1954 AUSTIN A30

Pat and Will Neal’s ‘baby Austin’ is unusual for the integrity of its little shell and an original colour scheme.

Anything unusual about this car’s history, Will? 
The first owner, for several decades, was a chap who had an Austin dealership up North. It was clearly well looked after, always garaged, and remained a one-owner car up until the early 2000s. It was originally painted black, and we understand the black A30s came with red wheels. The original hoodlining is still fitted and is in good order, and the seats are okay. Not so good was the deep-red carpet, which I’ve replaced.

When did you buy it?
About 10 years ago as a trailer-load of parts and I’ve been gradually working on it since. My son actually found the car and he and a mate pulled it into a million bits, and then they lost interest, as young blokes do. Most of the suspension was missing, the original diff was out, and there was no steering column so you had to steer it with the front wheels.

What proved the hardest part to source?
Probably the door glass. The car came with good front and rear screens, and just one good quarterlight window. Funnily enough, our old local garage proprietor in Kawakawa Bay still had a few original parts for A30s, including two filters in original, heavily faded packaging and an old box of hard-to-source wiper blades, some still in their original packets, too.

How was the car mechanically?
Not too bad. The motor had been reconditioned, rebored with new pistons and the ‘trailer load’ included the bill for that engine work and listed all the parts that were replaced.
I set the motor up on the garage bench but found I couldn’t get the timing right. When I took the valve cover off and cleaned what I could, I saw that the timing mark was on the bottom when it should have been on top. It appeared that a mismatch had occurred when the front pulley or timing chain cover had been replaced.

Any further work planned this year?
Only a new set of tyres, really, which may further improve the way it drives.

What do you consider its most interesting design feature?
Instead of indicators it has orange trafficators that flip up on either B pillar when you push the button on the dash.

How is to drive in modern traffic?
It’s fine and I don’t feel intimidated. It’s good to drive on the motorway and clicks along at 90km/h. Of course it struggles a bit with inclines and is slow up hills but it’s generally a lot of fun to drive. It’s a bit loose in the gearchange and you have to work a very long lever down to the gearbox, and there’s no assistance in the large steering wheel, but the steering soon lightens up once you’re moving.

Biggest trip to date in the A30?
From Kawakawa Bay to Ellerslie for the annual concours and classics gathering.

Any big trips on the horizon?
When Pat and I took it for a run in early July, we contemplated driving it to the Austin club gathering in Rotorua on Labour Weekend. Pat said it would get there quicker on a trailer, which might be true, but either way it would get there!

Have you seen a better one in New Zealand?
No, I don’t think I have. There are more A35s in the car clubs with the bigger engine, though. It’s amazing how many people approach us and relate their own Austin A30 stories.

Any other Austins in your current fleet?
1937 Austin Ruby, 1937 Austin Special, 1930 Austin Seven Special Boattail.

What do you enjoy most about car ownership?
Improving them and maintaining them. Or, in this case, rescuing them!

What was the first car you owned?
An early ’50s Austin A40. It was a bigger, slightly more powerful model than the A30, which was affectionately known as the ‘baby Austin’.

CATEGORY
READ ALL
AUSTIN A30 SALOON

YEARS PRODUCED 1951-56

ENGINE 803cc inline four

POWER 21kW (28bhp)

TORQUE 54Nm@2000rpm

DRIVETRAIN 4-speed man, RWD

WEIGHT 700kg

LENGTH 3.47m

WHEELS 13-inch steel

TYRES 165/75 R13

TOP SPEED 100km/h

FUEL CLAIM 7.3L/100km

OWNERS Pat & Will, Clevedon

MORE CAR PEOPLE

BMW 318i/2

A true survivor, this completely original E30 is in time-warp condition and benefits from two-door body and manual gearbox.

BMW 325i CONVERTIBLE

Richard Binns first drove an E30 BMW back in 1987. Now he drives a much-admired 325i convertible from the same year.

HOLDEN EK SPECIAL

Merv’s love of early Holdens was influenced as much by his son as it was by motoring memories from his youth.

DATSUN 120Y COUPE

After a happy honeymoon, Datsun owner Brett is still taken with his 120Y. But he wants a second carb under the hood.