Oldest Trick in the Book – 1969 Austin America

As you’ve seen in previous posts over the years, this is a great handling little car if you want something bigger than a Mini. They also have a very typical 1960s European look that would make them at home under many badges – can you see the shared styling cues with, say, a VW type 3 fastback? They’re also fun because many of the A-series engine upgrades applicable to Minis and Spridgets can be used in this car as well. But what really sealed the deal on this car was the seller’s use of the oldest trick in the book – getting his girlfriend/wife/mother/daughter to pose with the car in some revealing clothing. You can find this Austin America (and the girl, if you’re that easily fooled) in Tucson, AZ, with bidding currently around $400 and the reserve not met.

1969 Austin America right rear

Hey, this actually looks pretty decent. A mechanical freshening and you’re ready to go, right? The seller even says the “wet suspension” has held pressure for a year, although you probably shouldn’t plan on that lasting. Oh, and the engine is presently seized, so you might have to get a can of Marvel Mystery oil. Who wants that puny little engine anyway, you were going to upgrade to a hogged out 1380cc unit!

1969 Austin America left front

But wait! Who is this! Can you imagine how the discussion went that preceded this photo shoot?

Seller: “Honey, I’m trying to sell one of my old cars. I need you to pose on it for some pictures to spice it up a little.”
Honey (imagining herself sitting on Seller’s red 1984 Trans Am): “No problem sugar, which car?”
Seller: “The Austin America with the mangy seat covers and carpeted dashboard. And would you please wear this black corset and stuff some tissues in it?”
Honey: “Wait, what?”

1969 Austin America interior

The interior looks pretty fried. The seller has conceded as much, though – his description is quite thorough as to the condition of the car, and he gets the award for “Most Photographs Ever” in an auction listing. However, since these were fairly ubiquitous in England, the soft bits from inside the car shouldn’t be too hard to obtain, and you could probably reuse the seat frames with new upholstery and foam. They’re remarkably comfortable seats, feeling almost like an armchair.

1969 Austin America engine

And here’s the engine. In the end, you’re buying a shell, but rust repair is the most expensive work. If you maintain the oxidized look in that old-VW style, this should be a fairly straightforward project.

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3 Responses to “Oldest Trick in the Book – 1969 Austin America”

  1. John Fitzgerald Says:

    You, sir, are severely lacking in gallantry, and were we facing one another, I should slap you on the face with my fawn kidskin gloves on the behalf of the fetching young lady.

    However, I shan’t challenge you to a duel; we very well may be the only two Alfetta Sprint owners left in the United States. Seriously, there can’t be that many of us left.

    I agree with your assessment of the Austin America – it has a good many advantages for a restoration, not the least of which is a plethora of engine parts being available. I’d worry a bit about transmission parts (I’m assuming that it would have been impossible to use the Spridget rwd transmission). And, of course, its CV joints, boots and half-shafts probably need replacement as well.

    I’m not sure about there being ready replacements for the suspension system as well.

    All in all, though, I think this might be an easy restoration, and a lot of fun as a weekend or occasional cruiser. The sheet metal appears to be in excellent condition, and, it’s a car that you just don’t see very often.

    In fact, as I take my second stroll through the photos on the seller’s website, the more tempted I am to have my brother in Phoenix drive down to Tucson to look at the car. There are, however, two problems with that approach: first, if the car is really nice in person, so to speak, that scoundrel would buy it for himself. The second problem is actually first in priority: I am under strict orders from my Beloved and my son to never, ever buy another collector car. Alas, these two benighted loved ones don’t realize that two Alfa Romeos are just an introduction to the art of accumulating old cars, and that decades old rust buckets are life itself to imbeciles such as I.

    • Chris Keen Says:

      My impression, based on a subscription I had to Practical Classics ten years ago (shaky ground for sure!), is that there are quite a few of these still existing in the UK, and as such, if you can’t get parts here you can get them there. Seven Enterprises seems to have quite a few wear bits, and there’s also an Austin America register. Not to enable you or anything.

  2. steve in podunk Says:

    Had one of these for a bit when I was a kid and it was great other then the carb being junk, oh, and transmission being very bad junk.

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