What was not damaged was the Endurance Car that simply looked gorgeous. Living some 600 miles to the north it was the first time I had seen the car and the first thing I noticed was how well the solid 16inch Dunlop Racing wheels and tyres filled the wheel arches. The car was simply just stunning. But anyway I did manage to interview the players in this wonderful venture. Living some 10,000 plus miles apart I hadn’t had the pleasure of meeting Bruno before, although we had exchanged a zillion emails. So being a long term Healey and Austin-Healey owner myself I was interested in how he became involved.
“It was all very much a coincidence.” Bruno answered in response to my question. “I was looking for a classic car of no particular type when I saw a 3000 for the first time and heard it as well. It was love at first sight.”
“That was in 2001 and the following year I bought the one of the 6 BN1s that had been fitted with coupe bodywork by Belgian coachbuilders d'Ieteren. If I thought I was hooked before, it then became hectic as I also became interested in the Healey family and the owners of the cars worldwide. I have found everyone involved to be such lovely people.”
“I have always had a love of British cars, which I think came from an uncle who used to visit on sunny Sundays in whatever British car he had at the time. Now I have a garage full of British cars and apart from the 3000 and the 100 Coupe I am restoring a 1952 Healey Abbott that will satisfy the family’s need for extra space and a reasonable amount of room for luggage.”
I then asked Bruno how he became involved with the reconstruction of the 1954 Bonneville cars.
“I first met Steve Pike back in 2002 at Thruxton in England when he was delivering a 100S that he had restored. I was not only impressed with the workmanship, but also Steve’s personal warmth. I have had a few restorers do work for me and frankly have found it hard to find someone to do good work. Anyway meeting Steve certainly started my interest in the 100S and as these come up so infrequently I didn’t think my chances of owning one were very high. Then in a subsequent meeting Steve told me about an Austin-Healey that while it looked like a 100 was really a 100S under the skin. I was hooked and wanted to be involved as the owner of the Endurance Car.”
After seeing how his car was coming along through the marvels of email I had to ask what Bruno’s first thoughts were.
“Was I impressed when I first saw it?” Bruno added. “No number of emailed photos prepared me for seeing the car for the very first time. Again it was love at first sight and I was surprised at the colour. In the photos it looked a little like Florida Green, but in the flesh it was very different.”
“What astonished me was how well the car ran and how amazingly stable it felt. The peg drive Dunlop wheels made a huge difference and added to the solid feeling of the car. The 100S engine is also different and so strong as the amount of torque produced felt immense. Plus I just loved the gear change from the DB gearbox which was perfectly mated to the 2.69 differential. In fact the gear change was a lot smoother than I expected and having synchro on first made a huge difference especially as it’s good for 70mph. I now see why they were so popular in racing. However like most DB boxes it is leaking a little oil that should be straightforward to fix.”
“I found the four-wheel disc brakes on such a light car to be very reassuring as I was able to go deep into a corner before braking. What I really didn’t expect was the glorious sound and I would say it was the sweetest sounding 100S I have ever heard. Steve puts that down to the single tailpipe that he will eventually change to a twin.”
Perhaps a few final thoughts are appropriate.
“I will say that while the car felt just wonderful, it really isn’t suited to a race circuit environment, but more to record breaking. It was touching about 110mph in 4th at 3,000 rpm with lots in reserve. Frankly I think the car will have a lot to give when it comes to reviving the 1954 records set by Donald and the team.”
“In just a few weeks I have grown to love the car and now that I have to go back to Switzerland I am sad that it has to stay in Australia for now. It is reassuring to know that it won’t be too long before I see it again.”