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British Industrial History

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Donald Healey Motor Co

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October 1949. Healey Silverstone.
Im090510B-Healey.jpg

The Donald Healey Motor Company Ltd of Warwick was a British car company formed in 1945 by Donald Healey, a renowned auto engineer and successful racing driver.

1945 The company was formed after Healey discussed sports car design with Achille Sampietro, a chassis specialist for high performance cars and Ben Bowden, a body engineer, when all three worked at Humber during World War II.

The company was based in an old aircraft components factory off Miller Road in Warwick. The cars themselves were sold from a now-demolished showroom on Emscote Road, Warwick, commemorated by a new block of flats called Healey Court. Healey was joined by Roger Menadue from Armstrong Whitworth to run the experimental workshop.

The cars mainly used a tuned version of the proven Riley twin cam 2.4 litre four cylinder engine in a light steel box section chassis of their own design using independent front suspension by coil springs and alloy trailing arms with Girling dampers. The rear suspension used a Riley live axle with coil springs again. Advanced design allowed soft springing to be combined with excellent road holding. Lockheed hydraulic brakes were used. When it was introduced in 1948 the Elliott saloon was claimed to be the fastest production closed car in the world and was timed at 104.7 mph over a mile. Unusually for the time the body was tested in a wind tunnel to refine its aerodynamics.

In 1949 the most sporting of all the Healeys, the Silverstone, was announced. It had a shorter chassis and stiffer springing and was capable of 107 mph. It is now a highly sought after car and many of the other Healeys have been converted into Silverstone replicas. The cars had numerous competition successes including class wins in the 1947 and 1948 Alpine rallies and the 1949 Mille Miglia. To enter the export market, in 1950 the company built the Nash-Healey using a Nash Ambassador engine with SU carburettors and Nash gearbox. Initially the 3848 cc unit was used but when in 1952 body construction was transferred from Healey to Pininfarina the larger 4138 cc engine was fitted. The final car was the G-Type using an Alvis TB21 engine and gearbox. This was more luxurious and heavier than the Riley engined models and performance suffered.

1951 Exhibitor at the 1951 Motor Show in the Car Section.

In 1952, a joint venture with the British Motor Corporation created the Austin-Healey marque and later on the Austin-Healey Sprite.

Donald Healey became a director of Jensen in the late 1960's and a result of this was the Lotus engined Jensen-Healey which appeared in 1972.

The Donald Healey Motor Company was finally sold to the Hamblin Group.

1963 Motor Show exhibitor. Showing Austin-Healey Sprite Mk II and 3000. [1]

See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. 1963 Motor Show