Buy­ing Guide

Austin West­min­ster

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - This Week - THANKS TO John Lakey, Steve Turner and Rex Cleaver of the Cam­bridge-Ox­ford Own­ers’ Club for their help with this ar­ti­cle.

Few truly charis­matic clas­sics have a pro­file as low as that of the early Austin West­min­sters, which is a shame be­cause they have a tremen­dous amount to of­fer. They’re lux­u­ri­ous, prac­ti­cal and spa­cious... but they’re also rather un­usual.

Sell­ing along­side the more pro­saic four-cylin­der A40, A50 and A55 Cam­bridge, the six-cylin­der A90, A95 and A105 West­min­ster fea­tured a bodyshell that was both longer and wider than the Cam­bridge.

In­tro­duced in 1954 to carry on where the A70 Austin Here­ford took off, the A90 fea­tured a 2.6-litre C-series en­gine, and while it looked much like the Cam­bridge, in terms of pan­els only the doors were in­ter­change­able. With 85bhp on tap the A90 could man­age 86mph, along with 0-60mph in a shade un­der 19 sec­onds.

Buy­ers could choose be­tween stan­dard and DeLuxe edi­tions, the lat­ter fea­tur­ing leather seats, cen­tre arm­rests, a lock­able glove­box and bumper over­rid­ers. From late 1955 there was the op­tion of over­drive.

Then, in April 1956, came the even more lux­u­ri­ous A105, which sold along­side the A90. The new ar­rival was fit­ted with twin SU carbs and high-com­pres­sion pis­tons to raise power to 102bhp. Also stan­dard was two-tone paint along with a posher in­te­rior, stain­less steel hub­caps and twin spot lamps.

A few months later, in Oc­to­ber 1956, the A95 re­placed the A90. Its sin­gle-carb en­gine used the A105’s pis­tons to give 92bhp. One of the most im­por­tant changes to the A95 and A105 over the A90 was the fact that the car was stretched by 10 inches, most of that ex­tra length go­ing into the rear wings and boot, which was much more ca­pa­cious; the wheel­base was also two inches longer. To dis­tance the A95 from its pre­de­ces­sor there was also a big­ger rear win­dow, restyled bumpers and ex­tra chrome­work. Later on would come au­to­matic and estate deriva­tives, the for­mer be­ing de­sir­able but rare; just one is left and that car is now be­ing re­stored by our sis­ter mag­a­zine Prac­ti­cal Clas­sics. But to many the ul­ti­mate edi­tion came in 1958 – the A105 Van­den Plas. Just 500 of th­ese were made, each with wal­nut cap­pings and dash, leather trim, a woollen head­lin­ing and deep-pile car­pet. In 1959, the A95 and A105 were re­placed by the A99 West­min­ster.

‘The range car­ried on where the A70 Here­ford took off in 1954’

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