The History of Austin Healey BN1 223805

Model - BN1

Built - 11th Feb. 1955

Car/chassis No - BN1/223805

Engine No - 1B/223805

Body No - 5211, 7897

Body Color - Carmine Red

Trim Color - Red

Originally Registered GKD 766

This Healey was originally purchased from Caddy and Curr in Ballarat by George D Berry of No 2 Inkerman St. and was first registered on the 31st.of October 1955. On the 11th. of November 1956. While returning to Ballarat from a gymkhana and traveling with three other Healeys driven by Bernie Mathews, Max Sternberg and Steve Romley, Berrys car left the road at speed and struck a tree at Miners Rest. George Berry was killed and his passenger Marlene P Schepts seriously injured. It appears that Berry was trying to catch the car driven by Mathews, after having been held up by cattle crossing the road. Both cars had left the other two cars well behind. In fact they arrived at the scene of the accident at about the same time as the ambulance. At the Coroners Inquest into the death of Mr. Berry it was revealed that the car had left the road at high speed on a left hand "slow bend" and had broad sided for 120 feet before it hit the tree. The car sustained major damage to the right hand side. I believe the car had only traveled about 4000 miles at the time of the accident.

The car was transferred (unregistered) to Nedloh Motors (Panel Beaters) Pallet St. Coburg on the 24th Jan 1957. Note: This was not the Nedloh Motors known for building race cars.

Some time in 1957 it was purchased from Nedloh Motors by Braybrook Panels, they used parts of this car and another wrecked Healey to build a complete car. Rudi Konecny, an employee bought the remains of the remains of both cars including the body / chassis plates and original registration certificate. I believe the second car may well have been the the car in which a member of the Italian Olympic rowing team was killed, as Rudi had been under the impression that this was his car (both cars were red). On Rudi's behalf Braybrook panels purchased a new bare chassis without bulkheads that Austin Distributors had in stock and Rudi proceeded to build his own body on it, in a workshop at the rear of Braybrook panels. The images show two different body designs that Rudi produced on this chassis. The first design discarded in favor of the second shown at the bottom of the page. This design underwent changes during building with the removal of batmobile like fins on the rear guards. While Rudi was working on the body a friend (Ervin Langer, pictured) was undertaking the major mechanical repairs necessary. He was one of several mechanics that helped Rudi with the mechanical repairs. These included replacement of the snapped gear box input shaft, broken gear box main casing and the welded repair of the overdrive extension housing. Replacement of one front shock absorber, two lower suspension arms and spring seat, one brake drum, the steering box and at least two wheel rims. In 1959 Rudi started his own Panel shop and due to business commitments the project was never fully completed. The car eventually put into storage in a Gippsland farm shed.

In May 1994 Theo Van Heel purchased the car (unfinished) from Rudi. The fabricated steel body was removed and discarded. When I told Rudi about this I thought may have been upset considering the amount of work he had put into it, but in fact he said that he had considered reinstalling a Healey body on the car himself,  he felt that the design was outdated, and in fairly poor condition after 40 years in storage. In May or June 1994 The car was sold to the Healey Factory in Melbourne.

I purchased the remains of the car complete with it's body / chassis plates and original 1955 registration papers on the 6th of June 1998 along with another (rusty) BN1 consisting of chassis/bulkheads and body panels only. Batch, Body No.5267, 8901. With the intention of using the front and rear chassis bulkheads and panels to rebuild the car. The remains of GKD 766 consist of Engine, Gearbox, Diff, Suspension, Steering, Brakes and Wheels. The rear axle housing was bent on the left side to the extent that the wheel had 5/16 toe out. I also found the front right hand steering swivel arm, steering lever, side rod, and brake backing plate bent. The chassis had a part number IB8815 stenciled in yellow across the front cross member. I hope to finnish restoring this car during the next couple of years and get what is left of GKD 766 back on the road, to complete a project that has taken a number of forms over the last forty two years. By the way Rudi (now in his early sixty's) has offered his assistance, should I need it.