Austin A35
Austin A35 (Billopp, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Austin A35 : The New Jelly Mould

The Austin A35 is an iconic classic car that embodies the spirit of 1950s automotive design in the United Kingdom.

Manufactured by the British Motor Corporation (BMC), the A35 was introduced to the market as a successor to the equally popular Austin A30.

It quickly gained a reputation for being a reliable, compact family car and became a familiar sight on British roads during its production years.

With its charming aesthetics and nimble handling, the A35 was more than just a mode of transport; it became a symbol of post-war optimism.

The range of models and variants available suited a wide array of needs, catering to both private motorists and commercial users with its van versions.

Even after the end of its production in 1968, the A35 has remained a favourite among classic car enthusiasts, not just for its historical significance but also for the joyful driving experience it offers.

Key Takeaways

  • The Austin A35 is a classic symbol of the 1950s British motoring era.
  • It was a product of the BMC, available in various models for diverse use.
  • The A35 enjoys a lasting legacy for its design and driving enjoyment.

History and Development

The Austin A35 emerged in the 1950s as a significant model in British automotive history; marking its identity with compact design and engineering innovation.

Genesis of Austin A35

Its development represented the era’s demand for economical and practical vehicles.

Initiated as an advancement over the previous model, the Austin A35 was introduced to the market in 1956.

With the intent of offering a more refined and capable car, the manufacturing of the A35 reflected the evolving needs of the post-war motorist and their growing desire for a sturdy yet small family car.

Comparison with Austin A30

While retaining the charm of its predecessor, the Austin A30, the A35 boasted a series of improvements.

Most notably, it came equipped with a larger and more powerful 948cc A-Series engine, providing a much-needed boost in performance.

In addition to the engine upgrade, the Austin A35 also featured a larger rear window and a painted grille, setting it apart visually from the A30.

Design Influences by Raymond Loewy

Although mostly utilitarian in design, the Austin A35 was subtly influenced by the renowned industrial designer Raymond Loewy.

Known for his work on the iconic Coca-Cola bottle and the modern Studebaker, Loewy’s design principles emphasised simplicity and functionality, elements that are evident in the Austin A35’s no-frills aesthetic.

British Motor Corporation (BMC) and the A-Series Engine

The powerhouse behind the Austin A35, the A-Series engine, was a marvel of British engineering.

Developed and produced by the British Motor Corporation (BMC), it embodied efficiency and durability.

Its introduction with the Austin A35 proved its versatility, later becoming widely used in various BMC models across decades.

Models and Variants

The Austin A35 featured a range of models catering to various practical needs, from personal travel to commercial use. Each variant embodied the practical British design ethos coupled with reliable performance.

Austin A35 Saloon

The Austin A35 Saloon was the principal model, introduced in 1956. It came with a 948 cc engine capable of delivering reliable performance.

Tailored for everyday use, this saloon was a common sight on British roads well into the 1960s.

Austin A35 Countryman Estate

The Countryman Estate version provided greater space and versatility.

Recognised for its ash wood-trimmed rear bodywork, the A35 Countryman was sought after by families and businesses needing that extra carriage capacity for either luggage or goods.

Austin A35 Van

Robust and compact, the Austin A35 Van served the commercial market. Remember the ubiquitous GPO Vans?

Originally equipped with the same 948 cc engine as the Saloon, the van proved popular for small enterprises, offering economical transport solutions for goods and services across the UK.

Special Editions and Collaborations

A few special editions and collaborations of the Austin A35 were witnessed, adding unique flair to the line-up.

These limited-run models often boasted distinctive features or finishes that set them apart from the standard versions, appealing to enthusiasts and collectors alike.

Technical Specifications

The Austin A35 has left a notable mark in automotive history with its distinctive technical features, particularly its reliable A-series engine and mechanics that contributed to its commendable performance for the era.

Engine and Performance

The heart of the Austin A35’s performance lies within its range of engine options, most notably the 948cc and 803cc units.

