1956 AUSTIN-HEALEY 100M 'LE MANS' ROADSTER
Gold-level certified by the 100M registry
Chassis no. BN2-L/230581
Following the Austin-Healey 100's sensational debut at the 1952 Motor Show, the works had entered two mildly modified cars in the 1953 Le Mans 24-Hour Race, which finishing in 12th and 14th places, a highly praiseworthy achievement for what were recognisably production sports cars. Accordingly, the name 'Le Mans' was chosen for a bolt-on tuning kit offered through Austin-Healey dealers, by means of which private owners could bring their cars up to a specification approaching that of the works entries. The kit included a pair of 1¾" SU HD6 carburettors plus special inlet manifold and cold air box, high-lift camshaft, stronger valve springs and distributor with alternative ignition advance curve. With the kit installed power increased from the standard 90 to 100bhp.
From October 1955 the conversion was available factory-fitted on the successor BN2 model in the form of the 100M. In addition to the Le Mans kit, the latter boasted high-compression pistons, stiffer front anti-roll bar, special Armstrong front dampers and a louvred bonnet. Power increased to 110bhp and top speed, with windscreen folded flat, to within a whisker of 120mph. The number of BN1s converted by their owners is unknown, but 1,159 cars, mostly BN2s, were built or subsequently modified to 100M specification between 1955 and 1956. Of these, approximately 640 were completed at the factory, some 544 of which were exported to the USA, including the example offered here, which is confirmed to be a genuine, factory built, matching numbers Austin-Healey 100M 'Le Mans' by its accompanying BMIHT and 100M 'Le Mans' Registry certificates.
Chassis number 'BN2-L/230581' was delivered new in 1956 to Florida and in 1958 was purchased by the second owner, a Mr Ditter from Miami, Florida who used it until 1971. The Healey was then stored in his garage until his daughter sold it in 2006 to Harold Brandner from BMC Classics of Smyrna Beach, Florida, who restored it completely between 2006 and 2009 (see DVD on file). In 2010 the car was shipped to the immediately preceding owner in Basel, Switzerland. The current owner acquired the car in May 2014.
Benefiting from a no-expense-spared, 'ground upwards' restoration to original specification, '230581' must be one of the very best of its kind available, as evidenced by its '1st in class' awards at the Tampa British Car Show (October 2009) and the Winterpark Concours d'Élégance (November 2009), and a '3rd in class' award at the British Classic Car Meeting in St Moritz (July 2010).
Belgian registered, the car comes with one of the very few hand-built wooden steering wheels by Donald Healey; recent new top, tonneau cover, and windows; chromed spare wheel; '100M' and 'Le Mans' badges; and a well-stocked badge bar. It has obtained the ultra-desirable Gold-level certification by the 100M registry of Bill Meade, the highest recognition of the car's originality. It is known to the register as 'Confirmed Factory-built 100M'.
Finished in its original factory colour scheme of Healey Blue and Old English White, '230581' represents a rare opportunity to acquire an iconic first-of-the-line 'Big Healey', factory 'Le Mans' built.
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