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1953 Austin Healey 100 BN1
Full Bare-Shell Restoration


Many, many more pictures available by clicking on the buttons above!

December 1953 Austin Healey 100 BN1 '100/4' - Body Number 1076

This matching numbers car has lived almost all of its life in California – and for the vast majority of time had been kept in storage, unused! It was repatriated to the UK in 2017 and has since undergone a bare-shell, nut and bolt restoration and must now be one of the best examples in the UK. It’s not just had a quick ‘once-over’ restoration – every single component has been restored or replaced, with the focus being kept on preserving as much originality as possible. The car won Best in Show at its first outing to an MGCC Concours event and was chosen as the car that people wanted to take home, given the choice of a pristine array of MGs, Aston Martins, Jaguars and Porsches displayed alongside.

It presents an excellent opportunity to invest in a car with all of the hard work completed – the cost of having a car restored to this standard would be double our asking price! Early Healey values are climbing year on year, and are now seen as being the purest form of Healey – a ‘proper’ sportscar when compared to the later cars which were very much designed for the American market. Don’t underestimate a 100 – they are long geared, gutsy and handle much better than the later cars – admittedly with a little less refinement!

Body number 1076 is a very early example, built in December 1953, so retains all of the features of the very early cars, including the 4 stud rear axle, no reflectors above the rear shrouds, early door hinges, and much more. The car still retains a rally plate from an event it competed on in 1954 – the California Square Wheel Touring Society’s Moonlight Rally – an event which Donald Healey actually competed on in the same year. Annoyingly we don’t have an entry list for the event so can’t confirm if Donald himself drove this very car, but there can’t have been many other Healeys competing on the event so early on in production!

At some point since then, a rebuild had commenced, and all of the external panelwork has been replaced with aluminium items – all four wings, doors, 100M louvered bonnet and boot lid. Of course, the front and rear shrouds are the original items. The attention to detail of the panelwork is fantastic and all of the gaps are really very good indeed. All four wings have been hand-beaten by a coach builder, and the attention to detail is second to none.

Since returning to the UK, the car has been completely rebuilt to an excellent standard – see the specs below for more detail. No stone has been left unturned! It’s not a nastily over-restored ‘concours’ example, and retaining originality has been kept to the front of the mind whilst restoring everything sympathetically – but to the best of standards. Hundreds, if not thousands of pictures fully document all of the work completed – only a small selection of which are in our online gallery!

Upon stripping the car for rebuild, it was clear that the car has covered very little mileage – the engine had never been apart, still retaining all of its original bearings, water pump and even clutch! The ancillaries are all original too – carburettors, distributor, starter motor etc. It’s incredibly rare to find a car which had clearly led a very easy life and hadn’t been subject to endless repairs over the years. Even three of the four cockpit trims are stamped with the body number, with pencil markings next to them noting the numbers to be stamped. This is very rare to see!

Of course, the car starts and runs beautifully, with excellent oil pressure and compression figures thanks to its complete rebuild. It pulls strongly and willingly, and sounds absolutely fantastic. Every system on the car has been rebuilt or renewed so it really does offer the driving experience of buying the car brand new in 1953! Overdrive works flawlessly, including the kickdown switch and the car rides very nicely indeed.

The car has only covered a few hundred running-in miles since the restoration, so it really is box fresh. All of the original spot welds in the inner wings etc are visible, it’s just amazing to see how well preserved the car has been in the dry climes of California. The engine bay is absolutely immaculate, great attention to detail has been paid to make everything neat and tidy – and any modifications to make the car more usable in the modern world are very discreet.

The paintwork shines beautifully, and the panel gaps are all very good indeed – the doors shut with a gentle ‘click’. The chromework is all in good order (some of it original!), grille-surround included. Wheels and tyres are effectively new. The interior has been fully retrimmed to a beautiful standard and looks top dollar. The seats are leather covered with top quality hide – quite simply, no expense has been spared.

A new soft top from Don Hoods is supplied, along with a frame and new header rail, but the owner decided against fitting it. It makes the interior look tidier, for a start – and the weather equipment was never regarded as being particularly effective! This makes the external lines of the car much sleeker too, as holes have not been drilled in the bodywork for sidescreen fittings and the like. Of course, the next owner may choose to do this – it’s all there, and ready to be fitted!

The list of work completed is endless and cannot be summed up in an advert, but here is a ‘brief’ (!) summary of works undertaken:

Body and Chassis

  • Stripped to a bare shell and inspected. Being a dry climate car, the chassis was very sound indeed – and the car came apart incredibly easily, with not a single stuck/rusted fixing anywhere! The floors were found to have had a couple of small patches so the decision was made to replace the complete floors and footwells with replacement panels, along with new sills. It seemed silly not to take the belt and braces approach while the car was at this stage, even though it didn’t really require complete panels.

