As everyone seems to be very anxious to know what has happened in the past couple of months since our last update we thought it was a good idea to take some of the tension away and give you more insight in where we stand in our run-up towards the Salt...


Dear Healey Enthusiast, Going back to the Salt has already proven to be a huge Challenge. Recreating the cars as they were in those days is one step. It involves a lot of passion, patience, craftmanship and money. This is the stage that is almost finished. Apart from the last changes to comply with all modern safety regulations and in order to pass the scrutineering at Bonneville, the time of shipping the cars from Australia to the US is approaching us rapidly. The paperwork to temporarily import the cars in the US for this magnificent event will prove the next step towards the Salt. Things are still on schedule...
The Bonneville team

ISSUE 005, JUNE 17, 2009

bonneville team


Having looked at the original tapes for so many times the Team is committed to go back as faithful as we can and really make it into a revival wherever possible. This goes from wearing shoes that were designed back then to having original 1950’s USA made Rayban sunglasses over clothing. We do suggest that everyone at the event comes in the same spirit as 55 years ago...

It is with great sadness we have to announce the passing of John Healey, son of Donald Healey. As you might remember, John supported our revival passionately and came to see the cars under construction in Bacchus Marsh (see Newsletter 002). Our heartfelt condolences go to his wife Joy and to his daughter Wendy and his sons David ad Graham and their families.


An Interview with Endurance Car owner – Bruno Verstraete


Now that the Historic races at Phillip Island, Australia have come and gone and the Austin-Healey Endurance car has made its public debut it’s an appropriate time to introduce ourselves to its owner, Bruno Verstraete from Switzerland.

Most of Victoria had been in drought for many, many months and I would say that over the weekend of 14 and 15 March 2009 there was more than enough rain to make up for it. In fact it was more like the storm scene from Shakespeare’s “King Lear” with the rain almost coming down vertically with the force ten gale. On the Saturday night tents and marquees were seen heading their way towards the Southern Ocean and some cars were damaged.

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.”

Patrick Quinn
Sydney, Australia
[email protected]


Endurance car undertray to provide less resistance on the Salt.

The full roll cage and racing seat being implemented in the Streamliner. These are 2009 regulations.


One of the details being reconstructed : Streamliner Steering wheel.






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