The 100S was a very special Austin-Healey, built specifically for racing by the Donald Healey Motor Company, with support from Austin. We will have a full history of the model in a later issue, but suffice to say for the moment only 50 production cars (as well as five special test cars) were built.
The S stood for Sebring, to celebrate the fact that an Austin-Healey prototype car had finished third overall and first in class at the 1954 Sebring race, and the production cars were effectively replicas of that racer, in specification.
The 100S featured here has a very interesting, if chequered, past and came to our attention through UK motoring correspondent Graham Gauld - who is a Scottish motoring writer and historian and is biographer of such drivers as Jim Clark, Reg Parnell, Cliff Allison and Jack Sears. He now lives in the South of France.
Joe Jarick is a Brisbane-based Austin-Healey enthusiast and historian, who is currently writing the definitive history of the 100S model. Joe started the Worldwide Austin Healey 100S Register in about 1971, after buying one of the cars in pieces then having difficulty finding information and parts.
According to Geoff Healey in his book The Austin-Healey , p244, only six of the 100S cars were sold in the UK. Most of the cars were painted Old English White over Lobelia Blue, and all body panels were aluminium. The engines were specially modified, with aluminium Weslake heads, and produced 132bhp. A close ratio gearbox was fitted, the suspension and steering improved, and four-wheel disc brakes utilised.
Joe Jarick takes up the story.
This car, chassis AHS 3904, was dispatched to Drayson Motors in England on 8 June 1955. Registered RLF 500, the first owner is recorded as H. Riddel, and the only recorded appearance of the car in his hands was at Goodwood in September 1955.
Scotland’s main Austin dealer, Carlaw Cars in Glasgow, purchased the 100S in 1956 and Ted Evans, the Service Director for the company, raced the car extensively through to late 1958.
Unfortunately, 3904 had as many adventures on the highway as on the race track. Evans was involved in a serious accident while road testing the Healey for a magazine article. Graham Gauld was the passenger, and explains exactly what happened.
“Ted Evans had been racing a Healey 100M. The 100S was quite a step up for him and shortly after the car was bought he suggested to me that we take it out and do a kind of ‘road test’ of it. I say kind of because, despite the fact I was sports editor of Motor World, a Scottish weekly motoring magazine, the insurance company would not allow me to drive it on the public road, even though it was properly taxed for the road.”
“Ringed by stop watches, we went to the ideal place to check top speed: the Kippen Straight, just outside Stirling. One or two of us knew that Stirlingshire Police actually had a measured mile and where the markers were, so after a few lunges Ted and I decided to try the top speed – and this on a pubic road. The Kippen Straight is, even today, a relatively narrow road with fields and trees on each side.”
“We had managed to average 113 mph over the measured mile and were out to better that. We were perhaps doing just over 125 mph when a farmer suddenly drove out on to the road in front of us and about 200 yards away!”
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