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Austin A30-A35

Published: 27th Jun 2011 - 1 Comments

Austin A30-A35

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All models covered, including the A40


Overhead valve (pushrod), in-line four cylinder. 803cc A30: 28bhp 948cc A-Series: A35 and A40 with Zenith carburettor, 34bhp; A40 with SU carburettor, 37bhp 1098cc A-Series: A35 van, 45bhp; A40 Farina Mk II, 48bhp


Engine oil:To obtain maximum possible engine life, ideally change oil and filter at least every 3000 miles or annually (whichever comes first). On 803cc A30s, a screw-on disposable filter was employed. The 948cc/1098cc A35s and A40s had replaceable filter elements housed within a removable casing (although some engines have had later type screw-on type filters/adaptors retrofitted). Always check for leaks on completion of oil and filter change. Use high quality, SAE15W50, 20W50 or 20W60 engine oil. Please dispose of old oil in environmentally friendly manner - local councils provide waste oil collection points. Sump capacity: Approx. 7 pints (3.98 litres) Gearbox oil: Every 3000 miles/annually (whichever comes first), check/top up gearbox (with car horizontal). Unscrew filler/level plug (via aperture in transmission tunnel) and ensure that oil is up to base of threads in filler plug aperture. Use oil to same specification as employed in engine. Every 12,000 miles (approximately), drain gearbox (after a long run, when oil has fully warmed up), then re-fill with oil to same specification as used in engine. Gearbox capacity: Approx. 2.3 pints (1.33 litres). Rear axle oil: Every 3000 miles/annually (whichever comes first), remove filler/level plug and ensure that oil is up to base of threads in plug aperture. Every 12,000 miles (approx.), drain axle oil after a long run, and re-fill with fresh oil. Use SAE90EP hypoid oil; axle capacity approx. 1.75 pints (1.0 litre). Check that rear axle breather is unobstructed. Steering box and idler: Every 3000 miles, remove filler/level plug from top of each unit and check lubricant level. If this is low, top up using SAE90EP oil, or a purpose-designed steering box lubricant (such as that made by Penrite), which is ‘fuller-bodied’ and is less inclined to seep away via ageing seals. Running gear: At least every 1000 miles, lubricate front suspension (easier with front wheels removed), propeller shaft and rear spring shackle pins (for all greasepoints, lithium-based, multi-purpose grease is recommended; some owners advocate the use of waterproof grease for the king pins and lower fulcrum pins, and their respective bushes). Attend to grease nipples as follows: Steering swivel (king) pins (nipple at top and bottom on each side), also lower fulcrum pins (at outer ends of wishbones; one greasepoint each side) lubricate with suspension ‘hanging’. Steering ball joints (where greasepoints are fitted). Propeller shaft (one nipple at each end). Brake master cylinder pivot (one nipple under floor; A30 and A35 only). Brake linkage at rear axle (single nipple). Leaf spring upper shackle bushes – at rear ends of springs (one nipple each side - accessible from inside boot on A30/A35 saloons, and from under vehicle on A30/A35 van, pick-up and Countryman estate versions, also A40 Mk I). Note that there are no shackle bush lubrication points on A40 Mark II models. At least every 1000 miles, re-oil/grease handbrake linkage. Ensure that all the pivot points are properly lubricated, and that pivots move freely (if not, clean and free up, using penetrating oil, then re-lubricate). Front wheel bearings: Every 12,000 miles, re-lubricate bearings with grease specifically stated as being suitable for wheel bearing use.

Valve clearances

When checking/adjusting, the engine is easily rotated using the starting handle. It can be helpful to remove the spark plugs to relieve engine compression during these operations. Gaps should be 0.012in. (cold) for both inlet and exhaust valves. Adjustment is by conventional screw and locknut. Employ the ‘Rule of 9’; that is, check/adjust valve No. 1 with No. 8 fully open, No. 2 with 7 open, No. 3 with 6 open, and so on (in each case sum of valve numbers is 9). It’s wise to install a new rocker cover gasket on re-assembly.

Cooling system

All year round, employ high quality anti-freeze mixture containing corrosion inhibitors. Every 3000 miles/annually, inspect radiator, all hoses, water pump and fan. At least every three years, drain system, remove thermostat and reverse-flush prior to re-filling system with fresh anti-freeze solution (observe dilution recommendations of anti-freeze manufacturer – printed on container). Ideally use distilled or de-ionised water in the anti-freeze mix.

