Historic Healey archives return to Warwick

Preservation on one of Warwick's most treasured histories has begun in the latest step of a project to save the Healey Motor Archive.

Thursday, 9th June 2016, 2:16 pm
Updated Monday, 13th June 2016, 12:00 pm

Archivists at Warwickshire County Record Office are putting together hundreds of photographs, letters, and models as well as racing, and promotional images and material from the iconic car company’s history.

And it will all be on display to the public within months thanks to a successful bid to buy the collection and prevent it from being sold off to private collectors earlier this year.

Donald Healey was a Warwick entrepreneur who designed the famous high performance sports cars from the town since 1945.

Jensen Healey 1972 publicity shot - image from Warwickshire County Records Office

All records of his life and world famous business can now stay in the town just half a mile from the original Healey factory and showroom.

Archivists explained that the vast collection also features unique early research and development designs, business records, letters and files showing the company’s involvement in sports cars for the public as well as motor racing and land speed records.

Records include of Donald Healey’s long distance car rallies, endurance tests and speed trials such as at Monte Carlo, Le Mans, the Mille Miglia, Sebring, and at the Bonneville salt flats in Utah.

Robert Eyre, senior archivist said: “There is also correspondence over designs for the original Healey winged badge.

“And the records relate to the classic Healey cars and the subsequent link up with Austin and later Jensen.”

Files on consultancy work and legal issues are also present, as are articles and cuttings from various motoring magazines showing the publicity generated by the company and family.

Other Donald Healey interests are included such as using wind turbines for power, and the company’s diversification into speedboats in the 1950s. The items also show two of Donald Healey’s sons Geoffrey and Brian working for the company.

The purchase has also led to further film and video footage from the Healey family being added, and pit passes for mechanics at Le Mans races in the 1960s which was given to the collection by one of the company’s first apprentices.

Jensen Healey 1972 publicity shot - image from Warwickshire County Records Office

As work to digitalise the collection continues, archivists are putting together views and memories from up to 60 former employees and enthusiasts and use the material to inspire a new generation of engineers.

Volunteers are wanted to help with the oral history project, and with putting the collection together. Get in touch via the Records Office.