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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

1968 Healey SR LeMans Racecar - For Sale!


Description:

Classic Racecar For Sale.
As Geoff Healey wrote in Austin Healey: The Story of the Big Healeys, SR was a very special car, built specifically for LeMans.
Having had excelent results at LeMans since the late, 1940's in the pre Austin, Healeys and through the the 50's and early 60's in Austin Healeys, big and small, it seemed that without any production cars, the late 60's may see the end of Healey entrys.
The competition Sprites were doing admirably but by 1967 desires for a higher place in the field saw plans develop for a Healey to build a car to run in the Sports Prototype Class.
SR was built in house and under a fair degree of secrecy, the SR name being from Sub Rosa (in secrecy) but early 1968 Donald Healey let the motoring press in on their project which was widely reported in Febuarys magazines and news papers.
SR was officially launched at the Austin Healey Club Silverstone race meeting in August 1968 where John Harris ran some fast laps as well as providing an opportunity for Press Photographs.
Andrew Hedges and Clive Baker were SR s drivers for the 1968 LeMans with race number 47.
This very signifiant and special car comes with the photo file of the restoration, works drawings, original photographs supplied from Geoff Healey of during construction and testing, plus correspondance and information from people who worked on and drove SR.
http://healeysr.blogspot.com/

Having had excellent results at LeMans since the late,1940's in the pre Austin, Healeys and through the 50's and early '60's in Austin Healeys, big and small, it seemed that without any production cars, the late 60's may see the end of Healey entrys. The competition Sprites were doing admirably but by 1967 desires for a higher place in the field saw plans develop for a Healey to build a car to run in the "Sports Prototype Class". Donald Healey was also conscious of keeping the Healey name prominent with the release of the Jensen Healey still some time away.

Again from Geoff Healeys book, this time "Healey,The Specials" 'For the 68 racing season, BMC again supported our efforts in a racing programme which would concentrate on the Sprites. DMH (Donald Healey) thought that it was time we had a go at something better than a high placing at LeMans, and we discussed the possibilities of building a real racing sports car.'

The design and building of the "SR Healey" by the small team at the Donald Healey Motor Company with input from within the BMC group as well as from the local automotive component suppliers is very well documented. Chassis/tub & body design by Geoff Healey, Barrie Bilbie & Derek Westwood. Tub sheet metal and pressings by John Thompsons, body panels in "Birmabright" by Bill Buckingham & Terry Westwood. 2litre V8 Coventry Climax (loan) motor made available by Leonard Lee & Wally Hassan. DG300 gearbox from Hewland. Competition brakes from Girling. "Elektron" alloy peg drive centre lock wheels and tyres from Dunlop. Springs and shock absorbers from Armstrong. Instruments from Smiths. With many other components sourced from the BMC parts bin,Healeys were very proud of the "all British content".

SR was built in house and under a fair degree of secrecy, the SR name being from "Sub Rosa" (in secrecy) but in early 1968 Donald Healey let the motoring press in on their project which was widely reported in Februarys magazines and news papers. Early shake down runs were held at MIRA and Silverstone where several set backs slowed the development but in relatively unsorted form SR was taken to LeMans in April for the Practice weekend. That the 1968 LeMans race was postponed from June due to "political reasons/civil unrest" until September, gave Healeys a little more time for testing and preparation on SR.

SR was officially launched at the Austin Healey Club Silverstone race meeting in August '68 where John Harris ran some fast laps as well as providing an opportunity for Press Photographs.

Andrew Hedges and Clive Baker were SR's drivers for the 1968 LeMans with race number 47. After some gear ratio and set up changes the car was credited with a 4:22.1 qualifying time and all looked well for the race. A wet track and damp ignition caused an early unscheduled pit stop but the car retired later when the clutch release bearing seized to its sliding spigot with the clutch in the released position giving no drive to the gearbox.

SR was altered for the '69 race in that the rear bodywork was dropped 3 inches and the water radiators were moved from the sides to the front, in an effort to improve the aerodynamics and reduce the frontal area and wind resistance. The clutch problems were sorted and the car prepared again for the traditional June race. In practice it was number 40 and in the race it was number 37.

