John Healey was born August 13, 1926 in Perranporth, Cornwall, the third son of Donald and Ivy Healey. He spent his childhood in Perranporth with his older brothers, Geoffrey and Brian (Bic). John attended Southampton University where he learned to fly with the University Air Squadron. He served in the Royal Air Force near the end of World War II, but with the need for pilots diminishing, he became a Physical Training Instructor in the RAF.
Following the war, John married Joy Warder and settled in Perranporth. After studying the hotel business in Italy, he returned to Perranporth to take over the operations of The Red House, a general store established by his grandparents, J.F. and Emmie Healey. Working together, he and Joy built up the complex into a successful business.
John’s early aspirations to become a race car driver were not encouraged by his racing father, so he directed his competitive energy to sand yacht racing—a very fast sport using wheeled craft driven by sails and raced over hard-packed beaches such as those found in Perranporth. John was the European Class 2 Champion in 1974 and 1977. Following an injury on land, John enjoyed sailing competitions in a catamaran. He was also an avid and skilled water skier.
In his later years, John and Joy visited North America to attend many Austin-Healey related events. In June, 2002, as a guest of the Quebec Chapter AHC, he visited Montreal for the Formula 1 Canadian Grand Pix. Driving a loaned Austin-Healey, he chauffeured reigning World Champion Michael Schumacher in the Drivers’ Parade around the course prior to the race before an audience of more than 100,000 race enthusiasts. With a smile, John recalled that Schumacher asked him to “stay well back of the Healey in front of them, because these old cars smell!”
Unlike his father and older brothers, John was not involved in the motor industry, except for his brief stint as a van driver for the Donald Healey Motor Company when he was a young man. However, he owned and frequently drove a prized Austin-Healey 3000 Mark III, Series BJ8, replica rally car built by Healey racing driver John Chatham.
Donald M. Healey lived with John and Joy in Perranporth for the last six years of his life.
John Healey passed away on May 26, 2009 in Truro, Cornwall.