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Carl S. Cunanan

Frédérique Constant And The Love For An Old Racecar

The Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Automatic Small Seconds is a fun little homage to a racecar only enthusiasts may know.

The Donald Healey Motor Company Special Test Car known as NOJ 393 ran in different races around the world between 1953 and 1955. It got its name because the company didn’t actually want to announce that it was making racecars yet. It was a prototype (somewhat) of what would become an Austin-Healey 100 but in reality didn’t seem to bear a lot of similarities. NOJ 393 was the third of four such cars.

Frederique Constant
Frederique Constant

It ran in all the right races, Le Mans, Sebring, the Carrera Panamericana. It wasn’t a top contender but it fought in the true spirit of independent English Racecar drivers and race teams.

The car was involved in the tragic 1955 Le Mans race that killed 83 spectators. It was cleared of any blame, but release of the car took almost a year and a half. It was then retired and stored, to later be restored. It was hailed by auction house Bonham’s as the most highly priced Austin-Healey ever to take a gavel at auction.

Frederique Constant
Frederique Constant
Frederique Constant
Frederique Constant

Note that in the official literature of the wristwatch, it is listed as a Healey. Donald Healey was a noted English car designer and rally driver. He and Leonard Lord of Austin Motor Company got together, with Austin taking in production of the sportscars and Healey committing to racing and development.

The wristwatch itself is a simple three-hander date, with a small seconds subdial at 9 o’clock and a white ring around the main dial as a nod to the instrumentation of the car itself. It carries the name Healey just below the center. The dial is a nice deep racing green, and comes with a perforated brown leather strap. It also comes with a nice model car. The link between watchmaker Frédérique Constant and Austin-Healey is a long one, beginning in 2004. Enthusiasts regularly anticipate the release of the latest Vintage Rally Collection model, the only one designed for car collectors.