• My Healey Story, 40 Years On

    40 years ago yesterday, my dad bought the BJ8. He had caught the Austin Healey bug while at the University of Buffalo in the mid-1950’s when one of his fraternity brothers gave him a ride in his 100. It made a huge impression on him, and he was never able to shake the experience. Fast forward to the mid 1970’s, and he was finally in the market for a British sports car. He looked at a few E-Types, but still wanted a Healey.

    He was also interested in a boat. Around that time he and I went to test a Hobie 16. We pushed it off the beach on Lake Erie and it went like a bat out of ****. It did not take us long to crash it...we did not realize there were small craft warnings on the lake. Despite that, after our sail we had it on its trailer and hooked up to the car. My dad had his checkbook in hand, pen poised to write a check for it. He looked at me and said, “Should we do this?” I thought about it a second and said “Naw. I don't think we will use it much.” We unhooked it, told the owner sorry, and never looked back.

    At the time, my mom was selling real estate. She listed the house of a young couple who were relocating. They had an old sports car in the garage that they needed to sell too. My mom asked what it was, and when she learned it was an Austin Healey she told my dad about it. I can still remember going with him to look at it. It was only about ten years old at the time, but it had lived a hard life in Buffalo. He couldn’t resist, and a deal was done for $2,000.00, which was essentially mom’s commission on listing and selling the house. That was March 21, 1978. If we had bought the boat, the Healey deal would not have happened.

    Dad was in heaven. He had his Healey. Once he rebuilt the carbs, it ran fine, and he commuted in it year round for a few years, even through Buffalo winters with studded Dunlop snow tires on the back. We had great fun with it, and even found it was useful as a pickup truck! Later, dad was commuting a lot between Buffalo and Cleveland, so I was able to make it my car during my senior year of High School. I had the coolest car in the lot at school.

    Years went by, the Healey soldiered on and became a cherished member of the family. After dad died in 2001, it sat in mom’s garage for a long time. When I was able, I had a workshop built for it, and mom gave the Healey to me. I started its well deserved restoration, but longed to drive it.

    At about this time, I too wanted a boat. I was looking at boats quite a bit bigger than the Hobie 16! I found one I liked and put a deposit on it. My wife said buy it if I wanted, but questioned what things I would not do because I spent the money on the boat. It did not take me long to realize she was right (she usually is). I got my deposit and never looked back.

    What did I do with the money? I commissioned a full restoration of the Healey from BRC. Had I bought the boat, that would not have happened any time soon. Seems history repeats itself. Boats 0, Healey 2! It now looks better than it ever did…but it is still our old family member.

    So that’s the story of our BJ8, forty years on. Thought I would tell it for my dad…
    This article was originally published in forum thread: My Healey Story, 40 Years On started by CLEAH View original post
    Comments 4 Comments
    1. Wolfy's Avatar
      Wolfy -
      Great story and beautiful car, thanks for sharing.
    1. mastaphixa's Avatar
      mastaphixa -
      Way better than a picture of a boat!! Thanks for sharing.
    1. Lukens's Avatar
      Lukens -
      Great story. Love the hair in second pic.
    1. dajamies's Avatar
      dajamies -
      Great story ! 40 years ago we sold our BJ8 to help pay the rent. Our son was an infant and the telephone company i worked for went on strike. Money was in short supply so the decision to sell was made. I never regreted the decision but longed for another Healey. 40 years later, 10 years retired, 5 grandchildren and still happily married I found a new perfect BJ8 and bought it.
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