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						Hemi Healey 100 13
Hemi Healey — An Exercise in Excess.

392 Hemi-powered Austin-Healey 100

By Dean Larson

Photos: Seller, BringaTrailer.com

There’s a spirit within many of us car guys to push the envelope beyond practical means. To build something lighter, faster, bigger, better or louder than any one else has before. It’s likely this type of spirit, combined with the ability to remark smugly, “I have one of those at home, except mine has a Hemi,” that led to the creation of this one-of-a-kind Austin-Healey 100 for auction on BringaTrailer.com.

The Austin-Healey 100 was somewhat of a sensation when it was new, injecting some much needed character into the British roadster genre, which had become a bit homogeneous. The Healey performed quite admirably for a four-cylinder, known as an excellent autocrosser, and able to hold its own against more powerful six-cylinder cars. But you wouldn’t exactly call its 90 hp, 2,660 cc engine (sourced from the A90 sedan) lively. So you’ve got a graceful and aerodynamic sports car weighing just over 2,000 pounds — seems like the perfect home for an American V8. But not a dinky little Windsor block, how about a Hemi?

It’s ultimately tough to say whether this car was built in a “hold my beer and watch this” fashion, or an attempt at a big-block Shelby-type creation with performance in mind. In either case, the Hemi Healey is a thing that exists today, and it’s honestly better than it should be.

The engine is a 392 ci early Hemi built in 1957, which would have come stock on cars like the Chrysler 300, New Yorker or Imperial Custom. The tall-deck engine was a stout performer stock, in 325, 345 and 375 hp configurations, but tinkerers and racers found that the engines would stand up to much higher power levels than that, and the engines were competitive in drag racing through the 1960s and early ’70s. Aside from an aluminum intake manifold and dual Carter four-barrels, the Hemi in the Healey appears to be fairly standard, but should provide more than hair-raising levels of excitement in the featherweight Healey. Power is directed through an unnamed four-speed transmission to a GM 12-bolt rear axle.

Crisco, Pam and the like aside, the tall-deck 392 actually fits between the Healey frame rails quite well. It’s unclear whether the chassis was strengthened at all, but it likely took significant effort to get the engine setback in the firewall far enough to fit between the inner fenders, and the new enlarged transmission tunnel was also a hefty modification in the cockpit. Turns out it all fits in there better than you’d expect, unless of course, you’re the guy who has to work on it.

And of course all that Hemi V8 horsepower wouldn’t be good for much if you tried to put it down on the Healey’s stock wire wheels and skinny tires, so the builder installed fat 295/50R16 tires on the rear with staggered American Racing Torq Thrust wheels. That sort of fitment required some sizable fender flares, accomplished with a fiberglass front clip and monstrous flares on the rear that fully encompass the drive wheels. Couple the fat flares with a laid-back, two-position windshield, and you’ve got a ride unlike any other Brit on the blacktop.

It would be hard to say what the Healey will bring at auction if we didn’t have a previous BaT sale as precedent. Back in March of 2019, the car brought $35,000 on BaT, but the owner has made a couple minor improvements since.

Check it out here on BringaTrailer.com where the current high bid is $15,000 with six days remaining in the sale.

**The Healey was bid to $25,250 on 10/21/20, falling below its reserve price and far below the previous sale figure.**

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Austin Healey HEMI