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British Industrial History

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Donald Mitchell Healey

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Donald Mitchell Healey CBE (1898-1988) of the Donald Healey Motor Co was a noted English rally driver, automobile engineer, and speed record holder.

1898 July 3rd. Born in Woodbine Cottage, Perranporth, on the north coast of Cornwall, the elder of the two sons of John Frederick Healey, who ran the village shop, and his wife, Emmie, daughter of Sampson Mitchell, shopkeeper, of Perranporth. His parents were Wesleyan Methodists.

After studying engineering at Newquay College, he took up an apprenticeship in 1914 with the Sopwith in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey, while continuing his engineering studies at Kingston Technical College.

1916 He enlisted in the Royal Flying Corps as an air mechanic, and after qualifying as a pilot he went on night bombing raids, but after a series of crashes he was invalided out of the Royal Flying Corps in November 1917 and was transferred to the aeronautical inspection department of the Air Ministry, and spent the rest of the war checking aircraft components.

1919 He returned to Perranporth

1921 October 21st. Married Ivy Maud (d. 1980), daughter of Faithful James, a hard rock miner, of Perranporth: they had three sons.

Healey became interested in all things mechanical at an early age, most particularly aircraft. When he returned to Cornwall he took a correspondence course in automobile engineering. After the war, he opened a garage in Perranporth.

1931 Won the Monte Carlo Rally driving an Invicta. He competed in the Monte Carlo Rally in 1929 and was in the top eight places in 1932, 1934 and 1936.

1931 He gained a reputation as a consultant engineer and designer

1934 Donald Healey became Experimental Manager of Triumph.

1939 Healey was appointed General Manager of Triumph. He went on to create the renowned Southern Cross and Dolomite 8 models.

WWII During the Second World War, Healey was in charge of developing an aircraft carburettor for the Ministry of Supply and also worked with Humber on armoured cars.

1945 he formed the Donald Healey Motor Co based in an old RAF hangar at Warwick. The company developed the Austin-Healey motor cars through a licensing arrangement with British Motor Corporation.

1949 Healey established an agreement with George W. Mason, the president of Nash Motors to build Nash-engined Healey sports cars. The first series of the 2-seaters were built in 1951, designed by Healey. The Nash-Healey's engine was a Nash Ambassador 6-cylinder, the body was aluminium, and the chassis was a Healey Silverstone. However, Pininfarina restyled the bodywork for 1952 and took over the production of its new steel body.

When BMC was taken over by British Leyland Motor Corporation in 1966, Donald Healey became chairman of Jensen Motors and was made a CBE

1988 January 13th. Donald Healey died at the age of 89.

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