A 1950s Le Mans racer for the street: Austin Healey 100M “Le Mans”

The Pick of the Day is a proper British lady with the growl and anger of a werewolf of London

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1956 Austin-Healey 100M LeMans

The Pick of the Day is a 1956 Austin Healey 100M Le Mans offered by a dealer in Jackson, Mississippi. The beautiful paint combination of Reno Red over black, paired with a red interior makes this car an absolute stunner.

When I was a kid, I used to caddie for a man who lived a couple blocks away in Lincolnshire, Illinois. I would pass his house every summer day on my way to the golf course, riding my trusty British-made Raleigh ten-speed bike.

Clearly he was a fan of English cars. He always had the latest Jaguar XJ-6 sitting in the driveway. Over the first couple of years he had a pretty one in white, then a proper British Racing Green one. Looking back, I estimate this was the early 1980s. I loved the lines of those cars.

Then one day, as I rode by, there was a different car in the driveway. It was a two-seat sports car, obviously vintage. It had a two-tone paint job with a long hood. Needless to say, this particular day I stopped, dismounted my bike and walked up the driveway to gawk at this beautiful car — an Austin Healey 100.

I had grown up, to that point around cars and racing, but the Chicago Historic Races (now the Brian Redman International Challenge) at Road America was still an idea yet to be realized, so this car was unfamiliar to me — but boy oh boy — I was stunned by its beauty and simplicity.

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Fast forward 40 years. Scanning the ClassicCars.com marketplace for the pick this week, I came across this proper British lady and my mind trailed back to the day I fell in love with Austin Healeys. This particular car is a certified 1,000-point concours version of Donald Healey’s vision for a Le Mans racing car.

The 100M was styled and mechanically set up like the Austin Healeys that placed 12th and 14th at the 1953 race. Since, this sought after beauty, which got its moniker for going 100 mph. With 110 horsepower, and several high-performance improvements including larger carburetors, a cold-air box to increase engine air flow, high-lift camshaft and 8.1:1 compression pistons, this car would certainly surpass the stated 3-digit speed. Hence the leather bonnet strap. The 2,660 cc overhead-valve four cylinder attached to a four-speed transmission makes for very spirited driving.

Certainly this car has become a much more sought-after collectible as the seller’s stated mileage of 500 and asking price of $225,000 gave me a moment of pause. Get ready for Concours fields and exciting street and track drives. This one really got my blood flowing.

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.

Tom Stahler is the Managing Editor of the ClassicCars.com Journal. Tom has a lifelong love of cars and motor racing – beginning with the 1968 USRRC race at Road America, in a stroller, at eight months of age. His words, photos and broadcasts can can be found on a myriad of media. He has won the Motor Press Guild’s Dean Batchelor Award and a Gold Medal in the International Automotive Media Awards.

8 COMMENTS

  1. I share your love. When I graduated college in 1966 I bought my first car. It was a 1957 Red 100-6 for $365. I only drove it for a few months that summer before reporting to OCS. Leaving Illinois behind, my first duty station was shipboard San Diego. Returning from VIetnam I discovered my parents had sold my Healey. They “knew” I likely would not be back in Illinois for a number of years, if ever, and it would be too expensive to ship to Colorado. Darn and a few other words. Your Pick of the Day brings back a lot of memories. Wonder how much I could raise on GoFundMe towards this one?

    • $365… Wow. At least you owned one. As much as I love them, they have always been slightly out of reach when the opportunities arose. Money, kids… you know the story. Glad you are a reader, Captain. Thank you for your service!

  2. My father, Jack White, used to drive me to nursery school in his Healey, sometimes with the top down. On cold mornings I remember riding under the tonneau cover, and tracking our path by the turns and the sounds of shifting through the gears.
    Thus became my life long love of Austin Healeys. As the current president of the Santa Barbara Woodie Club, the love between our wooden cars and the Healeys is a perfect love Tri-angle.

    • Great memory Richard! Isn’t it great when our senses are piqued by something of beauty? This happens to me frequently around cars. Things I have not considered in many years are right there in the frontal lobe like it was yesterday. Thanks for reading.

  3. when I was in college, I really wanted an Austin Healey, but found the price a little out of my price range. I am thinking the cost at that time, in the late 50’s or early 60’s, was around $5500.00. I settled for a Triumph TR 3 for around $4500.00. I have been sorry ever since. I recently tried to find a Austin Healey 3000, but wow have they increased.

  4. Weren’t 100-6 owners able to by kits that would convert their cars to something close to the 100m, including carbs, windshields etc. if same was tru back then as today, the cold air Intake would improve cylinder charges (allegedly). The red/black combo is now a pretty standard reflection of the times, correct? I’ve read buyers have to be v careful when considering this variation of AH.

  5. Coming of driving age in 1970 my parents had said a car could be mine as long as I could buy it myself! $125 later (and to absolute surprise and horror to my parents who, named it “the red bomb”) a 1959 Austin Healey BN6 100/6 was mine! A bit rough, but fully original, it was a teenager’s dream and as I learned how to keep a british car running. Oh, had I just held on to that British beauty! It too was a Mississippi car.

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