Following the Austin-Healey 100's sensational debut at the 1952 Motor Show, the works entered two mildly modified cars in the 1953 Le Mans 24-Hour Race, which finishing in 12th and 14th places, a highly praiseworthy achievement for what were recognisably production sports cars. Accordingly, the name 'Le Mans' was chosen for a bolt-on tuning kit offered through Austin-Healey dealers, by means of which private owners could bring their cars up to a specification approaching that of the works entries. The kit included a pair of 1¾" SU HD6 carburettors plus special inlet manifold and cold air box, high-lift camshaft, stronger valve springs and distributor with alternative ignition advance curve. With the kit installed power increased from the standard 90 to 100bhp.
From August 1955 the conversion was available factory-fitted on the successor BN2 model in the form of the 100M. In addition to the Le Mans kit the latter boasted high-compression pistons, stiffer front anti-roll bar and special Armstrong front dampers. Power increased to 110bhp and top speed, with windscreen folded flat, to within a whisker of 120mph. The number of BN1s converted by their owners is unknown, but 1,159 cars, mostly BN2s, were built or converted to 100M specification by the works between 1955 and 1956.
This BN1 has been fitted with the 'Le Mans' or 'M' kit, including the louvred bonnet, and has the manufacturer's brass plaque fixed to the carburettors' cold air box confirming that fact. The car has been fitted with the later four-speed/overdrive gearbox, possibly from new as this is a late-model BN1, and has part-aluminium, part-steel bodywork.
The current owner, a founder member of the Austin-Healey Club France, purchased the car in 2009, since when it has formed part of his private collection of eight Austin-Healeys. When acquired it had already been restored (around 15-20 years ago) while the engine was completely rebuilt in 2010 at 48,000 miles, since when a further 1,373 miles have been covered. Described by the private vendor as in generally very good condition, this rare 'Le Mans'-equipped BN1 is offered with a BMIHT Certificate, UK V5 registration document and a 'Rapport d'Expertise' (Condition Report) compiled in 2009 by Henri Pluton (perusal recommended).