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Jonathan Everard, internationally known Austin Healey authority, historic rally driver, and Healey restoration specialist, has died of natural causes on August 15th while on holiday in Spain.
Jonathan Everard, internationally known Austin Healey authority, historic rally driver, and Healey restoration specialist, has died of natural causes on August 15th while on holiday in Spain. He was 63. Mr. Everard’s highly successful firm JME Healeys restored many of the famous works Healey rally cars, as well as a number of other rare and valued automobiles for clients worldwide; he was with his wife Alison at the time of his sudden death.
Jon’s career started in 1962 as a part-time job in the experimental and competition department of the Donald Healey Motor Company at The Cape in Warwick (‘making tea at first,’ as Jon once put it, ‘sweeping up and generally helping the other blokes’) and subsequently extended to almost 50 years of restoring, maintaining and rallying the ‘Big Healeys’. In 2008 he bought the very same building at the old Healey factory where that career began and moved his operation there from his former premises in Leamington Spa.
It was an historic moment: the first return of Austin Healey cars to the site since the Healey Company moved its manufacturing base to Coten End, Warwick, in 1963. Commenting on the move, he was reported as saying ‘It’s very exciting, going back to where it all started for me. They were amazing days, a time when the Austin Healey name was made famous around the world with the rallying exploits of people like Pat Moss.’
Jonathan M. Everard, who lived in Kineton, Warwickshire, officially launched JME Healeys in 1978 in Wise Terrace, Leamington, having left Healeys in 1969 to work in the garage business of his father Harold, also a former Healey employee. From his teens, Jon was smitten with the rallying bug, both as a driver and a mechanic, and long before founding JME had run his own small rally-preparation business from a corner of his father’s premises.
When Healeys closed in the early ‘70s, he soon realized that the demand for expertise in Healey rally cars hadn’t ended simply because the factory shut its doors, ‘and after a while, I thought “there's a market here, and I love Healeys, and I'd rather do this than work on modern cars”. That's when I started JME.’ Over the ensuing years he restored some of the most illustrious of the great Healey works rally cars, including the ex-Moss SMO 745, ex-Aaltonen BMO 93B (winner of the 1964 Liege) and the greatest of them all, URX 727, with which the late Pat Moss-Carlsson won her epic victory in the 1960 Liege.
Often driving Moss’s legendary SMO 745, Jon was himself a successful rally driver, winning the British Historic Rally Championship in 1992, the British Stage Rally Championship in 1993 and the 1994 Pirelli Classic Marathon. He had only just returned from Italy after competing successfully in the Mille Miglia with EVV 106, the famous 100S known to Healey enthusiasts everywhere as ‘The Green Car’.
His lifelong friend and co-driver Adrian Robinson, with whom he won the 1992 Championship, said of Jon ‘He was one of the nicest chaps you could ever wish to meet. He never had an unkind word to say about anyone and was a perfect gentleman. His expertise in his chosen field was second to none and he will be greatly missed, not only by his family and friends but by the larger family of Austin Healey owners around the world.’
Mike Ward, Secretary of the Austin Healey Owners Club, furthermore said 'Jonathan’s knowledge of Austin Healeys was unrivalled and his enthusiasm and advice has been of immense value to the members of the Club over many years. His recent return to The Cape in Warwick and the establishment of JME Healeys in the old ancestral home of Austin Healey was an emotional experience for many of us who attended his opening event.’
In addition to his wife Alison, Jon is also survived by daughter Charlotte and three sons Alex, Christopher and Daniel, the latter two of which both work for JME, and plan to carry on the business. Mr. Everard will be laid to rest in the Sun Rising Natural Burial Ground near Tysoe, Warwickshire, followed by a Service of Remembrance at Kineton Parish Church on Friday 3rd September at 3pm.
The family has decided the public will also be welcome at the interment, to be held at the Sun Rising Natural Burial Ground, located outside the village of Tysoe (post code CV35 0BU), beginning at 2.15pm. Family and guests will then proceed directly to the 3PM remembrance ceremony. Those wishing further information on services should contact the Funeral Directors, R Locke & Son, on 01608 685274 or consult the JME website, www.jmehealeys.co.uk.