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July 17, 2017

Finally, A Big Healey!

I finally found my unicorn... and learned an important lesson in the process!

Over the last 20 plus years I have periodically sought out what British car guys call a “Big Healey.” A Big Healey is an English made car actually called an Austin Healey 100-6 or 3000. These cars were developed by famed car racer and designer Donald Healey and built by the Austin Motor Company from the late 1950’s to 1967. There are plenty out there but they usually fall into three categories, expensive basket case, very expensive driver or really expensive show car. My goal has always been to find a driver-quality car at a basket case price.

I finally found this unicorn a few months ago. A man was advertising on Craigslist a Healey 3000 “barn find” that had been sitting for about 10 years. So my wife and I jumped in our truck and went to inspect this project Healey. The car was actually better than I expected and the gentleman was willing to take a modest price due to the fact that it didn’t run and had no brakes. Buying a car that hasn’t run in 10 years is not for the weak at heart. It’s basically a gamble that the engine and transmission haven’t frozen up over the years. But, I like projects so we agreed to return in a couple days with our trailer and complete the deal.

A few days later we headed out at 7:00 in the morning with my old homemade car transport. We made it about half way when I discovered that a wheel bearing had gone out on my poorly maintained trailer. I considered turning around but I took off the offending wheel and decided to push on. We met the owner at the DMV to complete the paperwork and make the purchase. I had wanted to retrieve the car immediately, but instead we had to get my old trailer repaired. I was sweating bullets about not picking up the car right away, irrationally fearing that the seller would somehow abscond with it. Fortunately, we found a very friendly trailer shop that quickly repaired the trailer and we were soon on our way to retrieve the Healey.


Loading a non-running car is never easy but in this case it was even harder as the owner’s yard was mainly sand. But after about an hour at the DMV, an hour at the trailer shop and an hour loading we were finally ready to head home. Because of the poor state of my trailer we took the back-roads home which took forever, but we rolled in at 6:30 pm just as it started to get dark.

I told my wife, “with all of the issues today, I still had a great time because you were with me. If you hadn’t been there I would have given up and headed home when the wheel bearing went out.” So I finally got my Big Healey, but I also learned a big lesson. Life is not about things, it’s about people and the journey.