Is it worth im­port­ing a Big ’Healey? Mar­que spe­cial­ists are giv­ing it a rest, but that shouldn’t nec­es­sar­ily put you off do­ing it your­self

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Buying & Selling - Theo Ford- Sagers

The Austin-Healey be­longs to that post-war gen­er­a­tion of Bri­tish sports cars that found most of its buy­ers in the United States – more than 80 per cent of them, in fact. But while stocks of some cars of its era – such as the MGA – are dry­ing up State­side there are still good ’Healey 3000s to be found, says Chris Ever­ard of War­wick­shire-based JME Healeys (01926 499000, www.jme­ The main prob­lem is to­day’s ex­change rate (down from around $1.7 USD to the pound a cou­ple of years ago, to less than $1.2 to­day), which has un­der­mined the prof­itabil­ity of im­port­ing for busi­nesses such as JME. So the cost-ef­fec­tive­ness isn’t great, but should you wait for the ex­change rates to shift in our favour?

Prob­a­bly not. Avail­abil­ity won’t last for­ever, and Chris has watched the price of project cars dou­ble in the past seven years. He reck­ons that it can still be worth­while for the in­di­vid­ual buyer (who doesn’t need to make a profit mar­gin) to con­sider im­port­ing from the States. ‘There are deals out there to be had, and some of the ’Healeys from the west coast of Amer­ica look like they’ve been in a time­warp com­pared to cars that have been liv­ing in the UK. Buy a car that’s as com­plete as pos­si­ble from the US and it can be worth it.’

Amer­i­can ’Healeys have dif­fer­ent wing mirrors and head­lamps – and the steer­ing wheel on the ‘wrong’ side, of course – but are oth­er­wise sim­i­lar to Bri­tish mod­els. If you want a right-hand drive car from a dry coun­try, with­out the cost of con­ver­sion to RHD in the UK (parts are read­ily avail­able but it can cost £6000 plus VAT for a Mk III), you might find what you’re af­ter in Aus­tralia. Some ’Healeys from Down Un­der orig­i­nated in the USA any­way, so if they’ve been con­verted to RHD you’ll have to take a gam­ble on the qual­ity of the work­man­ship.

Left-hand drive cars can also be found across Europe, of­fer­ing the po­ten­tial of com­bin­ing a pur­chase with a sum­mer hol­i­day, but the real ben­e­fits of im­port­ing can only be had by sourc­ing from a dry con­ti­nent, and the USA still of­fers by far the great­est num­ber avail­able.

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