  • Repainted in Healey Ice Blue Metallic, inside and out, after dry-building to ensure all panel gaps were correct. Painted in 2-pack paint with a small amount of matting agent to achieve a period finish – but as you can see, shines beautifully with deep reflections!

Engine and ancillaries

  • Engine completely stripped, chemically cleaned and rebuilt. Crankshaft only required a polish so still running standard main bearings. Cylinders rebored to +0.020” with new high quality pistons from FW Thornton. Oil pump inspected and refitted. Timing chain replaced. Cylinder head crack tested, rebuilt with new valve springs, followers and pushrods. Block has been decked.

  • Front timing cover crank pulley seal O ring conversion.

  • Distributor rebuilt and fitted with electronic ignition kit.

  • Alternator conversion with WOSP regulator junction box.

  • Carburettors completely rebuilt with all new throttle rods and joints throughout.

  • Stainless steel fuel tank made to original design, with new fuel lines throughout. New electronic SU pump fitted with in-line filter.

  • Original radiator flushed, pressure tested and checked – keeps the car cool with ease! Very rare 100degC capillary gauge is still present, and has been rebuilt with new capillary tube, and re-calibrated.

  • Uprated (and lighter!) plastic engine fan fitted. Heater rebuilt, matrix pressure tested, with NOS rheostat switch sourced and fitted along with replacement fan motor.

  • New stainless steel exhaust fitted.

  • Alloy rocker cover fitted.


  • Original 3-speed gearbox stripped, inspected and rebuilt by Cape International at great expense (£6000+!). Layshaft was noted to have some pitting so a NOS item was sourced (again, at great cost!). New bearings throughout. All other gears inspected for wear. Bellhousing fitted with modern lip seal conversion to stop leaks which were a common issue with these early boxes. Gears now select nicely and there are no nasty whines which most of these cars have!

  • Overdrive stripped and rebuilt, tested before being refitted to car. All new seals, oil pump and solenoid fitted.

  • Replacement (NOS) clutch fitted, along with uprated clutch mechanism – a common failure on standard cars.

  • Propshaft rebuilt and rebalanced, new UJs fitted. Rear axle bearings replaced.


  • Denis Welch front disc conversion fitted. Master cylinder rebuilt, new pipework throughout. Rear brakes are standard (original 4 stud axle) and have been rebuilt with new cylinders. Brake proportioning valve fitted to correct the balance having fitted the disc conversion – the front wheels lock before the rears, which is often an overseen issue on these early cars! New handbrake cable, with handbrake rod mechanism restored and adjusted.

Suspension and Steering

  • New CNC-designed steering box from Denis Welch – car converted to RHD.

  • All suspension rebuilt or renewed, front and rear. New kingpins, springs, shock absorbers all round and fitted with road spec polybushes throughout. New wheel bearings, steering arms – the lot!


  • Completely new wiring loom fitted

  • 12v battery conversion mounted on custom made battery tray.

  • Period upgrade Cibie H4 headlight units fitted, along with plastic bowls.


  • Interior has been completely retrimmed. Carpet set sourced at great expense from concours specialist John Skinner, complete with underlay.

  • Leather seat covers with new foams, bases and backs, professionally trimmed.

  • Dashboard covered in matching vinyl (a factory option).

  • Door cards and pull-handles replaced.

  • Gauges and switches have been rebuilt, cleaned and refitted – note that the silvering on the gauge faces is original and has not faded, like nearly every other car – more proof that the car sat for such a long time before being unearthed!

  • Boot has been trimmed, again with a John Skinner supplied Karvel carpet set as per original.

  • Original steering wheel restored by specialist with new Bakelite. Horn push assembly rebuilt and rewired.

  • Full tonneau from Don Hoods of Birmingham


Exterior trim

  • MWS wire wheels in excellent condition – powdercoated in the correct shade of grey/silver. Tyres are all new Michelin XZX – the best tyres currently available for a Healey!

  • Brightwork is all in very good order – front and rear bumpers. Rear overriders left off as it looks far cleaner!

  • Windscreen stanchions polished and refitted – new windscreen base rubber. The screen folds just as it should and looks absolutely fantastic! New windscreen retaining springs and associated hardware, correct windscreen wipers fitted.


All in all, this car provides a fantastic opportunity for anyone wishing to enjoy Healey ownership, without the prospect and cost of major restoration to worry about! Along with a current V5, also included is a Heritage certificate, details of previous Californian owners and an absolute raft of bills and receipts from the restoration – we daren’t add them all up! Recent sales figures for similar cars match our asking price – but none of these cars had completely alloy bodywork, matching numbers or the same level of detailed restoration that this one has received!

Please contact us if you have any questions or you are interested in viewing the car, which is located in South Cumbria, in the Lake District – easily accessible, just 30 minutes from J36 of the M6.



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