Clive Baker and John Harris were the drivers and the qualifying time of 4:13.7 was respectable but again the race was to end in an early departure and disappointment. On this occasion the (now front mounted) radiator was damaged from debris from another cars accident and the overheating caused head gasket damage. SR again retired early.

For more history on SR please see Geoff Healeys books "Healey the Specials" and "Austin Healey the Story of the Big Healeys"

Healey SR after 1969 Le Mans
The borrowed Coventry Climax motor was returned to CC and thoughts focussed on the 1970 event.

If the Donald Healey Motor Company was to run at LeMans in 1970 the rules required a "new" car because Healey had run SR in the '68 & '69 races and a third year in the "sports prototype class" with the same car was not allowed.

Plans were made to make an improved version for 1970 to enter in the "sports racing class". It would have a new open, wider, lighter body, longer wheel base, more powerful motor of greater capacity, a full brake upgrade and wider wheels and tyres among the many other proposed improvements.

In March 1970 Geoff Healey bought S R 2 ex Le Mans 1968/1969 from Donald Healey Motor Company.

From DHCM to G C Healey for the purchase of 1 Used Healey 2-seater Sports Car, Regn.No. RUE716G, Chassis No. S.R.2. Engine No. 33107 (V8 Osmobile) Colour : Green. dismantled

Geoff didn't keep SR for long before selling it to his friend Owen Swinerd,with an agreement that Geoff had first right of refusal if Owen was to sell it again. Geoff progressively found Owen many of the original working drawings, factory photographs of the original building of SR, as well as publicity shots and other SR related "bits and pieces".

For various reasons SR still remained dismantled in 1995 when Owen decided to sell it. By this time Geoff had passed away and Owen offered what remained the SR at the Brooks Auction at Olympia. 1968-69 Healey SR Le Mans Racer.

After being alerted to the upcoming auction by Joe Jarrick,one of Australias leading Healey enthusiasts and with full encouragement from Rob Harrison in Sydney ,who still owned XR37, the partners in The Healey Factory in Melbourne organised a friend to bid for and buy SR. Tom Barr Smith (one of the partners) quickly became SR's new owner and savoir, and after a short delay whilst being convinced to postpone the restoration of his Healey Elliot, had K&A Motorsport in Adelaide and The Healey Factory undertake SR's well overdue rebuild.

During the quest to uncover as much information as possible about SR one of Toms friends approached the archivist at the Automobile Club D'LeOuest and in October 1997 obtained copies of all the entry and scrutineering paperwork relative to SR for both the '68 &'69 LeMans races. Prior to this time it had been assumed that chassis number SR2.

The ACO papers for SR for 1968 LeMans 24 Hour race shows :
No. du chassis : SR2
Numero d 'immatriculation RUE 716G exactly the same as on the invoice from DHMC to Geoff Healey of March 1970.

SR has not sat idle since its reassembly, it has been run twice in the Classic Adelaide Rally (4 day closed road tarmac event) as well as at Healey Club and Historic Race track days. It has been taken to the UK in 1998 where it ran at the Goodwood Festival of Speed and Shellsey Walsh hill climb as well as touring to Cornwall, an appearance at Gaydon and being displayed at the Coys event. In 2004 SR was taken to the UK again from where it was driven to St Moritz for the 2nd European Healey Meeting and then driven back in time for the Goodwood revival meeting.

SR is currently fitted with a 3 1/2 litre alloy Oldsmobile motor (405 hp) running 4 downdraft weber carburettors.The BOP (Buick Oldsmobile Pontiac) motor was considered for SR in 1967 and can be seen on a workbench behind the car in some of the "during construction" shots. It is also the motor described as number 33107 on the 1970 DHMC invoice. The car is always kept in immaculate condition. It has a road compatible organic lining multiplate clutch installed and whilst it has "road tyres" currently fitted, it also has the "new" (1969) Dunlop racing tyres with it.


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