Healey: Cars for Speed and Glamour – Exhibition
19th May 2021 @ 10:00 am - 31st March 2022 @ 5:00 pm
Featured Photo – Healey Abbott in Warwick Market Place.
Most car enthusiasts are aware of the fact that Donald Mitchell Healey (DMH) established his eponymous motor company in Warwickshire’s County Town, Warwick, soon after the ending of hostilities in 1945. He was employed at the Humber Motor Company at the time but in his leisure time he and two of his Humber colleagues, Ben Bowden (body engineer and stylist) and Archille “Sammy” Sampietro (chassis engineer) were laying down the plans for the first Healey car. They were able to rent premises at “The Cape” in Warwick where Donald’s dream became reality.
The design that they had been working on was, what was to become, the Healey Westland, a sports tourer. This, along with all the early Healey cars except the Nash Healey and the 25 Alvis engined Sports Convertibles, had Riley 2.4 Litre engines. The big break through came in 1952 when a new two seater sports car, styled by Gerry Coker and aimed at the American market, was exhibited at that year’s London Motor Show. It was spotted by Leonard Lord, managing director of the Austin Motor Company. Lord had been looking to add an out and out sports car to his company’s range of cars in order to compete with Morris’s MG offerings. He immediately fell in love with what was then the Healey 100 and almost immediately agreed with DMH to purchase the design and produce it at Longbridge as the Austin Healey 100. The Donald Healey Motor Company would receive a royalty payment for every car produced. Donald, sons Geoff and Brian (Bic) together with development engineer Roger Menadue, were now left to promote the marque via an extensive programme of racing and record-breaking. By golly! were they successful!
This deal, overnight, projected Healey from a niche car manufacturer to one that was a force to be reckoned with in the lucrative U.S.A. sportscar market. No surprise then that over 80% of Austin Healeys throughout the marque’s production life – 1953 – 1971 was sold in that country. To this day both the “Big” Healey and the Sprite have a huge following not only in the U.S. but around the world. Australians and New Zealanders are particularly fond of Healey cars, writing about them almost on a daily basis!
That is just a very quick summary of what the Donald Healey Motor Company meant to Warwick and all the people that worked for or supplied the company.
In 2016 the Warwickshire Country Record Office (WCRO) was able to purchase, with the aid of grants from the National Heritage Lottery Fund and many others, the DMHCo. Archive, from the family of Donald’s eldest son and engineering guru, Geoffrey Healey. The WCRO have done a fantastic job in cataloguing all the archive’s documents, drawings and photographs. This catalogue has been accessible ‘online’ since May 2017 and is a great source of information and inspiration for researchers and enthusiasts alike.
It is that Archive which forms the basis of the “Healey: Cars for Speed and Glamour” exhibition to be held at the Warwick Market Hall Museum from 19th May until Spring 2022 *
* There is still a degree of uncertainty as regards covid-19 rules so these dates may have to be changed. This website and the Warwickshire Heritage & Culture website will be updated if that becomes necessary.
Here is what Warwickshire Heritage & Culture says about this Exhibition –
“This is the first time the Museum has devoted the entire ground floor to one exhibition. It will focus on Donald Mitchell Healey CBE, entrepreneur, inventor and racing driver and the Donald Healey Motor Company he founded. It will tell the story of the rise of a remarkable company that started in the Cape area of Warwick and achieved international fame, designing some of the most famous and desirable sports cars in motoring history. The exhibition will feature artefacts, archives and photographs, owned by Donald Healey or his company. It will demonstrate the extraordinary spirit of Donald, his sons, Geoffrey and Brian, and the talented team that worked with them. Highlighting the works, the cars, the motorsport exploits and some of the less publicised projects! In addition to the exhibition, there will be a programme of community engagement activities that will allow people of all ages to learn about the Healey story.”
Market Hall Museum is part of Heritage & Culture Warwickshire, the County Council’s unique group of Community Services responsible for the county’s museum collections, archives, arts provision and heritage education services.
For more Healey posts go to –
** This is the WCRO reference number that you need to quote when ordering copies of this photo. There will be a charge. Please contact – https://heritage.warwickshire.gov.uk/enquiries-copying-services/
The purpose of this webpage is to provide information on a Classic Car related Exhibition and refers to material that is in the Public Domain. Carsceneinternational.com has no commercial relationship with the organiser or sponsors featured.