Visit to Fred Wood’s Shop

On Friday, July 17, we had a rare opportunity to witness automotive history. Mr. Fred Wood has acquired a very rare Healey Abbott. This 1951 Healey Abbott Drophead Coupe
This Healey is said to be the first one built out of 77. Fred indicates he will do complete restoration.  Fred said he’s getting ready to pull the engine and tranny, and take the body off the frame. But, thought maybe BMCM members would rather see it whole. Fred has already removed the gas tank, radiator, water pump and few other parts and sent them off  for rebuilding. 
The first Abbott B, chassis 1815, was displayed on the Healey stand at the 1950 Earl’s Court Motor Show in London. The car was the result of a deci- sion by Brooklands of Bond Street, a well-known London dealer of high-priced automobiles, to contract ED. Abbott Ltd. to build a Drophead coupe on a Healey chassis. The initial Brooklands Abbott order was for six cars. John Higton, the works manager for Abbott Ltd. of Farnham, Surrey, designed the first Abbott-bodied Healey in 1949.

The six chassis in the first order (B-1815 to B-1820) were purchased directly from the Donald Healey Motor Company and were shipped from Healey in Warwick to Abbott in Farnham. There, the bodies were constructed and mounted on the chassis. The cars all bear the maker’s plate on the door sill, “Coachwork by ED. Abbott for Brooklands of Bond Street Ltd. London”. The completed cars were then driven to London for sale at the Brooklands showroom, with the first car delivered to London on June 3,1950.

From the beginning, the Abbott was designed with the wealthy buyer in mind. Abbott had been involved in providing custom coach- work since October 1929 making bodies for Aston Martin, Bentley, Daimler, Rolls Royce and other high-priced automobiles. Over the next four years, Abbott would produce the Drophead coupe on four different Healey chassis types: B, C, BT and F.

The construction of the Abbott followed the traditional coach building method of an ash frame with aluminium body panels. The roof mechanism was a patented design developed by Abbott that allowed very precise fitting while maintaining an ease of operation. Interior appointments were a combination of leather and wool with walnut on the dashboard and door cappings. The driver and passenger were provided with individual leather seats both wide and comfortable while the rear seat passengers were provided with a bench seat including centre armrest. Furnishings such as window winders, door handles, striker-plate mechanisms and windscreen trim were all completed in high grade chrome plating. The Abbott B bodies, and subsequently the C, were delivered with fog lamps in addition to the standard lighting and lighting in the rear included small taillights. Trafficators were used as a means of directional signaling. The rear bumper consisted of two parts, separated by the license plate, which received special attention and was encased in its own protective glass enclosure with Individual illumination from the left and right sides. The boot lid hinged from the bottom, which when open made the placement of heavy luggage in the boot difficult.
While at Fred’s shop, we were also able to drool over his impressive collection of other cars that include a pair of 1930s era Buicks, an exquisite Ford Model A Coupe, a LaSalle as well as Sharon’s Austin Healey 3000, Mk II.  Fred had iced down bottled water to try to keep us cool and shared photo-copied pages from a book about his Healey Abbott.  Sharon had made arrangements with Must Stop Cafe for us.  Thanks to Fred and Sharon for sharing the cars and time with us.  We look forward to following the progress that Fred and his mechanic, Kennie Wilkinson, make on this amazing project.

NAME                                 Healey Abbott B
YEAR OF PRODUCTION           1950
VOLUME                              6
ENGINE                               2.4 litre Riley
CUBIC CAPACITY                  2,443cc
CARBURATION                      Twin SU H4
POWER OUTPUT                   104bhp @ 4,800rpm
TRANSMISSION                    Riley 4-speed
CHASSIS                             B type
BODY                                 4-seater Drophead coupe, Aluminium over ash framework
FRONT SUSPENSION             Independent trailing arm, coil springs, Girling dampers
REAR SUSPENSION               Rigid axle, coil springs, Girling Dampers, Panhard rod
BRAKES F/R                         11in x 1.75/10in x 1.75in Lockheed
WHEELS F/R                         15in steel disc
TYRES F/R                           5.75×15
LENGTH                              14ft 9in
WIDTH                               5ft 7in
HEIGHT                               4ft 7in
WHEELBASE                          8ft 6in
TRACK F/R                           4ft 6in/4ft 5in
WEIGHT                              2,9681bs

Article by David & Russell
Photos by Terry & Russell