These engines were known for durability and offered an output that sufficiently powered the compact A35.

The 948cc A-Series inline-four engine delivered a whopping 34 hp (25 kW), allowing for a slightly higher top speed and better acceleration compared to its predecessor.

Gearbox and Driving Mechanics

Equipped with a manual gearbox, the Austin A35 provided drivers with a hands-on driving experience typical of the period.

The transmission was known for its simplicity and reliability, aligning well with the vehicle’s humble project ambitions.

Enthusiasts often engage in tuning these gearboxes for improved performance and smoother shifting.

Chassis and Bodywork

The chassis of the Austin A35 was designed to offer a balance between lightweight construction and strength, which contributed to the vehicle’s pretty nimble handling.

The bodywork featured a larger rear window aperture than its predecessor, and the overall design of the A35 was both functional and quintessentially British.

The construction techniques used on the A35 were quite advanced for the time, creating a car that was highly reliable for daily use.

Ownership Experience

Owning an Austin A35 is a journey into classic car stewardship, offering a combination of nostalgia and the genuine satisfaction that comes with the maintenance and restoration of a historical vehicle.

Maintenance and Roadworthiness

As with any road vehicle, the Austin A35 requires regular maintenance to keep it in good condition, as expected with vehicles of its age.

An annual roadworthiness test is essential to ensure that the vehicle meets road safety standards.

The involvement of specialists for routine checks and repairs is recommended, as they will be familiar with the nuances of vintage car care.

Restoration Projects

Restoration enthusiasts often seek out the Austin A35 for projects due to its endearing design (affectionally known as the jelly mould) and simplicity.

Bodywork often requires attention over time, and sourcing original parts can be a fulfilling aspect of the restoration process.

Clubs such as the Austin A30/A35 Owners’ Club are invaluable resources for assistance and finding rare components.

Price and Buying Tips

When considering the purchase of an Austin A35, prices can vary significantly based on condition and originality.

Pristine examples can command higher prices, (Just seen one for £16K) while those in need of restoration may be more affordable.

Prospective buyers should inspect the vehicle thoroughly, looking for signs of rust or past repair work, and seek out vehicles with a well-documented history.

It’s wise to check the market price and seek expert advice before finalising any purchase.

Cultural Impact

The Austin A35 holds a unique position in British cultural heritage, not only finding its place in the competitive realm of motorsport but also leaving an indelible mark on media and film. This small family car transcends its utilitarian roots, becoming a symbol of a certain era in British motoring history.

Austin A35 in Motorsport

The Austin A35 made a noteworthy contribution to motorsport, often making appearances in historic racing events.

Its agility and simpler mechanics made it a popular choice for competitors.

Legendary drivers such as Jackie Stewart and Graham Hill have been associated with piloting the Austin A35 in races, illustrating its significance beyond a mere commuter car.

Historic Racing and HRDC

In historic racing circles, the Austin A35 regularly competes in events alongside other classics like the Morris Minor.

The Historic Racing Drivers Club (HRDC), which organises events for historic race cars, has a dedicated Academy Class for the Austin A35, showcasing these vehicles in their competitive glory and enhancing their legacy within the historic racing community.

Austin A35 in Media and Film

The Austin A35 has also enjoyed a presence in media and film, perhaps most famously featured in Wallace & Gromit films such as ‘A Matter of Loaf and Death‘ and ‘The Curse of the Were-Rabbit‘.

Its quintessentially British character and distinctive design make it instantly recognisable and a natural fit for evoking a certain mid-20th-century British charm in visual storytelling.

Community and Events

The Austin A30/A35 community is vibrant and actively involved in preserving the legacy of these classic vehicles through various clubs and events across the UK.

Austin A30/A35 Owners’ Club and Community Engagement

The Austin A30/A35 Owners’ Club is dedicated to the appreciation and preservation of these classic cars.

Members often engage in restoring their vehicles and sharing their knowledge and experiences.

