Maxim Vintage Car Shopper: 1966 Austin-Healey 3000

A Miata is reliable, but no Mazda could ever match the charm and grace of this British brute. 
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A Miata is reliable, but no Mazda could ever match the charm and grace of this British brute. 

The Year: 1966

The Model: Austin Healey 3000

The Drivetrain: A 2.9-liter straight six making 150 blue-blooded horses, routed through a five speed manual transmission. [This car is roadster-spec.]

Favourite Five Points

-       Buying an Austin-Healey is signing up for a interactive relationship: there are eleven grease points that need attention every 1000 miles, first gear is unsynchronized, and the twin carburetors need tuning.

-       Many people thing of chrome as a strictly American ornament, but the fine-toothed grill on this Big Healey is a shiny masterpiece.

-       The sound.  While not as famous as the songs of Anglo contemporaries like the Jaguar XKE and Aston Martin DB5, to our ears, the Healey six-cylinder takes the British Crown.

-       The Stow-and-Go Top. Austin-Healey was one of the first brands to design its tops to be stowable by the driver from his seat.

-       The shape. By 1966, this was a near 15 year-old design, giving it the small footprint and classic rear deck of fifties roadster but the amped-up power of British musclecar. 

Quirks:

-       A lack of power steering (with that heavy engine!) and roll-up windows test our patience with sixties technology—this is not a daily driver.

-       The swapped-in Motolita steering wheel is nice, but we’d prefer the original.

-       We’re torn on the subject of ground-up restorations. On one hand, this car is essentially as it would have come from the factory, a perfectionist’s dream. On the other hand, a car like this deserves the patina that comes with decades of use—we love our vintage cars to, well, show their vintage. History should be part of the package.

Good Buy:

            This car is priced slightly below value, so we’re inclined to say: great buy! But then again, that cherished patina rears its tarnished head: for a $30k discount, we might track down an unrestored car with a few well-earned blemishes and love it all the more. 

Photos by Hemmings