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Healey theft recalls 'great' of 1950's

2015-01-12 04:15


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

Classic-car 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.

On Christmas 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.

Maeter’s wife had given him the car as a 50th-birthday gift two years earlier.


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.”

Scotland Yard 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 would notice”.

The London 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.

That second consequence would be really sad.

These cars 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.


During the 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.

Wherever 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.

There were 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.


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.

Though 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!

Read more on:    england  |  london

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