Healey Silverstone Story
Autor Bernd Sgraja


Donald Healey introduced his first car with the Healey badge in 1946. He had built it in The Cape, in the English country town of Warwick.
Healey, a native of Cornwall, had earned a considerable reputation as a successful racing driver in the 1920s, which made him interesting for the Midland car industry in the 1930s as a consultant, chief designer and technical director.
It was his firm conviction that a competitive test for the man on the road was always the right basis for the presentation of a product and the performance of a car, safe driving and handling should always be the main qualities of the cars, whom Healey had worked or who later bore the name Healey.
These principles were implemented in the first Healey of 1946, the Westland. Donald Healey set to work with a team of specialists.

There were:
Ben Bowden – Body Designer,
Sammy Sampietro – Chassis Engineer,
Victor Riley – from his production, motor, transmission and rear axle,
Wally Ellen – working space,
Peter Shelton – he built the body of the first Healey Prototype,
James Watt – Sales Manager and
Roger Menadue – Experimental Engineer.


Described at the beginning, Healey Westland was a four-seater with a simple fabric top and a 2443 cc Riley engine, which was remarkably fast at the time with its curvaceous body designed by Ben Bowden.
Two years later, Healey’s eldest son Geoff finished the Mille Miglia as a remarkable overall ninth with a Westland roadster prepared at the Warwick plant, while Count Johnny Lurani and Guiglelmo Sandri in an “Elliot”, the four-seater Gran Tourismo limousine version of the Westland, the category production cars won.
The car world was listening when the magazine “The Motor” tested a standard sedan with 104.65 mph over the flying mile. Of course, Healey capitalised on the fact that at the time the Healey was the fastest British production sedan on the market, no doubt thanks to its smooth, aerodynamic body.
In 1949 Geoff returned to the Mille Miglia with the well-known English automobile journalist Tommy Wisdom with his Westland and won the touring car class in a new record time with two minutes advantage over his next chaser. Healey’s first hard-fought success was a class victory, at the same time the highest ranking of a British vehicle, at the Alpine Rally, which was followed by many more trophies for the trophy cabinet, while in the following years private riders took their share of ” Silverware” for the local chimney sim.
Against this background, Donald Healey officially introduced a simple, sleek, quaint, universal two-seater in 1949. Its appearance was clearly “athletic”, slim, its body did not wear a spongy or superfluous fat, road or race track, it was a car with only one purpose.
The anatomy of the Silverstone was based on a robust cross-edged chassis, made of 18-gauge steel sheet, with light but strong 15 cm deep lateral longitudinal beams in U-shape with legs angled at the end [“top hat” section]. Slightly modified, it allowed the engine to be moved backwards by 203 mm [8 inches] and with further modifications it was possible to mount a 72.5 litre [16 gallon] petrol tank. The chassis weighed about 59 kilos. The original Healey chassis was a hugely successful design and remained basically the same for all Healey models built until 1954, with the exception of the Nash-Healey, which had a longer wheelbase.
The new Healey made his debut in the early summer of 1949 in the hands of the French racing ace Louis Chiron, the later Jaguar Le Mans winner Tony Rolt and the “boss” Donald Healey. His name was given to him from the racetrack where he made his debut – SILVERSTONE. With the revival of club races in England and the United States in the late 1940s, Donald Healey recognized the call for a low-cost, road-ready, two-seater competitive vehicle, and with this market in mind, the “Silverstone” was Created. A young English student of dentistry persuaded his mother to buy a Silverstone (it was the Healey Silverstone with chassis number D11 ) as a shopping cart, which he then borrowed and with which he began to make a name for himself on the racetracks. He later moved to Connaught, Aston Martin, BRM, Vanwall and Ferrari- Tony Brooks.
Of all the Healeys built at Warwick, the Silverstone is perhaps the best known, with only 105 units built between July 1949 and September 1950, it was in the midfield of the numbers of all Healey models. To the quantities:
Healey Elliott 104
Healey Westland 70
Healey Sportsmobile 25
Healey Silverstone 105
Healey Duncan 92 on three body variants
Healey Abott 88
Healey Tickford 225
Nash Healey 104
Alvis Healey / Healey Sportsconvertible 28
The steering system is designed to transfer the forces from the steering gear to the wheels via a rotating plate and steering rods, a patented Healey design that results in precise movement and transmits only minimal impacts of the wheels to the steering column . Originally, screwed steel disc wheels with 5.50 x 15 tires were used. The hydraulic brakes came from Lockheed and had 11 inch drums in the front and 10 inch drums at the back. Healey’s choice for the frisifiable, durable and reliable 2443 cc four-cylinder Riley engine for the previous models had already proved to be a wise choice. Proof of this was provided by the competitive successes of the Westland and the Elliot. So he was the logical choice for the Silverstone.
The Silverstone body of Abbey Panels was functional and simple. In order to reduce the internal struts and to facilitate the overall structure, the body consisted of a single-layer aluminium sheet-shaped construction. Well proportioned and unmistakable, it became even more attractive due to the free-standing “tear-drop cycle type” fenders. Another characteristic feature was the position of the headlights behind the radiator grille and the position lamps on the front of the fenders and not, as was usual at the time, at the highest point of the fenders. Both features aimed to achieve the best aerodynamic values.
Another practical feature was the spare wheel, which partly protruded from a “letterbox slot” in the rear of the car and an effective bumper. The body was built by renowned specialist Abbey Panels from Coventry. Up to this point, the Healey chassis differed by a characteristic letter – A, B and C were used for Westlands, Elliots and body variants derived from them. The first Silverstone series used “a D”. The later “E” type, introduced in April 1950, could be seen on the air hat on the bonnet. A slightly wider body and a higher cockpit finish resulted in a more spacious interior and a correspondingly larger windshield was mounted.
The ergonomics of the cockpit have been improved by the standard adjustable steering column. The two shell seats of the “D” type have been replaced by a bench with individually shaped seat troughs.
Plexiglas wind repellent, improved top design, cockpit cover and chrome-plated front bumper with horns became fashionable and were also delivered.
Silverstone production amounted to 51 “D” types followed by 54 “E” types.
The standard double camshaft Ohv bumper motor was equipped with two horizontal H4 SU carburetors, a performance-enhancing exhaust system and a special inlet manifold cast out of aluminium. The power yield was 104 bhp at 4500 umin and a compression of 6.8: 1. This Riley Twin Cam engine was bolted to a Riley four-speed transmission, but the standard rear axle ratio of 4.11:1 for this combination was replaced by a longer ratio of 3.5:1, resulting in direct gear to a speed of 22 mph per 1000 Umin. There was also a straight-toothed E.N.V. gearbox, which resulted in an axle ratio of 3.25: 1.
The design, which aimed to achieve optimum performance and the very best road location, was part of a specification, only one equipment,
which fulfils its purpose and takes little consideration for comfort.
It is still, even today, a vehicle you drive because it’s fun to drive in an open, sporty, two-seat classic that is safe and fast, on the road as well as on the race track.
A swing arm design was chosen for the front single-wheel suspension, which allowed a precisely controlled vertical wheel movement, was well damped and resulted in minimal deviations in fall and forward running.
At first glance, it looks like a sledgehammer for nut-cracking, but on closer inspection it turns out to be light, strong and durable in operation.
It is also very service-friendly – the lightweight aluminium arm moves in large-sized needle bearings, which sit in a chassis-screwed case. Simple coil springs were used in conjunction with Girling piston shock absorbers. In addition, a stabilizer was mounted.
Like many small series manufacturers, Healey used many rapidly available components on the market, a typical process used at the time in the construction of suspension systems.
The Silverstone rear suspension consisted of a Riley axle with shortened cardan shaft, simple coil springs and Newton Bennet telescopic shock absorbers.
The lateral guidance of the axle was carried out by a panhard rod made of aluminium tube.

