Austin Austin A30 and A35 (1951 – 1968) Review

Austin Austin A30 and A35 (1951 – 1968) At A Glance


+Great roadholding, and excellent A-Series tuning potential. Cute looks will be a constant conversations starter.

-Brakes and tyres need uprating if you have any intention of using it in modern traffic.

Austin’s answer to the Morris Minor was a quiet technical revolution for maker, who boasted that the A30 was its first 'chassisless' car. It was certainly lighter and more compact, but with a steering box and part-hydraulic, part-rod brakes, so it didn’t feel as advanced on the road.

At first A30s came with an 803cc A-Series engine and four doors. A two-door was added in late 1953. The more usable A35 replaced it in 1956, armed with more power from the 948cc engine. Visually the changes included a painted grille and a much larger rear window.

The useful Countryman version was introduced in September 1954. It was effectively, an A30/A35 van fitted with side windows and rear seats. Many vans have since been converted to Countrymans, so look out for these. Saloon production faded away in 1959 in the wake of the launch of the Mini, but the van went on as late as 1968, with 1098cc, then 848cc, powerplants.

Ask Honest John

I had an Austin A35 van with a floor made of newspaper.

"In today's Telegraph you asked if readers had heard of newspaper clippings inside a car. My story involves a car made of newspaper clippings. My first vehicle was a green Austin A35 van, bought for £150 from a dealer in Leeds, where I lived. A car ran into the back of my van at the traffic lights, bending the rear offside wing out. I took it to a repair garage, which rang and asked me to call in. When I got there they showed me that the rear corner floor was made of The Daily Mirror, nicely varnished with glass fibre resin and perfectly readable. The A35 had no synchromesh on first and a dodgy gearbox so I taught myself to double de-clutch and toe-and-heel when changing gear, I passed these skills onto my sons and when my elder son, who works for a Porsche dealer uses them on test drives his older customers are amazed that a young man has such skills."
Yes, I once had a Riley 1.5 that was like that. Every time you closed the doors either lumps of rust or lumps of plaster dropped down on to the road. Filler was known in the trade as 'pudding' or, more colloquially as 'gob'. The entire East German Trabant was constructed in a similar way to the offside rear of your A35 van. My first proper job was driving an A35 van delivering ice cream in Scarborough. I was lucky. Mine had the 1,098cc engine. Did 80mph.
Answered by Honest John

Can you recommend a classic car for a 17-year-old driver?

"I am just about to come into my final year before my GCSEs, after which I will be entering VI Form and hopefully be learning how to drive as I am September-born. I live about 25 miles away from the school itself in Southampton, and I would like to own a good first classic car, as no modern cars with the addition of expensive pieces of plastic and excessive safety features take my eye. The main reason for a classic is the availability of spare parts, owners clubs and also the endless books of advice and easy maintenance and tuneability. I’ve had a look at some classic cars already (Triumph Dolomite Sprint, Ford Capri, Ford Cortina, Mini) but I have reached a unified stuck end, to which my father pointed me to you, who I have read most weekends on in the DT! I would like to know if you recommend any classic cars that are reliable, good-looking and easy to tune. I’m willing to spend up to about £1750-£1900 on the car itself, so hopefully your assistance would be dearly needed!"
First of all you can forget tuning anything otherwise you will be facing insurance premiums of £10,000 or more a year. The best way in is probably a Morris Minor. There's a huge club giving excellent advice, organising big club events, and all the bits you could ever need. Alternatively a Triumph Herald, if you can find one that isn't rotted out. Austin A35s have gone dear because of their potential for historic racing. First check with classic car insurers such as to find out if they will take a 17-year-old on an agreed value limited mileage classic car policy.
Answered by Honest John
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