enthusiasts the world over can only commiserate over the hard-luck story of
Pascal Maeter who had spent 18 months restoring a 1955 Austin Healey roadster.
TRADITIONALLY BRITISH: An Austin Healey 100/4 (similar to the one seen here) was stolen in London recently. Could it find its way to South Africa? Image: Dave Fall
Eve 2014 calculating thieves/scoundrels broke into a London garage and stole his
very rare car, one similar to the one in the image above.
had given him the car as a 50th-birthday gift two years earlier.
‘PEOPLE WOULD NOTICE’
Maeter said: "When
I was given this car it had not been used for 40 years. It looked good from 20m
but up close you could see that it needed a great deal of work. It took me many
months to get it back to being a beautiful and working machine.”
described the extremely rare and distinctive light blue and cream sports car,
valued at the equivalent of about R1.8-million, as “the sort of vehicle people
police figured that, for that reason, it has probably been hidden until things
quietened down before being shipped abroad or broken up for spare parts.
consequence would be really sad.
were created by Donald Healey, a man who knew a thing or two about building
rapid sports cars and a strong believer that competition successes sold cars.
HOW THE CAR GOT ITS NAME
late 1940’s and early 1950’s Healey gained class wins with his ‘Silverstone’
models that took part in illustrious classic races of the day, among them the
Alpine Rally, Targa Florio and the Mille Miglia.
possible Healey used existing, well-proven, components already available
ex-stock from the Austin Motor Company so it was a natural progression for
Leonard Lord, the boss of Austin at the time, to ask Donald Healey to design a
sports car with both their joint names attached.
In 1952 the
eponymous Austin Healey 100/4 BN1 – to give the missing car its full name - was
born; one with a lusty 2.6-litre, four-cylinder, engine mated to a four-speed gearbox.
Power output was 80kW.
few creature comforts in the Spartan cockpit – this was a car you simply drove
for the joy of safe, fast motoring on road or track. Perhaps not that great by
today’s standards – but nevertheless still capable of 160km/h and only a
handful of cars could match that kind of performance all those years ago.
EPITOME OF 'SPORTS CAR'
The big, wire-wheeled, Healeys’ highly evocative
design and character made them desirable on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean; there
are probably close to 100 still to be found right here in South Africa.
largely impractical for everyday use a Healey such as the one above is probably
the epitome of what constituted, by definition, Britain’s finest sports car of
a bygone era.
• To date (Jan
12 2015) nothing has been heard or seen of the stolen sports car. If you’re ever
offered a similar model – or parts – be sure to check out their provenance!