It must be said that the mention of each individual specification point in this article refers to the original delivery condition of the Silverstone upon delivery from the Warwick factory. Many of the Silverstones that still exist today have undergone changes in the over 60 years due to accident repairs, total restorations and competitive modifications, or have the wishes of the owners of their original “Warwick” specification or the appearance is changed.
What can you expect from a Silverstone in good condition today?
Surely it brings at least its earlier performance, if not a bit more, considering the improvements in lubricants, fuels and tyres. Both models weighed about 18 cwt. Under average conditions, the direct gear ranged from 10 to over 100 mph. The acceleration time from 0 to 60 mph of about 11 seconds corresponded to a time of 17 seconds for the standing quarter mile and the maximum was sometimes above, sometimes below 110 mph according to the vehicle and the conditions. Its direct-gear pull-through capacity is sufficient for most driving situations and its trouble-free driving behaviour allows relaxed driving even at today’s traffic density. Its weight distribution, engine, transmission, driver and passenger sit between the axles, results in a balanced driving balance and stability. This basic solidity originated from the solid chassis. Its slightly appealing suspension and controlled direct steering made his driving, handling and directional stability far better than that of most contemporaries.
The Production of the Silverstone ended after 105 units, And Healey became increasingly involved in the production and promotion of the dollar-producing Nash-Healeys. To the glory of its predecessor, the 4.1-litre Nash machine, built into an extended chassis variant of the Silverstone, proved to be a combination that proved successful in Le Mans. The cars with a body that included the wheels here, under Duncan Hamilton and Tony Rolt, finished fifth overall at Le Mans in 1950, sixth overall in 1951, and in 1952 Leslie Johnson and Tommy Wisdom finished third overall behind two Factory Mercedes.

The size of the Healey organization allowed for business flexibility that did not enthimude the giants of the automotive industry. The regulations in the racing class, amended in 1952, no longer allowed car bodies with free-standing fenders / cycle wings. This meant the end for the Healey Silverstone as well as for the Allard J2.
The combination of the attractive Nash-Healey project and the growing competition in the market undoubtedly influenced Healey’s decision to discontinue Silverstone production. Although the base price of the Silverstone was less than 1000 pounds, with the purchase tax the final price was only 20 pounds lower than that of the Jaguar XK 120, which was offered stronger, more sophisticated and as a more universal sports car with alternative body variants … With an existing dense dealer network worldwide, the Nash-Healey was ready to take on the challenge on behalf of the Warwick company.
Many owners and competitors around the world have played an important role in the history of the 105 Silverstones. Understandably, considering that of all the Healey models of the Silverstone was built exclusively for the enthusiastic Clubman, who wanted a very uncomplicated, easy-to-maintain, competitive sports car “off the shelf”. Look around and you’ll find that there are still a lot of silverstones who are doing a good job in club races, rallies, mountain races and slaloms.
Perhaps the best known Silverstone private drivers are Charles and Jean Mortimer. In particular, it is worth remembering Charles’s book “Racing a Sports Car” that deals extensively with the use of the Healey Silverstone, chassis number D 2, registration number OPA2, driven by the Mortimers, during the 1950 racing season. It is worth noting that Jean Mortimer successfully asserted herself as a woman in this male domain.


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