Donald Healey was already famous before he promoted the first car to bear his name, first as a trials and rally driver (he won the Monte Carlo rally in 1931 in an Invicta), then as the technical director of the still-independent Triumph. He went on to set up the Healey concern (see later entry) at Warwick in 1945.In 1951 he and his son Geoffrey laid out the design of the Healey 100, which used Austin A90 components. Austin’s abrasive chief Leonard Lord then saw the prototype, adopted it, re-named it Austin-Healey 100, and put it into production at Longbridge; the first 19 cars were actually put together, though, at Warwick.
For the next 17 years Healey did most of the engineering development work, but except for the specialised 100S types, all the cars were built by BMC, at Longbridge until 1957 and at the MG factory at Abingdon thereafter.
Over the years the layout of the original 100 evolved steadily. The longer-wheelbase, six-cylinder 100-Six arrived in 1956, the larger-engined 3000 in 1959, and the much-modified Mk III in 1964. The layout was retained, and each was descended from a previous type, but by the end most of the original details had changed.
Healey also designed the original, small “Frogeye” Sprite, using Austin and Morris running gear, which was launched at Abingdon in 1958. From 1961 it was re-styled, and gained an MG Midget-badged clone. Throughout the 1960s, company politics ensured that the Sprite gradually became subservient to the Midget.
The last-ever Austin-Healey Sprite was built in 1970, though there was an Austin Sprite in 1971 only, and the Midget, further developed, carried on until 1979. The Healey name was revived on the Jensen-Healey of 1972-76.