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.
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.
– 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.
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