"The Healey 'Silverstone' is remarkable not only because it handles as well as any modern car we have driven and gives vivid acceleration and a maximum speed of over 100mph, but because it achieves this performance on less than 2.5 litres and with a 3.5-to-1 axle ratio, so that economy of petrol is quite unexpected. Over and above its performance capabilities it is so docile and pleasant to drive that learner-drivers feel at home in it, it is entirely devoid of temperament, and, if it is not beautiful in appearance, its lines have a satisfying functional simplicity" (Bill Boddy writing in Motorsport, November 1949).
Announced in July 1949, the 'Silverstone' was arguably the most famous car to carry the Healey badge. Drawing on experience gained from the earlier Westland and Elliot models, its steel ladder-frame chassis was both massively strong and commendably light (circa 150lbs). Boasting six-inch deep side members, the cruciform-braced structure was equipped with trailing-arm independent front suspension, a coil-sprung but Panhard rod located 'live' rear axle and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes (11-inch front / 10-inch rear).
Sourced from Riley in an effort to keep costs down, the Silverstone's drivetrain consisted of a 2443cc four-cylinder engine allied to four-speed manual transmission. Notable for its twin camshafts (nestling high on the block), the powerplant was fed by twin SU carburettors. Mounted notably far back in the chassis, it was credited with some 104bhp and 134lbft of torque, while, the synchromesh gearbox was praised for its smooth but firm action (Bill Boddy musing that "someone in Lord Nuffield's establishment must be a gearbox-wizard).
Wonderfully purposeful, the model's stressed-skin alloy body incorporated a number of ingenious touches such as a partially retractable windscreen and letterbox slot for the spare wheel that saw it double up as a rear bumper etc. Fitted with cycle wings, rudimentary weather equipment and a 16-gallon fuel tank, the Healey Silverstone weighed just 18.5cwt. Thus, able to claim a power to weight ratio in excess of 100bhp per ton, it promised and delivered invigorating performance.
Although fast, easy to handle and surprisingly durable, the Healey Silverstone was not cheap. Priced at £1,246 11s 8d, it was only £20 less expensive than a Jaguar XK120. Nevertheless, the works team's fantastic showing at Silverstone in August 1949 ensured a steady stream of enquiries from amateur and professional racing drivers alike. Sidelined by the Nash-Healey, Silverstone production petered out in September 1950 after 105 cars had left the Warwick factory.
1949 Healey Silverstone (Chassis Number D1)
The first Healey Silverstone production car, chassis number D1 was also one of three Works competition entries to contest the August 1949 BRDC International Trophy Race at Silverstone. Driven round the famous Northamptonshire circuit by the French Ace Louis Chiron, its strong run to sixth overall (fourth in class) against Jaguar XK120 and Frazer-Nash Le Mans Replica opposition helped secure the coveted Team Prize for Healey (as well as earning the model's 'Silverstone' moniker).
Subsequently campaigned by N.D. Yates, chassis number D1 took part in various BARC races at Goodwood during 1950 / 1951 before succumbing to full time road use. Road registered as 'GCY 154', it was in single ownership between 1968 and 1990. Incorrectly, thought for many years to have begun life as 'JAC 100' (prototype chassis number X2) and therefore to have been driven to a class win (second overall) on the 1949 Alpine Rally by Donald Healey and Ian Appleyard, it was granted its earlier sibling's registration number by the DVLA in 1990.
Restored several times over the last fifty-seven years with a new engine in summer 2008, it has been featured in the following texts: 'Profile Publications' by Peter Browning (1967), 'More Healeys' by Geoffrey Healey (1990) and 'The Healey Book' by Bill Emerson (2002).
Occupying a very special place in Healey Silverstone history as the first production car, chassis number D1 is potentially eligible for a host of prestigious events like the Monaco Historique.
The car participate to the 1000 Miglia in 2008.
New FIA papers