American Austins.

 

American Austin Celebrates 75th Anniversary:

Austin Enthusiasts in America will also participate in the Austin Centenary by celebrating American Austin 75th Anniversary in Butler, Pennsylvania, USA from July 18-21st.  For details please contact the American Austin Club at
 

American Austin:

Adaptations of Austin's hearty seven design were successful in France, (Rosengart) and Germany (Dixie).  Austin hoped to find similar success in the United States.  By 1926, only 40 Sevens had been imported to the US.  So, Austin sent Richard Papelian to New York City with a new yellow and black Seven saloon. Papelian drove 680 miles to Americas automotive headquarters, Detroit, Michigan.  Newspaper reporters and curious motorists followed his every move.  Despite the publicity, Papelian was never introduced to willing investors. American's didn't seem interested in manufacturing a small car.

Austin finally found a willing partner when in 1929 the American Austin Car Company was incorporated and the plant opened in Butler, Pennsylvania.  Mechanically, the American Austins were similar to the original sevens - although the engine configuration was mirrored and the driver steered from the left side.  The bodies were re-designed to fit American tastes by Russian Count Alexis deSakhnoffsky.  The 1930 American "Bantam" models included a 5-window coupe, a 3 window coupe delivery, and a roadster.  Additional models were offered over the next few years, including a pick-up, a panel truck, and a high-top van.  Unfortunately, the venture was launched simultaneously with the Great Depression.  Few were willing to buy a baby Austin when the same money could bring home a full-sized Ford.  Less than 20,000 cars were built before American Austin ceased production in 1934.

American Bantam: 

By late 1937, American Austin President Roy S. Evans had purchased the company and re-designed the vehicles - both mechanically and aesthetically.  Therefore, the $7 per car royalty paid to Austin of England was no longer required.  Count deSakhnoffsky updated his designs with his full pontoon-style fenders, enclosed radiator, updated dash gauges and rounded corners overall.  The all new American Bantam car Company produced it's first cars in December 1937.  Body styles included the 5-window coupe, pick-up, panel truck, utility wagon, roadster, club roadster, speedster, convertible coupe and convertible sedan.  Only 6,700 were built before production was halted in June 1940, due to insufficient sales.

The First Jeeps:

At the same time, with only 13 employees on the payroll, Bantam secured a military contract to develop a small 4-wheel-drive car for the US Army.  Plant manager Harold Crist enlisted the help of free lance engineer Karl Probst.  A Bantam Reconnaissance Car (BRC) prototype was developed in just 49 days.  Bantam went on to build 2,675 cars the soldiers fondly called "jeeps".  But with the probability of American involvement in World War 11 looming on the horizon, the US government pulled the blueprints from  tiny Bantam and awarded the work to the larger Willys-Overland company with assistance from Ford.  Bantam jeep production ceased and it's jeeps were shipped overseas for use by British and Russian troops.  Bantam survived until 1956 building utility trailers.

Our thanks to -
Bob Cunningham - Editor, American Austin Bantam Club News, Des Moines, Iowa, USA.

26th February 2006.
 

 Dear Sir, I read with interest your article on American Austins especially as it was my grandfather who drove the Austin to Detroit in 1926. One small point his name was Richard Papelian not Peter. I would be interested to know if you have any more information or pictures of his journey and indeed how he came to be involved with your company.  Carolyn Starren.

Does anyone have information for Carolyn?  If so, then please get in contact,

 

___________________________________________________________________________

 


And a very good looking Canadian A40 Devon owned by Erick and Marie Appadoo from Burlington, Ontario - members of the British Saloon Club of Canada.

 

  American Austin Celebrates 75th Anniversary:

Austin Enthusiasts in America will also participate in the Austin Centenary by celebrating American Austin 75th Anniversary in Butler, Pennsylvania, USA from July 18-21st.  For details please contact the American Austin Club at

American Austin:

Adaptations of Austin's hearty seven design were successful in France, (Rosengart) and Germany (Dixie).  Austin hoped to find similar success in the United States.  By 1926, only 40 Sevens had been imported to the US.  So, Austin sent Richard Papelian to New York City with a new yellow and black Seven saloon. Papelian drove 680 miles to Americas automotive headquarters, Detroit, Michigan.  Newspaper reporters and curious motorists followed his every move.  Despite the publicity, Papelian was never introduced to willing investors. American's didn't seem interested in manufacturing a small car.

Austin finally found a willing partner when in 1929 the American Austin Car Company was incorporated and the plant opened in Butler, Pennsylvania.  Mechanically, the American Austins were similar to the original sevens - although the engine configuration was mirrored and the driver steered from the left side.  The bodies were re-designed to fit American tastes by Russian Count Alexis deSakhnoffsky.  The 1930 American "Bantam" models included a 5-window coupe, a 3 window coupe delivery, and a roadster.  Additional models were offered over the next few years, including a pick-up, a panel truck, and a high-top van.  Unfortunately, the venture was launched simultaneously with the Great Depression.  Few were willing to buy a baby Austin when the same money could bring home a full-sized Ford.  Less than 20,000 cars were built before American Austin ceased production in 1934.