1956 AUSTIN HEALEY 100-M LE MANS
Making its debut at the 1952 London Motor Show, the Healey 100 was one of the most raved about cars of its time.
There is one instance in its brief history where the pinnacle of racing success was realized for Austin Healey.
At the 1954 24 Hours of Le Mans the 100-4 factory race cars, which were then “Le Mans” prototypes, performed well enough to achieve second in class and 12th overall, an astounding achievement for the young company.
It was then decided that for 1955 and 1956 a special edition of the 100-4 would be produced to commemorate the success and offer the enthusiast base buyers of these fine sports cars an opportunity to enjoy the best of what the company could offer.
As such, just 640 factory-built 100M Le Mans would produce during their brief production run.
As such, owners of standard 100-4’s who could not get their hands on the factory built examples went back to the dealer for the “M Modification” and upgrades.
The factory Le Mans upgrades included a louvered bonnet, special aluminium cold air box, special cam, tuned carburetors, and ignition amongst other subtleties.
ABOUT THIS SPECIFIC EXAMPLE
This 1956 Austin-Healey 100 M “Le Mans” is a factory-built model that was completed on 3 February 1956 and delivered new to the United States.
This gorgeous example was retained by its long-term owner, Mr. Chet Ekard, a meticulous Southern California-based Healey enthusiast who owned the car for about 36 years.
He purchased the car on 15 October 1982 in California and he owned the car until 2018.
He understood the importance to register this Austin Healey with the 100M Le Mans Registry which resulted after close inspection in an acceptance of this example in March 2006 into the World-Wide 100M “Le Mans” Registry by founder Mr. William Meade.
While the car showed well as-is, he felt that it was overdue for a restoration.
A comprehensive restoration has been performed by Spyder Vintage Automotive Engineering / Everett & Bonnie Smith, Seiad Valley, California, that included refinishing the exterior.
Originally Florida Green over Old English White, the car was carefully repainted in correct Healey Ice Blue over “OEW,” with careful attention to the curve in the swage above the front wheels.
Around 2017, the incredible photo-documented restoration was completed.
A summary on file by Mr. Ekard details the extensive restoration he carried out during his ownership, and specifically notes that the body number can be found on the Healey’s bootlid, louvered hood, and cockpit surrounds.
The car is in every aspect extremely nice restored with perfect attention to details.
Because details are making a Healey 100M. Quite often one can find cars which are upgraded to Healey 100M specification but an original factory built Healey 100M is recognizable on numbers which are on hidden places throughout the car.
It retains its original body-numbered panels and parts, including the boot lid, front “modesty panel,” cockpit surround rails, and the special-order 100 M bonnet.
It is absolutely unbelievable as the correct numbers can be even read on very specific parts which are mainly exchanged over the years.
The engine has its original Le Mans distributor and more recent original-spec H6 carburetors, cold-air box with Le Mans plate, high-compression pistons, and a Huntley high-lift cam.
The car includes a tonneau cover, side curtains, a tool kit, a British Motor Industry Heritage Trust certificate describing the car as a “genuine factory built” 100 M “Le Mans,” a 100M “Le Mans” Registry Certificate of Membership, and refurbishment documentation.
This car presents a rare opportunity to acquire one of a few fully documented and factory-built 100 M “Le Mans” examples that survive today.
We are thankful that we could buy the car and look forward to make somebody extremely happy with this very rare Healey 100 M.
Excellent panel fitment, door gaps, and attention to keeping the metal thin in all areas with minimal indication of filler use.
The paint has a deep luster and few flaws.
All brightwork, glass, lenses, bezels, badges and the like appear correct, properly refinished, and are without any real flaws noted.
New 48-spoke chrome wire wheels are concours-correct.
The attractive aftermarket chrome valve cover is period correct.
Other aftermarket touches include Lucas tripod Le Mans headlamps and padded bonnet strap as fitted to English cars of the period.
This examples interior continues the theme of attention to detail.
Correct materials are featured throughout with no deviation from original.
The car’s interior presents very nicely with a matching painted dashboard and Blue leather seats trimmed in White piping.
The condition of the painted dashboard is excellent/as new.
The leather and carpets are as new.
Under the dash is just as nice as the rest of the car.
The trunk is tidy with correct materials and placement of those materials used correctly throughout.
This car is indicative of a car that has 100% seen total mechanical restoration and rebuilding, of all aspects, throughout the drive line.
This 1956 Austin Healey 100M offers one of the most pure driving experiences a car enthusiast could possibly have.
Starts easily, runs smooth, and makes good power throughout the rev range.
This Healey is very well prepared and drives fabulous.
As mentioned earlier, the factory-built Austin Healey 100M ‘Le Mans’ models are the most rare of any of the 100 models.
Factory-built 100M examples are considered much more desirable and command at the higher range of prices.
Fully and properly restored factory-built examples like this 1956 Austin Healey 100M ‘Le Mans’ fall within that category.
The lower priced “100M” examples you may come across, are most likely to be (the much less sought after) dealer-installed versions.
As mentioned earlier, dealer-installed versions are not part of the count which determined that only 640 units of Le Mans versions were ever built from the factory.
This car, bearing interesting original history and benefitting from long-term known ownerships is a unique opportunity to add to a collection.
As the Austin Healy 100 was raced in the original Mille Miglia race – which took place between 1927 and 1957 – this 100M is also eligible for the famous 1000 Miglia event.
Its rarity, its history, but also its sporty and powerful appearance, make this vehicle a very good choice for a subscription in the Mille Miglia.