- Category: Healey Family and People
Donald Mitchell Healey
(Current information courtesy of Wikipedia)
(3 July 1898 - 13 January 1988) was a noted English rally driver, automobile engineer, and speed record holder.
Born in Perranporth, Cornwall, Healey became interested in all things mechanical at an early age, most particularly aircraft. After leaving school he joined Sopwith Aviation Company from where he volunteered for the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and earned his "wings" in 1916. During the First World War, he served on anti-Zeppelin patrols and also as a flying instructor.
Shot down by British anti-aircraft fire on one of the first night bomber missions of the war, he was invalided out of the RFC at the age of 18. He returned to Cornwall and took a correspondence course in automobile engineering. After the war, he opened a garage in Perranporth.
In 1931, Donald Healey won the Monte Carlo Rally driving an Invicta. He competed in the Monte Carlo Rally in 1929 (Times:1929) and was in the top eight places in 1932, 1934 and 1936.
He gained a reputation as a consultant engineer and designer and was appointed General Manager of the Triumph Motor Company in 1931. He went on to create the renowned Southern Cross and Dolomite 8 models.
During the Second World War, Healey was in charge of developing an aircraft carburettor for the Ministry of Supply and also worked with Humber on armoured cars.
In 1945, he formed the Donald Healey Motor Company Ltd, based in an old RAF hangar at Warwick. The company developed the Austin-Healey and Austin-Healey Sprite motor cars in licensing arrangement with British Motor Corporation in 1952 and 1959.
In 1949, Healey established an agreement with George W. Mason, the president of Nash Motors to build Nash-engined Healey sports cars. The first series of the 2-seaters were built in 1951 and they were designed by Healey. The Nash-Healey's engine was a Nash Ambassador 6-cylinder, the body was aluminum, and the chassis was a Healey Silverstone. However, Pininfarina restyled the bodywork for 1952 and took over the production of its new steel body.
When BMC was taken over by British Leyland in 1966, Donald Healey became chairman of Jensen Motors and was made a CBE
Donald Healey died at the age of 89.
In 1962 he received the Médaille de l’Éducation Physique et des Sports (1ère Cl.) in Monaco.
In 1996, he was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.
In 1921, Donald Healey married Ivy Maud James and they had three sons, Geoffrey, John, and Brian, known as "Bic."
He bought the 27 acre Trebah Estate, near Falmouth, Cornwall in 1961 and carried out many ambitious projects there, including the building of commercial greenhouses to grow orchids and a project to build air/sea rescue inflatables. He demolished the concrete covering of the beach of Polgwidden Cove (a D-Day invasion launch-pad) and used the salvaged material to surface a steep track from the house to the beach. (Hibbert, 2005). He sold Trebah in 1971.