1962-1966 Austin-Healey

August 1962 (in good time to begin flooding the transatlantic ships with stocks for U.S. showrooms for 1963) brought the only mega structural change made to the 1962-1966 Austin-Healey cars.

The new model name of "3000 Mk II Sports Convertible" (BJ7) signaled a major rejig of the layout. For the first time on this model, not only was there a foldaway, permanently attached soft-top mechanism, but it was matched to a larger wraparound windshield and revised doors that incorporated wind-up windows and vent wings.

1964 Austin-Healey
1964 Austin-Healey convertible

The comfort and convenience of these features won approving notices from automotive writers on both sides of the Atlantic. At the same time, the 2+2 became the sole seating configuration offered, the demand for two-seaters having virtually disappeared.

For the time being, there were no changes to the fascia, but as the twin-SU carburetor installation had been revived -- without a loss of power -- no one was complaining. All in all, it was an appealing facelift, especially as the soft top (when erect) and the wind-up windows in the doors were very pleasantly detailed.

Now, it seemed, the only obsolete feature might be the old-type instrument-panel layout. This problem was finally dealt with less than two years later. In spring 1964, almost every big Healey lover was delighted to greet the 3000 Mk III (coded BJ8), the definitive model with a totally revised dash (which included a wooden fascia panel) and a brawny new version of the engine that now had dual two-inch-choke SUs good for no less than 148 bhp.

Here, for the first time, was a big Healey that could beat 120 mph and deliver that sort of performance in comfort and style for the passengers.

Even then, Healey and BMC kept on making improvements to the design. Only months after the Mk III had been introduced, what we now know as Phase I became Phase II, with a major change to the rear suspension location.

At long last, the main chassis rails were sharply kinked under the line of the rear axle, which allowed its position to be reset. At the same time, twin radius arms replaced the earlier Panhard rod location of the rear axle.

Here was the final flowering of a great car. It proved to be very successful in motorsport, its most outstanding feat probably being when Rauno Aaltonen drove a works car to win the Spa-Sofia-Liege Marathon in 1964, the last, the fastest, and the toughest open-road rally ever to be held in Europe.

Learn about the 1967 Austin-Healey in the next section.

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