Our video this week comes by way of the Suncoast British Car Club and featured Gerry Coker. Gerry was born “Gerald Charles Coker” June 24, 1922 in Northamptonshire, England. He is known in the Healey world for his body design of the Healey Hundred introduced in 1952.
He joined the Donald Healey Motor Company as Healey’s body engineer in 1950. His first job was to look after the Nash Healeys as they came from Panelcraft, the Nash Healey body makers.
Early on at the DHMC, Healey challenged Gerry to show him a sports car design, and in late 1950, he created the body design for what would become the Austin-Healey 100. This timelessly beautiful sports car stole the show in October, 1952 when it debuted as the Healey Hundred at the London Motor Show at Earls Court.
Gerry also styled the Austin-Healey Streamliner (the “pretty one,” he says) that was driven to 192.7 mph at the Bonneville Salt Flats in 1954 while establishing records in speed and endurance. And just before moving on from the DHMC, Gerry developed the preliminary body design for the forthcoming Austin-Healey Sprite, which made its very successful first appearance in 1958. Budget considerations caused the Sprite’s final design to be altered considerably. This early design did not include the unique headlamps which caused the first Sprites to be called “Bugeye” in North America and “Frogeye” in Great Britain.
Gerry Coker was the designer of the Austin Healey and Sprite. He is also, and currently, a member of the Suncoast British Car Club out of Sarasota, Bradenton and surrounding areas of Florida’s Suncoast.