Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
11/28/22 4:07 p.m.
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If it’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing, right? That seems to have been the idea behind this V8-powered Austin-Healey 100-4.

Built by Ken Deringer, a former machinist and engineer for Dan Gurney’s All American Racing, the 100-4 received its current 215-cubic-inch Buick V8 as …

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sfisher71
sfisher71 New Reader
11/29/22 7:03 p.m.

Donald Healey would have loved this car. He came to the U.S. in the early Fifties trying to get Cadillac V8s for use in his Silverstone chassis. On the way over he met George Romney, and they hit it off, with Romney offering Nash engines if the Cadillac deal didn't work out. It didn't, and Romney supplied six-cylinder engines for the Nash-Healey, one of which came in third in the 1952 Le Mans, behind two 300SLs. 

Later, Healey would try again for GM power to go into the 100-6 chassis, at the insistence of his good friend Carroll Shelby. That was when GM was still officially not racing, though, and furthermore Healey got called on the carpet by BMC brass for going outside the corporate walls. (They were also castigated for a Super Sprite project, a Sprite chassis with alloy body not entirely unlike the Big Healey in some ways, but with an 1100cc Coventry-Climax SOHC four which would have transformed the Spridget.)

In the late 1980s, when I was editor for the Austin-Healey Club, Pacific Centre's newsletter, I ran into several guys who had put V8s in their Big Healeys. One interesting period solution was the small-block Ford. It's just enough narrower than the Chevy that it required no chassis or firewall surgery -- as long as you swapped the cast-iron log headers right for left, so that the exit came out in FRONT of the engine and not into the firewall so that the downpipe exited forward of the block before going down under the frame. A little mandrel work by a good exhaust shop was a lot cheaper than cutting and reinforcing the firewall. I didn't get to go for a ride in that car, but it made some highly satisfying noises (as well as a couple of black stripes) when he pulled away in it.

This one looks superb. Though the Alfa connection reminds me: once at the Epifani's restoration shop in Berkeley, I saw a funny-looking 8C2300 in the background. Turned out it was a Triumph Dolomite from the Thirties, designed by Donald Healey and used in continental rallies before the war. That stuck with me. At the end of the last century, when I was very active in the Alfa Romeo Association in the San Francisco area, I saw a 100-4 roller for sale while I was using my 1974 Alfa Romeo Spider as my daily driver. I got a wonderful, awful idea worth of the Grinch: what would it be like to have a breathed-on 2L Alfa Romeo engine (at the time, Tom Sahines was building them up to about 180bhp), with the Milanese 5-speed, rear axle, and discs all around, but housed in a BN1 or BN2 body? DMH would have laughed heartily at it and no doubt loved it. 

Yes, there's a reason my dot-sig is what it is, and has been for 30+ years...

759NRNG
759NRNG PowerDork
11/29/22 8:27 p.m.

Thank you for sharing this truly exquisite example of woulda coulda shoulda.....

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