Jay Leno loves a cool car, but when it has a fascinating background, that makes it even better.
"The best [subjects] for this show are the ones that are a good car with a good story," Jay says in this episode of Jay Leno's Garage, and this 1959 Austin Healey 100-6 fits the bill. Owner and guest Garth Hammers' father bought the car on consignment in San Jose in 1973, when Garth was just 8 years old. His father, a car guy and Buick salesman, often lusted after foreign sports cars but was discouraged by the availability of parts for higher-end imports.
By the time the Austin Healey made its way to the Hammers family, Garth's father had grown comfortable with owning European cars, having owned multiple Mercedes-Benz SL Gullwings. The family happened on the car the day it had been dropped off for consignment, and took it home.
If this 100-6 looks a bit off, that's because it's not stock, and all of the modifications were performed by the original owner. With show-car care, the previous onwer chopped the windshield, installed Porsche Speedster seats for a lower seating position, lengthened the hood scoop, and modified the wheel openings. To Garth, who had never been exposed to Austin Healeys before this one came into the family, it simply looked right.
Garth and the 100-6 were separated when his father sold the car within two years of purchasing it, but three decades later, he decided to take a stab at tracking it down. A trip to central California ended up bearing fruit, but even that wild goose chase wasn't enough to formally reunite the car with its old home. The new owner held out for two years before relenting and agreeing to sell Garth the 100-6.
The car had been reasonably well maintained, but Garth had to trailer it home and give it some TLC before the 17,000-mile Healey was ready for the road again. It still shows some of its show-car flash, but it remains a survivor, rather than a restoration subject, and Garth isn't quite ready to take it that far yet.
The hot-rodded Healey's inline-6 sounds great under power, and that alone makes the video worth a watch. Check it out.