The last vehicle to be manufactured that carried the “Healey Wings” that made it to the road is the Healey Fiesta. If you are asking, “The Healey What?” read on.
Built in Germany in 1978 as a standard Ford Fiesta and shipped to the USA, it was selected by the Ford Motor Company to be modified into the “Healey Fiesta.” The idea came from auto entrepreneur Gary Kohs of Detroit. He thought the Fiesta would be a good candidate for modification into a car that would be competitive with the Mini Cooper. He had a rendering made by artist Harry Weeks of California and presented the idea to Ford, suggesting that Healey Automotive Consultants Ltd. of Warwick, England would be the best company for making the modifications. Ford bought the idea and made arrangements with Donald Healey and his son Geoff.
A stock American-specification 1978 Fiesta was shipped to the Healey and body modifications, engine enhancements, a roll cage and unique paint refinements were made. Some of the work on the car was done by the British Company, Broadspeed. Probably the most obvious visual changes were the oversized spoiler under the front bumper, (popular in the late 1970’s) and the bright British Racing Green paint with yellow pinstripes, which at first glance, may have seemed gaudy, but upon further consideration was found to contribute to the car’s personality. The wheels were changed to 13″ x 6″ Minilites by the Healeys.
Engine modifications included removing the emissions control devices, increasing the compression ratio from 8.5 to 10.1 by using different pistons, fitting the Ford “Mexico” head, and using a different camshaft with considerable more valve overlap. The intake manifold was matched to the ports and a Weber 32/36 DGV 2-barrel carburetor was used. The cross-flow head exhausts into a fabricated manifold and the advance curve of the distributor was set for the requirements of the engine. These engine modifications produced around 80 BHP at 5500 rpm. The Healeys estimated a peak horsepower of 105 BHP SAE net at 6200 rpm.
Only one Healey Fiesta was made. About the time the Healey Automotive Consultant Ltd. completed the car, Ford had decided to stop importing the Fiesta to the USA; so plans for production of the Healey Fiesta were dropped. This must have been a disappointment for the Healeys, as the serial number plate on the car’s firewall gives an indication that they were anticipating making more. The car’s Healey serial number is HF-001, indicating they could have made 998 more before running out of numbering spaces. The car also has the original Ford VIN as well. Before sending it back across the “pond,” special Healey winged badges were made and put on the car. The car also carries a badge on the firewall and one on the instrument panel that the car was “Designed and Built by: Healey Automotive Consultants Ltd. Warwick, England with Donald Healey signature.
When the Fiesta was sent to the Healeys in England, they modified it into what they thought was to become the Healey Fiesta “prototype”. The car came back to the US where it was displayed at four 1979 International Automotive Shows and made available to motor sports journalists. While the car was in Los Angeles, Road & Track magazine was able to have the car for a weekend. This resulted in the Healey Fiesta being the featured cover car on the August 1979 issue of Road & Track. Inside that issue was a four-page article describing its history. The car is also mentioned in two of Geoffrey Healey’s books, Healey – The Specials, with a reverse image photo of it on the back dust jacket, and The Healey Story. The Road & Track picture and the picture on the dust jacket of the book Healey – The Specials, are the same picture, only reversed. The Healey Fiesta is also featured in a two-page spread in The Healey Book by Bill Emerson.
After a short time in Ford Motor Company hands, it was put up for sale when they were clearing out some of their concept and show cars. For a period of time it lived in Massachusetts, then in Ohio before making its way to California.