Donald Healey's stylish Austin-Healey 100 caused a sensation when it debuted at the 1952 London Motor Show. Intended as a low-cost, high-performance, limited production sports car and aimed at the US market, which took almost 100% of production initially, the Austin-Healey 100 sourced its major components from the Austin Atlantic saloon. In fact, the car first appeared at Earls Court badged as a 'Healey Hundred' and was re-badged 'Austin-Healey' while still on its stand after Austin boss Leonard Lord bought the rights to the design. It was just as well that he did, for Healey would take over 3,000 orders during the Show yet his company had never made more than 200 cars in a single year!
Following the Austin-Healey 100's sensational debut in 1952, the works had 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 October 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, special Armstrong front dampers and a louvred bonnet. 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 subsequently modified to 100M specification between 1955 and 1956. Of these, approximately 640 were completed at the factory, some 544 of which were exported to the USA.
A BN2 model fitted with the 100M 'Le Mans' tuning kit, chassis number '229013' is one of only 165 cars supplied in right-hand drive form to the UK market. The car was completed in October 1955 and supplied new via Wimbledon Motors. We are advised that it has had relatively few owners and in 1998 underwent a full 'ground upwards' restoration at leading marque specialists JME (full documentation available). Since then the Healey has formed part of a large private collection in Northamptonshire and has covered approximately 550 miles only since restoration. Described as in generally excellent condition, '609 APF' is said to drive, feel, handle and looks just like a brand new car. Accompanying paperwork consists of the aforementioned restoration records, old-style logbook, current MoT/tax, V5 registration document and an interesting letter from Healey 'guru' John Wheatley.