AHC Chairman's Message


Our Club Chairman, John Keener, imparts his words of wisdom here each month!

Chairman's Comment

September 2022


History is a wonderful thing and ever since I became involved with Healeys, and Austin Healeys I realised that doing research on DMH’s work and lifetime, we future owners were in fact continuing the story by looking after these great cars. The design and appearance of the Healey and subsequently Austin Healey was nothing short of amazing so soon after the restrictive war years. Maybe this is why James Watt, Ben Bowden, ”Sammy” Sampietro and DMH were so inspired for their new design. Working with his good friends the Riley brothers, DMH chose the Riley engine, which with twin cams set high in the engine block, powered all the models in the range from the Westland, Duncan, Elliott, Abbott, Silverstone, Tickford and Sportsmobile over the following five years. To satisfy the American market the Nash Healey with 3446cc, later bored to 4138cc, six-cylinder was introduced, which must have been a logistic headache as after the early cars panelled by Abbey Panels in Coventry, a move was made to use Farina designed bodies. The American engines were being brought to Warwick and the car then exported to Italy to attach the Farina designed body, the cars then exported to the US to be sold by Nash to earn valuable US dollars. The Riley four pot design was good enough for 104bhp and 110mph, although the compression ratio was a mere 6.75 : 1 and with the trailing link suspension gave good wheel movement with directional stability. Having my Abbott’s engine on the bench at the moment, you can see the hemispherical chamber design and the large valves set in a crossflow design across the head. These early Healeys were never cheap cars with the Abbott at some £2400 rising to circa £2900 for the later Sportsmobile.

As we know DMH subsequently identified a market for a smaller cheaper sports car, the Austin Healey 100 that would appeal to the American market with a fabulous body design by Gerry Coker and that is the history we are helping to preserve today.

You will notice from the FBHVC report that the VNUK issue has been successfully resolved in that we do not have to insure vehicles used for purely off road use. As you can imagine this would have had a huge impact on all the race events we enjoy throughout the year. I think you will agree this positive outcome makes our membership of the FBHVC for this issue alone well worthwhile.

Many of the Centres have held excellent day and weekend events during this very hot summer that we are currently experiencing. You will have seen the excellent Midlands Mid-Week Break reported on last month together with the New Forest visit to the Wallop Air Museum. The Southern Counties visit to the Wings Museum specialising in recovered parts from crashed WW II aircraft made an interesting visit and creating a worthwhile charity. These are just the charities our club members like and wish to support so any ideas on further visits will be gratefully received by your regional Centre group.

Don’t forget this is the 70th year of Austin Healey production and if you visit our regalia page you can purchase our excellent Austin Healey 70th Anniversary Club badge all in bright red and chrome.

- - - As ever Keep Overtaking! - safely