Launched at the 1952 London Motor Show, the Healey “Hundred” (later renamed the Austin-Healey 100-4), immediately took the world by storm. Capable of hitting 100 mph at full chat, hence the “Hundred” in its name, the new Healey was highly responsive to tuning and its excellent basic engineering provided the necessary scope for further development and improvement, enabling production along several distinct variations from May 1953 through early 1968. Racing success came swiftly, with Donald Healey piloting a modified 100-4 to 142.636 mph over the measured mile and cementing the car’s model name, while a stock 100-4 averaged 104.3 mph over a 24-hour endurance run. Delivering performance approaching Jaguar’s XK120 at the size and price range of an MG, the Austin-Healey 100-4 was a remarkable achievement and a smashing sales success.
Handsomely finished in Healey Blue, this rakish and adventurous 1954 Austin-Healey 100-4 BN1 Roadster is a wonderful early example of these definitive British sports cars. It continues to benefit from a restoration completed during the 1990s and it remains in excellent shape, being very clean from top to bottom, notwithstanding the presence of a few paint chips that are simply unavoidable when a car is driven and enjoyed as it should be. The Healey is powered by its matching numbers Austin A90 2,660cc 4-cylinder engine, matched to an improved, later-model BN2 4-speed gearbox offering the relaxed cruising and speed potential of overdrive on 3rd and top gears, unlike the 100-4’s original 4-speed with top gear blanked off. The seller also advises that the car’s brakes were recently overhauled, and it needs nothing, being ready for “wind in your hair” enjoyment. An autograph on the steering wheel is reportedly that of racing legend Mario Andretti, and if correct, it’s a nice additional touch. Twin driving lamps, chrome wire wheels, and a 100M ‘Le Mans’ type windscreen are other choice features.
Raw, elemental, and blessed with undeniable “first of the line” cachet, this 100-4 seems to be a well-preserved and maintained example of these postwar British sporting icons. Competition use when new only heightens the mystique, including Carroll Shelby’s Healey at Mexico’s dangerous and fast Carrera Panamericana open-road race, where the fast-rising Texan’s budding racing career nearly ended. No proper collection of one too many important sports cars is complete without an Austin-Healey, particularly an early 100-4. However, prices are quite withing reach for many collectors, despite all their virtues. Hagerty’s current price guide ranks the ‘53-‘54 Austin-Healey 100-4 from $23,200 for a #4 driver with some flaws, all the way up to $121k for a full-on concours-level car, while prices realized at auctions, whether live or online, provide real-world support. Our subject car is a compelling example indeed, priced just below #2 money, making it fair market in our opinion.