Posted in: Austin Healey 100 (BN1) Body Parts Healey Concours Information The Restoration of Healey #174

Austin Healey 100 Spare Wheel Block

During my multi-year restoration of my 1953 Austin Healey 100 B.#174 a number of perplexing questions came up most of which were the result of my having received the car with the entire interior, all the chrome and many other items completely missing. I was by no means an expert on early 100s when I embarked upon this restoration so it was in many ways a learning experience.

The body shell and frame of this car were in pretty good condition for one which had sat derelict for over 50 years, but numerous parts had rusted out requiring replacement and, as is so common, many additional holes had been drilled by previous owners to add accessories of one sort or another. As the metalwork proceeded and before any paint could be applied it became essential to ensure that all these “extra” holes were identified and, if not original, welded up.

I managed to identify all the “extra” holes other than two in the right rear wheel arch which had me stumped. I’m sure the 100 gurus out there will know immediately the holes I’m referring to but at the time I had no idea what they were for.

The first hint of an answer was revealed when I was reading through the “Originality Guide for Restorations” published by the Austin Healey Concours Registry. Under the section entitled “Spare Wheel Cover” was the following note;

“The spare wheel “pocket” was secured with an edge glued under a triangular-section vinyl-covered wooden wedge secured with wood screws through the right rear wheel arch”

This was something that I had never seen before and the only other car that I had to compare this with had been restored many years previously. I closely examined all the photos that I had of that car and there was no sign of any sort of “wedge” in the spare wheel storage cavity.

Time to ask “The List”…

This web group of dedicated and infinitely knowledgeable individuals were the most wonderful resource throughout this restoration and my question to them produced, as always, a wealth of information, dimensions, and photographs of this mysterious “wedge”.

Long time friend Perry Small was the first to respond and sent me pictures of a block that he had removed from a BN2.

Interestingly this particular example had 3 securing screws but B.#174 only had two screw holes.

Richard Korn from Iceland sent a picture of the correct block as installed in his very original car.

Bob Spidell was good enough to send exact dimensions;

“Length base – 5 3/16” (Dad says actual measurement. was 5 1/4″, but that includes 2 layers of the vinyl covering).
Width base – 2 5/8″, Height – 1 3/4″, Hypotenuse – 2 7/8″. So, the cross-section is a right triangle, long leg is 2 5/8″, short leg is 1 3/4″ and hypotenuse is 2 7/8″, and it’s 5 3/16″ tall.
Wrapped in folded vinyl, held on with two small tacks on underside.”

Then Rick Swain wrote:

“I had the remains of a BN1 – B.#1524 which included very little of the car. One piece I did salvage was what I believe was the triangular wooden wedge you’re asking about. It still has the covering – blue. If you are interested I’d be pleased to send it to you.”

Sure enough a few days later the wedge arrived in the mail and when I offered it up to the wheel arch of B.#174 it fit perfectly.

It seems that this thin wooden wedge, designed to prevent the spare wheel from moving around, was indeed secured to the wheel arch with 2 or in later cars 3 wood screws and that the holes in the wheel arch were original.

Healey fans; what a wonderful community!!


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