1956 Austin-Healey 100 / 4
Year of manufacture1956
1956 Austin-Healey 100/4 BN2 Roadster to 100M Specification
Chassis no. BN2/L/231401
Engine no. 1B/231401-M
Following the Austin-Healey 100's sensational debut at the 1952 Motor Show, 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 a distributor with an alternative ignition advance curve. With the kit installed power increased from the standard 90bhp to 100 horsepower.
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. It is estimated that around 200 survive.
Fitted with the desirable performance-enhancing 'Le Mans' kit, the extremely impressive and beautiful Austin-Healey 100/4 BN2 offered here has been superbly restored. A matching-numbers example, the car was delivered new to Düsseldorf, Germany and like many Healeys was possibly ordered new by an American soldier who took the car with him to the USA after service in Europe, a conclusion supported by the presence of an MPH speedometer on the Certificate. The car changed hands in 1986, bought by Mr Walter Halliday of Seattle (see Certificate of Title, copy on file).
In 2014 the Healey was imported into the Netherlands where it underwent a full body-off restoration in 2015-2017 with no expense spared. The chassis was sand-blasted and coated, and the car repainted in its original colour scheme (as confirmed by the accompanying BMIHT Certificate) of two-tone Healey Blue over Old English White with blue interior and matching hood. The rebuild also included a conversion to factory-correct 100M specification, as would have been done by dealers in period. Gary Anderson and Roger Moment's Healey Restoration Guide (copy available) was used to ensure correctness, and the rebuild is very well documented with a detailed summary of works carried out, including the 100M conversion, and numerous illustrative photographs. Associated invoices are on file for work carried out and parts supplied, including marque specialist Dennis Welch's bill for the 100M carburettors and Le Mans parts. Additional documentation includes the 100 M 'Le Mans' Registry Certificate of Membership, a FIVA Passport, a valuation report, and Netherlands registration papers, and the car also comes complete with tools, jack, and the side windows with their pockets
The original four-cylinder '100' is widely regarded as one of the most enjoyable Healeys to drive, even more so when fitted with the desirable 100M 'Le Mans' upgrades. We can confirm that this lovely example is indeed an absolute joy to drive: very torquey and responsive to the throttle. A Bonhams specialist has had the pleasure of testing it over a short distance and was overwhelmed by its handling and performance.
In short: this is a beautiful Mille Miglia-eligible Austin-Healey 100 BN2 equipped with the 'Le Mans' kit, in a fetching colour combination and driving superbly. It is ready to enjoy immediately on any long tour, suitable rally or concours d'élégance event.