1954 Austin-Healey 100 ’S’

Holder of 19 National & International speed records and officially the fastest naturally aspirated Austin-Healey in the world

In August 1954 Donald Healey took his 100 sports car to the Bonneville Salt Flats. The aim: to smash as many speed records as possible. This was no amateur venture, but a well-planned, well-orchestrated Works undertaking that included Carroll Shelby in the driver line up. Over the course of a week record after record fell, and the British team returned home with 83 National and International speed records, including a 24 hour average speed of 132.29 mph and a variety of distance records from 200km to 5000km. This car was essentially the prototype 100S, the subsequent ‘production’ model incorporating many of the modifications developed for the salt flats.

Having discovered that the Bonneville salt destroyed the original car (chassis SPL 227B was scrapped by the factory in 1957), a team of Healey endurance enthusiasts decided to build an exact replica of the original record car in order to challenge the records as they stood. Starting with the last known factory chassis uprated to lightweight ‘S’ specification, Denis Welch Motorsport began construction in 2007. The project revolved around huge amounts of research that included an extensive study of many original drawings from the archives of Geoff Healey as well as speaking to people involved in the original project.

A number of original parts, built especially for or used on the original Bonneville car, were secured and incorporated into the appropriately registered ‘ONX 392’. The rest of the components were comprehensively researched and, if not available, made from scratch. The only allowances for safety were a fire extinguisher and a front valence on the bottom of the car (wind tunnel testing showed it essential) otherwise the Healey ran as it did in 1954. This car is by all intents and purposes a tool room copy of SPL 227B.


Since retiring from endurance record breaking, the Austin-Healey has not led a quiet life. The owner has transformed it into a race winning car, regularly enjoying numerous race series including The Woodcote Trophy (in which it won its class in 2011 with frequent podiums since), AMOC and FICAR series, concluding the 2014 season with a first overall at Castle Combe in the all Healey race. A race car capable of closely competing with far more valuable historic cars, ONX 392 has always been maintained regardless of cost by Denis Welch Motorsport.

The lovely large fuel filler mimics the text from the original Bonneville car, the new records being proudly engraved for posterity. It’s worth noting that an original production ‘S’ had a plaque on the dashboard proclaiming that it was a replica of the record car; this is not wholly true. ONX 392 is the only Healey to combine Dunlop peg drive wheels, disc brakes all round and high performance 100S engine, making it truly unique. This 100 ‘S’ will not only provide the new owner with the prospect of enjoying a huge number of race events, it is also the opportunity to secure a record breaker that is considered the most significant contemporary Austin-Healey in the marque’s history.

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