Small really IS Beautiful! (I think anyway)...
Well, okay, "sport car" might be stretching it a little, but Austins
and Bantams were clearly America's first chance to buy an economy car of
the type that eventually became the norm in Europe and elsewhere. Remember,
the VW 'Beetle' just preceeded the American Bantam (1936), and it's still
in production in a form very similar to the original! How bad an idea could
a small car have been? Roy Evans particularly tried to market the economy
of his car any way he could, particularly as 'second cars', a concept almost
unknown at the time, but also to women, to college kids, to traveling salesmen
needing economical transportation for one, etc.
These pictures I high-graded (stole) out of the April '98 American
Austin Bantam Club News
and tuned them up a little. They say it all I think. If you do buy an Austin
or Bantam somewhere, it shouldn't be such a big project getting it home.
The whole car weighs 1200 lbs (600kg) and fits in the back of a modern pick-up
Pictures below are mostly lifted from "Whatever Became of the Baby
Austin?" by John W. Underwood (see sources)
The 45.6 In (750cc) Austin
/Bantam engines weighed only about 150 lbs including the transmission!(75
kilos). That's Dick Beagle, Historian of the Pacific AAB club when a young
A great 1939 shot (above right) of some of the principals of the American
Bantam Co. with irrepressible entrepreneur Roy S. Evans in the pasenger
seat. Notice Roy's shoulders twisted sideways. Adequate leg room but for
two broad shouldered men, the Roadster's bench seat could be sort of chummy.
Also, the chrome grille shown here was never adopted, though so many factory
prototypes had one the fact that it didn't was probably only a funtion of
keeping the price down. (See below for the standard grille)
Here is an Austin Roadster being marketed as a second car for the Mrs. to
do her errands in while the Man of the House takes the principal car to
work. Ah, those were the days (when women were cherished, lavished with
gifts and attention instead of having to go to a boring office and sit in
front of a computer all day just in order to pay off the hubby's Lincoln
Town Car :~))
As you would expect, the breezy Austins and Bantam Roadsters and Speedsters
were a great hit in the warmer climes of California and Florida. ( markets
our proposed revival
Bantam would exploit today) Here's a GI (your left, your left...) enjoying
a bit of leave. Is this a great car or what! On the right an Austin coupe
is compared with it's principal (and successful) rival, the nearly identically
priced Model "A" Ford.