The ‘Big Healey’ appeared in 1956 when the 100-6 was introduced, continuing in production for a dozen years. The name was coined to differentiate between large and small Austin-Healeys after the Frogeye Sprite appeared, applying retrospectively to the 100-6 as well as the Austin-Healey 3000 that superseded it (with the number of cylinders replaced by cubic capacity to distinguish old from new as both models looked almost identical).
The 3000 Mk I had a larger engine than its predecessor and was built between 1959 and 1961. The BN7 version was an open two-seater and the BT7 a hardtop 2+2. Equipped with twin SU carburetors, the 3000 has Girling front disks brakes. The signature wire-wheels-were extra, as was the popular two-tone paint finish.
The Mk II (1961-1963) saw the fitting of triple carbs (soon dropped) with cosmetic changes like a new front grille. The BJ7 was introduced, featuring wind-up windows and a curved windscreen, though just two (trouble-free) carburetors. From 1963 the Mk III BJ8 — the most powerful and well-trimmed of all Big Healeys — was the only option. This 2+2 had a walnut-veneered dashboard, proper windows and servo-assisted brakes all round.
So much for the rugged road cars, of which over 40,000 were made — a great success story at a time when a coveted 3000 cost going on for double the annual salary a university graduate might expect. But that’s only half the story. The Austin-Healey 3000 became a famed competitor on top racing circuits around the world, such as Le Mans and the Sebring International Raceway in Florida. Works versions of the 3000 were fitted with aluminum bodywork whilst privateers devised numerous performance-enhancing modifications, and large numbers still compete in classic sports car races. The Austin-Healey 3000 remains ultra-desirable, lasts well and still drives beautifully.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
1959 (until 1967)
2,912 cc Straight Six
Top speed of the Mk I B17 was 115 mph (185 km/h) with 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 11.7 secs
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
After Donald Healey parted company with British Leyland in 1966 he went on to become Chairman of Jensen Motors, where (among other achievements) he produced the Jensen-Healey to fill the void left by the Austin-Healey 3000’s discontinuation.