28.03.2006 - Reborn Healey a Swede dream

The famous Healey 3000 is blasting back - and amazingly, the reborn sports car will be based on a top-secret project from Sweden!

HFI Automotive, the firm behind the new Healey, is looking at reworking the advanced steel spaceframe chassis that a group of Volvo technicians started developing back in the Nineties.

The chassis was used by another Swedish company, called Josse Car, to manufacturer the Indigo (picture), a retro-looking two-seater. With styling inspired by the original Healey 100/4, this machine first made its debut towards the end of the last decade. Josse Car built several early prototypes, which were powered by the 200bhp 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine found in Volvo's 960 executive model.

Dressed with a tough but lightweight composite body, these two-seat, rear-wheel-drive machines were fitted with five-speed gearboxes. Some of the Indigo's front suspension components also came from Volvo, and the result was a sports car which dispatched the sprint from 0-60mph in around 6.5 seconds, and went on to a maximum speed of 155mph.

HFI Automotive - which is an Anglo-American concern - has taken more than a passing interest in the technology. With an all-new design that promises to offer a more modern interpretation of the classic 100/4's lines, the company is expected to rework the chassis and power it with a revitalised version of the 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine.

Bosses at HFI are said to be certain that the new plan will be a greater success than the previous attempts by the two Swedish companies to build a supercar. Both coupé and convertible versions will be developed, and the firm has already released sketches of how the new model is shaping up.

Tim Fenna, HFI's managing director, said: "The platform for the new 3000 is derived from the Indigo. This vehicle's design and layout were heavily influenced by the Healey sports cars of the Fifties and Sixties, and the platform supports a modern in-line six-cylinder engine driving the rear wheels, plus fully independent suspension, and meets Europe's strict safety requirements."

Due to the amount of early interest, the company has already thrown open its order books as part of the celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of Donald Healey's successful land speed record bid - when he hit 203mph at the Bonneville salt flats in Utah, US, in a modified 100/4.

Customers have been given the opportunity to choose their own chassis number, along with a manufacturing slot, from the first 203 vehicles of the initial production run. Doing so will set them back £1,000 - although this sum will later be deducted from the purchase price of the completed Healey model when it is ready for delivery.

So, what happened to the Indigo? Launched in 1997, the car was cheap to produce, and went on sale around the same time as the Lotus Elise.
Yet despite the project's promise, and the hundreds of orders placed, Josse Car found its sales targets hard to achieve. However, the HFI plan gives the technology a deserved second chance.

P.S.: According to our investigations Josse Car doesn't build cars right now, but the idea is still in the head of some people. Rumour has it that they might be back in business in the near future...

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