Fuel system

Every 3000 miles or annually (whichever comes first), inspect all fuel system pipework and check/top up carburettor dashpot on S.U. equipped examples, using SAE 20 oil (to within 1/2 in. of top of hollow piston rod). After valve clearances and all ignition settings have been checked/set, and with engine at normal running temperature, check/re-set carburettor mixture/throttle stop settings. For full procedures, consult workshop manual. Zenith carburettor: Alternately adjust air regulator and throttle stop (idle speed) screws to give the smoothest possible tickover. S.U. carburettor: For ‘rule of thumb’ method, alternately rotate mixture/jet adjustment nut (at base of carburettor) and throttle stop screw to achieve smoothest possible tickover. Note that with S.U. carburettor, mixture setting affects engine running at all speeds. Mixture strength on S.U. carburettor can be checked by raising piston pin at base of carburettor by approx. 1/32in., with engine at tickover. Engine speed should increase very slightly if mixture strength is correct. (If engine speed decreases immediately/engine stops, mixture is too weak; if engine speed increases drastically, mixture is too rich). (Note: If fuel mixture seems excessively rich after all engine/carburettor adjustments have been made, carburettor needle and jet assembly (on SU instruments) may be worn – a common problem on very high mileage units. In such cases, replacing ailing needle/jet with new items will improve emissions, fuel consumption and driveability). Clean gauze type air filter/renew paper type air filter element every 12,000 miles (or sooner if visibly dirty; check every 6000 miles). Gauze type filters should be soaked in clean paraffin (agitating using an old toothbrush or similar), then allowed to drain, wiped dry using a fluff-free rag, then lightly re-oiled before re-fitting). At each service, ensure that all breather pipework is unobstructed. Every 12,000 miles (approx.): Remove sediment from carburettor float chamber, also from mechanical fuel pump chambers/gauze filter. On cars with S.U. carburettor, remove dashpot and clean suction disc assembly.


At least every 1000 miles/monthly, check brake fluid level (on A30/A35 models, this involves removal of the screwed plate in the driver’s side floor, to gain access to the master cylinder reservoir cap). Investigate low fluid level AT ONCE. At least every 1000 miles/monthly, on A30/A35 models, from underneath vehicle squeeze rubber dust cover on master cylinder, also the one on the under-floor mounted rear slave cylinder (this applies also to the A40 Mk I) - if these dust covers contain brake fluid, the cylinder is leaking and requires IMMEDIATE overhaul or replacement. At least every 3000 miles or annually, whichever comes first, remove front and rear brake drums and carry out detailed inspection of shoes, all cylinders (check particularly carefully for fluid leaks) and drums. Examine also brake pipes, flexible hoses and master cylinder. Renew any ailing components (in axle sets) AT ONCE. AVOID INHALING DUST FROM BRAKE SHOES AS IT MAY CONTAIN ASBESTOS. Adjust brake shoe to drum clearance as required… Using a flatbladed screwdriver, passed through the access hole in each brake drum in turn, rotate adjusters (‘screw’ type on front of A40 Mk I and II; ‘clicker wheel’ type on A30s/A35s, and at rear of A40 Mk I) one click at a time until brakes are locked, then back off until wheel rotates without binding. Note that each front wheel has two adjusters; each rear wheel has a single adjuster. On A40s with screw type adjusters, rotate adjuster clockwise to reduce lining to drum clearance. On the A40 Mk II, the adjusters on the rear brakes take the form of a square-headed shaft protruding from the backplate; rotate with a close-fitting spanner until the wheel is locked, then back off until it rotates freely. On the MK1 A40, ensure that the mechanical rear brake linkages are properly lubricated and adjusted. After carrying out adjustments as described at hubs/backplates, check handbrake operation and re-adjust cable length if necessary (at cable adjuster on compensator bracket, attached to rear axle). To adjust, lock up rear brakes using adjusters at hubs/backplates, then apply handbrake lever by three or four ‘clicks’. Rotate adjuster nuts to eliminate excess slackness from cable (DO NOT overtighten, or brakes will bind). After adjustment, ensure that brakes are not binding with the handbrake lever in the ‘off’ position. At least every two years, change brake fluid.


