1953 Austin Healey 100/4 2.6 carb petrol from Australia and New Zealand

Summary:

A snorting steel steed - fast and willing

Faults:

The car was partially under the control of Lucas, The Prince of Darkness. This meant that electrical failures with odd and wide-ranging effects would occur at unusual and inconvenient times.

General Comments:

Austin Healeys really only ever had one body shape. Designed around 1952 by a young genius called Gerry Coker, and still the same at the end of production in 1968.

On paper the 2,660cc clunker of a long stroke cast iron engine (it took two strong men to lift the head off the block) looked ridiculous, but the superb electric overdrive and the thumping torque combined to create a car where changing gear was often optional.

1,700rpm at the metropolitan speed limit - long legs on the open road, and the beautiful noise!!... (red-lined at 4,500 though).

So many joys in owning and driving - only three major faults, there from the first to last day of production:

1. Laughable ground clearance due to the chassis being below the back axle.

2. Heat transfer from the engine - hot in summer, hot in winter.

3. Vintage pilot position.

But what a chariot!!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 16th July, 2001

21st Oct 2004, 12:43

Low ground clearance? Exhaust system is a consumable item. Owned a 1965 3000 BJ8 and 1958 100/6. The 3000 is the only vehicle I have ever owned that I was happy driving down the road at the speed limit. 4th gear and overdrive, top down, sun shining, engine just at a rumble... life was good.

Had problems with rust (this was in the early 1980's) in everything (including outriggers off the frame) but the aluminum shrouds around the hood and trunk lid.

11th Mar 2005, 11:56

I can only agree with your comments. I wrote the first review above, and I forgot about the wonderful drop-down screen on the 100/4. That feature made a great design look even better!

27th Mar 2009, 17:53

Let's not neglect the fun of driving a 100-4 in the rain, even when the windshield wipes decided to work. If the flood through the side curtains didn't get you the wave action coming up through the rotting wood floors would.

I got to drive my friend's 100-4 because I was the only one besides him who could remember the shift pattern, let alone the proper use of the sometimes working overdrive.

8th Jan 2011, 03:02

The previous poster may be thinking of the underpowered and effete MGA (0-60mph in 15.6 seconds, yawn), which had a plywood floor.

The Healey 100/4 or BN1 is a standard H pattern with reverse to one side back and down. The Laycock de Normanville overdrive unit behind the gearbox gave an overdrive on 2nd, 3rd and top gears. Because 1st gear was so low as to be unnecessary, cars were delivered with 1st (top left of H) blanked off, so 2nd became '1st' and so on. This made the Healey unique in having '2nd' the only gear ahead of neutral. Many cars have had the blanking piece removed, restoring 1st gear to use, should the driver wish to go stump pulling, or drag a cow out of a bog.