In the immediate aftermath of World War II Donald Healey trod the path that also attracted fellow travelers like Colin Chapman in Britain and Frank Kurtis in America — the journey from successful race driver (and accomplished automobile engineer) to manufacturer of sporty road ears.
The Donald Healey Motor Company obtained a factory in Warwick and set about marrying proprietary components like Riley’s proven twin cam 2.4 litre four-cylinder engine and Lockheed hydraulic brakes with a light steel box-section chassis and suspension designed and built by Healey.
Production was never prolific — the best-seller among eight different models was the 200-unit Healey Tickford Saloon of the early 1950s, whilst the Healey Elliott Saloon was the success story of the 1940s with 101 produced — but Healey’s innovative cars punched far above their commercial weight by establishing a great reputation for advanced engineering, thus influencing a generation of car designers. They were all variations on the same basic mechanical package, though there were two different versions of the chassis.
The third Healey off the line was the long, low Sportsmobile, first seen in 1948 and produced until 1950, during which time very few were actually made. This four-seater drophead coupe with winding windows was built on the B chassis and is sturdy rather than handsome — with its replacement, the Abbott Drophead, definitely being more attractive to look at. Nonetheless, the Sportsmobile was a prestigious four-seater tourer that was ahead of its time, offering outstanding performance in its class.
Unfortunately, it was held back and denied the success it deserved by the British Government’s imposition of punitive purchase tax on all luxury cars costing more than £1,000 (when the Sportsmobile was more than double that), which badly affected Healey’s sales and profitability.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
1948 (until 1950)
2,443 cc Straight Four
Top speed of 105 mph (164 km/h)
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Bearing in mind that only 23 were ever made, the Healey advertising campaign for the Sportsmobile rather disingenuously stated that ‘in spite of the demands of the export market a limited number of these superb cars is now available for home delivery.