The Bid is Right

Guess the final bid on this rare 1955 Austin-Healey race car and win $500

by Conner Golden
14 July 2022 3 min read
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Bring a Trailer.

We’re tempted to just let this week’s Bid is Right contest land at surface value. Like the preceding contest centered around that wild Competizione-spec 1969 Ferrari Daytona, the more context we provide for this 1955 Austin-Healey 100S, the less challenge it’ll be for your inner appraiser. Considering we like a little spread between guesses, we’ll give you just enough info to zero your sights, but not nearly enough to land an easy bullseye on that $500 prize.

That’s not to say our (confidential) personal guesses could get much closer than you even if we showed our full valuation-backed hand. Contrary to both the name and appearance, the Healey 100S is far removed from a standard production BN1 Healey—and pinning down what these rare race cars trade for ahead of a sale hinges on parsing the baked-in race provenance and remaining originality against the few past reference sales.

Bring a Trailer

The trickiest bit of assessing a 100S is checking originality. As these were race cars since day one—and rarely enjoyed a single race season’s respite—the standards for originality are as nebulous as the cars are handsome. Like most resuscitated vintage race cars, these little Austin-Healeys are either modified extensively or restored to match a high-point in their careers, rather than a clean-sheet rebuild to how it might have looked when it left the factory floor.

Again, this one is about as tricky as that Gordon-Keeble. This particular 100S—referred to by its chassis number AHS3706—was both sold in and campaigned primarily at race events local to Southern California, scrubbing rubber multiple times at Paramount Ranch and Riverside. The accompanying race history denotes a lineage of ten owners over its 67-year life, with its competitive race history ending sometime in 1966 when an ostensibly irreplaceable blown head gasket led to the car entering long-term storage. At least the then-owner decided against his original plans to swap in a Chevy small-block for drag racing. Phew.

After sitting in pseudo-disrepair for roughly 14 years, it changed hands to another California enthusiast in 1979. Restored over a whopping 16 years, the initial intent was to return this retired warrior back to the vintage racing circuit. Despite that, he sold the car in 1999, four years after it was completed, admitting his restoration was too darn nice to smack bugs and ping rocks on the track.

Bring a Trailer

A few more enthusiastic owners later, and we land at 3706’s current state. Despite the patchwork ownership history and multiple instances of fires, fender benders, and disassembly, it’s still a genuine 100S under that livery recreated from its time on the starting grid in the late 1950s.

Breed experts reckon only 38 of the original 55 units survive, but it’s not just rarity that will spike the final price to….well, somewhere high. Under Donald Healey’s watchful eyes, a roadgoing Healey 100 was stripped, sawed, and scraped of 200 pounds of ballast deemed unnecessary for winning races. Standard stuff like bumpers, convertible top, and any interior accessory was left on the shelf, and the streamlined shape was hewn from aluminum, not the usual steel. An uprated version of the 2.6-liter four-cylinder spat out a contemporaneously impressive 132 hp, more than enough for the 100S’ feathery 1,900-pounds. More notable than how the 100S gained speed is how it shed speed, with the roadster holding court as the first “production” car to wear disc brakes at all four corners.

Bring a Trailer

It’s a special car that will no doubt command a special price. How much? Well, it’s likely more than an ultra-clean 1992 Sentra SE-R but maybe a smidge less than the record-setting 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SLR. Maybe.

There’s quite a lot to consider before you cast a guess on the final price—without going over—below. To coalesce the most educated guess, you’ll need to play equal parts historian, researcher, enthusiast, and buyer, cross-referencing past sales with those 100S’ race pedigrees and conditions. Hey, you gotta work for that $500 prize. Head on below and give it your best shot.

House rules:

  • The commenter who guesses closest to the hammer price without going over wins. (Hammer price excludes auction house fees).
  • One guess per commenter.
  • If two people guess the same amount (within a dollar) the earlier guess wins.
  • Commenters must provide first and last name in addition to email address.
  • We will close the guessing on Thursday, July 21st at 1:00 PM EST.
  • Your privacy is important to us, and we’ll never sell your information. By providing your email you will receive the weekly Insider newsletter, and you can opt out at any time.
  • You can read the full rules here.
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