The new sports car was officially unveiled at the 1972 Geneva Motor Show and simultaneously with that event a press conference was held at the factory where the Healey would be produced, where it was welcomed with great enthusiasm.
In the history of the car, the name Healey has often been associated with Austin and the union between the two brands led to the production of some fascinating sports cars, which are still highly sought after and ever-increasing in value. In 1967 the last Austin-Healey 3000 came off the production lines of the manufacturer Jensen Motors Ltd, marking the end of the relationship between Donald Healey and BMC, which was about to become British Leyland.
Thus Healey began negotiations with Jensen to bring a worthy heir to the 3000 into production, also because the American importer of Austin-Healey, Kjell Qvale, had repeatedly asked for a new sports car in its style, which had always been very successful overseas. The design of the new model came to fruition when Qvale himself became the majority shareholder of Jensen Motors, whilst Healey became president.
Various styling proposals were put forward, the first of which was from Donald Healey, followed by one designed by Hugo Poole which was subsequently modified by William Towns, who also worked as a designer for Aston Martin. Once the shape of the car’s body was decided upon various tests were carried out with engines from Ford, Vauxhall, Chrysler and even BMW, these all withdrawing when Kjell Qvale agreed a deal with Colin Chapman of Lotus for the supply of their new 2-litre engine.
The new sports car was officially unveiled at the 1972 Geneva Motor Show and simultaneously with that event a press conference was held at the factory where the Healey would be produced, where it was welcomed with great enthusiasm. Pretty soon, however, reliability problems and minor modifications began to appear, almost all related to the new aluminium engine, which had not been sufficiently tested before being put on the market in the new car.
Healey’s image was compromised, and the launch of the Mk2 version in 1974, which had solved all the engine problems and switched to a 5-speed Getrag gearbox, was no help at all. To make matters worse, demand for the Interceptor model, also produced by Jensen, was dwindling rapidly as a result of the oil crisis of those years, leading to the closure of Jensen in 1976 and the disappearance of the iconic Healey.
Text by Tommaso Lai
Translation by Norman Hawkes
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