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My classic Austin Healeys

"I used to sit there in an old chair and watch all the cars go past," he says.  "One day I remember seeing a red Healey 100 drive past and I said, 'One day I'll own one of those'."

The 61-year-old Mortlake real estate agent has done better than that. Over the years he has owned about 15 Healeys "in varying degrees of respectability".

"Funnily enough I've bought well and made some dough on them," he says.  "At one stage I bought and sold a few to help put the kids through private school."

After owning several MGs, he bought his first Austin Healey at a Pickles auction in 1983. He passed on a "rather tatty" BN2 and paid $11,000 for a BN1 owned by John Laws.  "The BN2 would have been the better buy but I still doubled my money in nine years," he says.

Horwood currently owns a 1985 Porsche convertible, a rare 1980 GLX Valiant, a'67 Mustang convertible, a 1966 3.9 MkII Jaguar, a'95 ClubSport he's had from new and two Healeys.  "I like the others but Healey is my first love," he says.

One of his current Healeys is a rare two-seater, sixcylinder 1958 BN6 100/6 roadster he bought in 1991.  It is one of 263 out of 4000 made in right-hand-drive.  The RHD was an export order to Washington DC, possibly for a diplomat.

After 30 years it was shipped back to the UK, then Australia where it changed hands several times before Horwood bought it for $12,000.

"I've kept it going for all those years and just tidied it up," he said. "I spent about $3000 on a new diff, wheels and wiring. Only last year I spent about $20,000 on an engine rebuild. Had it blueprinted with an alloy head, plus triple Weber carbies and straightcut Tulip ratios fitted to the gearbox. All the goodies.

"It goes very hard. Like the clappers. We dynoed it and it has over 200hp (149kW) at the rear wheels. Originally it had about 90-95hp. It's been bored out from 2.6 litres to more than three litres."

Horwood says the body has no rust, but is "pretty sad" and there is work to be done.  "But I could drive it from here to Brisbane if I need to.  Mechanically it's fine.  It is insured for $25,000 and he hasn't had that updated to account for the restoration.  Because of money I spent on the engine it should be about $35,000-$40,000."

His other Healey is called Stan, which is short for standard because the 1966 3000MK 111 BJ 8 convertible was originally ordered in Yorkshire without overdrive or an adjustable steering wheel.

"The only explanation I can think of is that Yorkshiremen are notoriously tight with their money so I reckon this bloke has walked in and didn't want to pay for all the bulls--t on it," he says.

Horwood bought it in 2000 on a swap deal.  "lt owes me about $45,000 and it's now worth up to $70,000," he says.

"BJ8s are pretty popular, because they're convertibles with wind-up windows and a wrap-around windscreen and are more user friendly," he says. "It was in good nick, but I've done a lot of work to it.

"The fuel lines needed to be replaced, brakes were ordinary, the booster wasn't working. It's had a paint touch-up, new trim, new carpet and the tailshaft and rear brake drums have been balanced. It now runs like a bird. Sweet as.

"It rides smoothly on 80 profile tyres on the original 15-inch wheels so the tyres fill the arches better and it gives the correct rolling diameter so the speedo is accurate. Low-profile tyres have better acceleration, but this doesn't have overdrive, so this works better."

Mark Hinchliffe
Contributing Journalist
Mark Hinchliffe is a former CarsGuide contributor and News Limited journalist, where he used his automotive expertise to specialise in motorcycle news and reviews.
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