The Austin Healey 100 M "Le Mans" "factory-built" sports cars were produced between September 5, 1955 and July 16, 1956. According to factory records, only 640 of these 100 M cars were made. This factory-produced series was designated the M model by Donald Healey. Cars converted later with Le Mans equipment are referred to "Le Mans" modified cars. They are not properly called 100 M cars as this was the name for just the limited production run of 640 cars. An additional several hundred (about 500) "Le Mans" Conversion Kits were sold to Austin-Healey dealers or car owners for conversion of standard 100 Austin Healey sports cars to "Le Mans" specifications.
The "Le Mans modifications first originated with the four BN-1 "special test cars" that were prepared by Donald Healey and Roger Menadue for racing in the 1953 Mille Miglia and the 24 hour Le Mans of France. These were the very first Austin-Healey 100 race cars prepared for international road racing, appearing even before the 100S model. They were the prototype to the 100 M.
The "Le Mans" Conversion Kit, based on those "special test car" modifications was first made available in 1954, before the start of the BN-2 production run. Because of this time frame, the first cars converted with the "Le Mans" kit were BN-1's (as were the four test cars described above). However, all of the factory-built 100 M's were based on BN-2 models. There are several categories of cars to distinguish between the factory produced cars and others: (a) The early 100's retrofitted with the "Le Mans" kit, either by Donald Healey, an Austin Healey dealer, or owners; (b) The 640 factory-built "Le Mans" cars which were named 100 M; and(c) Cars that have been converted to "Le Mans" specifications in more recent years.
Only the factory-registered chassis identification numbers distinguish the actual factory built originals from others. Today, the 640 factory-built 100 M "Le Mans" cars are sought after because of their rarity, confirmable chassis identification numbers and the mystique of owning this original, limited-production, high-performance automobile.
This car, chassis #BN1L227001, was one of a handful of BN-1 cars converted to correct LeMans specifications post factory by the Donald Healey dealership, according to records obtained from the previous owner. The history prior to 1970 is not fully documented, however, there is documentation existing that details the ownership and work carried out since 1970 when it was purchased by Jerry Jordan in Portland, OR from a Delbert Hanks, who had owned in since at least 1964. When Mr. Jordan purchased the car, it was in rather poor condition, but complete with its original blue/white two-tone paint and all original wheels, engine and other LeMans equipment, including louvered hood and leather strap, LeMans carbs, airbox, distributor and intake manifold and all internal engines parts, the ubiquitous fold-down windscreen and 48-spoke rims. In 1978, Gordon Villa purchased the car from Jordan and painted the top portion black in his garage and that paint, along with the original red interior, exists on the car today. He also rebuilt the engine, replaced the factory original 3-speed gearbox with the better 4-speed “BN2” gearbox and added an electric overdrive for better drivability. He also replaced the weaker 48-spoke rims with a more robust 60-spoke versions. The car includes the original 3-speed gearbox, overdrive unit and cowling, so one could easily convert it back should they wish. The car also includes original tools, manual and a British Motor Industry Heritage Trust certified copy of the original build sheet.
This very special Healey looks great and runs well, and one would be hard pressed to find a more original example of this rare, early “LeMans” Healey. It can be inspected by appointment in the Seattle, WA area.