Bonhams to auction Donald Healey’s rare Rolex and Austin Healey motors
No auction house beats Bonhams when it comes to creating desirable lots for the cross collector. On 6 December, its vintage motor sale in Bond Street sale includes a 1953 Austin Healey Coupé, alongside a Rolex Striped Prince from the 1930s.
Both were prized possessions of the late Donald Healey (1898-1988), engineer, First World War pilot, racing driver and, most significantly, creator of the much loved Austin-Healey motorcar, which for 30 years was a quintessentially British symbol of post war optimism.
Throughout the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, Austin Healeys, and the later Jensen Healeys, were manufactured in the UK with Healey at the helm. The coupé up for auction was his much loved everyday car, but a rare and much-raced SMO 746 rally model from 1959 (estimate £140,000 - 200,000) is also going under the hammer.
Before founding his eponymous brand, Healey worked for British manufacturer Triumph. Here he designed many models, including the supercharged Triumph Dolomite, which he drove in the Alpine Trial of 1936. (Throughout the 1930s, Healey took part in countless races, winning seven Glacier Cups along the way).
‘Donald was justly proud of such rallying success,’ says his grandson, Peter Healey. ‘The Rolex was a reward to himself.’ With an estimate of £8,000-12,000, its reverse is inscribed ‘Donald Healey, Perranporth’ referring to the Cornish village where the motoring genius was born.
‘By paying homage to the Art Deco style of the 1920s and 1930s, Rolex Prince watches became an instant hit,’ said Jonathan Darracott, Bonhams UK head of watches. ‘Only a small number of the latterly developed ‘Striped’ Prince watches were produced, making this model extremely rare. It’s unsurprising Healey chose to reward himself with such a timepiece, as these particular wristwatches were an excellent, but refined, statement of one’s success.’