Austin-Healey 3000 (1959)

During the 1950s and the first half of 1960s, the global sports car market was dominated by British marques. At the lower end was MG and Triumph. At the top end was Jaguar. In the middle was Austin-Healey. Interestingly, all of them belonged to BMC (British Motor Corporation) / British Leyland. The giant company carefully managed these marques such that they did not compete from each other.

The Austin-Healey line sports car was originated by Donald Healey, a racing driver and talented engineer. In 1952 he designed the Healey 100 sports car based on Austin's components. As his company lacked mass production capability, he cooperated with Austin (then merged with Morris to become BMC) to put the car into mass production. Therefore the car was branded as "Austin-Healey". The 100 looked handsome and characterized by a big laughing grille. It ran a big, 2660 cc four-cylinder engine. It offered fine performance and handling thus grabbed 15,000 units sales in 3 years. Later, the car was upgraded to a 2639 cc six-cylinder engine and became 100-6, another 11,000 cars were sold.

However, the definitive model was the 3000 described here. Based on the 100-6, its inline-6 engine was upgraded again to 2912 cc and 124hp, and then tuned to 132hp (Mk2) and 148hp (Mk3). The so-called "Big Healey" won a lot of class victories in touring car races as well as rally races, thanks to its robust chassis, front disc brakes and tunable engine.

With 43,000 units sold from 1959-1967, Austin-Healey 3000 was one of the favourite affordable sports cars of the 1960s. It was loved for graceful design and all-round manner. On the one hand it was extensively used by its owners in motor racing (still a favourite in vintage racing today), on the other hand it was an excellent grand tourer for everyday use, especially the later Mk3 which got full weather protection, walnut wood dashboard, softer ride and servo brakes. This set it apart from the rawer early 100.

Unfortunately, since the mid-60s BMC / British Leyland stopped developing the Big Healey. This handed the market to Alfa, Porsche and the rising Japanese. Since then the British sports car marques had never recovered…


Austin Healey 3000 Mk1
Austin Healey 3000 Mk3
Year of production
No. produced
13,650 units
All 3000: 42,926 units
17,712 units
All 3000: 42,926 units
Layout, Gearbox
Front-engined, Rwd, 4M
Front-engined, Rwd, 4M
Inline-6, ohv, 2v/cyl
Inline-6, ohv, 2v/cyl
2912 cc
2912 cc
124 hp
148 hp
175 lbft
165 lbft
1140 kg
1180 kg
Top speed
114 mph
121 mph*
0-60 mph
11.4 sec
9.8 sec*
* Tested by Autocar

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