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My Austin Healey Story.
Michael De Wilde
Immigrating to Canada from England in 1965 I went straight to Calgary where, according to the officials at Canada House in London, the streets where paved with gold. It turned out that they were not paved with gold, but they did live up to the reputation of Calgary being a cow town. This was before oil was such a big deal.
After a brief skirmish with a 1957 Chevy two door hard top, which cost me $400 and ran on 90 weight transmission oil, yes they did see my coming, I took possession of my first Healey. A 1961 red 100/6 with black leather interior. I ran that car every day, winter and summer to and from work and around Alberta on the days off. I used to work at the airport and start sometimes at 5:00am. It would be minus 30 or something in the winter and I would arrive at my parking spot and plug in the block heater. That car was great, and besides replacing the exhaust system at least five times, I had very few problems with it. When I moved to Vancouver in 1967 the Healey was passed on to someone else.
The next number of years saw me transferred to Montreal, Toronto, Halifax, back to Montreal, New York, back to Toronto and finally back to Vancouver. In that time I went through a series of practical cars plus a Volvo 1800P, a Mini Cooper, a Maserati, and a 1969 Aston Martin DBS6 the latter being the most comfortable car I have ever driven.
In 2006, forty years after my first experience I took possession of my second Healey. A 1964 red on red BJ8. It was purchased online from Harwood Enterprises in New York State as a driver. As I have explained in these pages before it morphed from a simple driver to a full body off restoration with all the accompanying surprises and costs.
At this stage it's all about faith
After fifteen months of investing I finally took delivery on a snowy day in West Vancouver in January 2008.
Of course I thought I would just get in drive it around. Silly me! First I had to wait for the weather to improve. Then there was the usually list of “issues” which took a good two months to sort out. One of my favorites was the fact that the car would run well and then for no apparent reason just stop. We checked the fuel pump, the electrics, etc. etc. Finally one day, as the car stopped just as I approached the Pattullo Bridge, I released the gas cap to add more fuel and heard the air rushing into the tank. The racy Aston Martin fuel cap, which I had added to my Healey, was not breathing so I was creating a wonderful vacuum with my new double SU fuel pump and starving the engine. After a small hole was bored at the top of the tank filler pipe everything worked perfectly. Thus another piece of wisdom and experience was acquired.
My first year of touring in the car has been great fun and I have met some really wonderful people at the Club and at functions both here and in the States. We were very happy to place First in class at the Van Dusen Show and the Bellevue ABFM. We also attended the Wenatchee gathering in Washington State and the Langley show in BC.
The badge bar includes the family AA badge from 1949, the Healey Club badge and my late father’s military Combined Services Intelligence Squadron unit badge.
There will be no eating of food stuffs or refreshments in this car for at least five years