Track or show, Jim Heit has a hit on his hands
By Tom Morr
Like many Americans, Jim Heit of Simi Valley, California, was bitten by the Brit bug while stationed overseas. During his stint in Germany, Jim fell for his first Big Healey: a ’60 BN7 Mk I. Jim enjoyed the car so much that he shipped it back to North Dakota when he returned home. But once he was surrounded by baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, etcetera, Jim traded his Healey straight-up for a ’66 Vette.
Eventually, Jim began to suffer from withdrawal. Yearning for English elegance, he began looking for another Big Healey. His quest ended in 1994 when Jim found this ’63 3000 BJ7 parked on a street in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley. A California car, its second owner had bought the Healey in 1965 and planned to pass it on to her son. When her son bought a pickup instead of inheriting the Healey, the BJ7 was evicted from the garage. Jim proudly gave the car a new home with indoor accommodations.
He says, “When I bought it, the speedo showed 5,000 miles, but the previous owner boiled-over the engine, so the ticker was likely turned back after the rebuild.” The car was mechanically sound but needed some “freshening.” Jim sent it to Hans and Eric at Absolutely British (Ontario, California) for what became a frame-up concours restoration. “The car was never abused, but they fixed the dings,” Jim says. The Healey also received 72-spoke Triumph wheels instead of the OE 48-spokers.
Jim’s resto efforts have been recognized many times. At his first show, a local British meet back in 1996, Jim won the Concours division. Other awards include Best BJ7 honors at the A-H 50th bash in Lake Tahoe and Best Healey at the 2003 VARA/ Moss British Extravaganza. One of Jim’s best memories came from that Moss show: “An English lady hopped in for a track ride at Buttonwillow,” Jim recalls. “She said that it was the highlight of her weekend.”