questions & answers
Welcome to the world's first organization dedicated exclusively to the restoration and preservation of American Austin
and Bantam vehicles that were built in Butler, Pennsylvania. The club welcomes owners and fans of American Austin,
American Bantam, Bantam Reconnaissance Cars, as well as the English Austin Seven and its derivatives.
Let's talk about your American Austin or American Bantam
Austin engines were small,
thrifty and peppy
A one-owner 1931 American Austin roadster was recently discovered.
I have an Austin roadster for sale and I'm not a member of the club. Are you interested?
Yes, we are always looking for fresh leads on new vehicles. Please send an e-mail to:
firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line "Car for sale". Please give your name, address,
city, state, phone number, description of the vehicle and an asking price. We do not accept ads
without a price.
We will list your nonmember classified (American Austin, Austin Seven or American Bantam cars
and parts only) one time in our newsletter. Upt to 40 words or less. Photos are optional and subject
to space availablility. For additional classifieds, nonmembers must either join the club or pay $6.00
in advance to our treasurer for each 40-word classified. All ads are subject to review and editing.
The club reserves the right to refuse any nonmember classified.
At the 2009 national meet held in New York, a member demonstrated a rare, original hand-operated
press from the American Bantam factory. It was used to emboss Bantam lettering in blank hubcaps.
Where do I find parts and cars?
As you may have discovered, our cars and parts are scarce as hen's teeth but not impossible to
find. That's why the most popular venue at the national meet is the annual swap meet. The
American Austin Bantam Club News is also a good source, and a networking tool. If you're a new
member, let us introduce your project to the club through the newsletter. Place a "wanted"
classified ad. Get to know the other club members and find those rare parts.
At the 2009 technical seminar, a member showed how he installed
floor pans in his rolling American Austin coupe chassis.
I want to restore the American Bantam coupe that I just inherited. Where do I start?
If you can, visit the American Austin Bantam Club's national meet. You will see some of the finest
restorations, have an opportunity to take photos, ask questions, and just hang out with like-minded
folks. The club regularly holds a technical seminar where members share restoration tips. One of
the best seminars was held at the 2009 Batavia, New York meet. No less than five members gave
demonstrations on door alignment, troubleshooting the Austin transmission, installing floor pans
and making new hardware look period-correct. Even if you're not in the middle of a restoration, the
meet is a good opportunity to learn new skills.
How many American Bantam vehicles exist today?
Nearly 20,000 American Austins were made, and the American Bantam Car Company Production
Book recorded 6,513 Bantam vehicles built in various body styles. Nearly 2,600 BRC "jeeps" were
completed, plus over 100,000 trailers. Today, at least 5% of the vehicles are registered with Austin
and Bantam enthusiasts in the club. Due to the petite size of the American Austin and Bantam
cars, one could estimate that at least another 200 cars may exist outside the club. Members are
still finding cars that have been tucked away for years.
I have a Bantam trailer. Are there any good restoration sources available?
During and after World War II, American Bantam built far more utility trailers than all the American
Austin and Bantam vehicles combined. The BT3 military trailers are highly sought after by military
enthusiasts. It's easy to discern between the military trailer and the BT3-C civilian trailer. The
military trailer did not have a drop-down tailgate so that the cargo box was waterproof and could
float. It also carried a pintle hitch, whereas the BT3-C civilian trailer carried a standard ball hitch.
You'll find detailed photos on this non-club website: http://jeepdraw.com/Trailer.html
Can a diesel engine fit in an American Austin or Bantam car?
Maybe. But just because you can doesn't mean that you should. American Austin and Bantam
vehicles are poor candidates for modern modifications. To retain the stock appearance, all
components under the hood must fit within the confines of a space that is 16 inches wide, 18
inches long and 20 inches high. Remember, the frame and suspension were designed to carry a
13-horsepower Austin engine or a 20-22 horsepower Bantam engine that weighs less than 150
pounds fully equipped. Austin roadster bodies are manufactured by a fiberglass firm to meet the
needs of those looking for a daily driver. Original parts and bodies should be preserved and
restored to the factory standards.
Herbert Austin's original Austin
Seven, including its engine, was
designed by eighteen-year-old
Stanley Edge. The 7-horsepower
water-cooled engine was loosely
based on a 4-cylinder Belgian FN
air-cooled overhead valve
The Austin featured splash
lubrication in an aluminum
crankcase with side valves
mounted in a cast iron cylinder
block. Output was estimated to be
10 horsepower at 2,400 rpm, but
taxable horsepower was only 7.2.
That was important to overtaxed
motorists in England, so the official
model name for Herbert and
Stanley's little wonder became
Almost immediately, Austin Sevens
began to make their mark. A Seven
finished first in the Swiss
Automobile Club Touring Race, the
Egyptian Royal Automobile Club
Race, Mulders Drift Hill Climb in
South Africa, and other events. By
1930, Sevens had won more than
500 trophies and medals the world
over. It was upon that reputation that
Austin hoped to build a future in
American Austin incorporated strict quality
controls into their assembly process.
From 1930-1932, the American Austin
distributor was driven by a generator mounted
across the front of the engine.
The 1930 American Austin engine
was rated at 7.78 taxable
horsepower, or 13.8 actual
horsepower at 3,400 rpm. It was a
mirrored version of the Austin Seven -
that is, everything on the left side of
the Seven engine was moved to the
right on the American Austin.
Therefore, few parts interchanged.
American Austin's electrical
components, such as the generator
and distributor, were sourced from
Auto-Lite. The generator was
mounted transversely at the front of
the engine, and the distributor was
perched on the opposite end of the
generator. All were gear-driven by the
camshaft. In 1932, American Austin
modified its engine design so that the
generator was mounted beside the
engine in a traditional belt-driven
Styling differences between American
Austin and American Bantam are
obvious, but mechanical differences
are subtle. Manifold modifications
from racing engineer Harry A. Miller
were put into production in late 1937,
as were crankshaft improvements by
former Stutz engineer Harold Crist.
The result was a more powerful
engine with 20 horsepower.
In 1939, Bantam introduced its most
sophisticated engine, the
22-horsepower Super Four
Hillmaster. It featured three main
bearings around the crankshaft
instead of the earlier two.
(c) 2017. American Austin Bantam Club. No portion may be reproduced without permission.
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This Avondale Ice Cream truck photo was found in our company archives. Do you know
the model year?
This question came to us from the Swab Wagon Company of Elizabethville, Pennsylvania, a
custom builder of wagon and truck bodies since 1868. The Avondale Ice Cream trucks were
modified from the early 1938 American Bantam roadsters. At least two roadsters were delivered to
Swab Wagon for conversion. The modifiers lopped off the rear decks and mounted the square,
insulated ice boxes to the frames. The rear license plates and tail lights were mounted at the top of
the boxes along with racks of thin tubing. The Swab name plates were attached to the rocker
panels in front of the rear fenders.
A fleet of ten Avondale Ice Cream trucks was published in the July 1938 Bantam News, which was
a promotional piece published by the American Bantam Car Company of Butler, Pennsylvania. To
date, no surviving vehicles have been found. If you have seen one or found an old photograph,
please contact us at email@example.com.
Avondale Ice Cream truck photo reprinted with permission from Swab
Wagon Company, Elizabethville, PA. (c) 2016.