Mods and Con­se­quences

Mod­i­fy­ing the last of the Big ’Healeys is not just a mat­ter of look­ing cool – it can also help to keep the en­gine cool, though there are per­for­mance and han­dling ben­e­fits to be had, too

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - This Week - David Brown

Austin-Healey 3000

’You’ll feel the need for mod­i­fi­ca­tions when driv­ing in ev­ery­day traf­fic’

At first glance the orig­i­nal Austin-Healey 3000 looks lit­tle dif­fer­ent from the 100-6 it re­placed, the most ob­vi­ous change be­ing the larger 2912cc six-pot en­gine, front disc brakes, im­proved ra­di­a­tor and re­vised gear ra­tios.

As with the later 100-6s, there was a choice of two-seater road­sters and four-seater tour­ers from their in­tro­duc­tion in 1959, but the larger en­gine, cou­pled with im­proved breath­ing, gave im­pres­sive per­for­mance at high speeds – up to 116mph. How­ever, to keep prices keen, equip­ment that had been stan­dard on ear­lier mod­els was now op­tional.

The MkII, in­tro­duced in May 1961, fea­tured triple SU HS4 car­bu­ret­tors – mak­ing it good for 132bhp – to­gether with a re­vised grille with ver­ti­cal bars re­plac­ing the for­mer mesh. A new gear­box was of­fered in Novem­ber that year that made it pos­si­ble to have a cen­tre gearchange, thereby elim­i­nat­ing the awk­ward off­set shift lever that had proved trou­ble­some in the pop­u­lar left-hand drive mar­ket for these cars. When the MkIIA Sports Con­vert­ible ap­peared in 1962, it was back to the twin car­bu­ret­tor set-up fea­tur­ing SU HS6s, while the MkIII model in­tro­duced the fol­low­ing year had larger two-inch SU HD8 carbs. The 3000 MkIII en­gine was the most pow­er­ful in a Big ’Healey, of­fer­ing 149bhp. In ad­di­tion, a re­vised ex­haust sys­tem and in­creased air over the rear tyres im­proved ef­fi­ciency and re­duced noise.

The 3000 proved it­self ideal for long-dis­tance ral­lies, coping with Alpine peaks and passes with stylish ease – it was the only Bri­tish car to win the Liège-Rome-Liège rally twice.

Away from hill­climbs and ral­ly­ing, you’ll prob­a­bly feel the need for mod­i­fi­ca­tions when driv­ing a road car in mod­ern, ev­ery­day traf­fic, be­cause heat in both the cabin and the en­gine com­part­ment needs to be kept un­der con­trol. And while the 3000 is as spe­cial as it comes, there is still room to make one even bet­ter.

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