The difference between a driver-level car and a true show-quality car are night and day. It is not only cosmetic, either: a fully sorted show car can drive circles around an average driver example. This is especially true with British sports cars, and one that can demonstrate these differences is the Austin Healey 3000.
You can buy a driver-level Healey 3000 for somewhere around $35,000. That car might have a number of issues, including rust, a twisted chassis, poor body fit, a tired engine and sloppy handling. It will come off as a raw and primitive car.
Then you could drive an excellent example of a properly restored Healey 3000, and you would find precise handling, lots of power and great build quality and fit and finish.
I know this because I have driven plenty of bad, big Healeys, and one great example, in which I did a 1,000-mile rally with my friend John Nikas.
By the way, Nikas just completed what has to be the finest book on Austin Healey entitled Healey: The Men and the Machines, which covers these wonderful cars better than anyone has before. It is a must-buy if you are considering an Austin Healey or already have one.
The Pick of the Day is a 1962 Austin Healey 3000 BT7 Mk. 2 with triple SU carburetors that has benefited from a comprehensive restoration to an apparently high level.
According to the Healey naming convention, BT means that it has two extra seats in back, as opposed to a two-seat roadster, although they are barely seats and best suited for a pair of tiny children. But that is what the BT stands for.
The triple-carburetor part is important, the additional carb creating more power from the 3.0-liter inline-6, with quicker throttle response. The difference is quite noticeable from a standard twin-carb equipped 3000 of that time, although the later Healey engines fed by a pair of improved, bigger-bore SU HD8 carbs make even more power.
This 3000 received a body-off restoration in the 2000s and has held up well as the restoration was done properly, according to the St. Louis, Missouri, dealer advertising the car on ClassicCars.com. It is finished in a factory-correct combination of Black over Reno Red paint with a correct red interior. The engine and gearbox, including the electric overdrive unit, were rebuilt, and everything about this car appears to be correct.
The asking price for this car is a bit more money than for a driver-level Healey 3000, though still a good value at $51,500. Such a high-level restoration would surely exceed the asking price of this nice sports car.
To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.