Recently Bob Yule of Autofarm Ltd was kind enough to allow me to take a close look at a very early 1954 Austin Healey 100, with only 5300 miles on it from new, that he had in his shop for service.
One does not often get the chance to examine such an original car close up so I am very grateful to Bob, Tom and the owner of the car for this opportunity.
Having just completed the restoration of my own BN1 I had a number of details that I was very keen to check and during the course of the inspection I photographed several interesting and little known details about these early cars.
The car in question is C. BN1L 151405 body number 1267 and the engine number is 1B205529.
The car’s original paint is a very unusual “Gunmetal Grey” colour. Records have been found for around 6 cars painted this colour at around the same time so it is though that this was a “trial balloon” to see if it was a seller.
The interior is bright red (persimmon), which is also original.
Although the car is in outstanding condition for a 60 year old vehicle a couple of small “additions” have been made to the electrical system and unfortunately the engine and gearbox have at some stage been out and reputedly rebuilt. Whoever did the engine rebuild did a good job but some details of the re-installation have been done a little carelessly meaning that those areas affected by this work are somewhat suspect insofar as originality is concerned.
The following are some very interesting details that I noted on the car which were previously unknown to me although I’m sure some at least are well known to others.
Generator terminal phenolic separator plate.
I suspect that the paint was applied after the engine rebuild. I believe that this was an original, but often discarded part, as it can be seen in the in Fig.8 on page O/7 of the factory workshop manual.
Small tag on wiring harness.
Handbrake lever finish.
Shift knob lock nut.
The vent duct material.
Most restorers use “Kopex” tubing in this location but that is definitely not what was used originally. I think it may also have been used in early Sprites. If anyone can tell me where to get some of this I would be very grateful.
Horn rim securing screws.
I had always thought that these screws were painted with the horn but on these horns they most definitely were not. What is strange is that overspray of the horn paint is often seen on the black spring disc under the sounding disc..
Low tension connection at distributor.
Of note here is the unpainted engine number plate. I suspect that this is one of the things done incorrectly during the engine rebuild. It is pretty well confirmed that these were painted engine colour.
I should also mention that the rubber sleeve was used on most connectors on these early cars other than grounding points.
Knotch in bottom on RH inner sill. (this one really surprised me)
I believe that this knotch was necessary on right hand drive cars because the outer support bracket for the pedal shaft is only 3″ from the inner sill meaning that the inner sill would prevent the shaft from being removed. On the left side there is 5″ between the bracket and the inner sill although the exhaust down pipe would have to be removed in order to remove the left hand drive shaft. As the bodies were the same for left and right hand drive cars it would have been necessary to cut this knotch in all bodies to prevent problems on the line. There was no sign of this knotch on body #174 so I really have no idea about which cars had this…most confusing.
The bonnet latch parts appear to have been plated.
Fuel line in trunk painted black.
Seat runner reinforcement plates under floor.
Tonneau cover and windshield spring parking posts on scuttle.
I believe that the windshield springs are meant to be “parked” on the inner post. There was no reason to believe that these posts had ever been changed so I have no idea why they are different side to side. On later cars a “Lift The Dot” post was used for the springs but on earlier cars all 4 were Tenax posts.
Bumper splash pan securing screws.
By installing these 10/32 screws with the nut forward only the head was visible inside the fender which looked tidier. This is common to all 100s other than on very early BN1’s where self tapping screws were used here again with the head visible inside the fender.
Poor panel alignment.
Boot lid seal is installed in the shroud gutter not on the lid.
This is something that I have been pretty sure of for some time so it is nice to have it confirmed. With the aluminium boot lid it would have been very difficult to install the seal on the lid because of various obstructions. The seal itself appears to be very similar in section to that used on the steel lids but it has a strange “mesh” surface texture.
The parts book refers to this seal being 4 pieces but on this car it was definitely a single piece of foam rubber.
There are several other interesting details on this car that were new to me so more later.