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Motoring: Austin Healey 100 - 1952

The Austin-Healey 100 was the car that introduced the Austin-Healey Marque and became the most populat British sports car of the 1950s. This very British car used an Austin A90 engine and modified Austin A90 gearbox, and its all-steel body was mounted on a steel box section chassis. In 1955 improvements were made to the car which included a four-speed overdrive gearbox, a more highly tuned version of the A90 engine, and a louvered bonnet. This car was sold as the 100M. The remaining standard 100 versions were also fitted with the 4-speed overdrive gearbox in 1955.

A remarkable performance in the 1953 Sebring 12-hour race by a special 100 led to the S (Sebring) version being produced in 1954. These cars featured aluminium bodywork, alloy cylinder head and all round disc brakes. Only 50 S versions were produced. Demand for the 100 remained strong throughout its production and over 14500 cars were built. It was replaced by the 100/6 in October 1956.

This new car was very similar in appearance to the 100/4, but his time the car was fitted with a tuned version of the six cylinder BMC C series engine, and was also equipped with occasional rear seats - the wheelbase of the new car had been lengthened to achieve this. As with other "Big Healeys" the cars are sometimes referred to by their factory designation which for this model was BN4.

Sales were slow to take off at first as the new sports car did not offer any gain in performance over the 4 cylinder model and the occasional seating was not enough to sway the buying public, although these cars are of course very popular now. In 1957 the engine power was upped by the addition of a six port cylinder head providing much improved performance. In April 1958 the BN6 version of the car was introduced, this time featuring 2-seater bodywork although it still retained the longer wheelbase. Production figures were 10268 for the 2+2 100/6 (BN4) and 4150 for the 2-seater 100/6 (BN6). Production ended with the introduction of the Austin-Healey 3000 in June 1959.

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