James P 1967 Austin-Healey 3000 Mk III BJ8 ph2 2dr Convertible

The car I bought after my Navy deployment to Vietnam in 1969

I had purchased a 1961 Austin Healey in 1965 while in college during my sophomore year. I ended up becoming eligible for the draft in 1967 and entered the Navy. My first Austin Healey was sold while I was in basic training. I always wanted to own another Healey but wanted one with roll-up windows and a convertible top. I returned from a nine month deployment to Viet Nam in early December, 1969. I had saved some money during my deployment (no place to spend it when you are at sea for 40 straight days at a time), and I had plans to purchase a car during my leave. I returned to my hometown, Nashville, Tennessee, during the Christmas holidays. I spent a week looking at Austin Healey's for sale in Nashville. It came down to 3 cars that I was really interested in, but one was a tri-carb roadster so I eliminated that one, even though it was a great car. I really wanted a BRG 1967 3000 previously owned by one of the country music stars in Nashville but it was a whopping $500 over my budget. I ended up purchasing a 1967 metallic golden beige 3000 from a used car lot. I owned the car exactly 5 days before I left Nashville for a 4 day drive back to Long Beach, California. It was January and quite an adventure driving on I-40 with occasional sections of Route 66 where I-40 was not yet completed. I even drove through a snow storm in Oklahoma. I started having some clutch problems while in the Panhandle of Texas and stopped to have it checked out. The shop tried to buy it off me and said I couldn't make it to California. It turned out that the pressure plate had a broken spring and would wobble when it was at idle or when I engaged the clutch. I didn't have time or money at that time to get it fixed so I just decided to try and go as far as possible. If it broke down, I would decide what to do then. I babied the car all the way to California. Not shifting unless absolutely necessary and driving until I literally had to stop for gas. I made it to the Naval base and managed to get there a few hours before going AWOL. I fixed the clutch at the Auto Shop on the naval base with the help of several of my shipmates. After my discharge I drove it back from California to Atlanta, Georgia, where I re-entered college. I drove it every day to Georgia Tech and then the next 5 years to my job in Raleigh, NC. I have owned the car now for 44 years. It sat in my garage for about 20 years with a rusted gas tank, frozen hand brake, and a probable blown head gasket. When I turned 50, I decided to either restore it or sale it. I just couldn't part with it, and I finished the restoration about 10 years ago. I enjoy driving it on weekends which is usually to the golf course or just cruising around in nice weather with the top down. I show it at some of the local car shows. My oldest son lives in London, England, and has already told me never to sell the car because he wants it someday.

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