1955 AUSTIN-HEALEY 100M 'LE MANS' ROADSTER
Chassis No. BNIL/225762
Engine No. IB225762M
Black with white coves with red interior
Engine: four cylinder, in-line, pushrod overhead valve, twin carburetors, 2,660cc, 112bhp at 4,500rpm; Gearbox: four speed manual with overdrive: Suspension: front, independent coil spring with wishbones, rear, semi-elliptic leaf spring; Brakes: front, disc, rear, drum. Left hand drive.
By the early 1950's Donald Healey was one of the most respected British rally competitor and sports car engineer. The eponymic cars which were built at his Warwick factory had performed with distinction in endurance events such as the Mille Miglia and the Grand Prix d'Endurance at Le Mans. When Leonard Lord let it be known some time before the 1952 London Motor Show that Austin was interested in quantity production of a sports model using as many Austin parts as possible, hopeful specialist makers quickly built prototypes. Ultimately it was the svelte 100 two-seater on Healey's stand at the show that captured Lord's attention and was chosen. Renamed the Austin-Healey 100, the car quickly became a formidable opponent in every type of international competition. It was strong, handled well and rewarded tuning. A substantial high-performance aftermarket rapidly developed, with the factory leading the way.
In 1953 the official Austin-Healey 100 entry at Le Mans sported a special high-compression engine with a high-lift camshaft and stronger valve-springs. Breathing was looked after by a pair of hefty 1¾ inch SU HD6 carburetors on special inlet manifolds, drawing through a cold air box. To match the enhanced power, the suspension was given duty dampers and a large diameter front anti-roll bar; a well-louvered bonnet was provided to dispose of surplus heat. This well thought-out tuning package duly appeared on a production model in 1955 with the introduction of the 100M, of which 1,159 are recorded as having been built. In this form top speed was 109mph with the screen up and close to 120mph with it lowered. The standing quarter mile time was improved from 18.1 seconds with the standard 100 to 17.4 seconds.
The history of this 100M dates back to the Matthews Collection in Denver, Colorado where it had been kept amongst a stable of likewise fine British sports cars and was listed as a member of the Le Mans registry. It was in the fall of 2001 when the now current owner traveled to Pueblo, Colorado to watch a friend race an Austin Mini at the local track. With racing successful completed the pair set out for the Matthews Collection where they were to purchase a Jaguar E-Type and then proceed to a cabin in Estes Park for a post-race party. At the Matthews Collection the owner saw the 100M for sale and purchased it as quickly as possible before the Matthews decided not to sell. The pair, ever so content with their purchases, proceeded to race to the cabin in the mountains high above Denver. The long weekend evolved into a week of driving through the valleys, along streams and as illustrated here on one of the highest roads in North America. The Trail Ridge Road in the Rocky Mountain National Park crosses the Continental Divide and affords, clearly some of the most stunning views of the Rockies.
After what was no doubt a memorable trip, the 100M settled into its ownership where it received routine maintenance, such as oil changes, belt tightening and spirited use. Recently the owner recounted an evening where a friend had organized a themed Roman Holiday party to benefit the Audrey Hepburn Children's Hospital which was to several vintage cars grace the entrance. Unfortunately, several of the cars committed dropped out at last minute, and ever ready to help, the owner volunteered his 100M. As fate would have it, Ms. Hepburn's son Sean Ferrer attended with his date the actress Jennifer Love Hewitt who (had portrayed his mother in the 2000 movie The Audrey Hepburn Story) immediately fell in love with the 100M. It was at this point when the owner found Ms. Hewitt sitting in the car posing for pictures. While pleased to see such a lovely woman in the car, not knowing who she was, the owner politely asked to 'get out' of his car - much to the horror of his daughter. Christie's is pleased to offer this 100M for sale and recommends a close inspection of this spirited and well exercised British great. Set in handsome colors with the proper upgrades it would seem this car is poised to continue its touring and social life.