Lot 160 - 1949 Healey Silverstone 'E-Type'
|Odometer reading||5 miles|
|Estimate||£135,000 - £170,000|
- Correct and confirmed, factory-stamped D21 chassis
- Well restored using period parts
Originally designed as both a road and racing car, little compromise was made for comfort and practicality. With a light body and a peppy 2½ litre Riley engine, the Healey Silverstone performed well; even the headlights were brought inside behind the grille to make it more aerodynamic. It had a very limited run; just 105 produced making correct examples extremely desirable.
There were two bodies available, the D-Type (narrow & cramped) and the E-Type (wider and more comfortable), both versions were successful on the track and, looking back over each model’s history, you will occasionally find extensive period competition history. Even Donald Healey himself raced one, winning the 1949 Alpine Rally. A Healey Silverstone also won Belgium's Liège-Rome-Liège Rally, the Isle of Man Manx Cup, various races at Goodwood and other national events.
Due to the limited production run, cars with important period competition history are desirable and so when a previously undiscovered chassis turns up, correct identification is key. There are a handful of Healey experts in the world, their reputation is important (as indeed is the reputation of the auction house representing them) and so when a chassis is offered to them, they must be 100% sure within themselves that it is what it purports to be before signing their name to it. Approximately eight years ago, our vendor received a telephone call regarding a Healey Silverstone chassis that the caller’s late father had hanging on his workshop wall for the last 50 years. On inspection, this chassis had the number D21 stamped in the frame, on both sides.
The vendor already knew of a chassis D21 however, currently living in Germany and so a ‘belt & braces’ approach began before any restoration works could follow. The first port of call was a renowned consultant forensic scientist by the name of Michael Trott (B.Sc.Tech) who began the painstaking process of lifting the paint off the UK chassis exposing the real chassis number. When a stamp is used to create an imprint of a number or letter in metal, even if you cannot see the digit anymore the steel remains ‘bruised’ and, with certain chemicals, this bruising can be brought to light. Eventually it became clear, without doubt, that the chassis was D21. A document was created, signed and sent off to the DVLA for registration application. The DVLA have now accepted this analysis and have awarded the period registration number, MFF 574. Unfortunately, the rights to the original registration number, KYL 690, have been lost. Importantly, also, the Healey Owners Club have also reviewed this data, the committee have voted and unanimously agreed that the identity of this chassis is correct. A Riley powerplant has been fitted of the type originally found in a Silverstone of this year and, even though it originally came with a D-Type body, an E-Type one has now been retrospectively fitted. This will allow for more space for its occupants. Important when you consider the events this sportscar may be eligible for.
History diverges at this point and it is important that prospective purchasers take this into account. The German Healey Silverstone with chassis D21 is the original car with the original period competition history. It suffered a crash in the 1950s and, it is thought, a new chassis was ordered, stamped D21, from the factory. In the end it wasn’t used however and the chassis put aside. It is this chassis that has now been pressed back into service and nevertheless acknowledged by all parties concerned as an honest Silverstone and without issue. Putting the history to one side this leaves the integrity of the car itself. The restoration is of a standard usually the preserve of work undertaken by an owner/restorer. The paint, for example, is not thick and lustrous but authentic to a 1950s sportscar cut, as it is, with 20% matting agent to replicate the cellulose equivalent finish Donald Healey specified to his 66% purchase tax-beating, £999 motorcar. The seats are correct although re-trimmed, the engine and gearbox stripped and rebuilt. The front and rear suspension has not been undercoated and painted black as some are but left clean and showing their component parts. It is authentic and as original as possible. With prices fluctuating from £150,000 for a poor example up to £250,000 for a trailer queen, this sensibly restored example has been correctly identified now as a sound proposal. Freshly serviced, freshly ‘MoT’d’ and with five new tyres, it is the real thing but don’t take my word for it, ask the DVLA the Healey Owners Club.
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Interested parties should satisfy themselves as to the description and condition of each lot prior to the sale. Buyers are advised to inspect the car in person or use a professional to carry out this service.