Austin Healey comes home to roost

Wayne Bjorgan was a kid from Leamington, arriving wet behind the ears, to Barrie’s media in the early 60’s. A single, swinging kind of guy, he was the news ‘anchor’ for CKBB Radio and CKVR Television, housed together up on Little’s Hill. You can imagine, this golden-voiced young guy, zipping around town in his red MGA convertible.

It was 1962 and Wayne was driving along Tiffin St when he passed Ray’s Simcoe Motors, near Anne St., and there, in the window, was a brand new Austin Healey BT7, a 3000 Mark II, in Colorado Red, with red interior. Convertible. Triple carbs. 6 cylinders. 3000 cc. Topped out at 110 miles an hour, if you pushed it. The Austin Healey was a rally car, designed by rally driver Healey who teamed up with the Austin manufacturer to produce the vehicle. They made only 500 of them and only in the summers of 1961 and 62.

Wayne was instantly in love. Price tag was $2400 for this red bombshell, which represented an entire year’s salary… a lot of news reading! Wayne traded in the MGA, added some savings and the Colorado Red Austin Healey went home with him.

“I didn’t really care how the financing went together,” Wayne reminisces… “I wanted the car. That was all that mattered.” 1962. Rubber Ball and The Twist were the hot tunes on the AM airwaves. Diana Ross and the Supremes were making their way onto mainstreet radio. Sock hops and record hops were a big weekend activity. And Wayne had his Austin Healey.

Fast forward a bit. Wayne got married. Kids arrived. A roadster isn’t a great vehicle to cart around car beds and strollers. Nobody used baby car seats in those days, but still… no room for kids. Wayne moved to a 1964 Ford Fury, still a convertible, still red. Then as babies kept arriving, Wayne settled into conventional North American cards. Wayne was a married man, a family man.

Through radio and television careers, into his own charitable foundation development company, and on into retirement, Wayne has not been able to let go of the Healey. “I just loved that car,” he says.

“I stopped to see Brian Cullingford one day.” Brian is located meters from the Tiffin St shop where Wayne found his Healey. Brian’s well respected as a British car expert and has a lineup of customers waiting. “I told him I was looking for a Healey again, told him what I’d had, and he said there weren’t many of those around.”

Last year, Brian left a message on Wayne’s line, saying he might have a car if Wayne wanted to ‘pop around.’ An Orillia fellow had inherited a Healey from an uncle. He’d had it restored, inside and out, and had driven it 500 miles in four years. He didn’t really like the car. He drove it down to Cullingford and Wayne dropped in to have a look.

“It wasn’t a matter of how much it cost. The minute I saw it the only question was how quickly I could get it. It had definitely been restored. The interior was black, but you could see where it had been red at one time. A chrome luggage rack had been added. It was my model, a 4-seater BT7, made only in the summers of 61 and 62. Wayne plunked down the better part of $50,000 and got in to take his summer car home.

Wayne’s retired now, still an active Rotarian, still consulting with charities, still serving on a couple of boards of directors. He’s waiting for spring like nobody else! He’s waiting…

“I feel like I’m 21 when I drive it! It feels like my car, my car from 1962. It’s entirely possible that it is.”

Thanks, Wayne