Style File # 1: Austin Healey 3000 Mk II 2+2 & Jaguar F-Type

This AH 3000 Mk II exhibits all the hallmarks of classic sports car design.

Some things are almost givens in sports car design; long bonnets, rakish windscreens, flowing lines and low-slung two-door bodies with bobbed tails have defined the look from the time manufacturers first recognised there was a market for such vehicles.  Extra vents and scoops and over-sized wheels and exhausts aid performance whilst adding extra appeal.

It's all there:  a long bonnet, rakish windscreen, low-slung body and big wheels. 

What's evolved is a 'classic' sports car style.  Whether it's a Sprite or a Midget, an MGB, a Spitfire or TR series Triumph, a Fiat or Alfa Spider, a Mazda MX5, or a BMW Z3 - to name but a few - the basic formula has remained the same.

One only has to consider the 'Big Healeys' of the early 1950s and 1960s and compare them to some current designs to see how that classic look has endured.  Take the Mk II AH 3000 2+2 (BT7), pictured above, and current Jaguar F-Type, shown below, for example.

Everything old is new again: a long bonnet, rakish windscreen and low-slung body. 

There can be no argument that technology has set the two vehicles apart, especially in terms of Jaguar's ability to use new materials and techniques to create ever sleeker, faster and safer cars (the Healey would never pass today's pedestrian collision test, just for starters!).  However, those core elements of sports car design can be seen in both vehicles, despite there being sixty-odd years between the time Donald Healey penned the first incarnation of his eponymous marque and the introduction of the F-Type in 2013.

Muscular rear haunches, a short boot and purposeful twin exhausts.

The F-Type also features muscular haunches over its rear wheels and a shortish rear luggage compartment, as well as no-nonsense twin exhausts.    

In addition to an elongated bonnet, sports car design usually dictates that the front wheels are well forward - in reality, a case of function over form - allowing the engine to be positioned for optimum weight distribution.  The manufacturers of both cars have conformed to type.  The physics of motion are hard to argue with, after-all!  

Stylistically, the Healey features a chrome accent on the sides of its front mudguards, behind the wheels.  The Jag has a similar feature but, in its case, taking the form of a vent.  Both cars' bonnets also have additional cooling apertures, no doubt with serious functions to perform.  It's a bonus that they happen to look good, too! 

Big wheels and huge exposed brakes.

Form and function:  a  very stylish cooling vent.

The Big Healey's bonnet scoop aids cooling and looks good, too.

The F-Type's bonnet vents also help keep the engine cool and add a touch of style.

It might be labouring the point to try to draw further specific parallels between the Big Healey and the Jag.  However, it's not difficult to see that there are enduring design elements - over and above the current 'retro' trend  seen with today's Mini, Fiat's born-again 500 and the New Beetle (soon to be dropped from VW's Australian line-up)  - that have carried over.  And that's not just true of the new Jag; some very recently announced cars are also perpetuating the look (hint: check out ).

So, given that function and form have helped forge the classic style that we've become accustomed to, it's likely that we haven't yet seen the last of the genre for a while yet - especially when today's models are as easy on the eye as the F-Type is!  It will, however, be interesting to see how the look evolves as the world moves away from traditional internal combustion engines and embraces electric and other power sources ... .     


PS:  Please don't forget that this Sunday the 15th of May, 2016, is the annual Picnic at Ross.  It's only the biggest day on the Tasmania classic car scene!  If you can't make it this year, be sure to check out this 'blog to see what you've missed out on (post due by mid-week).

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All iPhone images.

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