Firing order: 1-3-4-2 (No. 1 cylinder at front of engine) Spark plugs: Champion N5 or equivalent (original recommendation for A30s/early A35s was NA8); many owners today use N9Y/N9YC or equivalents. Gap: A30, 0.020in. (0.51mm.); other models, 0.025in. (0.64mm.). Check/clean every 6000 miles or annually (whichever comes first); renew regardless every 12,000 miles. Contact points: Gap 0.014 to 0.016in. (0.356 to 0.406mm.). Check/clean points every 3000 miles or annually (whichever comes first); renew regardless every 6000 miles. Distributor cap, rotor arm and high tension leads: Every 3000 miles, clean and check condition, making sure that all connections are sound. Distributor – mechanical aspects: Every 3000 miles, remove rotor arm and apply a few drops of engine oil to moving contact pivot, distributor shaft/cam bearing and mechanical advance mechanism (via holes in distributor’s baseplate). Ensure that excess oil is wiped off. SPARINGLY apply grease to distributor’s cam. Static Timing (Note: The following should be regarded as initial settings, with final adjustments to suit individual engines being carried out after a road test). On A30s still fitted with 803cc engines prior to No. 2A 93536, timing marks are on flywheel and are invisible unless engine and gearbox are separated - either fit timing cover and crank pulley from a later engine, or establish ‘Top Dead Centre’ (TDC) position for firing stroke on No.1 cylinder. With spark plug removed and using a length of stiff wire or a long screwdriver blade (CAREFULLY introduced into the cylinder via the spark plug aperture), rotate the engine, using the starting handle, until the piston is at its uppermost point of travel, with both valves closed - verify with rocker cover removed. Now you can make your own painted timing marks on the timing case/crankshaft pulley. Initial settings for the 803cc A30 engine, as recommended by Austin, are 11 degrees Before Top Dead Centre (BTDC) for ‘premium’ fuel; 6.5 degrees BTDC for low octane fuel. For 948cc and 1098cc models, set the timing by reference to the pointers on the timing case (there are three pointers, spaced at 5 degree intervals and starting with longest pointer representing TDC) and notch on crankshaft pulley. Settings are: 948cc high compression, 5 degrees BTDC. 948cc low compression, 2 degrees BTDC (Note – this setting was intended for use with low octane fuel; for normal octane petrol, try 5 degrees BTDC). 1098cc, 3 degrees BTDC. Strobe setting for these engines, 6 degrees BTDC at 600 rpm. 848cc (late A35 vans only), TDC (premium fuel distributor) or 7 degrees BTDC (low octane fuel distributor). Strobe settings for these engines, 2 to 2.5 degrees BTDC at 600 rpm (premium fuel distributor) or 9 to 9.5 degrees BTDC (low octane fuel distributor).

Sundry items

Every 1000 miles, re-grease original type water pumps (remove screwed Every 3000 miles, or annually (whichever comes first)... Examine fan belt and re-tension if necessary (3/4 in. deflection at centre of belt run between crankshaft and dynamo pulleys). Check/re-adjust clutch pedal free play (only for A30 and A35 models with mechanical clutch linkage; A40s have hydraulic system): A30 and 948cc A35, 3/8in. (9.53mm.); 848cc and 1098cc A35, 5/8in. to 3/4in. (15 to 19mm.). Check cleanliness/security of all electrical connections; inspect wiring for damage. Assess condition/security of all running gear components and suspension mounting bushes. Inspect underbody for damage and rectify paint blemishes. plug and replenish with special water pump grease; re-fit plug). Every 3000 miles, lubricate carburettor pivot points/controls, and accelerator pedal pivot. Every 3000 miles, lubricate hinges and lock mechanisms (wipe off excess lubricant). Every 3000 miles, lubricate clutch and brake pedal pivot points. Every 12,000 miles, re-lubricate dynamo rear bearing (with a few drops of engine oil). (Note: On early models with dynamo lubricator cap, remove cap, take out felt wick and spring, halffill cap with grease, then re-fit wick, spring and cap). Every 12,000 miles, fit new oil filler cap/filter assembly. Every 12,000 miles, check/clean crankcase breather. Every 12,000 miles, check hub bearings for wear (renew if worn; the bearings are non-adjustable). Every 12,000 miles, check shock absorbers for deterioration/leaks, and rear leaf springs for wear/corrosion/damage (if ailing, renew in axle sets). Every 12,000 miles, check exhaust system for security/leaks. Every 12,000 miles, check engine compression figures. Readings obtained should be between 115 and 135 p.s.i. for a unit in excellent condition. Reading for a worn unit are fairly unimportant but what is critical is that readings between the cylinders do not vary by more than about 10 per cent which suggests wear or a failing cylinder head gasket.


