Posted in: Healey Stuff

Interesting Photograph

I was going through a pile of old photos a few days ago and came across a picture that someone gave me about 15 or 20 years back.


I apologize to the person who took the time to bring it to me, but I do not remember who it was. I do recall that the donor was someone from the Southern Ontario Austin Healey Club and that he had brought the photo to me specifically to ask if I had ever seen a Healey model with this rear suspension system fitted to it. I also recall that this was all rather secretive in that the person involved had apparently found this Healey in a partially finished state with this suspension.

There are a number of very interesting features in this picture and I only wish that at the time I had followed up on it. The things that I find very interesting are:

1) Careful examination of the top area of the photo confirms that this is almost certainly a Healey as the standard cross brace section of a Healey’s frame is visible.
2) The frame sections are made from what appear to be sections of Healey frames. If someone other than the factory was going to do this to a car it would seem unlikely that they would have had access to sections of Healey frames or have bothered to replicate them.
3) It has inboard drum brakes indicating that this project was probably undertaken before inboard disc brakes were more common.
4) The suspension arms are very unusual yet quite clever in that the wheel would experience no camber change throughout its entire range of movement. This would not perhaps be ideal because some camber change upon compression is desirable to counteract the effects of body roll but with a little tweaking this could probably be built in.
5) I don’t recognize the differential unit but do note that it has a U bolt style universal joint yoke on the drive shaft connection. I think these are more typical on American style drive shafts.

If the person who gave me this picture is out there and on the list I’m sure we would all like to hear more about it or perhaps if anyone has any knowledge of a factory project of this type.

Comments (6)

  1. Difficult to say for sure what the differential unit is, but it looks quite a bit like a Ford banjo center section from the late 1930s or 1940s. While Fords of this era did use a closed driveline, 1948 pickups used an open drive like this one. The drain plug (barely visible on the back underside) is in the correct location for a Ford banjo. The brakes appear Ford as well.

  2. Michael –

    Most Skodas are rear engined (my wife is Slovak… so I’ve seen alot of them) but I found this of the old Skoda 440 online:

    Possibly looks similar (esp. the mounting, but then again this may be the most common way to mount this set up no matter who makes it) but the brakes aren’t inboard.


  3. I’m wondering if the diff and brakes may be from a Skoda. They used swing axle rear suspension for 30 years and i believe inboard brakes.. anyone know?

  4. I was thinking about that photo–whatever the origin is it’s gotta be from
    the fifties because there are no discs involved. So that makes it a pretty
    small group of cars it could have come from. It’s hard for me to wrap my
    head around the idea that someone got a diff from a Lagonda or Lancia for
    this. The drums are lame, too–no fins–so it’s pretty hard to imagine it’s
    an eye-tie setup.

    Wonder what Alvis used.

    What a conundrum!!

    The other thing is what lame-o geometry it has! It looks like it has a
    leading and trailing arm which gives vertical-only wheel movement like the
    Volkswagen trailing arm or the AC upper transverse leaf spring.

    One could do better with some kind of de Dion setup or upper and lower links with coil-overs!

  5. James,
    I really cannot decide on that. Because it seems to travel forward and become an hydraulic line I’m wondering if it is an hydraulically operated lockup of some kind. As you say it would be very interesting to find this car..
    Glad you like the blog.

  6. Michael:
    Do you believe the tube running out of the back of the diff. housing is a breather or is it possibly a lock up actuation tube, either hydraulic or pneumatic. It really woould be interesting to find this piece of custom fabrication. Continue the good blog work Michael.


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