Showing posts with label Austin-Healey Cars. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Austin-Healey Cars. Show all posts

Austin-Healey 3000 MkIII

Austin-Healey 3000 MkIII 1960s British classic sports car

The Austin-Healey 3000 MkIII is a seriously iconic British sports car. One of the legendary 'big Healeys', it was made in the Midlands, England. Bodies were built by Jensen - in West Bromwich. Final assembly took place in MG's Abingdon factory. First of the breed was the Healey 100. It recycled the 4-cylinder engine from the Austin Atlantic. But it was when a 6-pot motor was lowered into the 3000 model, that the Healey range really sprang into life.

The 3000 MkI arrived in '59. In design terms, it was not too different from what had gone before. It was a sizeable, stylish 2-seater. The game-changer was beneath the bonnet. The six-cylinder engine kicked out 124bhp. Top speed was 114mph. To cope with the extra horsepower, robust front disc brakes had been fitted. Come the 3000 MkII version, and output had been upped to 132bhp. That was largely courtesy of triple SU carburettors. '64's MkIII racheted up power still further - to 148bhp. The speed-needle now flickered at over 120mph. At that point, the motorsport world sat up and took notice. Before long, the Healey roadster had morphed into a works rally car ... and a highly competitive one, at that.

Visually, the 3000 was notably low-slung. Whilst that certainly looked cool, it did not help the car's rallying cause. On the stages, ground clearance could be suspect. As automotive design, though, the MkIII was a triumph ... as it were! Its dramatic grille - and subtly sloping lines - were a joy to behold. Its wire wheels were web-like works of art. The curved windscreen - and neatly-folding hood - were stylish embellishments. The 3000's rear-end was as shapely as it gets. Distinctly British though it was, the MkIII was built primarily for the American market. Ironically, it was strict Stateside safety regulations that brought about its demise. Production stopped in '67. By then, though, the Austin-Healey 3000 MkIII was woven into the fabric of moody, muscular sports cars. Wonder if Marlon Brando ever drove one!

Austin-Healey Sprite

Austin-Healey Sprite 1950s British classic sports car

The Austin-Healey Sprite is, arguably, the cutest car ever! Its most adorable feature? Some may go weak at the knees for its seductive smile. That came in the form of an emoji-style grille. Most, though, would faint at those 'foxy' frog eyes - hence the car's Frogeye Sprite moniker. In fact, those heart-melting windows of the automotive soul might never have opened at all - at least, not in daylight. Donald Healey - designer of the Sprite - drafted it with retractable headlights. Mercifully - for classic car buffs - the cost of fitting them proved prohibitive. So, 'pop-up' became 'pop-eyed' ... and a legend was born.

The Sprite, though, was not just about styling. In the Fifties, its top speed of 84mph impressed. Particularly, since the Sprite's inline-four engine made just 43bhp. Capacity was 948cc. We are talking efficient British engineering. Then again, there was not a lot to lug about. The Sprite, after all, measured only 3.5m in length. Certainly, the Frog-Eye was economical. 45mpg was the low-cost reward for a relaxed driving style. Saying that, tweaking the 'A Series' engine was a breeze. The whole of the Sprite's one-piece nose section lifted up - allowing for the easiest of access. The Frogeye's 4-speed 'box served up the power in bite-size chunks.

The Sprite was the younger sibling of the 3000 model - or 'big Healey', as it was commonly dubbed. BMC's shelves, then, were heaving with parts which bolted straight onto the Sprite. Most of the components also saw service on Morris Minors and Austin A35s. 38,999 Frogeyes were built. Sadly, Austin-Healey broke the mould after making the Sprite. Cars would never again be quite so cuddly!