Healeys built by Bill Rawles
why are Healeys built by Bill Rawles so much better than the original Healeys?
Written by the owner of an Austin Healey 100 S re-manufactured to original factory spec by Bill Rawles Classic Cars
Whilst I have only known Bill for a few years but I can tell you that there is a huge difference between one of the standard Austin Healeys which came off the production line 60 years ago and the Austin Healeys which today are hand-built in the Bill Rawles’ workshop.
What is his secret? What does Bill Rawles Build now that Donald Healey could not build 60 years ago?
The answer partly lies in that after 60 years we have a multitude of material and production improvements: better engine knowledge and understanding, new exact manufacturing tolerances,high performance steels to replace the metals of 60 years ago, we understand the importance of shaping inlet and exhaust manifolds into “fully flowed” units, we have further advances to the Harry Westlake’s cylinder-head design, and we have computers to design and manufacture improved camshafts and performance valves.
But the bigger answer is that today a specialist like Bill Rawles has a huge choice of components to use and he has thirty years of development knowledge to put into every engine he builds. Once it is assembled he can then match the jets in the engine’s twin Webers to get the most out of the camshaft and absolute perfect valve timing. And finally having achieved the balanced engine he wants, Bill can put the car onto the rolling road and tweak it for maximum torque and power.
This was not possible 62 years ago. In those days the standard Austin Healey 100 sports cars which rolled off the production line produced 100 bhp. Two years later in 1954 Harry Westlake & Donald Healey’s team designed and developed a special 100S engine for the works cars which were entered for the 24 hour Le Mans and Sebring races. In their day the 100S cars produced 132 bhp and were acclaimed as world leaders.
What has Bill built for me?
Moving forward to April 2015, we have the latest 100S re-build which Bill has just finished for me. This car is another absolute beauty which has taken some 2,900 workshop man-hours to complete. On an engine block re-machined back to perfect original spec, Bill has built a 2,660cc 100S engine that registers an incredible 217 bhp on the rolling road. And using a GPS speedo and an electronic tacho, I can also confirm the following speeds at 6000 revs:
- 50 mph in first gear
- 72 mph in second gear
- 95 mph in third gear
- 124 mph in fourth gear
The rolling road dynamometer shows that the torque is delivered from 2000 all the way to 6000 revs and this of course produces some amazing acceleration figures. 0-60 mph comes up in approximately 6 seconds and 0-90 mph comes up in approximately 12 seconds. Although his 100S engine will rev to over 7000 revs, Bill wants it kept to a maximum of 6000 revs.
Bill Rawles creates beautiful cars for his customers
No matter what he’s re-building, whether it’s a 100/4, a 100M, a 100S, or a six cylinder 3000, Bill Rawles creates beautiful cars for his customers. He builds a perfect under-body tub onto whatever chassis he is given and then his team hand-rivets perfectly finished outer panels onto this inner “tub” paying particular attention to the final shut-lines.
With my 100S, Bill Rawles has built a light-weight aluminium body onto a 100S chassis, dropped in his high performance engine, had the car professionally two-tone painted (7 layers of paint and lacquer), and finally had the cabin professionally trimmed in beautiful dark blue leather.
My 100S has the all-important FIA certification, and I can report that it’s an absolute thrill to drive on both road and track. And wherever it goes it attracts attention because it has a finish and paint-work that equals any of the world’s most expensive coach-built cars.
Your cars may take hours and hours of workshop time to build, but may many more stunning cars (with electrifying performance) continue to roll out of your workshop…..you are a craftsman and Donald Healey would be so proud to see your cars on the road.