The Austin Healey 100 M "Le Mans" "factory-built" sports cars were produced between September 5, 1955 and July 16, 1956. According to factory records discovered in July of 1985, only 640 of these 100 M cars were made. This figure is based on the factory build cards, which called for a louvered bonnet. This factory produced series was designated the M model by Donald Healey. Cars converted later with Le Mans equipment are referred to "Le Mans" modified cars. They are not properly called 100 M cars as this was the name for just the limited production run of 640 cars. An additional several hundred (about 500) "Le Mans" Conversion Kits were sold to Austin-Healey dealers or car owners for conversion of standard 100 Austin Healey sports cars to "Le Mans" specifications.
The "Le Mans modifications first originated with the four BN-1 "special test cars" that were prepared by Donald Healey and Roger Menadue for racing in the 1953 Mille Miglia and the 24 hour Le Mans of France. These were the very first Austin-Healey 100 race cars prepared for international road racing, appearing even before the 100S model. They were the prototype to the 100 M.
The first protype "Le Mans" N0J392 racing at Le Mans in 1954 shown here leading a Gordini and Porche. The car placed second in class and twelveth outright against all-out racing cars.
The "Le Mans" Conversion Kit, based on those "special test car" modifications was first made available in 1954, before the start of the BN-2 production run. Because of this time frame, the first cars converted with the "Le Mans" kit were BN-1's (as were the four test cars described above). However, all of the factory-built 100 M's were based on BN-2 models.
Today, the 640 factory-built 100 M "Le Mans" cars are sought after because of their rarity, confirmable chassis identification numbers and the mystique of owning this original, limited-production, high-performance automobile.
The very first "Le Mans" Austin Healey, NOJ392, is now fully restored to its condition as raced at Le Mans in 1954. It is owned and located in Australia
The cars, however, present a special challenge to the would-be buyer or restorer seeking an original factory produced car because of the several hundred kits that were sold to modify cars at that time (late 1950's). Additionally, many parts have been reproduced over the years, making it possible to upgrade a 100 to "Le Mans" specifications even today.
There are several categories of cars to distinguish between the factory produced cars and others: (a) The early 100's retrofitted with the "Le Mans" kit, either by Donald Healey, an Austin Healey dealer, or owners; (b) The 640 factory-built "Le Mans" cars which were named 100 M; and (c) Cars that have been converted to "Le Mans" specifications in more recent years. Only the factory-registered chassis identification numbers distinguish the actual factory built originals from others.
Of course, it should be remembered that such converted cars were the plan of Donald Healey, who fully expected owners and dealers alike to convert cars and benefit from the improved performance, appearance and value made possible with the "Le Mans" Modification Kit. This process is still popular today with owners of 100's. Interest in conversions has been fueled by the increased interest in the original 640 factory-built cars.
The Registry has separate categories for each of these cars for recognizing their specific origins. To help insure that cars are not duplicated, owners should keep their cars currently registered. If someone attempts to register a duplicate number car, we will alert the present owner if their registration is current and paid. The original car registered, remains registered, unless it is clearly shown that it is not the original factory built car.