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My Healey Story, 40 Years On

CLEAH

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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…
 

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Rob Glasgow

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I like the new color. Great story. I was lucky enough to have been able to buy my BT7 55 years ago and also two sail boats over the intervening years. Sold both boats after years of enjoying them, restored the Healey two years ago and plan to drive it until I can't get into it.
 
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Nice story, and some great family memories to go with it!

Your dad beat me by a week; the fortieth (40th) anniversary of my Healey purchase will be April 1st__no joke.
 

judow

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Great tale. Healey’s are special as you well know.
 

Grantura_MKI

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Excellent! Glad that you have gift to cherish and hopefully pass on.
I still have my high school MGB some 45ish years later.
Enjoy the ride.....
 

Keoke

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Memories created by family are the best memories you know,glad you had such a nice one to tell us too.--Keoke:cowboy:
 
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CLEAH

CLEAH

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Thanks for the responses. Looking at the old photos of the Healey remind me of a real oddity: When we bought the car, there was no chrome on it. Other than the bumpers, all the chrome on the windshield, door handles, side mirrors, fender spears, boot hinges--literally every piece of brightwork--was gone. All that remained was tarnished nickel. It was as if someone had chemically stripped the chromium plating off. Instead of having everything rechromed, it was cheaper to buy all salvage brightwork from a fellow in Buffalo who parted Healeys. All those original trim pieces are still in mom's attic. At some point I should have those rechromed and reunited with the car. Actually, I should have done that when it was restored. But I wonder if anyone has seen anything like this?
 

Goldie

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Bought my 1967 BJ8 on December 28, 1969, and on January 1, 1970, I drove it from Nashville TN to Long Beach CA in 3 1/2 days. Still have it and restored it about 10 years ago. So I am pushing 50 years of ownership. It is better today than it was the day I bought it.
 

pan

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This coming November will be 50 years since I bought my 100 for $525. I think I had better start plannng a celebration!
 

RAC68

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Hi All,

Wow, I committed to purchase a Healey BJ in November of 1963 and took position of my BJ8 Phase 1 in April of 1964. As with so many responding to this thread, life didn't begin with my Healey but was and has been filled with my Healey since. During that 54 years, I did a 9 months RT66 (discover America) random tour, met, courted and marrying my wife, securing my first college degree, took my wife and new born son, and his sister a few years later, home from the hospital, and on and on and on.

As reflected in many comments on this and many other thread, Donald Healey's car has become a uniquely integral part of many lives touched and all can tell story after story on what when wrong, right, what we have enjoyed and what had to be discovered and overcome. All in all, it has kept us interested and active for multiple lifetimes.

Hugh, thank you for posting this thread as it is always nice to reflect on life and its passions we all share,
Ray(64BJ8P1)
 
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... As reflected in many comments on this and many other thread, Donald Healey's car has become a uniquely integral part of many lives touched and all can tell story after story on what when wrong, right, what we have enjoyed and what had to be discovered and overcome. All in all, it has kept us interested and active for multiple lifetimes. ...

So true. And I grieve for future generations being toted around in autonomous transportation pods who will never get the chance to experience true motoring adventure.
 
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