Glory Days - Neil and Ellie Anderson's Austin Healey - Restored in Somerset
A Somerset couple have spent many hours restoring this classic motor to its former glory. Words: Sarah Ford
Neil and Ellie Anderson’s Austin Healey was in such a sad state when they bought it. It even had an old mice nest in the glove compartment.The car was lovingly restored by the couple and today the Healey 3000 Mk III attracts many admiring glances.They are both very fond of the motor and its interesting history. It was manufactured in Longbridge’s Austin Healey factory in Oxford in 1965 and shipped to Minnesota, Ellie explains.“The first owner died in a military accident in Germany in 1967. His parents had the car covered in their garage in Minnesota for a year after their son’s death. The Healey was then bought by another military man in 1968, who drove it for a few weeks before he was posted to Vietnam for a year.
Neil and Ellie Anderson’s Austin Healey was in such a sad state when they bought it. It even had an old mice nest in it!
“The car appeared in a dozen or so parades in Minneapolis. One of these parades, The Aquatennial Parade, celebrates their 10,000 lakes and summertime watersports. There were very few cars like the Healey in the ‘North Country’ and it was quite an eye catcher. We purchased it in January 2001 after the owner decided to sell, saying he no longer had a young man’s interest nor the time to go through the restoration process. It was in quite a state as you can see,” says Ellie, flicking through the photo album which records every stage of the restoration. Neil and Ellie stripped the car down to the bare chassis and restored it to its original condition. They also converted it to right-hand drive.The work took a few years and the couple used local companies where they could. The interior was hand-stitched in Catcott, shot-blasted back to the bare chassis in Bridgwater and the final paintwork was completed to its original Healey metallic blue and old English white, at a local garage.Ellie works for the Somerset Community Foundation, a funding body which develops a culture of local giving, enabling voluntary groups to combat disadvantage and isolation throughout Somerset.She says the work on the car was hard but fun and her husband spent many hours locked in the garage until the early hours. “Although I did help!” she adds.“We both enjoyed going to auto jumbles and classic car shows and could spot a Healey part a mile off!“We put it through its paces at the Prescot Hill Climb circuit, Bugatti Museum, Gloucestershire, and always enter the car for the SW Children’s Hospice Classic Car drive every year, the Mark Moor Festival and other local classic car events. “We both just love to drive it – it’s quite an experience after modern cars. It has the original steering box system which makes it easy to over steer and quite a handful to drive, whereas modern cars have a much-improved rack and pinion system. It rattles and shudders but that is part of the classic car experience. We would never part with our Austin Healey.”