Following the success of the early Austin-Healey sports cars and roadsters, the "big" Healey 3000 was introduced in 1959. It featured a C-Series 2.9-liter inline-six engine, a 2+2 seating configuration (which was later vehicles was standard) and significant improvements in comfort and usability compared to the earlier Healeys, such as opening windows, more comfortable cabins and better performance, while still retaining the aesthetic appearance of the earlier vehicles, much to the Delight of lovers and owners.
As with previous models, much of the 3000 was destined for foreign markets, with over 90% of production being left hand drive for export and the vast majority of this going to North America. Interestingly, apart from the position of the dashboard and steering column, there was no difference between left- and right-hand drive models, so the conversion was very easy.
In competition, the 3000 was extremely successful, winning numerous cups and trophies in various European rallies and endurance tests. Many current owners continue this tradition with great success, thanks to both the excellent historical engineering and the extensive aftermarket and enthusiast support network these vehicles enjoy to this day.
While outwardly resembling other late "big Healeys", this particular example has dispensed with the standard C-Series engine and has a much more exciting yet well-suited American heart...
Built in 1965 and destined for North America, this BJ Series Healey was converted to V8 power before being imported to the UK in 1992. However, his time in the US is a mystery as there are no longer any records from that time.
Imported and registered in the UK in 1992, this Healey V8 then went to American car specialists Anglo American in Nottinghamshire where it was again 'put under the knife' and fitted with a new 5.0 liter 302cc V8 from a Ford Mustang Cobra was further improved, modified and refined.The previously installed automatic transmission was replaced by a manual T5 transmission, which also came from a Mustang Cobra.
While the body looks largely factory - finished in its original split-tone Ice Blue - the original bodywork has been largely replaced with alloy parts (except for the doors) and features wider front arches, air vents recessed into the front fenders and pressed-on bonnet vents, all very reminiscent of the original factory cars of the period.
To allow the V8 engine to 'breathe' a set of custom made stainless steel headers and exhaust system were made and fitted by Andrew Newton of Brooklands Exhausts in Notts.
The interior was also redesigned by Nottinghamshire native Graham Dean before the current owner took over the vehicle. At the same time, a custom mohair luggage cover and tonneau were made, as well as a leather convertible top bag to match the leather seats and blue carpets.
The current owner bought it from Sherwood Restorations in Southwell over ten years ago while looking for an MGB GT V8 for a friend. In doing so, he happened upon this "cheeky" Healey 3000, but after a short test drive decided that the car simply had to come home with him. He liked it so much that as soon as the car picked up speed and in third gear, he drove away was, made that decision!
After purchasing the vehicle, the current owner has embarked on a further program of upgrades and refinements over the years of ownership, with the following highlights being particularly noteworthy:
- New fuel sender unit, after a fun mishap showing the new exhaust to the previous owner!
- MSD ignition system including distributor, 6AL ignition controller with adjustable rev limiter, Blaster HVC coil and 8.5mm H/T wire.
- Bilstein "Driving pass shock absorber conversion kit
- Fitting a set of four original Minilite wheels with matching Michelin Cross Climate tires
- Installation of a collapsible safety steering column
- Upgrade to a Quaife ATB limited-slip differential to support the extra V8 power
- Installation of an additional 16-inch electric fan that works alongside the belt-driven unit on the Ford 302ci engine.
Throughout its ownership, the current owner has taken full advantage of, revamped and enjoyed this V8 powered Healey. He has crossed Europe several times, visiting Luxembourg, France, Belgium and Germany, among others, and made the legendary drive to the Le Mans Classic, the plaque for which is included in the vehicle's documentation folder.
Not only does the owner have great praise for the condition and handling of this V8-powered 3000, but also experienced Healey owners, collectors and enthusiasts:
“I have spent many hours driving all Healeys models and have clocked up over 60,000 miles on my own 100. This Healey is not what I expected - in a good way! Driving up the road, my immediate impression of how "grown together" it felt was not at all like a modified car or a "Bitsa" kit conversion. The V8 transplant and related work was done so well it could be described as a factory fit. It just feels 'right', with tremendous power of course, but the torque is a revelation and then there's the handling, it's delightful - gone is the Healey's typical 'heavy nose'. It feels so much lighter and more balanced, really comfortable to drive. With the torque and 5th gear it's smooth and quiet and would be easy to drive - amazing - and yet when you want a speed boost the V8 comes to life with a nice rumble from the twin exhausts - and my god is that fast! It's the classic "wolf in sheep's clothing" which is very appealing. You can live with this car and really use it - I wasn't expecting that at all!" - Mark Knight, Retromarques
"If Donald Healey [still] built Healeys, this is how he would do it. One of the best I've ever driven" - Denis Welch, Healey specialist, racer and enthusiast.
After using, enjoying, refining, improving and generally appreciating this one-of-a-kind "Big Healey", the current owner is unfortunately having to give up the car due to health reasons. He is offering one lucky bidder the opportunity to acquire a unique, mechanically proven V8 Healey, built to such a high standard that many believe it could be a factory conversion Unique and simply stunning!