Best Mods

  • The A30/A35 was a popular circuit racer in its day and responds well to low cost mods to make one better suited to modern roads conditions.
  • The A-Series is super tuneable giving up to 130bhp for tractable road use these days with ease although around 80-90bhp is most cost effective and ample for many owners. The gutsy 1275 engine is the best and can be taken out to just under 1400cc if desired.
  • However for many the best route is to simple upgrade the engine to Spridget tune either by using the original parts of via contemporary tuning kits. If you can locate authentic Speedwell equipment then so much the better as it was a popular kit for the car in the 1950s and 60s.
  • Tuned A30s need cooling. An uprated radiator is a good idea (try Radtec). Highly tuned A-Series units may need an oil cooler and a good classic oil.
  • More power should be allied to better gearing for more relaxed higher speed work – a higher axle ratio from a later Spridget is a good step. As with the Morris Minor, the fitting of the Ford Sierra five-speed gearbox is an excellent if expensive improvement as not only des it provide an added cog for over 50mph but the intermediates are well suited to the A-Series.
  • There’s an assortment of suspension and brake upgrades – it depends how well and ‘modern’ you want your A30 to handle and stop and how much you have to spend. Speak to a good specialist for best advice but certainly modernising the brakes has to be one of the first steps! Ideally Midget spec should be the base before any major engine tuning is envisaged.
  • A good overhaul of the lever arm dampers, springs and some poly bushing may be all you need to make an A30/A35 handle as well an MG Midget (which shared the same basic platform). Radials help of course but don’t go over-wide on rim widths as it will make the car hard to drive.
  • Much the same also holds true for the A40, which is the same platform albeit with a longer wheelbase and from October ‘62, a longer wheelbase, for steadier handling compared to the A30/A35. However before any serious modifications are carried out the earlier hydro-mechanical brakes must be converted to the MKII’s proper all hydraulic set up.

Top Tips

  • It is vital to examine the rear suspension mountings and surrounding structures; these areas are complex, and difficult to properly restore; rust here means an instant MoT failure.
  • Look closely at the sill assemblies and adjacent floor pans. The sills are structurally crucial to the overall integrity of the body shell, and corrosion is often encountered; check from end to end.
  • Inspect the inner front wings and all cross-car frontal panelwork. Salty mud collects around these areas and invites rust to get a strong grip. Rectification can be a major job as a result
  • Assess the condition of the front wings. Rust is often present in the lower rear corners of the wings. Look in the boot as rusting boot floors are often encountered.
  • Take special care when checking an 803cc engine. The 948cc and 1098cc engines used in the A35s are tough, long-lasting units, by contrast, the 803cc motor used in the A30 can suffer from early failure of the whitemetalled big end bearings, resulting in a knocking noise under light throttle openings.Water pumps on the 803cc unit are also scarce and costly.
  • Regular lubrication of the front suspension is essential for long life as this incorporates king pins and bushes,plus threaded fulcrum pins If it fails a wheel can literally fall off… And even if you catch a seized, worn unit in time it can be so hard to dismantle that the complete wishbone may have to be replaced. There three greasing points per side to deal with every 1000 miles – or sooner.
  • You can check the infamous king pins for wear by raising (and properly supporting on axle stands) the front of the car and attempting to rock the wheels in and out. Assess the extent of wear in the fulcrum pins and bushes by levering up and down beneath each front wheel/tyre in turn, while an assistant watches for excessive wear in the components.
  • The front damper bolts are long and known to work loose. Apart from making a noise if you don’t check their security it will lead to the holes elongating.
  • The handbrake uses a series of pulleys and bell cranks and is prone to seize unless kept well lubricated. Later cars used improved cable-to-box set up.
  • Rear end knocking noises could be due to the welds on the leaf spring’s shackle pins breaking away causing the pin to move. Rear springs use ‘top hat’ Harris bushes which wear out.
  • Make sure the brakes operate properly. Relatively heavy pedal pressures are an inherent feature of the A30/A35 braking system, but with adequate for the performance of a standard example. Obvious faults such as pulling to one side under or a spongy feel to the pedal. On the A40 Mk1, too the condition of the mechanical rear set up will dictate overall performance. Properly maintained it is also adequate for the car’s standard performance.

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This review has 1 comments

  • Thanks this is helpful.

    Comment by: Classic Cars 4 Sale     Posted on: 02 Jul 2011 at 11:17 AM

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