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Austin A30 & A35

ADORABLE AUSTIN Published: 29th Aug 2014 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Austin A30 & A35
Austin A30 & A35
Austin A30 & A35
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If you fancy something different to a Morris Minor, try an A30 and A35

I’M AFTER A SMALL CHEAP CLASSIC THAT’S NOT A MINOR! ANY SUGGESTIONS?

Yes, have a look at its in-house rival, the Austin A30 and A35. These cheeky little numbers have most of the character of a Minor but are smaller so nimbler to drive and rarer on the show scene. And just as cute looking we reckon!

A BIT FUDDY DUDDY THOUGH?

Ok, so it’s not the most iconic classic around but the car also has a fair sporting pedigree. The late great Graham Hill raced one on his way to Grand Prix stardom while another former F1 champ, the late James Hunt, used an A35 van as his daily driver when he was impoverished late on in his life. Okay, so it was a cheap car, but he also admitted that the car’s low cornering grip kept him on his toes and ‘competitive’. Incidentally, a racing series just for the A30 and A35 has been introduced by the HRDC called The A35 Academy and it sounds brilliant fun.

WHAT’S AROUND?

Two and four-door saloons were the mainstay before the car was replaced in the late 1950s by the A40 – that’s another overlooked working classic – but there was also the Countryman estate and a commercial range (which included an ultra rare pick-up), both of which are as interesting as any Morris Minor and arguably better value. The A30 ran from 1951-56 with the A35 in production until 1959 although A35 vans were built until 1968.

WHAT ARE THEY LIKE TO DRIVE?

If it’s good enough for James Hunt… And bear in mind that the car provided the backbone for the Austin- Healey Sprite which evolved into the Midget, which lasted up until 1979! Admittedly, performance feels positively pedestrian, but this can be easily improved while the handling was just as enjoyable as a Minor’s even if there’s zero grip on the skinny tyres and the steering isn’t rack and pinion like the Minor. The Morris has the advantage of better brakes as well. The old fashioned hydromechanical braking system is just about adequate if in good order and correctly adjusted – but keep your distance all the same…

WHAT’S THE BEST BUYS?

Obviously, condition is the main decider when buying as these cars are pretty similar. But given the choice we’d opt for an A35 every time because it feels far more modern in character than an A30, thanks to the extra power from the brisker 948cc A-Series engine and higher gearing to make out of town driving more bearable. On 13inch wheels it handles better, too and thanks to larger rear window doesn’t feel so claustrophobic although it’s very tight once you’re in there. In this respect the Minor is the roomier, more comfortable car.

HOW MUCH?

Considerably less expensive than a Minor that’s for sure. You can buy an A30 or A35 from around £500 as a project worth pursuing, add a grand for a roadworthy car that can be a rolling restoration while you still enjoy it. Prices can double for nice cars and don’t be surprised to see ‘capital A’ A30/A35s brushing the £5000 barrier with commercials worth an additional £1000 across the board. Indeed, perfect pick-ups have been known to hit fi ve fi gures!

ARE THEY AS EASY AS A MINOR TO RUN?

By and large yes; the mechanicals were pretty similar while you can use parts from a Midget, which are not only easier to source but usefully uprate the car at the same time. Bull Motif Spares of Gloucestershire are the people to help (http://www.austina30a35parts.com) as is the owners’ club (www. austina30a35ownersclub.co.uk).

WHAT GOES WRONG?

Nothing much really but rust is the chief worry and to make matters worse replacement panels aren’t as prevalent as for the Morris. It is vital to examine the rear suspension mountings and surrounding structure. These areas are quite complex, and diffi cult to properly restore. Look closely at the sill assemblies and fl oors. The sills are structurally crucial to the body’s integrity, ditto inner front wings and all cross-car frontal panelwork. Wings and in the sections beneath the headlamps go too but the front wings bolt on, which is handy if they come off easily.

OK SO HOW ABOUT THE OILY BITS?

These A-Series units are strong with only usual wear points. Check the transmission though. They all characteristically whine but shouldn’t be excessively so, especially in fi rst and reverse. Second gear synchro can fail and rear axles can sing a bit but it’s rarely serious. The suspension’s king pins and bushes wear badly if regular lubrication has been neglected, and the ride and handling suffers if the lever arm shock absorbers are worn; uprated types from the Midget improve the handling as do slightly wider modern tyres. You can fi t the far more positive Sprite/ Minor rack and pinion steering but, despite the car’s close relationship with that sports car, it’s not an easy job. What is and far better is a Metro rack says A30/A35 specialist Austin Clayton. Other than this, ensure the steering box is in good order with minimal play in the box, idler arm and the drag links.

WHAT ABOUT THOSE CABLE BRAKES!

It’s not anything to put you off but if you’re not used to mechanical brakes, take it gently when test driving and leave plenty of space! Relatively heavy pedal pressures are the norm and original brake cylinders are scarce as well as surprisingly pricey (especially the underfl oor-mounted master cylinder). New brake cables cost under £25 on the other hand and if adjusted properly are adequate although you can fi t Sprite rear hydraulic brakes if you desire – and we wouldn’t blame you, especially if you also tweak the engine to Midget tune and make a nice little road burner.



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