Austin A30&

If you’re look­ing for clas­sic fun, may we sug­gest the Austin? JamesHunt loved his, so it’s prob­a­bly good

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Buying Guide -

When the Austin A30 ar­rived in 1951 it rep­re­sented a brave new world for its maker, as it was the first Austin to fea­ture mono­coque con­struc­tion. As a re­sult there’s an el­e­ment of over-en­gi­neer­ing to the bodyshell. While th­ese cute cars are easy to main­tain and good fun to drive, as econ­omy cars they can strug­gle in the cut and thrust of mod­ern traf­fic, but up­graded en­gines and brak­ing sys­tems are easy to in­stall – which is why many of the A30s and A35s avail­able have al­ready been mod­i­fied, to make them more us­able for the 21st Cen­tury.

The A30 was un­veiled at the Earls Court Mo­tor Show in Oc­to­ber 1951, with an 803cc en­gine. It was mar­keted as the Austin Seven – a ref­er­ence to the pre-WWII Austin that had saved the com­pany. At first only a four-door sa­loon was of­fered, but a two-door sa­loon joined the range in 1953.

In 1954, Austin in­tro­duced an A30 van, a year be­fore the Coun­try­man es­tate ar­rived. But the big­gest ad­vance in the evo­lu­tion of the model came in Oc­to­ber 1956, when the A30 mor­phed into the A35, with two- and four-door sa­loons as part of the line-up, while the Coun­try­man was up­dated. The A35 brought a larger rear win­dow, sep­a­rate in­di­ca­tors below the head­lamps and a chrome grille sur­round. The A35 was fit­ted with a 948cc A-se­ries unit.

This lat­ter en­gine was also fit­ted to some vans, with oth­ers fea­tur­ing 848cc or 1098cc ver­sions of the same unit.

Once the A40 had been in­tro­duced in 1958 and the Mini a year later, the A35 was liv­ing on bor­rowed time. In July 1959, the sa­loons were dis­con­tin­ued, al­though the Coun­try­man sol­diered on un­til Septem­ber 1962. This is when the van got a 1098cc en­gine, al­though two years later it also found it­self with the less im­pres­sive 848cc en­gine op­tion. It wouldn’t be un­til Fe­bru­ary 1968 that van pro­duc­tion came to an end, more than 16 years af­ter the A30 had first been shown.

Its diminu­tive di­men­sions, rel­a­tively de­mand­ing ser­vic­ing re­quire­ments and lim­ited per­for­mance mean the A30 and A35 aren’t suited to ev­ery­one. But th­ese cars are far more fun to drive than you might sus­pect and su­perb ones are very af­ford­able. With the right en­gine, gear­box and brak­ing up­grades they be­come much more us­able.

OUR VER­DICT

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