CHASSIS NO: BN62260
• Purpose-built for the 1958 London Motor Show at Earls Court
• Featuring audacious 24-karat gold-plated brightwork, kid leather and mink upholstery and real ivory controls
• The only non-racing 100-Six Healey equipped with Dunlop four-wheel disc brakes
• The most famous example of one of the definitive British sports cars of the 1950s and 1960s
Model BN6. 2,639 cc OHV inline six-cylinder engine, twin SU HD6 carburetors, 117 HP, four-speed manual gearbox with overdrive, independent front suspension with wishbones and coil springs, live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs and Panhard rod, Dunlop four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes with servo assist; wheelbase: 92"
Purpose-built to create excitement on the Austin-Healey stand at the October 1958 London Motor Show at Earl's Court, this amazing Austin-Healey 100-Six upstaged Britain’s “Big Five” automakers as the unqualified hit of the event. Today, it remains the most famous example of one of the definitive British sports cars of the 1950s and 1960s.
Featuring audacious gold-plated brightwork, kid leather and mink upholstery, and real ivory controls, this stunning car was conceived by Ken Gregory, Donald Healey’s personal public-relations manager. As a successful racer, team owner, and former personal manager of none other than Stirling Moss, Mr. Gregory clearly understood that something very special was required at Earl's Court to continue captivating Britain’s motor journalists and enthusiasts, despite Healey’s limited marketing resources.
While Gregory sold Donald Healey on the promotional value of a radically outfitted 100-Six to dominate the floor traffic at Earl's Court, Healey quickly reconsidered due to the projected costs. Undeterred, Gregory persisted and finally obtained Healey’s approval, provided a buyer would commit to purchase the car at a fixed price. Following a meeting in a Fleet Street pub with Daily Express motoring correspondent Basil Cardew, who conveyed the proposal to his Editor Tom Blackburn, the newspaper agreed to purchase the show car from Austin-Healey and award it as the grand prize in a contest.
With precious little time, a regular-production 100-Six (model BN6, two-seat) Roadster was plucked from the Austin-Healey assembly line and prepared in secret after regular working hours to maximize impact. While essentially stock mechanically, Dunlop four-wheel disc brakes were fitted, making this 100-Six the only non-racing Healey so equipped. Brake servos were also fitted, which were not to become standard until 1964. A special Ivory paint finish was applied, and all brightwork was plated in 24-karat gold, “…right down to the tiniest trimming washers and screws; the wire wheels, disc brakes, bumpers and instruments were given the same treatment,” as Gregory later recalled in his autobiography.
The cockpit was similarly flamboyant, with the seats, dashboard, inner doors, and side panels all trimmed in reversed champagne kid leather by Connolly. Luxurious Champagne Diadem Mink by London furrier Lorna Doon Snow adorned the inserts and back squabs of the bucket seats. Genuine Ivory replaced the normal plastic interior parts and control knobs, and the factory steering wheel was replaced by one beautifully fashioned from intricately joined sections of Ivory. Appropriately rounding out the incredible package, the Austin-Healey even included a gold-plated ignition key and key ring, complete with a solid-gold scale replica of the car itself!
Valued at approximately £4,000, nearly four times the price of a regular-production 100-Six, the Earl's Court Motor Show car was dubbed “the most flirtatious car in the Motor Show” by the Daily Express. Once unveiled, the special Healey achieved its objective and took Earl's Court by storm. A steady stream of press reports and excitement around the Daily Express’ “Super Austin-Healey” contest, in addition to hordes of onlookers, provided a massive public relations coup for Healey that normal advertising techniques never could.
The Daily Express contest winner sold the car almost immediately. Records on file in an extensive scrapbook confirm the very special 100-Six was first road-registered on February 25, 1959. Accounts of the car’s early owners vary depending upon the source, but documented ownership history picks up again from 1969, with the car passing through a number of owners until 1983, when the car was finally rescued and purchased, sight unseen, after lengthy discussions and with the help of a friend, by the highly respected marque experts Bruce and Inan Phillips of Healey Surgeons. Soon after receiving the car, the Phillips were enthusiastically encouraged to restore it for the annual Healey Club show in Charlotte, North Carolina. Accordingly, the Phillips commenced a show-quality restoration of the car to its original glory, with the Healey completed in 1986.
In addition to extensive metalwork, the restoration included complete and accurate reproduction of the lavish kid leather and mink interior by Dundas, Ontario’s Martin J. MacGregor Coachtrimming. The bumpers and larger pieces of brightwork including the windshield were sent to England for replating, and the wire-spoke wheels were custom-made for the car by Dayton. The interior’s ivory pieces remain original, including the irreplaceable steering wheel. For driving ease, a correct overdrive unit was installed during the restoration, with the associated electronics neatly tucked underneath the dash.
During the restoration, an interesting detail emerged. As recently related by Inan Phillips, some chassis work was evidently performed when the car was prepared for Earl's Court for primarily cosmetic reasons. The unintended but welcome consequence was a noticeably stiffer chassis, resulting in the car’s uncanny smoothness and solidity noted during an early post-restoration test drive. Unlike most restored cars, the ornate 100-Six was driven to numerous shows by the Phillips family. During one memorable test drive, the car was opened up and clocked at 120 MPH, with plenty more in reserve. As Inan Philips stated, the 100-Six was "one fantastic running and driving car…the smoothest driving Healey we’ve ever owned.”
During the Phillips’ tenure, several articles were published, including a number by Inan Phillips for the Austin-Healey Club newsletter and an article by John Matras for Autoweek. Healey enthusiasts were captivated by the resurrection of the car, which by this time Mrs. Phillips had nicknamed “Goldie” and fittingly, Donald Healey saw the car following the restoration. Next, the famous 100-Six was displayed at numerous annual Healey gatherings in the U.S. and Canada. Eventually, “Goldie” was sold by Bruce and Inan Phillips to the current owner through a mutual friend.
Under her current caretaker, “Goldie” was displayed at the prestigious Concours d'Elegance of Texas, with impressive pre-show preparation completed by Jeff Snyder and the staff of Jeff’s Resurrections, the noted restorers located in Taylor, Texas. Work included a respray of the lower engine compartment and cleaning, detailing, and repainting of the suspension and undercarriage. Later on, “Goldie” was featured in Dallas at the Texas Museum of Automotive History’s Inaugural Art Deco Gala.
Immortalized in scale-model form and simply captivating today, the offering of “Goldie” for the first time at auction represents a singular opportunity. Donald Healey created many remarkable automobiles, but none as instantly recognizable and capturing as "Goldie." It is the only non-racing Healey with four-wheel full disc brakes. It is the only Healey exclusively fitted with such unique interior appointments. It is the only Healey to dominate the press in its unveiling. It is the only Healey to garner such worldwide attention. A one-off among one-offs, it represents an era of ultimate creativity. A stunning show car with fascinating history and a beautifully enduring restoration, “Goldie” remains simply the most desirable Austin-Healey.