Healey Duncan Drone
The Donald Healey Motor Company completed its first car in 1945, going into production the following year with the Elliott sports saloon and Westland roadster, both 2.4-litre Riley powered and featuring Healey's own trailing arm independent front suspension. For a time the Elliott was the world's fastest closed four-seater production car, clocking 110mph at Jabbeke, Belgium in 1947. In 1950 the duo were superseded by the Tickford-bodied saloon and Abbott drophead coupé.
Chassis were also supplied to Duncan Industries Ltd until that company's closure in 1948, by which time some 28 of the Healey variety (Duncan also bodied the contemporary Alvis chassis) had been completed as sports saloons. At the same time Duncan built approximately ten of its Drones on the Healey chassis, the prototype of which was known as the 'Spiv'. The Drone's raison d'être was the 66% Purchase Tax levied on completed cars costing over £1,000 if they remained in the UK, a penalty calculated to encourage such cars to be exported. In the case of the Tickford saloon, the base price of £1,218 was increased to £1,896 3s 4d for UK-based customers.
Equipping the Drone with only the bare minimum of rudimentary bodywork while specifying the passenger seat, windscreen and spare wheel as 'extras' kept the price down so that a buyer could afford to remove the body and send the car to a coachbuilder for re-bodying with something more civilised. It is known that this happened to three Drones, all of which were re-bodied by Westland. By so doing the Healey enthusiast could avoid paying tax and still enjoy what was then one of the world's fastest sports cars.
Believed the sole surviving example, this Drone was sold by Bonhams' consultant Stewart Skilbeck to Richard Pattinson in 1984 and is featured in 'The Healey Book' by Bill Emerson. The car was next owned by Mr Harald Tor Lunder of Oslo, Norway from whom it was purchased in 1990 by the deceased owner. In 1949 a Healey Duncan Drone entered the Mille Miglia, driven by Cohn and Hignett, since 1949 a Drone has not entered the Mille Miglia, so there is a very good chance of an entry, which we are able to assist with. Not run for many years, 'JPW 227' is in the process of a total meticulous restoration to its original specification and will be complete for the 2013 Mille Miglia.