Jay Leno features an oddball Austin Healey revived from a childhood memory
Subtle changes can make the right car stand out in a crowd. One such example is the red Austin Healey 100-6 featured in the latest Jay Leno’s Garage. This was the first Austin Healey that Garth Hammers ever saw, so while many think it looks wrong, it’s the only one that looks right to him. The Healey strikes square on a point that Jay likes to make: that the best cars are those whose stories strongly intertwine with a person’s own history.
This red Austin Healey roadster played a key role in Garth Hammers’ past. His father purchased the car from a consignment lot and Hammers recalls the then-show-ready convertible taking up space in the family garage for less than two years. While the family didn’t drive it much, and the other cars in the garage included Mercedes Benz 300SL Gullwings, the Healey 100-6 was the one car that, years later, Hammers just couldn’t shake from his mind.
On a whim, Hammers started poking around his old stomping grounds. The car had long since left the family, but Hammers pored through an old phone book to see if he might get lucky enough that the Healey’s new owner would not only still have the car, but also have an address listed in the white pages. It wasn’t that easy, but things finally fell together in 2012 and now, Hammers can essentially time travel to his past in the Healey whenever he pleases.
The car itself features some delightfully subtle modifications. The windshield was chopped three inches, the hood scoop extended to the edge of the hood, and the wheel arches massaged to a slightly different shape. Together, the modifications change the classic design without making the car too radical. Under the hood, the engine received a triplet of Weber side-draft carbs—which is likely way too much airflow for the relatively stock engine, but the intake noise seems worth it.
Out on the road, the big Healey looks right at home. The swap to Porsche seats puts both driver and passenger lower in the car and the position looks just right to our eyes. The aftermarket exhaust emits the perfect British burble from the inline-six.
It is a perfect combination of good story plus great car. Having recently revived a car from my past, the story of Hammers and his family’s Healey really hits home for me. Stories like this are rare enough that they deserve to be told.
Have you tracked down a car from your past and brought it back? Tell us about it in the comments below.