Friday, September 28, 2012

Automotif VI

Seen in the parking lot of a Home Despot in Knoxville earlier this week, an Austin-Healey 3000:
The 3000, named for its 3-liter six banger, was the successor to the Austin-Healey 100, named for its 100mph top speed, which was rather a big deal for a street car in 1953.

They didn't know as much about aerodynamics back then as we do now, but they sure knew how to make 'em pretty.

Safety is a fairly modern invention: You would go through that steering wheel like a cheeseknife. At least you'd die with an eyeful of those lovely Smiths gauges.

Also seen in K-town, the Anti-Healey. The license plate reads "PLGNPLY"


paulinmordor said...

Looking at that cockpit I doubt the average American could be wedged in. The owner is more trusting than I am. I'd never park that close to the cart corral.

Boat Guy said...

They knew how to make 'em pretty all right ... and the SOUND! You pretty much have to get to a R-R Merlin screaming by at 200 feet to compete with the chorus-of-angels that is a properly-tuned Healey six.
"PLGNPLY"= a coal-powered car subsidized by us to the tune of about $80K each.

Jon said...

Reminds me of my Dad's old collection. He had a Healey 3000, a Triumph TR3, and a MG TF. All gone now, but at least we still have his '49 Chevy 5-window truck.

I'll have to send him a link to this photo, as he'll get a kick out of it.

And it's very comical to see a 6'2" man riding around in some of those!

Cormac said...

I hear some nooz-people talking about leasing a volt for $5,000 for two years... it's costing GM(that'd be all us taxpayers, folks) around $25,000 each...
why bother stealing the whole company (grand theft: auto-maker?) For the mob UAW (i always forget the distinction) if they're just going to keep driving it into the ground?

Scott J said...

Paul, I'm not a small fellow and I can get into my Alfa Spider (poor thing has been waiting for me to replace the clutch since 2006).

I think the Healy is bigger.

Scott J said...

Tam, you changed the course of my weekend with this post.

I was going to do some much needed shrub trimming.

I think I'll make myself wrench on the Alfa instead.

angrymike said...

I own a 1967 chevelle SS 427, ppl drool all over it when I have it out and the resto is only 3/4's of the way done. Old cars have a style that will never be repeated since the government got its hands on it.............;-(

BobG said...

From the days when they knew how to make a sports car look good.

Anonymous said...

Is that the Healey a modern 6 cylinder Honda Minivan with good (sport)tires can give a run for money to in cornering, straight line acceleration, can beat the pants off in braking, gets a equal or better fuel economy... ( and works in the rain, and in winter, and has A/C, and holds your coffee and 6 people)

I know, not the point. As someone once pointed out the MG is the most fun you can have going 35mph while watching your rear wheel pass you.

Tam said...

Anon 10:16,

Oh, yeah, the car pictured would be lucky to crack the eleven second barrier 0-60 and might kiss 115mph downhill with a tailwind. It would be destroyed by any random Taurus or Camry at the local Hertz lot...

...and it's still ten times the fun to drive. :)

rickn8or said...

Anon 10:16,

Yes, that Honda Minivan will do all that. But try getting laid because you drive one.

(That quote was stolen from my #2 son explaining why he didn't want a Saturn.)

Rodger the Real King of France said...

My B-I-L had a Healy 3000 which I coveted more than I did his jaunty tweed cap. He had to adjust the valves once a month or it wouldn't work. Do you watch Top Gear? Why in heaven's name not?

Anonymous said...
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Blackwing1 said...

I wife's '97 Miata is durned near as pretty, has modern-car reliability, and is probably just as much fun to drive.

Maybe it's just one-too-many-times of having to come get a friend whose MG has been struck to a stand-still by Lucas, the Prince of Darkness.

Tam said...


"I wife's '97 Miata is durned near as pretty, has modern-car reliability, and is probably just as much fun to drive."

...and would eat the "Big Healey" for lunch. ;)

SteveO said...

Wasn't Austin Healey the sidekick on I Dream of Jeannie?

RollsCanardly said...

My dad was looking for a British sports car to tinker with - I found him a 1953 Austin-Healey 100 sitting in a barn, with the engine where the passenger seat should have been. He's spent many enjoyable years restoring it. A couple years ago, we took it on a road trip from Seattle to San Diego and back. It was lots of fun, but boy, did I get sunburned.

I keep threatening to pick one up, and replace the lump of cast iron that passes for a powerplant with a front wheel drive package from an econobox. Either that, or do a Toyota MR2 mid-engine transplant. I'd love to see the look on the flat-hatter's faces when I showed up in that!

DOuglas2 said...

I had to go check -- the 3000 went out of production in 67, the year before the mandate for collapsible steering columns.

I know that different things spook different people. For me, the thought of regularly driving a pre-68 car does it.

