Donald Healey was already a well-known character on the UK motoring scene before he promoted the first car to bear his name. Healey earned his reputation as a rally driver, winning the Monte Carlo rally in 1931 driving for the Invicta team.

After winding down his career behind the wheel, Healey was approached by the still independent Triumph car company to become their technical director.

Donald Healey remained with Triumph through part of the Thirties as well as the duration of World War Two, leaving them to establish his own business at the end of the Second World War.

Healey strategically placed his company in the town of Warwick in the Midlands of England, at that time the hotbed of the UK motor industry.

Healey began to develop sports cars, powered by Riley engines, with Healey and the vehicles that he produced rapidly gaining recognition.

The first cars left the Austin Healey factory in 1946. Initially, these were a coupe and convertible known as the Healey Elliot and Healey Westland. Both models had a Riley 2.4-litre six-cylinder engine.

The body was primarily formed of timber struts covered with aluminium sheet.

The Elliot was the fastest British car of its age while the Westland was capable of reaching 106 mph (170 kph).

Despite the critical success of these two models, the best seller and most widely known of the early Healeys was the Silverstone, a two-seater, which sold more than a hundred models, a considerable feat for the young designer and engineer.

In 1951 Healey, by that time, working with his son Geoffrey, participated in a tender competition sponsored by BMC, to attract aspiring designers to produce cars using parts supplied by the car manufacturing giant.

For the next 17 years Healey was responsible for the bulk of the engineering development work on the Austin-Healey, although except for the specialised 100S types, all the cars were built by BMC, at Longbridge until 1957 when production was shifted to the MG factory at Abingdon.

Over the years the layout of the original 100 evolved steadily.

The longer wheelbase, six-cylinder 100-6 arrived in 1956, the larger-engined Austin Healey 3000 in 1959, and the much-modified Mk III in 1964.