Motoring Classic’s monthly focus is bringing readers not only the latest events, products and accessories, but what we deem to be some of the best classic cars in history. As our first look at the monthly featured classic car for June, we’re focused on the legendary Austin A40 Farina.
History of the UK’s Austin A-Series
The history of the Austin stems back to the early 50’s when Austin released a few versions and iterations of this compact family classic car.
Having merged with the British Motor Corporation (BMC) in 1952, the Austin A-Series was badged and exclusively sold under the Austin shape. The Austin Farina was released in a saloon version in 1958 and a Countryman version in 1959. For our feature, we’re focused on the A40 Mark II saloon version.
Lifting the Veil on the A40 Mark I and II
Production of the Austin A40 took place between 1958 to 1967, with assembly taking place throughout the United Kingdom, Australia, Mexico, South Africa and the Netherlands. It’s predecessor was the Austin A35, with the Austin A50, A55 and 1100 being the successors.
The Farina Mark I was first presented at the London Motor Show in October 1958. The Mark I was followed up by the Countryman hatch in 1959, and the introduction of the Mark II later in 1961.
Body Design and Performance - From Mark I to Mark II
Differences between the Mark I and II were both superficial, and performance based. Superficially the most remarkable differences between the two versions were simple redesigns like the front grille, anti-roll bar and dashboard, and a longer (89mm) wheelbase to increase the legroom for passengers sitting in the back.
The biggest differences were in the performance updates between the Mark I and II, namely:
- The Mark II had more power - 37 hp/28 kW
- An SU carburettor replaced the Zenith carburettor
- The 948 cc engine was replaced in 1962 by a larger 1098 cc engine with 48 bhp output
- Updated Mark II version hit a top speed of 75.2 mph (121.0 km/h), and faster acceleration of 0-50 mph (80 km/h) in 17.4 seconds.
- Fuel consumption at 36.5 miles per gallon (7.7 L/100 km; 30.4 mpg-us)
Incidentally, the A40 Farina Mark II shared the same engine spec as the Morris Minor which were both rear-wheel drives (and later front-wheel drive with the release of the Minor 1100).
From Austin A40, to A50, to A55 - A History of Performance
A popular choice, in modified form, the A40 was a favourite to hit the track with in stock car and heritage racing; and even managed to win quite a few prestigious titles in its heyday.
Some of these accolades include; the Coupe des Dames, Houbigant Cup, RAC Challenge Trophy and Souvenir Award, “L’Officiel de la Couture” and a 2nd in class placing for production touring cars that reach 1000 cc.
A staple favourite for George “Doc” Shepherd, the Austin A40 was used in a Brands Hatch practice that broke the saloon car record. Later Doc Shepherd would win the 1960 British Saloon Car Championship using an Austin A40 Farina.
To this day, the A40 and its successors (the A50 to A55) still remains an absolute joy on and off the track among classic car collectors and routinely makes its way to the finish line of popular historic saloon racing. It’s for this reason that the A40 was our choice for a “rebuild and track project” as we were poised to enter the Snetterton HRDC back in 2017.
To get ready for the event, our team embarked on a full-scope rebuild of a 1962 A40 Farina we purchased off eBay.
The aim of the game was to set up our classic to be track-ready, and with the ambition to take a top title at HRDC.
Our rebuild focused on performance with attention to cosmetics as we were rebuilding from the ground up (we also felt like we could show off our skills at body builds - this had nothing to do with the rusty doors, wink, wink).
Big Wins and Smashing Goals - Our A40 Rebuild Results
After the polished A40 rebuild was complete, we donned our manufacturing brand British Motor Heritage (BMH)'s colours and were ready to take on the HRDC Touring Greats series at Snetterton.
With numerous test runs complete, our man John Yea stepped up to the plate to put pedal to the metal to put our A40 through its paces at the race.
John Yea's pictured above tearing up the track at Snetterton in our modified Austin A40
An experienced, classed driver, John did Motoring Classics proud by seeing our Austin to a fantastic 2nd place result. We fit cameras in the interior and exterior to score some footage of the race which you can view below:
Motoring Classics supplies the best quality classic car parts, heritage motoring products and various memorabilia. Feel free to reach out to us for all your classic car parts, spares or accessory needs; or any questions you may have around your classic car collectible. If you'd like some tips or information on motoring body builds like our A40 project, get in touch with us now.