FIVE TRI­ALS

We en­joy the Austin-Healey 100/4 and put it fully to the test

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Driving -

1 DAILY DRIV­ING

Imag­ine the joy of get­ting in to your AustinHealey 100/4 ev­ery day. The me­chan­ics would cer­tainly stand up to it, be­cause this is no frag­ile, bad-tem­pered sport­ster. A cou­ple of ex­tra mir­rors to see be­hind you and you’d be away. The car is a joy to drive once you’ve got used to the car’s sharp clutch, with lots of power, rel­a­tively light steer­ing and good brakes. There’s no rea­son why a well­main­tained one would over­heat in traf­fic.

On the mi­nus side, the car has lit­tle ground clear­ance and the side screens and soft-top aren’t ter­ri­bly se­cure. Maybe you should take a Ger­man Shep­herd along with you.

2 IN THE SERVICE BAY

An ex­cel­lent net­work of spe­cial­ists and plenty of club sup­port mean that just about ev­ery­thing is avail­able for th­ese cars, from nor­mal service items to a com­plete chas­sis.

The 100/4 is very sim­ple to work on too, and has no un­usual vices. Oil changes are nor­mally needed ev­ery 3000 miles, with greas­ing of the sus­pen­sion, prop­shaft and steer­ing rec­om­mended ev­ery 1000 miles or so, de­pend­ing on use.

Once you’ve mas­tered that grease gun, you should have a re­li­able car, though you do need to make sure you keep on top of Wax­oyling the chas­sis, which can hide rust well.

3 ON THE SHOW CIR­CUIT

It’s hard to imag­ine any gen­uine clas­sic car en­thu­si­ast not lov­ing this car – and it’s hard to imag­ine the or­gan­iser of a show turn­ing one away at the gates.

Th­ese cars are rel­a­tively rare in the UK be­cause most were ex­ported to the United States (al­though some have re­turned over the years), so many peo­ple will be fas­ci­nated to learn that there are stan­dard Austin me­chan­i­cals un­der that gor­geous body­work.

With 100mph top speed po­ten­tial and strong ac­cel­er­a­tion, the 100/4 could tackle any trial thrown at it, so you’d never feel em­bar­rassed on road runs. The 100/4 would spread good­will wher­ever you go.

4 THE LONG WEEK­END

Few cars are bet­ter suited to the busi­ness of head­ing off for a ro­man­tic week­end than a Austin-Healey 100/4. You might even con­sider tak­ing some­one with you. En­gage over­drive and you can tackle long-dis­tance mo­tor­way cruis­ing with rel­a­tive ease and the han­dling is good enough to tackle any twisty road.

The car isn’t ex­ces­sively noisy, but nor is it loaded with crea­ture com­forts, though the seats are com­fort­able enough over long dis­tances, we dis­cov­ered.

There isn’t a huge amount of lug­gage space, how­ever, so bear in mind that your Louis Vuit­ton suit­cases could well find them­selves in an un­equal fight with the spare wheel if you overdo it on the pack­ing front.

5 THE B-ROAD BLAST

Here’s where the 100/4 comes into its own. You’ll be sur­prised at just how well this car rides and han­dles – the han­dling is pre­dictable yet re­spon­sive and you’re cer­tainly not shaken around while the front scut­tle flaps hap­pily away.

Once you’re used to its weird three­speed gate, the gear­box is pretty slick and the brakes are re­mark­ably good. The 100/4 in­spires con­fi­dence, and cer­tainly doesn’t feel front-heavy or that a twitch of the steer­ing wheel will pro­voke mas­sive un­der­steer. And the wind­screen folds flat to make even more of the car’s ex­cel­lent aero­dy­nam­ics. How cool is that?

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