It’s a moot point whether winning rally driver Donald Healey produced road cars to subsidize his true love – racing – or whether exploits on the track were regarded as a promotional tool to boost sales of road cars. Either way, the perfect player was the magnificent Healey Silverstone, named after the wartime bomber airfield that became a racing circuit in 1948.
The Silverstone delivered the best of both worlds, making its debut in 1949 with an advertising campaign featuring glowing testimonials from leading racing drivers of the day – and yes, they really did believe in the product. This was a proven race winner with a sizzling top speed, rapid acceleration and great road holding at a time when there was plenty of track and hill-climbing action on offer for owner-drivers, and the Silverstone was a car that could be driven to the meet and then used to compete – and win the day.
With its rounded contours, cycle mudguards and raked windscreen (both removable if necessary to improve race performance), there can be no mistaking the fact that the Silverstone was built for speed. This cigar-shaped sports car has cutaway doors and headlamps cutely concealed behind a vertical-bar grille to accentuate that naked racing look. The Silverstone even had signature portholes borrowed from contemporary Buicks and a spare tire jutted jauntily out of the rear end, cleverly doubling as a bumper.
Just over a hundred of these dual-purpose ‘ride-and-race’ sports cars were manufactured. They are regarded as the most desirable Healeys ever made, and with just over a hundred built in the two years of production scarcity value further ups the already steep ‘wow factor’ price. However, these robust racers rarely vanish into static collections. They were made to be driven, and those lucky enough to have one tend to campaign them regularly in classic Sports car races.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
1949 (until 1950)
2,443 cc Straight Four
Top speed of 113 mph (182 km/h); 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 11 secs
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Although almost all Silverstones came with Healey’s enhanced ‘fits everything’ Riley 2.4 l four-cylinder engine, the inevitable quest to be faster than everyone else led to a few late models being fitted with a 3.0 l Alvis straight-six engine.