Healey by Caton honors early four-pot Austin-Healeys



The Healey by Caton is the next reimagined, painstakingly refurbished, old-is-new again car to join the global six-figure restomod garage. This one starts with an early BN1-series Austin-Healey 100/4 donor car, the four-cylinder version of the British roadster created by Donald Healey that had a top speed of 100 miles per hour. Starting with the engine, Caton worked with Healey restoration specialists JME Healeys, upgrading the four-cylinder from 2.7 liters to 3.0, and installing components like a upgraded crankshaft and bearings, high compression pistons, a racing camshaft, and larger twin SU H8 carburetors. That compact heart of fire blows through a side-exit exhaust. The original engine produced 90 horsepower and 144 pound-feet of torque, the new unit makes 185 hp and 195 lb-ft, enabling a top speed well past 100 miles per hour.

The chassis gets new front and rear bulkheads and additional bolstering to make the most of the power. For the driver, out went the three-speed manual transmission with the column-mounted shifter that Healey moved to the transmission tunnel. In comes a modern five-speed manual set in a thinner tunnel to create more cockpit room, yoked to a stronger driveshaft sending power to the rear wheels. The suspension is a mix of new and old, double wishbones and adjustable coil springs in front, lever arm dampers and leaf springs in back, both fitted with custom rose-jointed roll bars. Aluminum 15-inch, 72-spoke Borrani wheels with black knock-offs wear Michelin tires and hide disc brakes all around. There no electronic assistance features.

Wrapped around all of this, former McLaren Special Operations designer Darryl Scriven made small changes and smoothed out any busyness to emphasize the form. The bolder grille holds fewer but larger individual strakes. Certain panels were rolled on an English wheel as would have been done in Donald Healey’s day, without any of the bead lines found on original Austin-Healeys. The silhouette is especially clean thanks to the lack of front and rear bumpers are gone, the front fascia extending a touch to cover all of the internals, and the trademark trunk release being jettisoned; the load bay is opened with a button on the key. Austin-Healey branding remains, the only not to Caton outside on the large vents and finishers added to the resculpted front fenders.

This is a pure roadster, there being no top, the windscreen rail sitting a tad higher to reduce buffeting in the cabin. The emphasis on purity continues with the lack of any infotainment, and a heater. The dash is covered with odorless shrink-optimized leather, the seats in Bridge of Weir hides that provide the leather aroma. Between the thinner transmission tunnel, the AP Racing pedal box, and revised seats with strengthened frames, Caton says six-footers should fit far more easily here than in the vintage forebear.     

Caton plans to build 25 examples of its Healey, production starting in Q2 of this year after a debut at Salon Prive in London from April 21-23. After this, we’re promised more goods focusing on British craftsmanship, some beyond the world of automobiles, too, all “focusing on sympathetic enhancement and evolution of cherished products for modern age.”


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