Project 40s – 1954 Austin A40 Cambridge and 1959 Austin A40 Farina

Austin’s A40 series brings up an interesting question for the marketing team that sold them – what were they thinking? There were many different varieties of A40 – the Devon, the Somerset, the Farina, the Sports – and they were not all related, or even a replacement for the previous A40. One of the more logically named ones was the Austin A40 Somerset, a mid-size family car, perhaps equivalent to today’s Ford Fusion or Mazda 6. It replaced the immediately post-war A40 Devon, with a downsized interpretation of the Transatlantic styling seen on the larger A70 Hereford and the A90 Atlantic. Due to the usual issues of marketing a British B-road car in a freeway market, they didn’t find too much success in the colonies. Some did make it over, which is how you can find this 1954 Austin A40 Somerset for sale for $2500 in Palmdale, CA.

1954 Austin A40 Somerset right front

Yup, it’s a desert car. Not much information is given besides it’s a great project, and the engine starts. It seems largely free of anything but surface rust. Given it’s sunken into the ground, you can be fairly sure “engine starts” is a somewhat liberal interpretation of the level of functionality here, but nonetheless, it might be an interesting exercise to send this shell to England to combine its good body with a crusty home-market car that has good rubber and interior parts.

1954 Austin A40 Somerset left front

Yes, you can make *this* into *this*, but realistically, how many people in North America love postwar Austins so much they would actually do it, versus buying a more complete, functional survivor? The real value here is as a body panel donor for an otherwise good, rusty car.

1959 Austin A40 Farina left rear

Not had enough of junkyard Austins yet? Here’s another A40, entirely unrelated to the A40 above except by name. It runs a 948cc A-series engine, and the Countryman version can claim to being one of the first hatchbacks available for sale. This particular car is a Mark 1, and being a 1959, benefits from the additions of a center interior light, self-cancelling indicators, and maybe even a flat lid over the spare wheel. You can find this 1959 Austin A40 Farina for sale for $2000 in Long Beach, CA.

1959 Austin A40 Farina left front

For as little success as the Somerset had, the Farina seems to have had even less, with very few survivors in North America. Interestingly, even though this car wasn’t a hatchback, it did have a fold down rear seat and a cover over the trunk, so it had nearly all the practicality. This particular car is said to have been in a barn since 1979, and to have a running engine and electrical system.

1959 Austin A40 Farina right rear

It does seem to have become one with the surrounding environment, so it would be interesting to know how long it’s been out of the barn. The car is said to have a disc brake conversion, MG Midget engine and transmission, and a new gas tank, so perhaps this project is better than it looks in the pictures. With a bit of effort, you might have yourself a proto-hot-hatch. Okay, a lot of effort, but isn’t that part of the fun?

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