Tuesday 23rd May 2017,
Inopian

Healey Westland Roadster 1946 – 1950

As far as we can ascertain this was Donald Healey`s first production project. The Westland Roadster was a sleek sports coupe, a little reminiscent of the Jaguar XK 120 but with more architecture! The Westland was a two-door open coupe with a `split-windscreen`. According to some sources some of the cars had a folding roof. Whether the roof was ex-works or retro-fitted we cannot determine.

The back-bone of the Westland Roadster was Healey`s own chassis, made of light-weight steel box-section. This chassis would continue in use (plus or minus a few inches in length) until Healey production ceased in 1953. An ash-timber frame was built onto the chassis to mount the body which was fashioned from aluminium sheet. The styling involved the use of complicated compound curves. There were two design models that you can see by first glance looking at the front. The early models had headlights low on either side of the grille. Later models starting about 1948 had the lights mounted in the wings.

Donald Healey favoured the tried and tested 2.4 Riley engine and gear-box, so advanced for it`s time that it is surprising that many other makers chose not to use it. The running gear of the Westland was also Riley sourced and was as good as any available.

The sum of the parts was a Grand-Tourer that competed very well with it`s opposition on road or circuit. The Healey Westland gave a comfortable ride with excellent handling. It has been said that the interior was a little Spartan but Healey`s cars would always be racing-cars in essence, true wolves in sheep`s clothing.

The chassis;

The Westland chassis was made of the mentioned Light-guage box-section steel. The car used independent front suspension by means of alloy trailing-arms and coil springs, lever-arm shock-absorbers and worm & roller steering gear. The car’s rear suspension was via a Riley live axle with coil springs, trailing arms and a Panhard rod. Drum brakes were fitted all-round, either Girling or Lockheed.

The power-train;

Riley`s 2.4 four cylinder was a delightful engine, very much ahead of it`s time. It was a twin-overhead-camshaft unit, actually displacing 2443cc. It was an 8-valve motor with a compression ratio of only 6.9:1. It`s reliability was almost legendary. Twin SU carburettors were standard fitment and the 4-speed Riley gear-box complimented it admirably.

Performance;

When reading the performance figures of the Healey Westland, the reader will do well to remember that in 1946 most sports-cars would struggle to attain 90 mph and would do terrifying things when presented with a tight corner. Braking on all cars at that time was poor by modern standards, so good cornering ability was very helpful!

The Westland was faster and safer than most of it`s contemporaries. The Riley 2.4 could achieve 104 bhp and 130 ft/lbs of torque. For 1946 it could go as fast as 102 mph and get up to 60 in 14.7 seconds. This was really amazing.

The Healey Westland Roadster continued in production until 1950, by which time 64 examples had been made. It was the first (or so we are told!) of a line of excellent cars. Read on to see all Healey models.

Healey Westland Roadster 1946-1950
 
 
Body Type2 door open coupe
Engine PlacementFront
Drive TypeRear wheel drive
Brakes
FrontDrum
RearDrum
Dimensionsmminches
Length4267168
Width166465.5
Height139755
Wheelbase2591102
Cargo VolumeLarge enough for two larger suitcases
Engine2.4 Riley DOHC 8V
Cylindersstraight 4
Displacement2443 cc149.1 cui
Power78 Kw104 bhp4500 RPM
Torque176 Nm130 ft. lb3500 RPM
Power/weight89 bhp/t
FuelPetrol
Top Speed164 km/h102 mph
Acceleration0-100 km/h - 0-60 mph14.7 s
Fuel consumptionl/100 kmImperial mpg
Urban15.718
Extra-urban10.128
Combined12.822
Gearbox4 speed manual
Weight1175 kg2590 lb
GD Star Rating
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Healey Westland Roadster 1946 - 1950, 9.3 out of 10 based on 7 ratings
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About Bev Roberts

Speed, the smell of hot oil, the roar of a straight-through exhaust and the scream of an engine at max revolutions. They have all been a large part of my life for almost 50 years. It is time to share my experiences with you, dear reader. Do you want to know more? Read on through my `Full Bio` and many articles.

