Driving into Summer | Lot 262
1956 Austin-Healey 100 M 'Le Mans'
$104,500 USD | Sold
| Santa Paula, California
21 - 29 May 2020
- A documented, factory-produced 100 M; verified by the 100 M Registry
- One of just 640 factory built 100 M ‘Le Mans’ versions
- Matching numbers engine and original numbered louvered hood
- Eligible for numerous rallies, including the Mille Miglia
Donald Healey, a top rally driver before World War II, had been the technical director of Triumph and built his own line of Riley-powered sports cars after the war. Looking for a more modern design, he worked up a new car by using the powertrain from Austin’s A90 Atlantic, a baroque-looking convertible that was intended for American consumption but received a disappointing reception. The new car’s engine was a 2,660-cubic centimeter four-overhead-valve unit that could produce 90 bhp, and the transmission was a three-speed version of the Atlantic’s coupled with a Laycock de Normanville overdrive. Healey had negotiated the supply of components with Austin’s chairman, Leonard Lord. When the car, badged as the Healey Hundred, appeared at the 1952 Earls Court Motor Show, Lord was so taken with it that the two men immediately struck a deal for Austin to produce it. The first cars, re-named Austin-Healey 100, appeared the following spring.
In addition to its good looks, the car proved adept in competition, with Donald Healey himself being timed at 142.636 mph in a lightly modified example at the Bonneville Salt Flats in 1953. The same year, Donald Healey’s team competed at the 24 Hours of Le Mans with great success, finishing 2nd and 3rd in their class.
In 1955, a new BN2 version of the Austin-Healey, which had a four-speed transmission, was introduced. At the same time the BN2 was introduced, a new high-performance version named the 100 M was also conceived. Offering a package closer in spec to that of the actual Le Mans race cars, the 100 M featured larger carburetors, a high-lift cam, and a higher 8.1:1 compression. Stiffer front suspension was fitted, with hood louvers and a leather strap offering subtle visual clues as to its enhanced performance. The factory-installed Le Mans package raised the 100’s 90 bhp to an impressive 100-plus.
This example, like many, was destined for the US market. It is documented by its British Motor Industry Heritage Trust Certificate as a factory-built 100 M ‘Le Mans,’ delivered new with the louvered bonnet and the full accoutrement of 100 M performance enhancements. Originally ordered in two-tone white and black over a black upholstery, the exterior color has since been changed to red, a livery this car has worn since at least the early 1980s. The car is known to the 100 M “Le Mans” Registry and has been recognized as a genuine factory-built example, as indicated by a Membership Certificate issued to previous owner Ralph Deuschle in 2005.
This delightful Austin-Healey is offered with said documentation in addition to a tool roll, spare tire, knockoff hammer, side curtains, and a reproduction owner’s handbook. The engine and body tags are original to the car, attesting to its matching numbers engine status, and the car importantly retains its original louvered bonnet bearing the body number.
A genuine, factory-built 100 M is one of the most sought-after British sports cars of the 1950s. Eligible for a wide variety of rallies and touring events, including the Mille Miglia, this Austin-Healey is sure to provide many more decades of top-down, raked-back windshield British motoring excitement.