Austin Healy 3000
The Austin-Healy marque was created in 1952 as a joint venture between Donald Healey, a prominent automotive engineer and designer, and Leonard Lord from the Austin division of the British Motor Corporation (BMC). In 1953, a special streamlined Austin-Healey managed to set several land speed records while driving over the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, USA.
The joint venture had the form of a 20 year agreement and in 1972 the time was up and no Austin-Healey cars have been produced since then. Donald Healey left the company several years earlier in 1968, when British Motor Holdings was merged into British Leyland. (British Motor had merged with Jaguar Cars in 1966 and formed British Motor Holdings.)
British Leyland's successor company MG Rover Group owned the right to the Austinname, and when Nanjing purchased the assets of MG Rover Group after the 2005 bankruptcy, the name Austin was passed into Chinese hands. The Nanjing Automobile (Group) Corporation is a state-owned Chinese enterprise with a history that dates back to 1947.
The Healy name on the other hand is today owned by HFI Automotive. When Donald Healey sold the Donald Healey Motor Company, the Healey brand was registered to a new firm, Healey Automobile Consultants. In 2005, the Healey family sold this firm to HFI Automotive.
In June 2007, the Nanjing Automobile Group and Healey Automobile Consultants / HFI Automotive met up and signed a collaborative agreement with the aim of recreating the Austin-Healey and Healey marques. No timeline has been presented, and it is therefore impossible to tell when the re-birth will happen. MG will however be back on the Chinese and UK markets before 2008, so maybe the recreation of Austin-Healey and Healey will be speedy as well.
The Austin-Healey in popular culture
Despite its fairly short life time, the Austin-Healey managed set its unforgettable mark on modern popular culture in the UK as well as overseas. The very first car produced for Mattel's Barbie Doll was for instance a pink Austin-Healey with teal interior, and an Austin-Healy is driven by the father of main character Sam Witwicky in the movie “Transformers” from 2007. You can also see the character of Eli Cash driving an Austin Healey 3000 in The Royal Tennenbaums, and actor Steve Martin drives a black Austin Healey when it plays the father in the movie “Father of the Bride”. In the music video “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”, Tears for Fears singer Curt Smith drives an Austin Healey car through the desert of California.