We all know that '50's and '60's cars are deathtraps in a crash compared to modern ones, but there are a few, like the MGB, that have been subjected to modern crash testing 30 or more years later and met contemporary standards. Apparently there are Australian importers who are retrofitting '90's MG RV8 (reissued V8-poweredMGB cars from Japan and the UK) to meet 2004 Australian safety standards -- this requires changing some lights and the odometer, and retrofitting side impact beams into the doors:

Anonymous said...

As an old fart who grew up in the era of that AH and could field strip a Ford flathead in an hour I see a beautifully restored roadster in your photos. I recall people putting small block Chevys in those and burning the tires off of them. While agreeing that modern cars have a lot of great features we didn't have in the 50's and 60's I'd rather take a leisurely drive down Main Street on a Sunday afternoon in a 57 Chevy BelAir, a 56 Ford Crown Vic or that AH 3000 than in a dweebmobile like a Honda minivan or a Volkswagen Pissant.


Anonymous said...

"Yes, that Honda Minivan will do all that. But try getting laid because you drive one."

Kids these days: You can get laid IN one (in comfort).


That being said, never personally having used a vehicle as date-bait, does that even work in real life?

I mean just because because they girl wants to drive it/be seen in it , it doesn't follow that she's all warmed up for for the owner/driver.

What do I know? I personally flirted seriously with buying a minivan as bachelor. I'm probably on the wrong wavelength.

Anonymous said...

All the proper issues have been mentioned. Must be lots of old guys (like me) reading.

Lucas = warm beer
Vette Healey
Stand up "fun" a VW with a sun roof (not mentioned directly but the thought was there)


NotClauswitz said...

Put a blower on the motor and it gets Way-Fun!! Some had an electric overdrive.
They get you laid because to own one you necessarily are an Alpha and that is (frequently) an attractant - the Minivan is the sign/label of a Beta.
My7 '60 Ghia had a collapsible (in theory, it WAS German) steering column - but some might work better than others.
You could also take any Chevy or Taurus from the rental counter off-road, but that's because they're' from the rental counter.

NotClauswitz said...

My older cousin on Dad's side had one, before the Carrera RSR - he became a Cop and even made Detective.

Will said...

" You would go through that steering wheel like a cheeseknife"

Nah, you'll end up molding that wheel around the dash. I've seen it done, back in the day. Might have a depressed sternum from the hub...

But, that's what rollbars and 5-point harnesses are for!

Nice looking, but red is the wrong color for British sports cars. Makes me wish I still had my '62 Alfa Giullietta. I like engines that rev higher than tractor motors.

perlhaqr said...

GM ought to put the powertrain from the Volt into a Saturn Sky chassis, (all the stamping equipment is probably just sitting there idle), bump up the gearbox to make it sporty, and call it the "Usain Volt".

Roger said...

There is something special about elderly european sports cars whether they be Brit, Eytie, Kraut, or even Frog.
I've had a Jag 120 for 22 years & my dad had it for 30 years before me.
No matter where I go with it there are folks that "had one of them" or "always wanted one" or "whats it worth?"
The music it makes at 5000 rpm is worth all the work and sweat that it takes to keep one on the road.

Scott J said...

Here's my heap. Bought May 2005 and drove it often until November 2006 when I barely got over the mountain coming home due to the clutch.

I made some progress on disassembly but stalled and have neglected it for several years.

I pray the Lord blesses me with being able to get it going again by the end of this November.

Tam said...

Scott J,

Koo-koo-ka-choo, Mrs. Robinson!

Bobby said...

Still waiting for GM to learn that the car buying populace decided Chrome wheels were gaudy a decade ago...

Scott J said...

Tam, funny thing is I never saw that movie until after I owned the car.

I knew it was why my 1987 model is called the Graduate but I'd never bothered to see the movie.

Ed Foster said...

I had an absolutely suicidal buddy named Pat Swan years ago who took (then) dirt cheap A-H's and boxed the frames, then stuck in romped Chevy smallblocks and the old Chevy TH-250, alias two speed slip and slide.

You couldn't burn out the TH-250, it would just swallow excess torque until the back wheels could accept it, then deliver like nobody's business.

Pat was a hyperactive ADD, absolurely brilliant, and a (mostly) recovered alcoholic, in addition to being a flawless CNC programmer and singer/guitarist.

Also a former stock and sportscar racer who had been scraped off the wall three times.

I think he built about 15 to 20 of the Super Healys before he went into that bridge abutment at 120.

There are times I still miss the old hound, but I have to say he lived it his way, and those all lovely Healys had many layered, well rubbed out coats of laquer on them along with the steroidal drive trains.

Beautiful reckless cars, a wild but funny and generous man who sold me my beloved XKE, and many a colorful memory of a total rascal who should have been born in the 17th century and issued a rapier and a pistol at the age of 12.

Thank you for the memory.

Scott J said...

Progress. Engine out with assist from wife and eldest child.

I was hoping for November but SWMBO says we might could squeeze extra out of the budget to have parts in time to have it running in the Spring.