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Geoffrey Healey (1922-1994)

Geoff Healey

Geoffrey Carroll Healey was born in Perranporth, Cornwall on 14 December 1922, the first child of Donald Mitchell and Ivy James Healey.

Of a mechanical bent, Geoff worked with his father, Donald, on the design of both the Austin-Healey 100, the later 3000 series “Big Healeys,” as well as the Austin-Healey Sprite.  These sports cars are among the most popular and iconic British sports cars, from their introduction in 1952 and 1958 until the present day.

At the Camborne School of Mines in Cornwall, Geoff  studied engineering.  Later at the Coventry Technical College, he received both National and Higher National Certificates in Mechanical Engineering with an Endorsement in Automotive Engineering.

During the latter part of WWII, Geoff served as a Staff Captain in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) in Europe, the Middle East, and in the UK.

After the war, he rejoined Armstrong-Siddeley Motors of Coventry, where he had worked briefly during the war.  He worked with W.O. Bentley in the design of a three-liter engine and luxury car which never came to production.

Meanwhile his father, DMH, was creating a fast touring car under his own name.  Geoff helped with the prototype and other aspects of bringing these early Healey-badged cars into production.  With a leave of absence from Armstrong-Siddeley, Geoff joined his father on their first tour of America in 1948 to learn first-hand the wants and needs of America’s huge marketplace for motor cars.

In 1949, Geoff joined the Donald Healey Motor Company (DHMC) as a development engineer and later as Chief Engineer.  As such, he was responsible for the engineering design of all models of what are fondly referred to today as “the Healeys,” including the Westland, Elliott, Silverstone, Tickford, and Abbott.  Also receiving Geoff’s design expertise were the Nash Healey, the line of Austin-Healeys (100 through the Series BJ8), and the Austin-Healey Sprites (Bugeye/Frogeye through the square-bodied series).  Later, he worked on the Jensen Healey and the XR37 for the Le Mans Race in 1968.

Geoff drove with DMH on a number of the famous Mille Miglia, with their best result in their first event in 1948, where they received a ninth overall and second in class finish in this most challenging rally.

The speed and distance record setting cars at the Bonneville Salt Flats in the 1953, 1954, and 1956 were result of Geoff’s engineering contributions.

During the 1950 Mille Miglia in Italy, Geoff met Margot, the interpreter for the team at the Fiat garage.  Geoff and Margo married in November, 1953.  They had two daughters, Cecilia and Kate.

Following the demise of Jensen Motors in 1976, Geoff joined British Leyland in 1979 and worked on the development and testing of cars for the Rover Group.

In 1987, Geoff retired and set up an engineering consulting business, the Healey Automobile Consultants in Barford, Warwick.  He was working on the development of a reproduction of the original “Bugeye/Frogeye” Sprite at the time of his death on April 29, 1994 in Warwick.

Geoff Healey authored a series of books on the Austin-Healey motor cars.  These include Austin-Healey, the Story of the Big Healeys, 1978; Healey, the Specials, 1978; and his final book, “The Healey Story,” published posthumously in 1996 by his family.

Geoff was a frequent visitor to North America at Austin-Healey club events at which he was always ready to respond to some obscure questions about the cars.  He had what seemed to be an encyclopedic memory about the development and design of the cars which he called upon in answering these questions.  He often assisted owners with on-site advice and often lent a hand with a “repair on the carpark” at these events.

Automotive writer Jon Pressnell noted that “Geoff Healey was always ready to spend time recalling the past, with accuracy rather than casualness.  A big, slightly crumpled man, he had a gentle modesty at odds with his extrovert mustached appearance, and took a quiet and patriotic pleasure in the achievements of the Healey Company.”

His father, Donald, described Geoff as “one of the backroom boys who did the work and shunned the limelight.”

Enthusiasts and owners of all the Healey-badged cars will remember Geoff as the technical expert responsible for the mechanical working of their cars and a person who could be found under the bonnet of someone’s car, sharing advice and friendly help and knowledge to the owner.