Austin Healey owners flock to Sooke

Group hosting meet, beginning Thursday

It’s not hard to see why people love the Austin Healey: the big round headlights, the sleek chrome trim, the wire-spoke rims and a driver’s seat that hovers just above the ground.

“They’re fun to drive,” said Don Manning, who owns a 1967 Mark III – his third Austin Healy since 1982.

Healey owners will gather at the Prestige Oceanside Resort in Sooke beginning Thursday to show the various models, makes and styles of the 1960s British sports car. More than 80 cars are expected to be displayed throughout Sooke.

The Austin Healey Owners of Association of B.C. hosts this year’s Northwest Meet, which will last until Sunday. The event has attracted Healey owners from Oregon, Washington, and B.C. Healey owners across the West Coast gather once a year, alternating between locations. This is the first time the event is in Sooke.

“There’s a real fraternity of people who enjoy these cars and the history of the cars,” Manning said, adding for many people the Austin Healy was their first car.

Austin Healeys were first produced in 1953 in a joint venture between the Austin Division of the British Motor Company and auto engineer Donald Healey. The cars were produced until 1972 when the 20-year agreement between the two parties ended. Today, the popularity of the small cars is having a resurgence and the value of the certain models is appreciating.

Car owners will use their time in Sooke to tour, with many planning to drive the Pacific Marine Circle Route over the weekend.

Manning said while there’s no formal public viewing of the cars, Sooke residents are encouraged to approach car owners to take a look at their vehicles at any time.

“For the Healey owners, it’s just a great way to spend time together,” he said.

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