Small Austin big on


Austin A35 Coountryman
Austin A35
Austin A35 Coountryman, front

IN the mid-1950s things were happening fast in the British motor industry.

Futuristic and bold designs were discussed, but the real problem was keeping ahead of the opposition at the time as well as in the future.

In the Austin camp, much focus was on the small car sector. The company had been fielding the A30, its answer to the highly successful Morris Minor, but this diddy tribute act in looks to the larger Somerset model was just not enough to cut the mustard for another few years.

However, the basic design of the A30 had considerable potential as it was the company's first chassis-less car and so it was chosen as the platform for the new model.

The name reflected the larger and more powerful 34hp A-Series four-cylinder engine which answered many of the gripes about the A30 being underpowered.

Also new was a larger rear window aperture and a painted front grille, with chrome horse-shoe surround, instead of the chrome grille on the A30.

Those quirky old semaphore turn-signal indicators were replaced with modern flashing lights. An easier to operate remote-control gear-change was provided.

And it did have a better performance, due in some part to different gearbox ratios. The A30 had the first three ratios close together then a big gap to fourth gear. The A35's ratios were better spaced to give the car a higher speed in third gear.

Like the A30, the A35 was offered as a two- or four-door saloon, atwo-door Countryman estate and also as a van.

The van I remember with particular affection as it was my first ‘company car', also used on publishing days to deliver newspapers.

A rare pick-up version was also produced with just 477 sold.

A motoring publication of the time found that the two-door saloon had a top speed of 71.9mph and could accelerate from 0-60mph in 30.1 seconds. A fuel consumption of 41.5 mpg waas recorded.

But although modest in appearance, the A35 was a tough little car and saw some success in motor sport in addition to film and TV cameo roles.

Many found its looks cute, but the underlying fact is that this model was the forerunner of the efficient and sophisticated city cars of today.


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