A compact vehicle, the Austin A40 Farina was debuted by the British Motor Corporation in 1958. Designed by Pininfarina of Italy the A40 designations had been used on earlier Austin's. The 'Farina' suffix was new with this vehicle, but was eventually applied to larger Austins which were also styled by Pininfarina. This was a time in history when Turin auto-design studios were more often consulted by builders of more expensive vehicles and the manufacturers actually made much of the car's Italian styling. Both Pinin Farina and his son Sergio were present at the vehicle's UK launch.
In Sweden, the Farina name was not used but the car received the name 'Futura'.
The Austin A40 was a popular choice and in a modified form the car was entered in the 1961 Monte Carlo Rally for competition work. The A40 was produced from 1958 until 1961 and a total of 169,612 units were produced. The wheelbase of the A40 was 83.5 inches, an overall length of 144.25 inches, a width of 59.5 inches and a height of 56.5 inches.
The Austin A40 was debuted at the London Motor Show in October of 1958 and was the replacement of the Austin A35. The A35 was at then a relatively modern vehicle with a very innovative shape. The standard vehicle was a saloon.
In October of 1959 the Countryman was debuted and shared the same side profile as the saloon but was a small estate version with a horizontally split rear opening. The Countrymen also featured a top-hinged upper door and bottom-hinged lower door. Today one might consider the Countrymen to be similar to a small hatchback. In the early summer of 1960, a flat lid was added over the spare wheel in the rear luggage compartment.
When first introduced the A40 shared the 948 cc A-Series straight-A used in other Austin's, even including its A35 predecessor. At the front the suspension used coil springs with a live axle and at the rear were semi elliptic lead springs at the rear. A hybrid arrangement, the drum brakes were hydraulically operated at the front but cable actuated at the rear. Both cam and peg steering were fitted and the front drums at 8 inches were slightly larger than the 7 inches.
To increase luggage room, individual seats were fitted at the front with a bench at the rear that was capable of folding down. A vinyl treated fabric was the trim material. Optional items on the A40 included a radio, a heater, white tires and windscreen washers. The handbrake was mounted between the seats and the gearchange was also floor mounted. Finger grips were utilized to open the windows, not the standard conventional winders and a window lock was positioned on the door handle.
In 1958 a de-luxe version was tested by the British magazine The Motor and was judged to have a top speed of 66.8 mph and could achieve 0-50mph in 19.5 seconds.
The Austin A40 Mark II was introduced in 1961 until 1967 and a total of 172,550 units were produced. Both the front grill and dashboard were totally redesigned on the Mark II and to give more room for passengers in the back seat the car came with a 4 inch longer wheelbase. The newer model also came with more power and a SU that replaced the earlier Zenith Carb.
Other than these modifications the Mark II was similar mechanically. At the front of the car was an anti-roll bar now too. In the fall of 1962 the 948 cc engine was replaced with a much larger 1098 cc version with an output of 48 bhp. This engine was also used in the recently introduced Morris 1100. At the same time an improved gearbox was fitted.
Other than these updates, not much else was changed about the Mark II except in 1964 a new fascia with imitation wood veneer covering was fitted. The Mark II remained in production until 1967. The semi cable operated rear system was replaced with brakes that also became fully hydraulic. Unfortunately when the similarly sized Morris 1100 was introduced at the end of 1962 left the Austin A40 looked tight and cramped inside and ‘outclassed in terms of road holding and ride'. Sales of the A40 Mark II were much slower than the Mark I.
The Motor tested a Mark II in 1962 and had a top speed of 75.2 mph and a faster acceleration from the previous model achieving 0-50 mph at 17.4 seconds. The car was priced at £693 in the UK.By Jessica Donaldson