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Donald Healey history

Donald Mitchell Healey (3 July 1898 – 13 January 1988) was a noted English rally driver, automobile engineer, and speed record holder.

Born in Perranporth, Cornwall, Healey became interested in all things mechanical at an early age, most particularly aircraft. After leaving school he joined Sopwith Aviation Company from where he volunteered for the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and earned his "wings" in 1916. During the First World War, he served on anti-Zeppelin patrols and also as a flying instructor.

Shot down by British anti-aircraft fire on one of the first night bomber missions of the war, he was invalided out of the RFC at the age of 18. He returned to Cornwall and took a correspondence course in automobile engineering. After the war, he opened a garage in Perranporth.

In 1931, Donald Healey won the Monte Carlo Rally driving an Invicta. He competed in the Monte Carlo Rally in 1929 (Times:1929) and was in the top eight places in 1932, 1934 and 1936.

He gained a reputation as a consultant engineer and designer and was appointed General Manager of the Triumph Motor Company in 1931. He went on to create the renowned Southern Cross and Dolomite 8 models.

During the Second World War, Healey was in charge of developing an aircraft carburettor for the Ministry of Supply and also worked with Humber on armoured cars.

In 1945, he formed the Donald Healey Motor Company Ltd, based in an old RAF hangar at Warwick. The company developed the Austin-Healey and Austin-Healey Sprite motor cars in licensing arrangement with British Motor Corporation in 1952 and 1959.

When BMC was taken over by British Leyland in 1966, Donald Healey became chairman of Jensen Motors and was made a CBE

Donald Healey died at the age of 89.

In 1962 he received the Médaille de l’Éducation Physique et des Sports (1ère Cl.) in Monaco.

In 1996, he was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.

Family life

In 1921, Donald Healey married Ivy Maud James and they had three sons.

He bought the 27 acre Trebah Estate, near Falmouth, Cornwall in 1961 and carried out many ambitious projects there, including the building of commercial greenhouses to grow orchids and a project to build air/sea rescue inflatables. He demolished the concrete covering of the beach of Polgwidden Cove (a D-Day invasion launch-pad) and used the salvaged material to surface a steep track from the house to the beach. (Hibbert, 2005). He sold Trebah in 1971.

His son, Geoffrey, has written several books about the cars and one about their partnership (Geoffrey Healey:1996)

Memorial at Trebah

The Austin Healey Club has placed a small monument, in the form of a sports car, and an inscribed plaque, as a memorial to Donald Healey in the garden of Trebah, which is now open to the public, next to the Visitor Centre. See Biography of Healey by Club member


  • Times January 23,1939 - Monte Carlo Rally: British entrants
  • The Healey story : a dynamic father and son partnership and their world-beating cars by Geoffrey Healey ; foreword by Stirling Moss. Publisher/year: Sparkford : Foulis, 1996. ISBN 0854299491
For the other titles see the British Library Integrated Catalogue at

  • All-time Greats of British and Irish Sport (April 2004: online – KnowUK)
  • Who was Who (May 2003: online in KnowUK')

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