Healey Elliot 1947


A former RFC pilot, successful rally driver and capable engineer, Donald Healey founded his own Motor Company in 1945. Operating from a disused RAF hangar in Warwick, the fledgling concern commenced full-time car production the following year. Seconded to Humber during World War Two, Healey worked alongside high performance chassis guru Achille 'Sammy' Sampietro and body designer Ben Bowden both of whom would have a discernible effect on his new endeavour. The first Healey models allied a bespoke light steel, cruciform-braced box-section chassis to proprietary running gear. Sourced from Riley, the 2443cc OHV four-cylinder engine, four-speed manual gearbox and coil-sprung back axle were complemented by trailing-arm independent front suspension and Lockheed hydraulic drum brakes. Named after their respective Reading- and Hereford-based coachbuilders, the Elliott saloon and Westland tourer were soon immersed in the cut and thrust of international competition. The world's fastest closed four-seater production car for a time, the Healey Elliott was honed in a wind tunnel; a practice which doubtless helped an unmodified example reach 110mph on Belgium's Jabbeke Straight during 1947. As well as winning its class on the Targa Florio (1948) and Mille Miglia (1948, 1949), the two-door sports saloon enjoyed considerable success in domestic events. Only available between 1946 and 1950, just 101 Healey Elliotts are thought to have been made.

H&H are indebted to the vendors for the following description: "FGD 288 was first registered in Glasgow during October 1947. Not much is known about the car's early life other than in late 1951 or early 1952 it clipped a bridge. The resultant impact must have damaged the chassis because the saloon was taken back to Warwick for repairs. It was then updated with the latest type chassis hence the reason why the car has a late chassis but an early build date. It would appear that ownership probably transferred to the Donald Healey Motor Company at this stage as the Elliott was prepared for saloon car racing and entered in the May 10th 1952 Daily Express Trophy meeting with Donald Healey listed as the entrant and Ken Wharton as the driver. The car started from pole position and finished in second place overall winning the up to 3-litre class. The race victor was Stirling Moss aboard a Jaguar.

After the Daily Express Trophy meeting Edgar Wadsworth was offered FGD 288 by the factory. He was well known to the Healey family due to the fact that he had entered every Alpine Rally from 1948 to 1953, twice in a Westland and three times in a Silverstone. During the 1951 event he gained a coveted Coupe des Alpes, the only time this highly esteemed trophy was won by a 'proper' Healey. By way of reward he was lent the Works Nash Healey for the 1952 event which must have been around the time that Edgar bought the Elliott from Donald Healey.

FGD 288 then joined a Healey Silverstone in the Wadsworth stable. The car was bought for motor sport and motor sport dominated the next 10 /12 years of its existence. During this period it competed and raced at nearly all the era's notable circuits including Goodwood, Silverstone, Oulton Park, Mallory Park, Aintree, Ibsley, Full Sutton, Catterick and Rufforth. The Elliott was also used for sprints and hill climbs in many places such as Barbon, Leighton Hall, Castle Howard, Catterick and Shelsey Walsh plus many others. It was a competitor on the Scottish Rally in either 1953 or 1954 but did not go rallying thereafter.

The car benefited from numerous engine modifications during its competition career because Edgar was in regular touch with Eddie Maher of Morris Engines who let him have many special components developed by Nuffield's experimental division.

As the 50's went in the 60's the car became less competitive due to its age and by the end of the 60's was hardly used for racing though it remained in the family. Around the early 1970's in a weak moment Edgar allowed the Healey to be painted gold and it has remained that colour ever since.

However, FGD 288 did have one more competitive outing which was during 1973 to mark the 50th anniversary of the first Le Mans 24 hour race. The event was open to cars which had either competed in a previous Le Mans race or were of a similar type to those that had run at the famous La Sarthe circuit (another Healey Elliott road registered as 'JGO 892' had finished the 1949 Le Mans 24-hours in 13th place overall). There was also a parade lap on which Howard Wadsworth's companion was none other than Donald Healey.

During the last 58 years that the Elliott has been in the Wadsworth family, the car has not had any accident damage and though rewired of late for safety reasons it remains very much as raced in the 1950's. However apart from regular servicing, some components have been recently replaced or renovated such as the master cylinder which has been re-sleeved and the wheel cylinders which have been replaced as part of a brake system overhaul. The rear axle hubs have been refurbished and new oil seals fitted and the steering box was reconditioned. The twin SU fuel pumps have been replaced by new electronic pumps which are much more reliable. Other than that the car is basically original, including the seats and the trim.

FGD 288 has really had just four keepers, the original Glasgow owner, Donald Healey Motor Company, Edgar Wadsworth and John and Howard Wadsworth. The short period that the car was owned by the Donald Healey Company would not be shown on the log book as is usual within the motor trade".

Image and description kindly supplied by H&H Classic Auctions

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