Pre-Production
1953 Austin Healey 100 : AHX-14

Chassis BN1L 134373

Engine No. 1B136869

Body No. JM4134-14

When Donald Healey first showed his new prototype sports car at the London Car Show in October 1952, it was called the Healey 100. It was powered by an engine from the Austin A90, and had various other shared chassis components.

Leonard Lord of Austin recognized an opportunity since Donald had more orders than he could fill in years at his relatively small Healey plant in Warwick. Two days later, it became the Austin Healey 100.

This car is #14 of the 19 hand-built, aluminum bodied Pre-Production cars. It was made at Donald Healeyís factory in Warwick prior to the first production of the Austin Healey 100 at the Austin plant in Longbridge, England.

It has been carefully restored to retain most of its unique fabrication aspects which differed from production cars. All body panels, engine and frame are original.

At the same time it carries the modifications that were done in the 1960ís that gave the car a second career in its existence as a hill climb race car in southern Pennsylvania.


Racing Modification Specifications

This car was modified for Hillclimb racing, but one of its best advantages was its lightweight.
Weight: Total - 2001 lbs (including full fuel tank = 120 lbs of gasoline) Front - 52% Rear - 48%
By contrast, a 100S had a curb weight of 2,115 lbs (R&T Sept í55)
Engine: (Original Block)
Both Block & Head Planed
Flywheel Lightened
AH LeMans Camshaft
Head Ported, Polished, CCíd
Derrington Headers into a Burgess Muffler
Mallory Dual Point Distributor
Mallory Magna-Spark Coil
Engine Balanced
Suspension:
Heavy Duty Anti-Roll Bar
Stiffened Rear Springs, 8 Leaves
Modified Shocks
Brakes:
Front Ė Girling BN7, Disc Brakes
Rear - Girling BN1, with Alfin Drums
Tires;
5.50 x 15 Dunlop Racing


Warwick-Built Special Cars

This car is also referred to as AHX 14 which is itís build number as listed in the book "Healey - The Specials" written by Geoff Healey.



NOTES:
#5 was NOJ 391
#6 was NOJ 392
#7 was NOJ 393
#8 was "Not registered"
There were only 19 cars: #10 was never built



Hillclimb Racing
In Southern Pennsylvania
HISTORY NOTE: The following information was assembled through conversations and correspondence with Ray Stichler, Robert Ladd, and Tom Shappell who owned this car through the 1960ís. All of them knew the car had an alloy body, but they were unaware that this was actually #14 of the 19 pre-production cars. They were hand built, all-aluminum bodied cars that were produced at the Warwick plant. The fact that this was significantly lighter than production cars, contributed to its success in hillclimb racing.


 Ray Stichler was a young mechanic who worked at Ladd Motors in Lebanon PA. AHX-14 had been traded in at Ladd Motors in the summer of 1961 and was there for about 2 months just sitting out back. The engine was not too good and had little compression. Itís general condition was good, but worn. Jim Ladd was an avid racer who persuaded him to build this car for hillclimb racing. He bought the car in the fall, and it took a almost a year to build, but he got a lot of help from Ken Kershner, Jim Laddís race car mechanic, to help prepare the car properly. A lot of the engine and chassis work was done at Ladd Motors.

James (Toby) Tobias was their "Service Advisor" and he made other changes such as conversion to disc brakes, and improved suspension. Ray recalls spending what seemed to be endless hours on the head. He ported and polished until it shined like chrome. The flywheel was cut down and balanced. The final compression of the rebuilt engine was so severe that they had to always tow start the car for the first year. With the car painted dark blue, Ray raced it actively in the Pennsylvania Hillclimb Association as car #10 & #101.

Ray has won boxes of trophies with the car, and never finished worse than 3rd in any race he entered, but mostly firsts.

Ray raced the car for 2 seasons and later traded the car in for a new MG. The MGB offered him seating enough for his family and the ability to continue racing on weekends. At the dealership James Ladd Jr. and his brother Robert became the new owners.


Jim and Robert Laddís father owned Ladd-Hanford Motors Inc. in Lebanon Pa. Jim & Bob shared their interest and ownership in this car.

Robert was in college and was 20 years old while his brother was one of the finest Austin Healey racers in the country. He held the E/P record in the PHA for two years prior. Robert and his brother Jim were
preparing the car for endurance racing so they could compete together. Jim had owned three Austin Healey racing cars, including this 100, a 100-Six, and a 3000.

The car was still being prepared when James Ladd was tragically killed on the fifth lap of The D Production event at the SCCA Road Race of Champions in Riverside California in November 1964. Jim Ladd Jr, was 29, and had achieved second in National standings in his class that year and second Nationally in E Production the previous year. His total of more than 90 trophies included the award as overall Pennsylvania Hillclimb Champion in 1962.
Shortly after his sonís fatal crash, James Ladd Sr. asked his other son Robert to not continue racing. Years later Robert would re-enter racing with an E Type Jaguar, another Austin Healey 100, and his Mini Cooper S with great success.
AHX14 was then sold to another young racer Tom Shappell.



Tom (Dutch) Shappell owned Shappell Motorsports , and later was a partner in a car dealership named Joe Camís Autorama of Reading Pa. The car was pretty well completed and race ready when he bought it. Tom started off strong with racing the car. In his first Season he took first place at the PHA Hershey HillClimbís 14th run in April Ď65, also capturing the Jim Ladd Memorial Trophy for the fastest production Healey of the meet. He competed in races at Jefferson (PHA), Duryea Hillclimb in Reading Pa., Reading Road-Races, Lebanon Hills, & Limerock as well as several other courses in Southern Pa.
 
 

This car was as much of a show car as a race car as he points out with his photograph of it on review at the Reading Hospital Annual Tea Party and Car Show in the fall of 1966 when it was painted white with red/orange and blue racing stripe trim.


Note: The Silver Tray pictured in front of the car is the "James Ladd
Memorial Trophy", that Tom won at the Hershey Hillclimb in 1965.



This same car was later featured in photographs for the November 1968 issue of Car & Driver Magazine with an article on the The Legend Maker Austin-Healey 100 with the reversed colours of Poppy Red and cream. Tom owned the car at that time, and the writer makes mention of the fact that the car was supplied by his business, Joe Camís Autorama of Reading Pa.


At the AACA Fall Meet at Hershey in October, 2000, Ray Stichler (Pictured with red chequered shirt), Robert and Tom Shappell (pictured with white beard) were reunited with AHX14 for the first time since they owned it in the 60ís.



Contact Blair Harber


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