Sold for $17,600 at 2013 Gooding and Company - The Amelia Island Auction.
The American Austin Car Company, established in 1929, is remembered as America's first serious producer of small, economical cars. In similar fashion to the Austin Motor Company, the American Austin was a stylish derivative of the very successful Austin Seven built to circumvent heavy import tariffs. Pricing began at just $445 for the American Austin and the fleet of bodystyles included a cabriolet, coupe, roadster, and runabout body style. They wore designs by Alexis de Sakhnoffsky who had emigrated to America in 1928 to join Grand Rapids, Michigan's Hayes Body Corporation.
In the wake of the Great Depression, the company slipped into receivership and folded in 1934 prior to its reincarnation under Roy Evans from 1935 to 1941. It is estimated that around 4,000 to 5,000 coupes were originally built between 1929 and 1934
This 1934 American Austin Coupe is one of just 1,300 examples (all bodystyles) produced for 1934. Prior to being purchased by the current owner, this vehicle was given a frame-off restoration to original specifications. It wears its original bodywork and is finished in its original colors including a blue body finished with gray beltline rib, complemented by blue upholstery. The original instruments remain in place, with the odometer showing approximately 64,300 miles.
By Daniel Vaughan | May 2013
The engine is a 45.6 cubic-inch L-head 4-cylinder unit with a single updraft carburetor offering 13 horsepower. There is a three-speed manual gearbox and four-wheel mechanical brakes.
Sir Herbert Austin enjoyed success with his Austin Seven minicar in Britain with solid sales and much interest in the little cars. The narrow roadways and many towns in Britain was a very suitable location for such a small car. In 1929, Sir Herbert Austin brought his cars to the United States in hopes of selling a franchise. He was able to secure financial backing from bankers in western Pennsylvania, and established the American Austin Car Company in Butler, PA. To properly 'American-ise' the vehicles to appeal to the tastes of the American public, the cars were given flashier lines in similar fashion to cars from Detroit. Hayes Body Company submitted proposals by Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, a Russia count who had become their art director. Soon the company began offering their roadsters and coupes. They advertised in a brochure with the illustration done by Esquire artist Lawrence Fellows. Possibly the most appealing aspect of the vehicle was its price tag, which started at $445 making it one of the most affordable vehicles on the market. Unfortunately, its competition was the similarly priced, yet bigger, Ford Model A.
The American Austin cars were given a Bantam rooster as its mascot which was placed on the radiator cap. Under the bonnet was an engine that was nearly an exact duplicate of the ones found in the British cars. As 1930 came to a close, a total of 8558 examples had been produced. The following year 1,279 were manufactured and the company entered into receivership. By 1934, production was halted. Shortly thereafter, Roy Evans, a Florida dealer, reorganized the company into the American Bantam Car Company and commissioned Sakhnoffsky to update the vehicles styling.
The new Bantam car was introduced in late 1937 and production would last until World War II. During the War, the company was able to secure a contract with the US Army to produce the Jeep, however their limited factory capacity meant they would soon loose the contract to Willys and Ford. For the duration of the war, the company produced utility trailers. When civilian production resumed, the company remained in business until 1956.By Daniel Vaughan | May 2013