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I was born in Hereford UK in 1948 and brought up in Gloucester UK. I played Rugby football internationally as a schoolboy. At the age of 17, a new and wet driving license in my paw, I entered motor racing. I was supported and financed by my parents and so my journey began.

In 1965 I bought a 1293cc Mini-Cooper `S` and campaigned it for a season. Having quickly made some good friends in the racing fraternity, several interesting opportunities came my way. I joined a sports-car team and raced in the Le Mans 24 hours in 1968 and 1969 in a Lola T70. Mechanical failure defeated both efforts. During that period I owned and raced a `D type` Jaguar and an AC Cobra. In those days cars like that were available and not too expensive, now they reside in museums and private collections. I had a chain of interesting cars through my youth including Jaguars, Minis, Mustangs and Lotus-Cortinas.

As a young driver I had my share of accidents too. Often the car would only be worth scrap-metal value by the time I got it home! I worked for an Aston-Martin/Jaguar dealership for a while, which enhanced my experience and gave me the opportunity to sample some very exotic machines, Ferrari, Facel-Vega, Iso and Maserati to recall a few of them.

At the end of 1969 I moved to South Africa to work on my uncle`s farm but the S.A. government had other ideas and drafted me into the army. After five years had passed I was thanked and released from the service. While I was there I bought a beige Cadillac Eldorado, previously the property of Marilyn Monroe. While I was away on a patrol my girlfriend had it re-sprayed pink! I was unimpressed by both the joke and the bill for the work!

When I returned to UK in 1974 I left it behind. On my return I found that the once-mighty British motor industry was in decline and was headed for oblivion. Motor racing was now very expensive so I turned to commercial transport. Driving large trucks gave me freedom and a chance to see some of the world. I don`t remember ever making a career choice but for the next thirty years a truck was my home. For about ten years in that period I owned two trucks of my own.

I also owned a famous MGB-GT, known as `Lucky`. If you`d like to read `The Story of Lucky` there is an article in Inopian`s archive. I finally retired, due to ill-health, in 2008. Since I had varied knowledge and many experiences on our subject I decided to share the stories of the cars I enjoyed (and hated) with the new generation.

Enjoy Inopian… it is constructed and written for you.

3 Comments

  1. Tony Heyworth 27. October 2014 at 21:56

    I can confirm that the Healey Westland has an integral convertible hood hidden behind the rear seats and covered by a hinged body panel. It can be erected in under a minute and is so much more elegant than the pram style of the Healey 3000 or the diy kit of the Healey 100.

  2. Tony Heyworth 27. October 2014 at 21:41

    So what is it about the car that makes the Healey Westland such a drivers car? Donald Healey knew that power-to-weight ratio was everything, so while he got Riley to give him their 2.4-litre engine based on his specifications, his frame was light Ash wood and the panels supplied by coachbuilders Westland was aluminum. Between the two, he had a car that was light and powerful and boasts an independent suspension up front, with dual trailing arms, coil springs and an anti-roll bar at the front and a live axle and coil springs at the rear. The idea of using coil springs at a time when leaf springs were more commonplace again is because Healey wanted to keep the unsprung mass of the car low. Now that kind of thinking comes only when you want to make a no-compromises driver’s car. At a time when the world was still recovering from WWII, it was a brave thing to do. But racing drivers are known for doing brave things anyway and Donald Healey was one of the best. Thanks to motoring journalist Srinivas Krishnan for these observations. As an owner of a Healey Westland I agree whole heartedly.

    • Phillip Roberts 27. October 2014 at 21:54

      Tony,

      Thank you so much for the additional information enhancing the article and a great way in obtaining and preserving the information on car heritage.

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