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Austin Healey

Donald Healey had an established pedigree as a successful driver and preparer of racing and rally cars before he first produced sports cars under his own name in 1946. Austin-Healey was established through a joint-venture arrangement, set up in 1952 between Leonard Lord of Austin and the Donald Healey Motor Company, after the failure of the Austin A90 Atlantic to make any impact on the US market. The 'Healey Hundred' was launched in 1952, fitting between the MGA and the Jaguar XK120 in the market. The Austin Healey 100 had an A90 engine and gearbox, a body built by Jensen, and final assembly by Austin. The 100 evolutions ran from the BN1 of 1953-55 to the BN6 of 1958-59. The Austin Healey 100-Six BN4 appeared in 1956, powered by a tuned 102bhp BMC six-cylinder engine, development running to the BN6. The Austin Healey 3000 BN7 two-seater or BT7 two-plus-two seater of 1959 was powered by the six-cylinder engine, upgraded to 2912cc with twin SU carburettors. The Austin Healey 3000 Mk II, made from 1961, had three SU carburettors. The Austin Healey 3000 Mk III (BJ8) ran from October 1963 to 1967, the end of the Austin Healey marque. The 3000 had a long and successful life in competition, including racing at Le Mans, Sebring and Bathurst. The Austin-Healey Sprite Mark I (the 'Frogeye') was made from 1959 to 1961, a midget sports car powered by a twin carburettor 43bhp version of the 948cc BMC A series engine, as used in the Morris Minor and Austin A35. Like the Big Healey, the Sprite was built alongside the MGA at Abingdon, space being made when MG saloon production moved to Cowley. MG had been working on a Mini-based sports car, of which there would have been an Austin Healey version, but it was dropped in favour of the Mini Cooper, so instead they updated the Frogeye Sprite. In 1961 they replaced the nose and tail and with a new version to create the Austin Healey Sprite Mark II, retaining the same centre section and doors as the Frogeye. It was also badged as an MG Midget, resulting in the 'Spridget' nickname for both cars. In 1964 the Austin Healey Sprite Mark III (and MG Midget Mark II) appeared, with a 1098cc engine, to combat the new Triumph Spitfire. The last version of the Sprite was the Mark IV, made in 1966-71, with the 1275cc engine from the Mini Cooper 'S'. Donald Healey had left the company in 1968. After the Austin Healey marque was extinguished, father and son were involved with the Jensen-Healey project.
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