Notwithstanding its participation in the ill-fated race at Le Mans in 1955, NOJ 393 has an unparalleled provenance among Healey competition cars. It was constructed in 1953 as one of four Special Test Cars for use by the factory racing team and is one of only two that were later converted to 100S specification.
NOJ 393 competed at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1953—following a swap of registration numbers with the prime car following an accident before the race—where it finished second in class and 12th overall. Most importantly, it ran at the first event of the 1954 World Championship season—the 12 Hours of Sebring—where it finished an impressive third overall and won its class. Later that year it competed in the La Carrera Panamericana and the Bahamas Speed Week where it finished sixth in the Nassau Trophy race behind a trio of Ferarris, a Porsche 550 and a Maserati A6GCS.
Following its release from police impound in the aftermath of the Le Mans accident, the car was repaired with steel panels and then sold into privateer use. In 1969, it was sold for £155 with a seized engine. Ultimately, NOJ 393 was offered for sale by Bonhams in 2011, the premier British auction house, where it was sold to a private Swiss collector for £843,000 (approximately $1.3 million) setting a new world record for an Austin-Healey.
The car was delivered into the hands of Steve Pike at Marsh Restorations in Australia who set about to restore the car to its condition at the starting line of the 1955 Le Mans race. Pike preserved the original parts where possible and recreated the rest using period and bespoke substitutes. After the restoration was completed it made its debut at the London offices of Bonhams. Since then the car has been driven around the continent and competed in the Mille Miglia Storica with its new owner behind the wheel.
By John Nikas