From The Driving Seat header car on road

A special milestone for racy roadster named after celebrated circuit.   

Le Mans legend to star in anniversary track parade. 

Ferrari Daytona, Bugatti Brescia, Maserati Sebring, Alfa Romeo Monza, Singer Le Mans… there are numerous cars named after the world’s most famous race tracks. In Silverstone’s case it is the illustrious Healey Silverstone – the stunning two-seater sportscar produced locally in Warwick by the much-admired Healey Motor Company.

Launched by company founder Donald Healey in 1949 for both road and track, the iconic roadster with its distinctive cycle wings is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. And where better for this special milestone to be marked than at Silverstone with a special display and track parade at its eponymous ‘home’ circuit over the bank holiday weekend at Silverstone Festival (23-25 August).

Created with lightness, speed and agility in mind, 105 examples were produced, many living up to its sporting moniker and finding favour with club racing drivers. The Healey’s second-ever competition appearance came at Silverstone and many of the estimated 87 survivors are still regularly raced today in historic motorsport. Fittingly, it was exactly 75 years ago in August 1949 that the Healey Silverstone enjoyed one of its greatest racing successes.

Keen to show the new car’s prowess, three new roadsters were entered into the high-profile Production Sports Car showdown at the International Trophy. It was the first race meeting staged entirely on the old airfield’s superfast perimeter roads and, with Louis Chiron, Tony Rolt and Tommy Wisdom at their helms, the trio hit the headlines by scooping the coveted Team Prize with second, fourth and fifth places in class.

Initially priced at £975, the standard Healey Silverstone came with a 2.4-litre, four-cylinder Riley engine developing 104 horsepower to give outstanding levels of performance. With a light body and headlights placed behind the grille to improve aerodynamics, speeds of more than 100mph were possible.

Early D-Type models were superseded by an E-Type specification in April 1950 – the latter coming with a wider, more comfortable chassis, a front bench replacing the original bucket seats, a bonnet air scoop and a larger windscreen. In both guises only four colours were offered: green, white, red and light blue.

With loftier ambitions, the factory fitted one Silverstone chassis with a more potent six cylinder Nash engine and entered it into many of Europe’s premier sportscar races. With cycle-wings banned by the authorities at Le Mans, the X5 denominated car was fitted with full-width bodywork for the French classic and finished a fine fourth overall with Duncan Hamilton and Tony Rolt sharing the helm. Providing extra interest, X5 will be part of Saturday’s track parade.

More importantly, perhaps, the Healey Silverstone conceived the Healey 100 which later became the highly-successful Austin-Healey 100 and 3000 models, some of Britain’s best-loved sportscars.

“This a very big year for the Healey Silverstone and we are delighted to be celebrating its 75th birthday at Silverstone Festival,” said Event Director, Nick Wigley. “Donald Healey was a major player at a time when British sportscars ruled the world and his shrewd decision to name his first roadster after Silverstone was typically inspired. Though it had hosted its first Grand Prix a year earlier, back then Silverstone was far from the global motor sport centre it is today.”

The Healey’s diamond anniversary is one of many major marque and model birthdays being toasted at this year’s Silverstone Festival. Milestones being marked include: 110 years of Maserati; 75 years of Abarth; 70 years of the Mercedes SL; 65 years of Marcos; 60 years of the Ford Mustang and the Alfa Romeo Owners Club; 50 years of the VW Golf Mk1, Lancia Stratos and Triumph TR7; 40 years of the MG Metro 6R4 and Toyota MR2; 30 years of the MX-5 Owners Club and 25 years of the Ferrari 360.



Alfa Romeo, Marcos, Metro 6R4, and Lancia Stratos among other milestone celebrations.