Healey 3000 Mk III Rises From Oblivion

This Austin Healey 3000 MK III is owned by our friend and customer Steve Kirby. Like Steve’s Jaguars, the Healey was treated to a full restoration by the craftsmen at XKs Unlimited, with all mechanical, body and interior work performed in-house. The Healey was in much rougher shape than either Jaguar, however. While not as sophisticated as a contemporary Jaguar, the Austin Healey 3000 was known for its ruggedness (they had great success as rallye cars), bags-of-torque six-cylinder engine and being a downright pleasure to drive, especially over long distances. And drive this car Steve does.


Upon arrival at our shop, the Healey was fairly complete but in need of a total restoration. We’re sure the usual “that’ll buff out” jokes were made all around.

Disassembly and assessment begins. At this point we were sure new body panels would be more cost effective than attempting to repair the originals. 

New front fenders, err, wings, were purchased in alloy. Originals were steel. Like many replacement panels, they required a bit of remedial “fitting,” but this is all in a day’s work for our body technicians.


Parts availability for Austin Healeys is excellent. Pictured is a brand new frame. We found the original to be too rusted and damaged for cost-effective repair.

“Big” Healey (as opposed to the Sprite) bodies are fairly simple, with front and rear alloy “shrouds” to which the fenders bolt. Within the front shroud is the bonnet and the boot lid in the rear. Both of these pieces were eventually replaced on Steve’s car.  


A better view of the rear shroud, sans fender. Our sheet metal expertise extends far beyond Jaguars. As previously mentioned, most of the replacement panels purchased for this restoration required moderate to comprehensive “fitting.”

One of the nicer shapes to come out of England, the big Healeys have always held a spot in enthusiasts’ hearts. Being handsome, rugged and a pleasure to drive, it’s no wonder that Healey prices have continued to rise.


Rust in the front fender is clearly evident – a common Healey problem area due to poor design. If this area is not diligently cleaned and drain holes kept clear, moisture-laden dirt and debris collects here and rust is inevitable.

Late Austin Healey 3000 interiors are downright luxurious with a wood-veneer dash and fully upholstered center console. Earlier cars are Spartan by comparison. All interior restoration was done in our trim shop.


Ready for some miles. In this photo the Healey is wearing Steve’s “touring” set-up of Dayton chrome wire wheels and Vredestein radial tires. For shows, he switches to painted Dunlop wheels and bias-ply tires.

 Steve opted for a couple of popular engine accessories with the polished alloy valve cover and flip-top oil filler cap. Aside from the aesthetic improvement, the alloy cover is quieter and seals better than the standard pressed-steel version.

Along with a string of awards and trophies Steve and his Healey recently won
his class in the 2014 California Healey week event.


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