History: Austin Healey 3000
Below, are three accounts of the history and rich racing heritage of the Austin Healey 3000.
By Tim Harry
The Austin Healey 3000 was one of the most successful family sports cars of its generation, winning rallies around the globe. The best known of the Big Healey' models, the 3000 was produced from 1959 to 1967 in three versions; Mark I, Mark II, and Mark III. Also known as the BJ8 Series, the Mk III was the most powerful and luxurious of all of the Austin Healey's built.
Power was produced from a six cylinder 2912cc engine, producing 148bhp. The original Mk III also came with twin SU HD8 carburetors, and a four speed manual gearbox with an optional overdrive system. The engine produced enough power to push the car up to 122mph, reaching 60mph in 9.8 seconds.
To aid the handling of the Mk III, front and rear Girling drum brakes came as standard, in addition to a brake servo and twin trailing arms for the rear suspension.
It was the luxury that set the Austin Healey BJ-8 3000 aside from its competitors, the Triumphs, Jaguar XK and MGs. Inside the car more comfortable seats were used in a 2+2 formation. It was further improved with wind-up window, a Walnut veneer dashboard and a centre console/gear surround.
Launched in 1963, the BJ-8 remained in production until 1967. During this production run there were two main phases of production. The first phase ran from 1963 to 1964, where 1390 were built. Phase 2 commenced in May 1964 with further improvements.
A dropped rear-frame ensured that there was a full inch more clearance, at the same time the suspension was improved with twin radius arms replacing the Panhard rod attached to the rear axle. Handling improvements were developed as stronger wheel hubs were used. Aesthetically push button handles with external locks replaced the existing pull handles. Separate amber front and rear indicators came as standard in March 1965.
The power and luxury, combined with a reasonable price ensured that the Austin Healey BJ8 3000 was a popular purchase when launched. They became one of the most popular exports to America as they suited the American market, with both speed and glamour included. Today it has become the collectors and restorers favorite, though perfect examples are at a premium costing upwards of GBP30, 000/USD60, 000.
By Margaret Mair
The 1967 Austin Healey 3000 BJ-8 is the final version of this classic car, the most luxurious of the big Healeys, a pleasure to look at and rewarding to drive. Listening to the rumble of the 2912 cc overhead valve six cylinder engine with its twin two inch SU carbs and dual exhaust system, shifting through the four speed manual gearbox, enjoying the greater comfort of this version with its higher rear suspension and softer rear springs and the security offered by its stronger wheel hubs, oversized front disc brakes and rear drums, the driver knows that this is an Austin Healey which for all its increased comfort truly reflected its competitive as well as its grand touring heritage.
An engine tweaked to provide 150 horsepower and new gear ratios contribute to this Austin Healey 3000's impressive performance.
The whole car is slung low, and inside the driver and passenger sit, legs extended in classic sportscar style, on either side of a comfortably padded armrest. The 2+2 version has some passenger space, but it takes a small passenger to fit into these rear seats with any comfort. The engine starts with a turn of the key - no more button start - and the wood-rimmed steering wheel fits comfortably in the hands. From the driver's seat, a glance at the walnut fascia dashboard and its simple black-faced instruments, including the 140 MPH speedometer and electric tachometer, tells the driver all he needs to know to keep this beauty purring along. Whether it is the two-seater or the 2+2, comfortable faux-leather seats in basic black or a choice of colors and wind-up windows meeting a well-designed cloth or hard top make for a comfortable ride rain or shine.
Despite the exterior improvements from earlier models - the larger amber turn signals with their separate lenses, the push-button door handles, the curved windshield - the lines are unmistakably those of the classic Austin Healey 3000. The long rounded sweep of the hood, the flash of the oval chrome grill and the matching chrome on the air scoop on the hood above it, the round lights, the chrome bumpers, the wire wheels, the bullet shaped door mirrors - all are unmistakable. The choice of single or two-tone paint job - from the traditional British racing green beloved by one owner to the rich beige and gold preferred by another - says something about the individual owners.
The big Healeys, the Austin-Healey 3000s, were designed for drivers who appreciated both the car's rugged good looks and its ability to be driven hard and fast on race track or road. Donald Healey combined his love for rallying and racing with his abilities as a consultant engineer and designer to create the kind of car which would excel at the things he enjoyed. And when the Austin-Healey marque came into production under a licensing agreement with BMC beginning in 1959, it , not surprisingly, went on to do well in racing and rallying, be driven by the likes of Stirling Moss and Timo Makinen, and to continue to compete on race tracks and in rallies around the world today.
By Maddie Rose
The Austin Healey BJ-8 3000 was built from a corporation called Jensen-Healey, after Geoff and Donald Healey left the BMC, (British Motor Companies), and are guilty of making an amazing car which is still used and cared for today. Though Austin Healeys were sold at BMC, in nineteen sixty seven, Geoff and Donald wanted to sell their own version of the car. But the BMC did not agree with them.
This only made Geoff and Donald Healey more determined to create their own company and they did. They went on their own completely and sold this Austin Healey BJ-8 3000 as their own product, after much failure in winning over this automobile with the BMC.
The start of the Jensen-Healey production, unfortunately did not last as long as hoped by Geoff and Donald. By the end of the year, a disappointing only fifteen autos were actually made and completed. But by the following year promised some hope, when the spring had taken a new turn for them. An extremely rich customer asked for a unique automobile to be produced, out of the leftover Austin Healey parts lying around. This seemed to carry them over, in their investing and business thrived again. Donald and Geoff had a renewed chance once more.
But after seventy three thousand cars and around fifteen years past, the story ended. But the legend continues. The automobile carries a reputation on its own and is respected by its owners and is desired by others.
The Austin Healey BJ-8 3000 was the winner of the European Rally in the nineteen sixties. It was envy for Europeans and Americans. And still the jealousy of an American seeing the sleek, contained Austin Healey drive by, is obvious.
The car itself can drive well over one hundred and twenty miles per hour, since it has an overhead valve of almost 3000CC's, it could provide a one hundred and fifty horse power. At the vintage races going on now, these are winners, even as old as they are, after all these years. These cars are a treasure.
As British cars go, they still have their own minds in working during bad weather. But there will never be another great sports car, (and you will find yourself lucky to come across one,) from The British as the Austin Healey BJ-8 3000. It will always remain, one of a kind. There will never be an automobile from Europe which will compare to the Austin Healey BJ-8 3000.