As with any marque of classic car it’s up to the individual owner. A classic car to one person may be something very different to someone else. This of course applies to Austin-Healeys as it does with any other marque.
In the last issue of BMCE we looked closely at an Austin-Healey 3000 Mk3 that had been restored and modernised with long distance touring in mind. In this issue we look at another of the same model, that’s also used for touring, but is a very different story indeed.
Terry and Theresa Pulford hail from the Australian Capital Territory and have been enthusiastic Austin-Healey owners since acquiring this car close to six years ago.
However, Terry’s interest in older cars goes back a few years before that, having spent all his working life in the motor vehicle repair industry. His father was a motor mechanic and his grandfather a marine engineer, so it was only natural that a young Terry was very interested in motor cars and would help his dad out before he was in his teens.
Then at the tender age of ten, along with a mate, he acquired a Singer 9 that he used to race around the backyard. We can imagine what the neighbours must have thought of that.
Terry started his apprenticeship as a panel beater in 1966 and fondly remembers working on BMC cars when they were still relatively new.
“I’ve always had a love for classic cars.” Terry said. “Not so much vintage cars, but certainly the classic cars that I grew up with and when growing up, thought that one day I would like to own a classic car or two.”
You could say that he’s had success in this wish. Sitting in his immaculate garage in suburban Canberra, enjoying a plate of Theresa’s sandwiches, we were surrounded by the fruits of his desire. A Lotus Cortina Mk1, a Morris Cooper S Mk2, a Robnell Cobra 429 and the Austin-Healey.
“The first car I bought was the Lotus Cortina.” Terry added. “That was in 1983 and in the 30 years since then it’s done five Grand Prix rallies, a Repco Mountain Rally and three Melbourne Mille rallies. The next car was the Cooper S that came my way as a written-off wreck ready for restoration. That was finished in 1993 and has done 5,000 miles since. It’s in concours condition. Both the Lotus and Cooper S are great to drive.”
“The next car that came my way was the Robnell, that we have had for less than ten years. With its fuel injection, side exhaust and 17” wheels it can be a handful if you want to be silly in it.”
“Both the Lotus and Cooper S were stored at work.” Terry said. “When Theresa and I made the decision to sell the panel shop and retire, we decided to do something with our home to fit all the cars in.”
With a new four-car garage, Terry began looking for a fourth car to occupy the new empty space. “I went to the Phillip Island Historics in 2006, spotted a very nice Austin-Healey 3000 and had a chat with its owner. I was thinking that it would go very nicely in my garage.”
“I actually put it out of my mind, but saw the car again at Speed on Tweed later the same year. Twelve months later it was still on my mind, so I rang The Healey Factory in Melbourne (where the car was stored and maintained), to find out if it could be up for sale. They said that it belonged to a fellow called Tim Pyne who lived in Queensland and they gave me his phone number. I made contact with him and he sent some info along with a few photos.”
“I was really impressed with it.” Terry added. “The modifications and how they were done really appealed to me. Plus the car presented extremely well especially with the unique striping. I thought it was a very nice Austin-Healey. However at that stage I had no idea of its history.”
Terry soon discovered that in Tim’s hands the car has quite an extensive pedigree. “He rallied or raced the car in every single state of Australia, in New Zealand, all over Europe, in the UK and also in the US”, Terry explained. “Tim and the car certainly got around!”
A New Home
“I purchased the car from Tim in 2007.” Terry said. “I first spent a day going over it completely with him as well as driving it. It drove perfectly and I said yes.”
“Interestingly, he brought the car to Canberra for me to have a look at. He had flown from his home in Queensland to Victoria, picked up the car…and drove it to Canberra. He must have been pretty confident that I would buy it, as he had a return ticket that night to Brisbane.”
“As with any older car, it did need a few things done to it like the rear axle seals, brake master cylinder and the power booster. All those were sorted out fairly quickly and all I’ve had to do since was to put a couple of sets of tyres on the car and enjoy driving it. Theresa and I might jump in the car on a Sunday and have lunch somewhere. We have also done three Targa Tasmania Tours with the car.”
“The car is not quite your normal Austin-Healey and before I said yes to Tim it was important to me that Theresa liked it. After driving it, but before I said yes to Tim, I commented to Theresa that the car made quite a bit of noise out the left hand side. I told her my concern of her sitting next to the exhaust for days on end while we were touring. I was quite prepared not to buy it, if she wasn’t happy with the noise. Anyway, Tim was kind enough to take Theresa out in the car for a time and when they got back she said that it was fine by her. That was the final piece in the puzzle that said that it was the Austin-Healey for us.”
“Since then we have been around the Lakes Entrance, certainly to Cooma and the South Coast with the Cooma Car Club. Then there has been Gnoo Blas at Orange on three occasions, plus there have been a number of events with the Austin-Healey Owners Club of NSW. The car is fully registered and we can drive it anywhere, like to the 2014 Austin-Healey National Rally in Western Australia. It’s a great car for touring and I intend on doing that until I’m physically not able to.”
If you would like to read the rest of this story, grab your copy of the magazine from your local newsagent (in Australia) or subscribe on-line today.