Even for ardent enthusiasts, it’s often surprising to find out that the overwhelming majority of British sports cars were exported to the North American market. In the early days of Austin-Healey and the Triumph TR in particular, for every car that was reserved for the home market at least ten headed overseas. For these reasons, and others relating to the ever lasting affinity Britons will always have for their own cars and the strength of the pound sterling, prices for these vehicles in the UK have always been stronger than here in the states where there is almost always a surfeit of available cars on the market.
Notwithstanding those facts, many market trends in the United States make their way to the other side of the Atlantic and Big Healey prices are no exception. With prices some 30 to 40 percent off of the highs seen about six or seven years ago, Big Healey values seem to have stabilized somewhat within the past 12 months. With the exception of the 100S (which lies in a class of its own) and the 100M (prices of which continue to be strong), the rarest cars in the Big Healey range are the BN 3000 (two-seat) tri-carbs that were produced from 1961 to 1962. With only 355 built over that time, compared to 5,096 four-seat BT models, these cars are not only desirable, but far more attractive than their 2 + 2 siblings. In the Home Market, these cars are rarer still with only 25 built in 1961 and 9 constructed the following year.
That rarity and desirability makes the auction result of this 1961 Austin-Healey 3000 Mk II BN7 all the more surprising. With two long-term owners, this is one of the rarest of the BN7s with the center hit transmission installed from the factory (likely less than a dozen RHD examples were built in similar specification) and remarkably few miles covered over its life (reportedly less than 28,000 miles in total). The original paint and brightwork have held up well over the years and the interior was recently retrimmed to a high standard. Featured in a well-known originality guide, this was a Healey that could be enjoyed and driven without too much fear of driving the value out of it.
Given the attractive patina and essential goodness of the entire package, the final price (inclusive of the buyer’s premium) was somewhat of a surprise. Not a steal, but something less than full market price given its status as an original RHD car (where conversions are looked at askance) in very good No. 3 Condition, it sold for a reasonable £54,625 at Bonham’s Goodwood sale. Well bought.
By Johnny Oversteer
Images courtesy of Bonhams.