With its sweeping arches, Minilite wheels and purposeful stance, this 3000 looks like a classic road racer, but gives little indication of what's under the bonnet save for the dual exhausts and subtle V8 badging at the rear.
Having been restored and painted in the 1990's after being returned to the UK, the paintwork and body are not immaculate but still look fantastic from a distance and have an attractive 'worn' patina as befits a high performance car like this heard.
The front end, for example, shows some stone chips and wear and tear as one would expect on a vehicle designed for performance. The other paint finishes also show an appropriate patina of use with small spots, stone chips and imperfections.
At the rear there is a noticeable dent/imperfection above the trunk lining on the side of the vehicle whilst some fairly noticeable blisters form around the lower rear quarter light lens.
Elsewhere there are some small blistering spots and imperfect paintwork, but this is all documented in the photo gallery below.
The chrome overall is excellent for a vehicle of this age, with the two bumpers being a particular highlight. The headlight surrounds have seen better days but the seller has ordered a spare pair to be fitted to the car prior to sale.
The mohair soft top is in excellent external condition with no signs of damage, cracks or discoloration to the rear window and no damage to the soft top itself. The soft top cover is also in near mint condition and the bonnet cover is also in excellent condition, too if it shows more patina than the other parts of the roof.
All four original Minilite wheels are in excellent condition, as are the matching Michelin all-season tyres.
Inside, the older bodywork and restoration shows its age a little more than the outside, but this also shows that this one-off has been fully used - this is not a garage car!
The leather bucket seats are still in good overall condition, with the driver's seat showing most of the visible wear and the rear seats appearing to have hardly been used.
The carpets and floor mats have seen better days and show signs of heavy wear in the front footwells, seat belt attachment points and the inside edges of the doors.
In front of the driver, the dashboard is in good condition, although the opening for the radio/stereo unit is empty, while a number of additional switches have been installed in the center of the wood-veneer clad dashboard.
Above, the inner paneling of the folding roof is in good condition, however, there are some stains and signs of wear.
All systems are fully functional. The only minor issue reported by the seller is the speedometer's tendency to "hop" at speed, but this is a common problem with all classics of the era.
The 302ci Mustang engine at the heart of this one-off is in excellent health and has mechanically proven itself on numerous trans-European voyages and other long voyages in the care of the current and previous owners.
What is immediately striking is the quality, time and craftsmanship that went into this rebuild as it truly feels, looks and behaves like a factory option.
There is no unwanted shaking or vibration when idling. The engine was tuned on the test bench in a total of six hours and achieves a peak output of 224 hp. In itself, that's more than enough for a vehicle that weighs, relatively speaking, about the same as a pack of chips. Not only is there no discernible excessive vibration at idle, but the exhaust note is creamy-smooth for a V8, with no choppy idle, rough running, "lumpy" camshaft noise, or odd behavior noted.
On the road, the impressively smooth idle gives way to a cacophony of V8 roars, with the custom headers and stainless exhaust allowing the 302cc engine to truly sing, going from a low rumble to a truly snarling howl at the top of the rev counter with virtually all of the 265 lb-ft of torque available across the entire rev range - see the dyno reading below for a full display.
But when he's not under pressure, this V8-powered British icon is actually impressively refined. At motorway speeds the engine barely revs and thanks to its lighter weight, better weight distribution and more modern five-speed gearbox it's a more comfortable and fuel-efficient GT car than the original six-cylinder Healey.
In the engine compartment, the engine block and ancillaries are well preserved, albeit in a visually worn condition. An afternoon of cleaning and attention to detail would no doubt do wonders for the engine's visual condition, but there are no signs of leaks or problems that we can see.
The chassis is in excellent condition. The only issue noted is slight corrosion on the insides of the brake discs, simply due to the lack of use over the last few months. The brake lines all appear to be in good condition, as does the chassis itself.
We noticed a couple of small leaks on the underside, one near the oil pan and another on the gearbox, but neither are causes for concern.
Associated with the sale of the vehicle is an impressive collection of papers, invoices and documents spread over a total of three sub-folders, all of which have been photographed and can be seen below.
It should be noted that the vehicle technically only had 1 former UK owner prior to the current one, although the MOT indicates 3 former owners. The story goes that the first British owner sold the vehicle to the current owner who then transferred it to his wife's name and then back to his name due to various health issues.
For those looking for a quick overview of important documents:
- The main inspection certificate, which identifies 3 former British owners (actually only one, see above)
- Numerous insurance and vehicle valuations
- Evaluation documents that certify the conversion at a very high level and praise the vehicle
- Nearly £10,000 in invoices for work done during current ownership
what we think
This 1965 Austin-Healey 3000 V8 "Cobra" is a true one-off, built to an extremely high standard that gives the feeling of being a factory option. It is a truly one-of-a-kind creation, both from the current and was also cared for by the previous owner and has proven itself mechanically.
The trolley is in perfect mechanical condition and ready to be used immediately, but can still be improved from an aesthetic point of view. We estimate its value at between £50,000 and £70,000.
Visits are always welcome. This vehicle is with the seller in Strensham, Worcester. To make an appointment, please use the "Contact Seller" button at the top of the listing. You can post your questions or comments in the comments section below, or read our "Frequently Asked Questions" beforehand.
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