1955 Austin-Healey 100RThe Dream Car
The 100R was Mark Baker’s dream child. His goal was to design and build a car that should have been built by BMC. A companion to the 100S and 100M, the 100R for Rally. All alloy, with a 100S plus spec motor, 100S style interior and special paint, Mark’s car was truly unique and genuinely a work of art. The car brought $124,000 at the Bonham’s Scottsdale auction in 2013.
Restored as a competition special in a period style by a renowned Healey aficionado, this 100 impresses with its extraordinarily tasteful craftsmanship and choice of period-correct performance upgrades. Built in the spring of 1955 as a left-hand-drive BN1 model, this Healey was most likely exported to the US that same year for delivery to the first owner.
The BN1’s whereabouts during the late 1950s and 1960s remains unclear, but in 1972, 16 year old Mark Baker purchased the car. Mr. Baker had gotten the Healey bug while at his dentist’s office in 1967, where he spotted a new-at-the-time Golden Beige 3000 BJ8 in the parking lot.
Baker would later sell the 100, only to buy it back again, ultimately keeping it until his passing in 2011. A devoted enthusiast of the marque, Baker owned and operated the renowned Durand, Illinois-based Austin-Healey restoration shop Sport and Specialty. When time came to restore his old 100, Baker had a clear vision for the project. As described by him in the December 2002 article of Healey Marque magazine featuring this very special car: “This car is a concept of what I felt BMC could have done with the 100 if their priorities were different. The rally effort for the 100’s was nothing like the six cylinder cars, racing and sales being up front”.
Carried out during the late 1990s and early 2000s, the restoration and design of Baker’s 100 BN1 Competition Special is nothing short of breathtaking. The bodywork was completely reworked in alloy, like the contemporary 100S racers. A large, competition style alloy fuel tank was installed, with a quick-release fuel filler coming out through the trunk. The bumpers were removed, and a competition-style custom hardtop installed. A set of Dunlop D-Type style pin-drive alloy wheels were custom made in the UK and appropriately fitted with Dunlop Racing tires. Girling disc brakes fitted to all four corners ensure that the Healey stops as well as it goes, and the suspension was upgraded with heavy-duty springs, competition shocks and beefy sway bars mounted both front and rear. A limited slip differential was fitted, and a 4-speed close ratio gearbox installed.
The interior was outfitted with 100S style bucket seats, a D-Type style beech steering wheel and an 8000rpm BMC tachometer. The engine work naturally incorporated a bevy of upgrades, ultimately resulting in a reported 190bhp and massive 200 foot-pounds of torque. A reinforced engine block was fitted with a Billet crankshaft and Carrillo rods, forged high-compression JE pistons, while valve size and cam timing were revised for ultimate performance. Throughout the whole project, Baker endeavored to stay true to the car’s era, using genuine period-style speed equipment and parts where possible.
Since the 100 BN1 Competition Special was finished in 2002, it has received a number of awards at Austin-Healey shows, becoming well known in the Healey community. The level of detail that Mark Baker lavished upon this car is quite breathtaking to behold; it was clearly a labor of love. Baker’s enthusiasm for the marque, impressed upon his young mind after a chance sighting during a 1967 dentist’s appointment, is clear. This superb Austin-Healey, clearly designed for high-speed motoring, should prove a fine companion on the open road, and one that Donald Healey would surely look upon with a smile.