The club brings together enthusiasts from all walks of life, fostering a sense of camaraderie and support amongst Austin A30 and A35 owners.

Rallies and Meets

Regularly scheduled Rallies and Meets are a cornerstone of the Austin A30/A35 community.

These include both local gatherings, such as the informal meets at Derbyshire, and larger national events.

The community thrives on these face-to-face interactions, where members share their passion and showcase their prized right-hand drive (RHD) vehicles.

Local and National Events

Throughout the year, a range of Events take place, from local club meetings to major national shows.

Events such as the Austin A30/A35 International Rally not only celebrate these historic cars but also offer opportunities for members to display their vehicles, exchange parts, and share advice on keeping their Austin roadworthy.

The club plays an instrumental role in organising such events that cater to both seasoned collectors and new enthusiasts alike.

Collectors and Preservation

The Austin A35 holds a cherished spot in the world of classic car collectors, prized for both its heritage as a product of the Longbridge factory and the joy it brings to preservation enthusiasts.

Private Collections and Famous Owners

In private collections, the Austin A35 often features as a highlight, exemplifying the charm of post-war British car design.

Famous owners of classic Austin, including the A35, have added to the model’s folklore, cementing its status as a eminently collectable.

These vehicles frequently appear at classic car shows and can command considerable prices depending on their condition and history.

Prices reflect their status and demand among enthusiasts.

Preservation Techniques

Preservation of an Austin A35 requires a meticulous approach to maintain its condition.

Techniques include the use of authentic parts, often sourced from specialist suppliers, and adhering to methods that were originally used in the car’s manufacture.

The significantly more powerful 1275cc engine, popular among collectors for upgrading performance, must be fitted with care and consideration to the overall effects, to preserve the car’s value.

Moreover, protecting the vehicle from rust and ensuring regular maintenance are key to prolonging its life.

Investing in an Austin A35

Investing in an Austin A35 can be a rewarding endeavour.

With a heightened interest in classic cars and their potential as appreciating assets, the A35 has seen steady growth in value.

The acquisition cost can vary widely, and factors such as originality, mileage, and condition come into play.

Prospective buyers are advised to research thoroughly, considering the long-term preservation and potential costs associated with owning a classic car.

Frequently Asked Questions

When considering the ownership or purchase of a classic car such as the Austin A35, enthusiasts and potential buyers often have key questions regarding its value, availability, features, and performance. This section aims to address those inquiries with precise and factual information.

What is the average sale price for an Austin A35?

The average sale price for an Austin A35 obviously varies widely based on its condition, history, and level of restoration.

Generally, prices can range from a few thousand pounds for models that may require significant restoration, to higher sums for well-maintained and fully restored examples.

Where can one find an Austin A35 for sale in the UK?

One can find Austin A35s for sale on various platforms, including here.

What are the distinctive features of the Austin A35’s interior?

The interior of an Austin A35 is known for its simplicity and functionality, reflecting the design ethos of the 1950s.

It typically features a basic dashboard with a central speedometer and minimal instrumentation, along with vinyl seats and a floor-mounted gear lever.

How does the Austin A35 performance compare in terms of speed?

In terms of speed, the Austin A35 was not designed as a high-performance vehicle.

Originally fitted with a small  engine, its top speed was around 119 km/h (74 mph – with a following wind), which was considered suitable for everyday driving during the era it was produced.

What are the key differences between the Austin A30 and A35 models?

The Austin A35 succeeded the A30 and brought several improvements, including a larger rear window, a stronger rear axle, and an upgraded gearbox.

The A35 engine also received a power boost, giving it slightly better performance than the A30.

How many Austin A35 vehicles remain in existence today?

While exact numbers are difficult to determine, the Austin A35 has a dedicated following, and many vehicles still remain in existence, preserved by collectors and enthusiasts.

The Austin A30/A35 Owners’ Club is a resource that could provide information on the number of surviving examples.