Here’s another old car that fits into the same category as the BMW 2002 from yesterday – a fun, light, simple car with sporting pretensions. While the Austin America was certainly a cheaper car, the “Big Mini” nickname is absolutely true, and with the low beltline, large glass area, and decent room for four in comfortable seats, it is a pretty compelling and often-overlooked classic. Unfortunately, part of its undoing in this country was the 4-speed automatic transmission, but if you can look after it properly – not too hard assuming limited mileage on a classic car – this is a great candidate for sharing your love of car shows, club tours, and the friendships that come with the hobby. Check out this 1969 Austin America for sale for $1495 in Portland, OR.
Okay, so you’ll probably need to invest some effort in the cosmetics before this one’s family ready. Overall, the car is pretty straight, though the passenger side rocker has had an encounter with a curb. On the bright side, the car is said to be in good mechanical condition, so if you look after the finicky transmission – it runs motor oil instead of transmission fluid, and the recommended change interval is every 1000 miles, but that will not be the only factor limiting cross-country road trips. The nice thing is it’s one of the first manu-matic style transmissions, so you can shift through the four gears yourself, while a shifting-disabled person can just put it in drive and let the car do its thing while enjoying the sounds, smells, and attention you get from driving an older car.
Looks like we’re also missing some interior trim like door panels, but the seats were made of a fairly durable vinyl and seem to hold up better than you’d expect. Fortunately, there are a couple of other Austin Americas listed for sale – perhaps by the same seller – so that might be your source for the interior parts. The suspension also looks a little off-kilter – perhaps the hydrolastic suspension needs refilling/repair, but you’ll want to change the fluid anyway. Due to the number of these cars sold in the UK and abroad, people have documented their home-made solutions to refilling the system online.
Looks pretty good on this side too – the paint looks thick enough, so a cut-and-buff and cleaning up the wheels will probably make for a significant improvement without a major outlay. Being compact and light, the car should also be pretty manageable for any driver. The driver’s headlight ring appears to be missing, but with the number of parts cars still existing, this should be easy to source. With a price that won’t raise your accountant’s eyebrows, and good bones (to borrow from the realtor’s phrasebook), this seems like an easy start to engage that special someone, while keeping a foot in the hobby yourself.