Me & My Car: ’61 Austin-Healey restored from ‘mess’ to success

Sure, there have been males named Herbert Austin and Donald Healey. One may assume the 2 industrialists obtained collectively and agreed to construct snazzy sports activities automobiles like this concern’s 1961 Austin-Healey 3000. However that’s not the way it occurred.

Herbert Austin’s first automotive was inbuilt 1895, and he later shaped the Austin Motor Co. in 1905. Austin constructed all sizes of automobiles, however to extend market share, he launched smaller automobiles. England had legal guidelines that taxed automotive house owners by engine measurement, encouraging smaller automobiles with smaller engines. Austin Motor Co. disappeared once they merged with Morris Motors in 1952 to turn into the British Motor Corp.

Donald Healey was into racing and a famous auto designer. He shaped the Donald Healey Motor Co. in 1945, designing and constructing costly, excessive-high quality automobiles. After World Warfare II, a number of U.S. servicemen purchased an MG or a Jaguar to deliver house. However there was nothing in between. Donald Healey noticed a distinct segment to fill, so he began producing mid-priced automobiles again within the Nineteen Fifties utilizing the Austin energy practice. Along with Austin, Healey additionally designed the Elliot-Healey, the Nash-Healey, and the Jensen-Healey for different auto corporations.

Antioch resident Pete Davies had been making an attempt to purchase this specific 1961 Austin-Healey for years. It was owned by a neighbor of his mother and father in Danville. It had been the neighbor’s and his spouse’s automotive via school, and there was a variety of sentimental worth there. It had been stolen from him twice however each occasions returned.

Davies defined that, “I came upon about it in ’eighty five and went over to ask him about it and informed him if he have been ever curious about promoting it, let me know. I might ask him a few times a yr if he have been able to promote it. All the time no. In the meantime, the automotive was sitting outdoors within the climate deteriorating. The proprietor had deliberate to revive it ‘sometime,’ however he didn’t have the information, the amenities or the cash.”

Davies stored asking, and eventually someday the neighbor stated he would promote it.

“He went in to inform his spouse he was going to promote it to me however got here out a half-hour later and stated he couldn’t promote to me. ‘My spouse gained’t let me.’ This went on for a number of extra years, then someday I used to be speaking to his son, who stated, ‘Let me work on this.’ ”

About two months later, in 2011, Davies purchased the automotive for $three,000. Three days after buy, Davies confirmed up with a trailer to select up the Austin-Healey.

“It was a multitude,” he stated. “Thirty years sitting outdoors. I opened the trunk, and three rats stood up. The odor was terrible. It was disgusting. I introduced it house and sat on it for a few yr.”

That is Davies’ interest. He has restored eight automobiles, however this one is particular. He too had some sentimental attachment to Austin-Healey.

“I had one out of highschool, however bought it to a buddy. About three years later, I obtained one other one however needed to promote it for monetary causes (a child). I swore I might have one other one sometime.”

It took him 5 years to show a stinking mess into a gorgeous automotive, actually higher than when new.

“Aside from the paint and fabric, I did all of the work myself. I did all of the metallic work and all of the mechanical work.”

And he did all the things in his house storage.

“I constructed a rotisserie, which is a framework that helps the automotive. You possibly can raise it up and spin the entire automotive so that you don’t have work flat in your again.”

He completed the restoration in February of this yr.

“It’s all Austin-Healey,” Davies stated. “It has a 2900-cc inline six. It’s a ship anchor for a motor, it weighs greater than a small-block Chevy V8. The horsepower is round one hundred thirty five, and it has a 4-velocity guide transmission with an electrical overdrive.”

There’s a small toggle change on the sprint that used to interact the overdrive in both third of fourth gear. Davies and a good friend, James Creston, who makes customized guitars, made the spectacular curly maple wooden dashboard and steering wheel.

“I simply needed so as to add slightly richness to the automotive with out dropping its originality,” Davies stated modestly.

He used the usual Austin-Healey gauges and switches so it seems unique, however a lot nicer. After 5 years, Davies’ Austin-Healey is already a present winner. Painted a wealthy cranberry purple with white leather-based inside, additionally it is a head-turner. His $three,000 funding has blossomed to about $25,000, which doesn’t embrace his 5 years of sweat fairness. He estimates the present market worth at greater than $eighty five,000 however has no intention to promote, which pleases his grownup daughter who has her personal plan.

Have an fascinating car? Contract David Krumboltz at

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