The 1932 Austin Coupes were the last year of the first generation Austin characterized by the straight up windshield, horizontal louvers in the hood, and engine with gear-driven generator. This car was owned by the proprietor of the Orange Drive-In Theater in Orange, California. The car was popular with Hollywood celebrities such as Buster Keaton and the 'Our Gang' comedy team adopted the Austin immediately. Popular cartoonists quickly started depicting the Austin.
The Austin was 16-inches narrower and 28-inches shorter than any other American automobile, and guaranteed to get 40 miles per gallon of gasoline. The public, however, was unprepared to pay a list price that was higher than the Ford or Chevrolet despite the improved mileage figures.
Production ceased in 1936, but the car returned in 1937, now called the American Bantam. The company built the first successful Jeeps for the U.S. Army in 1940, but was out of business by 1941.
The American Austin Car Company was formed in 1929 in Butler, PA to produce a small, economical car for the American market based on the British Austin 7. After some initial success, sales dropped with the onset of the Great Depression and only 24,000 cars were produced intermittently through 1941.
The company was reorganized as American Bantam in 1935 and is credited for developing the original design concept for the Jeep under government contract prior to World War II.
The American Austin was powered by a 46 cubic-inch inline four-cylinder engine producing 14 horsepower. They rode on a 75 inch wheelbase and weighed just over 1,000 pounds.