Austin-Healeys at Brooklands – September 2011

When looking at the motoring events calendar for the year, there are a few which come into the “no brainer” category, as these are vast events, where there is guaranteed to be plenty of interest generated by the large number of cars and exhibits. There are also huge numbers of smaller events, which never receive the same level of coverage, either because they are less well publicised, or because their scope is more limited. That does not mean that they will not be enjoyable, of course, though it can mean that if there is a more limited amount to see, then it is far harder to justify the time and cost of travel, unless there is a particularly compelling reason to head out. I recently went to an event in this category, which sounded interesting on paper, but which was only viable as I was in the area: a gathering of Austin Healeys at Brooklands, organised by the southern section of the Healey Owners Club, to mark their 50th anniversary.
There were a variety of cars showing the evolution of the “Big Healey” from the 100 models as first launched in 1952, through the 100/6 and then the 3000 models which were in production until 1967. Only a couple of the 100 model cars, easily identified from the lozenge shape of the grille made my photos.
Most of the cars at the event were the 3000 model. This was first launched in 1959, and approximately 43,000 of them were made before the car was replaced by the MGC at the end of 1967. As was common at the time, there were frequent changes made, some more visually evident than others, with three distinct “marks” being offered during this 8 year period. The Mark 1 cars, BN7 for the 2 seater and BT7 for the 4 seater were produced until March 1961. Nearly 4 times more 4 seaters than 2 were made. These cars sported a 3 litre straight six engine with twin carbs. Popular options included overdrive, wire wheels, a hard top and a heater. Mark II versions of the BN7 and BT7 were launched in March 1961 and featured three SU carburettors, along with improved trim, a vertical barred grilled, wind up windows and curved windscreen. A 2+2 version, the BJ7, followed in January 1962, at which point the engine reverted to a twin carb set up. The Mark III cars, called BJ8 came in October 1963 and featured a more powerful engine, servo assisted brakes along with a walnut dash, though leather seats became an option. Roughly equal numbers of all three Marks were made.

Although the focus of the event was on the Big Healey, there were a number of Sprites in attendance, too, both from the “Frog Eyed” generation, and the later Mark II to IV cars, along with a Speedwell conversion.  
Some additional vehicles had made their way into the event, and this Morris J Van was parked up right by the entrance to the main building. Vans of this era always look so incredibly primitive inside, and make me very grateful for modern creature comforts!
From an even earlier period were this MG and Austin Seven.
Whilst this was indeed a very pleasant afternoon, and it was wonderful to see quite so many Healeys gathered together in one place, you would have to be a real devotee to make a long journey for something like this. Luckily, I was in the area, so I could pop along and enjoy it all.
2011-09-18 09:17:50

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