THE CAR AND ITS OWNERS: 1954 Austin-Healey 100-4 BN1 M LeMans owned by Nick and Clara Nabavian
WHAT MAKES IT INTERESTING: The Austin-Healey 100-4 BN1 roadster, a collaboration of Britain’s Austin Motor Co. and race driver Donald Healey, was such a hit at London’s 1952 Earl’s Court Motor Show that it soon went into production as a strong competitor to the MG sports car. Today, the big Austin-Healeys from all production years – 1953 to 1967 – are sought-after collectibles. “This was the first time Healey produced a car which broke the hundred-mile-an-hour barrier, hence the designation ‘100,’” Nick Nabavian says of his roadster. “This model was made with a four-cylinder, extremely powerful engine, which Austin had previously used on trucks and London taxi cabs. What is most interesting about the car is the folding windshield, which decreased aerodynamic drag and increased the top speed from 102 to 111 miles per hour.” Healey also produced a race version, the ultra-rare 100S, and offered similar “M LeMans” racing upgrades to cars sold for street use, either at the factory or through dealerships. “My car,” Nabavian adds, “is a dealer-installed LeMans car, which is certified by the 100M registry.”
HOW LONG THEY’VE OWNED IT: Since January 2014
WHERE THEY FOUND IT: They bought it from an owner in Florida.
CONDITION: “The car was restored about 10 years ago by a very respectable Austin-Healey specialist up to concours condition,” Nabavian says. “He had used the color combination from boats Donald Healey was building in the same era. This is not an original Austin-Healey color combination, but it is certainly a great color combination. When we bought the car, it was still winning lots of awards in the Florida car show circuits.”
TIPS FOR OWNERS: Nabavian advises enthusiasts to buy a restored car “because trying to find the right person to restore it and to find the right parts is quite difficult and it can become extremely expensive. Sometimes the restoration would cost more than what a restored car is worth.” He says the 100-4 is “the best of the lot” and “has the prettiest fan-shaped grille than any of the later cars, which had an oval grille,” although the later 3000 model is “more roomy.”
VALUE: Nabavian estimates the roadster is worth $70,000 to $90,000. “These Austin-Healeys have been going up in value for the last few years,” he says.
THE BOTTOM LINE: “The car was a fiftieth birthday present from my wife to me,” he says. “I had always been a car enthusiast and I get about 10 car magazines a month, so my wife knew this would make me so excited having a classic car. I have always loved Austin-Healeys because of the beautiful lines the car has. You cannot find cars this pretty being made anymore.”