Garish gold Austin Healey heads to auction

Gold tends to be a pretty undesirable colour for cars in the UK – on the whole, we prefer black, silver and sleek chrome, thank you very much. But this Austin Healey is undoubtedly supremely British, and comes resplendent with gold detailing on just about every surface.

It was first revealed at the Earls Court Motor Show in 1958, but was sold to the Daily Express even before it entered public view. Taken off the production line at the Austin Healey factory, the 100-Six was painted ivory, while everything that would usually be chrome-plated was instead dipped in 24-karat gold.

Gold-plated Austin Healey heads to auction
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Gold-plated Austin Healey heads to auction

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As was the fashion in the late 50s, the Healey had a lot of chrome, and so the finished article has a lot of gold – the bumpers, wheels, windscreen surround, door handles, grille and even the bolts and screws were all given a coating. Austin-Healey even provided a gold ignition key, with a solid gold replica of the car masquerading as a keyring.

Meanwhile, the interior was decked out in similarly luxurious fashion, with champagne-coloured suede and matching mink fur trim.

The Daily Express purchased the car to give it away as a competition prize, though the eventual winner sold it almost immediately. At the time, the car was valued at an impressive £4,000 – nearly four times the price of a regular production Austin-Healey 100-Six.

Want to get your hands on this slice of 1950s decadence? It's heading to auction in New York, sold by RM Sothebys. Offered in immaculate condition courtesy of a 2012 restoration, it carries no reserve, but has an estimate of $350,000 - $550,000 (£267,000 - £420,000).

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