II-one of the few that came with three SU's. Also the last year before they went to rollup windows in '63. He and I traded cars for a day every so often. I'd pick up my girlfriend in that Healey and we'd drive to the beach. I loved it. I'd still like to have one.
  • vanmanvanman Posts: 2
    Being as it is a good time to sell, I have decided to part with my '67 mk III as I do not foresee the time, money, and necessary ambition to restore this car as it should be done. I drove this car when I was 16 and have many fond memories of it and would love to continue to own it and fix it up. But life, it be complicated. With three kids , a new house, a new job, consulting work on the side, and a new Sienna on the way, I can't fit the Healey into the picture. To be 16 again when it was just about looking cool and having fun. Maybe this is a plea for reasons not to sell.
  • FREDERICKFREDERICK Posts: 228
    A lady in my business park drove a light teal Bug Eye daily to her office and I really thought that car was in such nice shape and condition what a great ride that must be!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,990
    It's one of the all-time fun cars to drive, Frederick...maybe not in hail storms, however. The restorers tell me the trick setup is the 1275 engine with the ribbed gearbox (much stronger than earlier gearboxes). Still priced well under 410,000, you can have all the fun of a Miata with none of that annoying reliability.

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  • lwflwf Posts: 223
    From post 7 "60 aH 3000 MK I (BT7) Cond. 2 $33,328".

    I still have the blue, hard-cover "DRIVER'S HANDBOOK" that came with my 3000. If that car is worth 33 grand today, I guess the handbook must be worth a thousand or two. Is anyone interested in buying it?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,990
    Best thing would be to contact an enthusiasts
    website...but I assure you, having been a British car collector, we are cheapskates by nature, so don't expect to make a fortune on this...here's a good site to start:

    http://www.austinhealey.com/big.html

    Oh, my last post on Sprites was supposed to read "under $10,000", not "under 410,000", which I'll save for the Bugatti posts.

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  • lwflwf Posts: 223
    Hey, I was only joking. But I did drive a Healey 3000 for 11 years. It's pretty hard to believe anyone could be serious about it being worth 33 grand. Who knows, maybe in another 40 years it'll bring 33 million?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,990
    Well, it is really THE classic British sports car, a great heavyish cruiser with roll up windows (later models) and 100 mph capability, beautiful lines, speed and agility, a reasonable rarity, lots of chrome and leather and wood...it really has a lot going for it. It's very pleasant to look at and great fun to drive hour after hour, a combination many "classic" cars don't have.

    I mean if people are paying $60,000 for Dodge Cornonet Hemis, I don't see why a car like this isn't worth half that.

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  • lwflwf Posts: 223
    If you didn't mention "beautiful", I'd think we
    were talking about two differernt vehicles. In my opinion it was the best looking car ever made. Your other comments have me puzzled, however. I've driven cars at 100 mph, but never that one. It wasn't much of a powerhouse, so I'm not sure it would even get there. As I remember, BMC boasted 0 to 60 in 12 seconds. That's not very impressive. Leather, yes, but what chrome and what wood? Some of the drawbacks I remember were an aluminum-steel interface where the body met the fenders that was a perfect galvanic cell on salty roads....new fenders were required every 4 or 5 years. The knock-off lugs on the wheels were soft brass and even though I tightened them once a month, I had wheels fly off while driving down the highway (never at 100 mph, though). The electric fuel pump was notorious for not working. I used to drive with the brass hammer for the knock-off wheels always ready so I could reach back and slam the panel every time the fuel pump stopped working. I can't count the number of times I stopped to help a stranded Healey 3000 and got it going by doing nothing more than hitting the fuel-pump panel (right behind the driver's seat) with my fist, heard the click, click, click and told the driver "turn the key, it'll start now. And, of course, the flexible-tubing exhaust system that broke every 6 or 7 thousand miles was a really clever British invention.

    It certainly was beautiful, but it was also the worst engineered car I've ever owned. I still can't believe anyone would pay $33k for one today.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,990
    Well, the problems you mentioned are easily solvable, and i would presume that by the time somewhen restored the darn thing, they would have installed the necessary $50 modern fuel pump...too bad you had to put up with that, someone should have helped you on that...it's an easy fix. The knock offs was probabaly a worn spline problem of some sort, and again, a wire wheel specialist should be able to solve that without huge expense.

    The BJ8 Healeys had a wooden facia, but not normally trimmed in leather...the earlier cars were trimmed in leather on the wearing surfaces. A leather facia was also an option on some models.

    A Mark III had 150 hp and 173 ft lbs of torque and 3000 rpm (not bad for a six), and with the overdrive transmission topped out at 125 mph, with 0-60 in 9.5 seconds...the "weakest' of the 3000s had a top speed of 114 mph and did 0-60 in 11.4 seconds.

    These figures are from "Austin Healey--The story of the Big Healeys" by Geoffrey Healey.

    As for rust...well, in those days, mercedes and porsche and Rolls Royce were no better--most cars rusted like crazy in the 1960s.

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  • lwflwf Posts: 223
    This and another posting here in Edmunds regarding the Healey are the only times I've talked about them in over 25 years. I could go on and on and on about the the dumb things that characterized the 3000 (a battery in the trunk, transmission with no syncromesh in low gear, legs & feet inside of a virtual oven, knee-action shocks in the front, etc.); however, I must admit that I really loved that car....more than any other I've ever owned and probably ever will own. Mine was one without roll-up windows, so I guess that means it must have been a Mark I with the 0-to-60-in-11.4-sec engine(excuse me for being off by 0.6 sec). I never thought of it as a Mark I. The "I" must be a designation that had been an afterthought once the IIs and IIIs came out.

