Dream Car: 1960 Austin-Healey

Farm Forum

In his youth Bob Evans lusted after any number of sporty cars. Like most other teenagers he knew the cars he wanted were out of his financial reach. If Evans were going to satisfy his automotive desires, then he would at the very least get a car with a modicum of flair.

So in 1960 he bought his first car, a 12-year-old Chevrolet convertible. Evans recall it had “2-60” air conditioning — 2 windows rolled down at 60 mph.

The old convertible served its purpose and was soon replaced by a series of British MG models including TD, TF and A versions. Italian Alfa Romero sports cars soon captured Evans’ his attention.

During this time period, Evans kept his eye on the elusive prize — a British Austin-Healey. Before he got to the point of acquiring one, his children were born and for several years he drove minivans.

When the children were grown Evans began a leisurely search for a sporty car in places such as newspaper ads, web sites and anywhere else that old cars were likely to be advertised for sale. It wasn’t a focused pursuit, but one that never ended — until 2013.

Evans finally found a 1960 Austin-Healey in Missouri where the Wilson Motor Co. was offering the sports car for sale. Dozens of photographs were exchanged followed by numerous telephone calls until all doubt vanished and Evans was thoroughly convinced that this was the car for him. Without traveling to Missouri to see it, Evans purchased it sight-unseen and nervously began waiting for a truck to arrive with the 1960 model to his home just outside Washington, D.C.

The Austin-Healey arrived and happily there were no big surprises. Austin-Healey built 42,926 cars like this one from 1959 until 1968. Records show that the car left the factory wearing a coat of black paint with black leather upholstery. Since then the car has been thoroughly restored and now sports a red body with a black accent panel on either side. The once black leather upholstery has also been replaced.

Evans’ car has an inline, 3.0-liter, overhead valve six-cylinder engine nestled under the hood. A functional hood scoop does what it can to help keep the engine compartment temperature under control. Power from that 124-horsepower engine is delivered to the rear drive wheels via a four-speed manual transmission with the gear shift lever sprouting from the floor. The third and fourth gears are equipped with an overdrive function.

“Parts are easy to come by,” Evans happily reports.

Before he acquired the car the banjo-style steering wheel had been wrapped in leather. Both bumpers have been replaced. Evans observes that there is only about a 2.5-inch clearance between the bumpers and the curvaceous body of the car.

At the rear of the cozy cockpit is the plastic rear window. Side curtains take the place of glass side windows.

“Raising the top,” Evans says, “takes two people about 15 minutes.”

Consequently, Evans has discovered that if caught in a rain shower, simply driving with the top lowered and going at least 40 mph eliminates the need for the wipers. He says the rain goes right above the occupants in the car.

Evans says his car delivers about 16 miles per gallon — if he is lucky. That mileage figure doesn’t phase him because, he exclaims, “It’s fun to drive.”

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