Private and free Web-site for Healey hundred enthusiasts -Thank you for your messages and your encouragements - Didier Mongin

Posting by Patrick Quinn "january 26-2009 "


Photos & comments submitted by Patrick Quinn
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The Story So Far!

We thought that our fellow Austin-Healey owners around the world would like to know how this amazing venture got off the ground and where it was at. So what better way to find out than to have a chat with Steve Pike who has his sleeves rolled up and with the assistance of his staff at Marsh Classic Restorations is actually reconstructing recreations of the cars that ran at Bonneville in 1954?

The name of Steve Pike would be familiar to most Austin-Healey owners, but just in case you have been on another planet for the last few decades a little introduction might be worthwhile.

Like so many of us Steve fell in love with the sensuous curves of the Austin-Healey during the swinging sixties. It was in a seaside resort town south of Melbourne, Australia when a black and red 100 went burbling by. A burning passion was ignited and continues to glow to the present day. It took a couple of years, but with the assistance of fiancée Helen, Steve found himself sitting behind the wheel of a BN2 – the first of many.

At the time Steve was working in the finance industry and during the 1970s found that he was spending more and more time working on his own cars and shortly the cars of friends. Soon a hobby was to turn into a business, for in 1980 Steve left the world of figures and started working full-time on the marque. Steve freely admits that the desire to become involved in the worldwide Austin-Healey scene, especially in the US was an added incentive.

Some twenty-nine years has gone by and Steve has lost count of the number of Austin-Healeys that have come and gone. In that time his name has become closely linked not only to the marque, but specifically to the 100S, so much so that he is now seen worldwide as the expert on the competition sports car built by the Donald Healey Motor Company.

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Steve Pike and John Healey inspecting the Streamliner while under construction.

Steve Pike and John Healey inspecting the Streamliner while under construction.

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Q.        When asked about the ’53 and ’54 cars built for Bonneville, Steve replied.

“Sure like most Healey enthusiasts I knew about the Bonneville attempts in ’53 and ’54, but it never entered my mind that years later that I would have some involvement in going back there and to actually recreate what Donald Healey and his team from Warwick achieved. That was until about 2 ½ years ago when I was building a replica 100S for Wiet Huidekoper using bits and pieces that he had managed to locate in all parts of the world. Wiet told me about some parts that he had found, that while for a S were definitely not from a road-going example. Things like a highly unusual differential and a left hand drive gearbox housing from those special David Brown gearboxes used in the early examples of the 100S. Wiet originally considered using the parts in a road going car.”

“It took quite a bit of thought until we worked it out that the pieces had come from the 1954 100S prototype SPL227 that was used as the Endurance car in that year and the year before. Then Wiet raised the idea of reconstructing the 1954 Endurance car incorporating some of the parts. I have always been in for something interesting and it didn’t take me long to agree. After all the car had long been dismantled at the Donald Healey Motor Company and as it had so many 100S parts that I was familiar with, it just seemed a natural.”

Q.        What happened to the original car Steve?

“Remember the original car had been to Bonneville twice and the salt had really done its corrosive best to destroy it. The records show that five years after Bonneville 1954 it was literally junked, the gearbox returned to David Brown, some parts sold off to an avid Austin-Healey owner in the UK and the rest retained by the Donald Healey Motor Company.”

“Not long after, word had started to spread and I was contacted by Belgian Bruno Verstraete who expressed an interest in being involved. Bruno has always wanted a 100S, but circumstances had prevented it. It was reassuring when Bruno assumed responsibility at seeing the construction of the Endurance car through to the end.”

John Healey and the Endurance Car during construction.

John Healey and the Endurance Car during construction.

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Q.        Sure there were a few parts left of the original Endurance car, but where did you start?

“We started with a new chassis which in itself was interesting. The original SPL227 was one of the Special Test Cars with not only a seamless chassis but also there were no pressings in the subframes.”

Q.        Well that’s about the Endurance car, how come you decided to reconstruct the Streamliner as well?

“I had gone to England to assist Wiet is buying some parts when the idea of returning to Bonneville came up, and it just seemed like a logical step to also reconstruct the 100S Streamliner that was built to attack outright speed records for its class. After all both cars were there in 1954 so I decided there and then to do it and also that I would take it on myself.”

“Wiet had been communicating with Gerry Coker and mentioned the idea of the Streamliner to him. To start the ball rolling after talking to Gerry Wiet provided scaled drawings from publicity photos of the Streamliner that had not appeared in any of the books published over the years.”

Q.        Like the Endurance car did you start with a new chassis?

“Yes we did, but it was different. Remember the original Streamliner was built at the end of 1953 while the Endurance car was built in early 1953. This meant that it had the normal chassis complete with seams and 100S strengthening gussets along with alloy subframes. So that’s how it’s been made and within the body we used some leftover panels from another 100S restoration from a few years back. It just seemed appropriate to add those pieces to the car.”

“However as anyone would know the body for the Streamliner is a little different so we needed the assistance of an expert coachbuilder. That’s how I made contact with Englishman Paul Jenkins who was happy to enjoy an working holiday in Australia while building the Streamliner’s body as well as passing on his skills to son David. From start to finish it took 8 weeks to build the body of the Streamliner.”

Q.        Where are you up to with both the cars?

“With the Endurance car entered in the historic races at Phillip Island in mid March all our attention has now turned to that. So we have just over two-months to have it finished, tested and ready for the circuit. Right now David is making the hard metal tonneau for the Endurance car and I’m working on the engines. Both will be fitted with 100 engines suitably modified to take the original angle faced alloy cylinder heads. The Endurance car will also be fitted with the David Brown S430 4-speed gearbox along with the original left hand drive bellhousing that Wiet bought. Like in 1954 the Streamliner will receive a 5-speed David Brown gearbox.

It’s early January 2009 and work on both the Endurance and Streamliner Austin-Healeys is moving ahead with some pace.

The aim? To return to the salt in Bonneville in September 2009 and with straight line trials recreate the record attempts of 1954.

The reconstructed Streamliner in the foreground with the Endurance Car behind.

The reconstructed Streamliner in the foreground with the Endurance Car behind.




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For media information please contact:

Patrick Quinn
Sydney, Australia
61 417 673 065