    I don't have any of your reference books, but if they say the Mark I was fast, they must also say that every 6-cylinder Chevy and Plymouth manufactured in the 60s was faster, because every car like that could beat me when the light turned green. The 3000 looked like a racing car to all who were unfamiliar with it, so I always got a challenge. It didn't take me long to realize that if I took it I'd lose. I remember I outgunned a VW once, however. 115 mph top speed? You can't be serious. To me, the fun of it wasn't power and speed, it was being in the cockpit of something that felt like it was custom built around me, and driving without a top or windows...even in rain or snow (real driving with a clutch and floor shift). Everyone I knew in those days thought I was crazy, so I wouldn't be surprized if no one alive today can have any empathy for why I loved it, in spite of all of its engineering and manufacturing deficiencies.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,990
    Well, maybe yours was just a little tired? You know, by the time we got our hands on them back then they had already had a hard life and many miles...

    But they weren't a drag racer, that's for sure...they were a cruising car...true, maybe a Dodge Dart could beat you, but you'd certainly catch up the minute you hit a turn.

    Yes, without rollups you definitely had an early one.......battery in the trunk? Just like a new Miata...see, they were ahead of their time!

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  • lwflwf Posts: 223
    You win. I won't say any more, except that I've owned cars for more than 50 years, and the Austin Healey was the only one I wish I hadn't sold.

    And I never considered mine to be tired. I bought it new and kept it in good shape all the years I had it. But when I did get rid of it, I remember having lot of free time on my hands for the first few months.
  • carnut4carnut4 Posts: 574
    You know, we look back on old cars like the Austin Healey, and we remember the good, fun things and sometimes forget some of the problems common to most British cars-like those Lucas electrical systems, the balky limey gearboxes, the oil leaks, etc. Like the old Triumph 650 motorcycle I had. A leaking head gasket made it a bear to start, the oil leaks were constant-but when you got it out on the road-like the Healey, there was nothing else like it!
  • lwflwf Posts: 223
    Amen. That's the point I was trying to make. I also had a couple of Triumph motorcycles before the Healey. One was a 650 called a "Thunderbird" and it was being sold at least a decade before Ford introduced their (ha-ha) "sports car" with the plagiarized name. I didn't have any head-gasket problems though.
  • C13C13 Posts: 390
    My '68 T100R would only start on cold, rainy days.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,990
    WEll, of course you're right, we can't be comparing those cars to modern ones...I suffered mightily under the terrorism of the British car, but now, with more affluence (checks don't bounce so often) and more knowledge, I can turn those beasts into decent cars. I think back then the service was poor, the assembly methods were poor, and the parts availability was difficult. Now that's all changed, we have so many aftermarket sources for A-H and old Triumph bikes, and so many good wrenchers, that it's way more fun to own one then back then. But even today, 3-4 hours in one is enough, thank you.

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  • lwflwf Posts: 223
    Is there a site like this for bikes? I've got an old ('81) Suzuki 450 in the garage. The plates on it are from '91. It won't start, and when I inquired about someone working on it, I got the impression they would want more that what it's probably worth.

    To be honest, bikes, boats, planes and open-cockpit sports cars are all pretty much behind me now. I'm content enough with my pickup, but once in a while that bike way back in the corner behind the lawn tractor catches my eye. I'd have to get it running first, though.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,990
    There probably is a website for old Japanese bikes somewhere (there's a website for everything, seems like) but I wouldn't guess there's much interest in an old Suzuki beyond its possible useful transportation value. Most of those older bikes are pretty simple--I usually put in fresh gas, charge the battery (or replace it), pump up the tires, and push it down a hill (having verified that the brakes still exist, and making sure to actually get on it prior to gaining momentum). If that doesn't start it, leave it on the street with a "free" sign on it, (and take off the plates!) and make some kid's day.

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  • lwflwf Posts: 223
    Well thanks, but I have a son and a grandson (but not old enough for it yet) who might not like that last suggestion. I'm pretty sure I know what's wrong with it. The same thing that's a problem with 99 percent of unused engines that won't start. Gummed-up carbureter. I wish I knew of an easy fix, but I guess the only thing to do is take it off, disassemble it, soak everything in a solvent, and then reassemble. Not my idea of fun, so it sits there year after year.
  • carnut4carnut4 Posts: 574
    I have some great motorcycle stories if there was a topic for them here. I'm sure many other carnuts out there had some bike experience too. That old '58 TR6 was a real fun ride!
    About Austin Healeys- I remember a simple modification that was common in the 60's that improved the handling. Those wire wheels were known to bend, especially during hard cornering. A friend who had a 62MKII replaced the rear wheels with 15 inch Buick wheels, which was a simple hub change and bolt on. I remember a demonstration ride through some winding roads in the Santa Cruz mountains. We were chasing a friend in his TR4. I was perched on that rear seat- I tell you, on one corner, after a spinout, we stopped close enough to the edge of the road, that I had a REAL CLEAR view to the bottom of the ravine. Scary, but fun...
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,990
    Yes, many people today pay extra for a wire-wheel car and most price guides deduct for disc wheels on say a TR AH or MGA or Jag, but in reality, the disc wheels is a lot better if you plan to drive hard or to vintage-race.

    One thing I personally don't like on British sports cars is chromed wire wheels...although this was a legit option on some years on some cars, generally most wire wheels were painted, and I personally find this level of understatement quite attractive...British cars just don't look good all tarted up. I saw a nice MG Tickford from the 30s with some kind of aftermarket air horns you might find on a Clenet or a plastic car and I about barfed.

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