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Does taking a stock BN1 and adding M bits increase its value?


Jedi Trainee
My 54 BN1 is stock, except for the BN2 4 speed fitted in the 60's. I am having it restored by Tom Kovacs and am intentionally keeping it stock, reverting back to the original colour and not doing any "M" mods at all. I have no desire to have these mods done, preferring to keep my car as standard as possible.

I know it is a never ending subject, it seems that every week there is another "Le Mans" BN1. I also know that you can today purchase all the cosmetic bits to make the car look like an M, essentially creating a replica M from a standard car. What saddens me is that it appears that it is actually financially worth doing these mods and taking an otherwise stock car and making it something it isn't. Am I correct in this assessment? Is there really a premium paid for these modified cars?
Country flag
There are so many fake 'Ms'--that's what they are, at least when a seller tries to pawn them off by bending the definition--that I have to believe unmolested BN1s and BN2s should be becoming more valuable (I've heard hearsay that supports this). If I had an unmolested BN1 or BN2--and lots of money--I'd be tempted to make a 'sleeper' of it by modifying the engine with a DWR alloy head, hotter cam, higher compression pistons, some headers and bigger carbs; a knowledgeable source claims cars so modified will dust even a legit 100M.

John Turney

Country flag
Maybe no premium for you, but if you sold it, a future buyer might try to pass it off to an unsuspecting buyer.
Country flag
According to notations made by my BN1's original owner in his workshop manual--verified by his son and wife--he equipped the car with most, but not all, of the M stuff in 1956-1957. He went for the M-spec carbs, distributor (and perhaps the louvered hood) but left out the high compression pistons and rather than a Healey M cam went for one from Iskenderian (T-2 I believe) along with upgraded Detroit valves and springs that were apparently part of a popular kit supplied along with the cam back in the day--this according to Iskenderian's son with whom I spoke.

So, I guess my Le Mans is a sort-of-period conversion and though it may or may not add or detract from its value it certainly adds to its interest and uniqueness.


Staff member
Country flag
It's a gray area with lots of green on the line.

The problems with cars equipped with "Le Mans mods" fall into three categories:

First, completeness. Did the car receive all of the kit components, or only some? Where do you draw the line and proclaim a car is equipped with the Kit? When it has over 50 percent of the Kit components, over 75 percent, or only if it has the sexy, visible parts of the Kit such as the carbs and distributor?

Second, authenticity. Are the Le Mans Kit components real, genuine items, or are some of them reproductions?

Third, date of installation. If a complete, authentic Kit was installed in 1956, is that worth more than a car modified identically in 2016? If it is, why? The cars would be of identical specification.

For these reasons I have long suggested that instead of viewing 100s as either a standard car, a 100M or a car with the Kit, it is more useful to think of them as falling somewhere on a continuum with standard cars at one end and the 640 100M models at the other end. There is a nearly infinite number of variations in between. Where a car falls on that continuum likely affects its value a great deal.

Generally speaking, owners/collectors value completeness and in-period work more than incompleteness and recent modification, but how much value one assigns to that can get pretty subjective. For these reasons I discourage trying to assign a market value to the in-between cars. Each should be evaluated individually as there are hardly any two exactly alike.

But to answer your question directly, yes, there generally is a premium for cars with Kit components, and it is often all out of proportion - in my assessment - to what it should be. You can, for example, buy a nice standard BN1 for, say, $40,000, then shop for the Le Mans Kit carbs and Kit distributor, maybe throw in a louvered bonnet and bonnet strap (even though the louvered bonnet and strap were never part of the Kit) and paint the insets a contrasting color if the car wasn't already a two-tone, and you can do all this for a cost of maybe $5,000, and then promote your BN1 as a "100 Le Mans" that was "believed to have been modified in period" and insure it for $100,000 and market it for $75,000.

As I said, it's all a very gray area in my estimation, with large potential for fraud and profiteering. Caveat emptor, squared.
Country flag
"...and market it for $75,000."



Jedi Trainee
Reid, thank you for explaining something for probably the umpteenth time. My own observations of selling prices for these cars, completely subjective with no real analysis, gave me this uneasy feeling that this was the case. It is rather staggering the difference in value between a standard car to the 640 and obviously it is this that has driven this situation. I appreciate the wisdom and will not worry myself at all about the need to move my car further up the continuum.


Country flag
When I redid my motor I put in the higher compression pistons and M spec cam. I had to replace these items anyway and so cost was minimal, you get a modest performance gain with no discernible drawbacks in lugging around torque or lumpy idle. The specs are all very conservative even on the M spec, stock CR is 7.5/1 M is 8.1 or 8.5, still pretty modest. My decision was based on how I wanted to drive and enjoy the car, not resale value. I suppose the blingy stuff would add more at sale time.


It may be worth it to some but I would keep the exterior stock. Tom restored a BN1 for my friend Mike M a couple of years ago. Mike did have Tom build the motor to M specs with the larger carbs etc and he said that was well worth it.


Jedi Knight
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