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One of the darkest days in motorsports is arguably June 11, 1955. On this day, at the Le Mans 24-hour race, on lap 35, Pierre Levegh’s Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR hit the back of Lance Macklin’s Austin-Healey 100 Special, and was sent flying into the crowds.
When all the smoke and dust cleared, 83 spectators had died and an additional 120 people were injured. Levegh had also lost his life in this tragic accident.
The damaged Austin-Healey was kept by the French authorities for 18-months, but was eventually returned to the Donald Healey Motor Company for repairs. Miraculously, this car returned to racing and it competed well into the 1960′s.
And now this infamous race car has found a new home. Bonhams Auction House has just sold this race car at their Weybridge Auction in Southern England, and despite the cars condition being described as a “barn find,” it still managed to fetch $1-million.
According to Bonhams, its last owner had bought the car in 1969, and it remained untouched until now.
If you see a 1953 Austin-Healey 100 with a bunch of names Sharpied on its grey paint, stop by and show your support. John Nikas is raising money to fight cancer, and driving from Huntington Beach, California, to Charleston, South Carolina—and all the way back again.
Nikas is driving the vintage British sports car for the Drive Away Cancer Challenge, for reasons that hit too close to home: Nikas has cancer himself, and a few months ago weighed just 100 lbs.
But a minuscule setback like cancer didn’t stop him from racing vintage cars for the past five years. The Austin-Healey was donated to him by a member of the Austin-Healey Club, who also had cancer. Mechanics took two weeks restoring it to drivable condition and exorcizing rust from its flanks, and the fact that it ran amazed the crew, said Nikas.
“It’s a perfect metaphor for people living with cancer,” he said. “If this car can even make this attempt, and actually make it, it says a lot. It’s so easy to just get depressed and just sit and wait, and maybe driving a 60-year-old car across the country isn’t what everyone would do, but it’s about doing something productive in the time that you have.”
Nikas set off from Huntington Beach on Monday, after a police escort paraded him through town. Over 100 names were scrawled on the car in Sharpie—names of loved ones affected by cancer, signed by friends and strangers alike. At last count Nikas was in Albuquerque, and plans to shoot down Interstate 40 the entire way to the East Coast. Over 25 car clubs have already pledged their support, and Nikas will show the car off at the Monterey Historics on August 17th when he returns.
Godspeed, John Nikas—may the gods of speed bless you with synchronized carburetors and working Lucas electronics. You can follow his journey on the Drive Away Cancer Facebook page.
[Source: NBC Los Angeles]
Part of the job here at AutoGuide is scouring the Web for cool content that interests any car enthusiast. While we try our best to stay on top of the news, it’s always nice to check out various builder’s creations, especially those we’d have a hard chance catching in real life. While sorting through some of our favorite blogs, we ran across this Austin Healey Sprite that sports a Honda S2000 motor under the hood!
For those that don’t know much about Austin Healey’s Sprite, it was in production from 1958-1971 and was intended to be a low-cost vehicle, but now we just love them for being a classic roadster with a real clean, vintage design. But spotting one with a new-age Honda S2000 motor under the hood is simply awesome. Considering that over four generations of Sprite models, the most powerful engine ever offered was a 65-hp 1.3-liter 4-cylinder, the 237-hp Honda engine should make this British roadster really go!
Sure some Sprite owners will probably find it sacrilegious, but we’d be lying to say we wouldn’t mind having one of these in our own garage.
GALLERY: Honda S2000-Powered Austin Healey Sprite
[Source: Jason's Grain of Salt]