The legendary Austin Healey sports cars are going home to their old factory in Warwick.
Jon Everard, who started as an apprentice at the Donald Healey Motor Company at the Cape in Warwick in 1962, has bought part of the old site for his restoration firm, JME Healeys.
The purchase of the former Donald Healey factory, and sale of his current premises in Wise Terrace, Leamington, were handled by the firm’s solicitors Blythe Liggins.
Kevin Mitchell, a partner at the Leamington law firm, said it was an historic moment.
“When JME Healeys fully moves its operations to Warwick it will be the first time that Austin Healey cars have been at the site since the Donald Healey Motor Company moved its manufacturing base from there to Coten End, Warwick, in 1963.”
Mr Everard, who was an apprentice with the Donald Healey Motor Company in 1962 and 1963, launched his Healey restoration company in 1978 in Wise Terrace, having previously worked for Everick Panels, owned by his father Harold, who had also worked for the Healey.
“When Donald Healeys closed in the early 1970s, I bought some of the tooling and another chap bought the spare parts. My business began slowly, fitting parts to Healeys that were sent to me from overseas and then in 1978 I put an advertisement in the newly-launched Classic Car magazine and it took off from there. “I was soon carrying out full restorations of cars from the UK and overseas”.
By 1983 Jon’s father had retired and Jon bought the premises, which comprised 2,500 sq ft of workshops.
Now, with five employees the operation is on the move to Warwick.
“It is very exciting, going back to where it all started for me,” he said. “They were amazing days, a time when the Austin Healey name was made famous around the world with the rallying exploits of the likes of Pat Moss.”
And it is the Healey’s rallying capabilities that create much of Jon Everard’s order book – specialising in ex-works rally cars and preparing them for long distance competitions.
“A recent example was for a chap who lives in America. We prepared his car for the London to Beijing rally and he crashed off the road in Italy and ended up 300 feet down.
“The car was winched up by a crane, returned to us and rebuilt, and then he took his wife off in it on the London to Lisbon run – with better success!”