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Pre-production Austin Healey tops £160,000 at SWVA sale

The last of 19 pre-production 100/4 Le Mans cars sold for just over £164,000 after prolonged bidding by two people in the room at SWVA’s 31 July sale.

The ultra-rare car is one of a very small number of 100/4 Le Mans models used by Austin-Healey for press and publicity. It’s believed most of the 19 built were left unregistered to avoid purchase tax and were consequently scrapped.

NUE 855 was the 19th and final pre-production car built. The only reason it avoided the same fate was because a Mr Sharp, the owner of a restaurant where Donald Healey regularly had lunch, managed to convince the company boss to sell the car to him.

Mr Sharp only kept the 100/4 until 1955, when he sold it to the SWVA sale vendor. Over the past 60 years he has had some modifications made, including the fitting of a 100/6 windscreen and a set of Borrani 62-spoke alloys.

In 1983 the original engine was replaced due to excessive oil usage; a new Gold Seal unit was fitted, and the Le Mans camshaft and larger carbs transferred to it.

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Otherwise in remarkably original condition, the 100/4 was estimated to sell for £60,000-£80,000 at SWVA’s July sale. However, after a bidding battle between two people it finally sold for just over twice its upper estimate. The selling price of £164,300 is also more than twice the amount achieved by other 100/4s at recent sales.

Other cars that did far better than their estimates included a highly original, three-owner 1977 Mini. It was estimated to sell for £1,000, but made just over twice that amount.

A 1939 Standard Flying 8 saloon did even better – owned by the vendor for 20 years and stored for most of that time, it had recently been recommissioned. Its upper estimate was £1,500, but it sold for more than £5,000.

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By Claire Evans

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