IN 1958 a transformation occurred within the ranks of Austin when the old and familiar A40 style gave way to a touch of Italian magic.
The result was the Austin A40 with styling by Farina. It became known as the Austin Farina and was an immediate success for the manufacturer.
But following hot on the heels of the saloon version was a clever variant which was one of the pioneers of the modern hatchback.
The A40 Countryman combined many of the virtues of a saloon and estate car in one body. There was more headroom for the rear passengers because of the angular instead of curved lines of the roof, while as a two-seater it provides an exceptional amount of luggage space.
The normal luggage boot on the A40 featured a boot lid with the rear window remaining fixed.
With the Countryman the rear seats folded to permit the whole of the rear of the car to be used for luggage, though the loading deck was not exactly flat.
It was clever for the time and had a rather cheeky but chunky style that attracted family and business drivers alike.
In 1961 with its four-cylinder 998cc engine it would have set the prospective buyer back £659.17.6 - more expensive than the Ford Anglia at £589.0.10 and the Morris 1000 saloon at £590.9.02.
It was a breakthrough for the Austin marque because Pininfarina, of Turin was for the most part, consulted only by builders of expensive cars and, as would be expected, much was made of the car's looks
Unlike other models, the A40 was never subjected to badge engineering, remaining solely an Austin throughout its life.