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1948 Healey Westland Roadster

  • 1948 Healey Westland Roadster
  • One of only 70 built
  • Mille Miglia eligible
  • Fully restored by marque specialist

Beautifully finished in Old English White with red trim and black carpets, this immaculately restored Healey Westland was first registered in October 1948 and is thought to have been displayed on the Healey stand at that year’s London Motor Show. It was the first time the event had been held since the war and turned out to be a historic occasion, hosting the launches of landmark models such as the Jaguar XK 120, Land-Rover and Morris Minor.

Chassis number B1705 was – as the prefix suggests – built on the B-type variant of the Healey frame, which was used from mid-1947 until late 1949. It’s thought to be the 205th Healey chassis produced and the 39th to be completed with Westland coachwork.

The car’s period competition history includes being raced at the first meeting to be held at Castle Combe in Wiltshire. The event took place on 8 July and wasn’t open to the public, and the eight-race programme included a grid for sports cars over 2000cc. The Healey was driven on that occasion by GC Orwick, and was also raced at Goodwood and other circuits around the UK.

By 1970, the car was owned by Christopher Greenwood of Somerton in Somerset, and he apparently used it daily until it was taken off the road in 1975 in need of a new clutch. Subsequent owners of JYW 774 included a Mr Gibbs, who in 1980 passed it on to Mr L Brunton, and by 1982 it was with a Mr C Pilbeam.

The Healey was acquired by a new custodian in 2011. Fittingly, he was chairman of the Westland Motor Company and he soon commissioned a complete rebuild by marque specialists Classic Restorations in Milton Keynes. This was carried out to concours condition and in 2012 the car was entered for the Mille Miglia, which it completed without problem.

It took part in the same event four years later, and once again covered the four-day route from Brescia to Rome and back again without incident. Of the 450 crews that started, 365 reached the finish, and JYW 774 was classified in 81st position. Competing in the legendary event was a nod to Healey history – Donald himself finished ninth overall in the 1948 Mille Miglia, accompanied by his son Geoffrey in a Westland that has also been rebuilt by Classic Restorations in recent years.

In total, only 70 Healey Westlands were built, and the model’s strong performance, competition pedigree and curvaceous styling make it one of the most desirable British sports cars of the early post-war period. Now being offered for sale by the Classic Motor Hub, JYW 774 has been superbly restored and maintained by its enthusiast owner, and comes with an MSA Historical Technical Passport.

 

Model history

Donald Healey started building cars after a remarkable early life in which he’d served as an RFC pilot in World War One, opened his own garage in his native Perranporth, won the Monte Carlo Rally driving an Invicta, and worked for both Riley and Triumph.

His decision to go it alone came in the immediate aftermath of World War Two, and he established the Donald Healey Motor Company in 1945 alongside Achille Sampietro and Ben Bowden. They came up with an initial chassis design that would last into the mid-1950s – albeit with a number of updates along the way – and which carried various different body styles.

At the beginning of production in 1946, two models were offered – the Elliott saloon and the Westland roadster – and performance was key to their appeal. When The Motor tested a Westland in 1948, it stated that, ‘one realises within a short space of time that here is a sports car par excellence in modern form’.

The aluminium body was mounted on an ash frame, and a 2.4-litre four-cylinder Riley engine was fitted. This robust powerplant was capable of pushing the Healey to more than 100mph, with period road-tests noting that 80mph and even 90mph could be achieved with ease on normal British roads. ‘Few cars could live with the Healey on a journey if its driver were trying,’ wrote The Motor.

The four-speed gearbox featured synchromesh on second, third and fourth, while braking was via Lockheed hydraulic drums. The price fell into the ‘reassuringly expensive’ category – in 1948, the Healey Westland cost £2334 16s 8d.

A number of other coachbuilders supplied bodies for these early Healeys, but for the 1952 London Motor Show the company produced a striking new model with styling by Gerry Coker, a chassis by Barry Bilbie, and the engine from an Austin A90. Leonard Lord, boss of Austin, was suitably impressed, and the Austin-Healey era was about to begin.

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