About forty-five members and guests supported our meeting this month and enjoyed a lovely, hot, 2-course meal on what was certainly a wintery Thursday evening.
The 1953 Austin A40 Sports which was on show in the dining room belongs to Gary Davey of Drouin. He is the Vice-President of the Gippsland Vehicle Restorers Club and although he had known of this vehicle since 1978, he had to wait until 2012 to purchase it from his mate Charlie’s deceased estate after he passed away. Charlie was an RAAF technician who purchased the car in pieces in 1974 and built it up from there. Only about 4000 A40 Sports were built in England between 1950 and 1953. The aluminium body was designed and made by Jensen then transported to Austin’s where it was assembled using a modified and lowered Austin Somerset chassis. This particular car is a Series 2 model which incorporated hydraulic brakes, a 4-speed column shift gearbox, a tricked-up head and twin SU carburettors boosting the output of the 1200cc Austin B-series engine to 50bhp.
Most of the 4000 vehicles made were exported to the United States. Today, there are 54 known survivors, six of which are in Australia with three in Victoria, and all six are believed to be still on the road.
Gary admits that it’s no sports car – more a nice-looking convertible, but he says that it does handle very well, even on skinny crossply tyres.
We thank Gary for bringing this rare and unusual classic Austin along to our meeting and for telling us a little about the history of the marque and this car in particular.
This month we also invited members to bring along remnants of any mechanical disasters they may have sitting in the shed or at home. As we probably all well know, owning and driving classic cars is not just endless sunshine and smiles, things sometimes go wrong – especially if the classic is pushed beyond the parameters of what the designer intended. Our president, Mark McKibbin brought along what looked like the complete internals of a Citroen 2CV engine which had spun the main bearings of the crank and the camshaft in its aluminium block, necessitating a complete rebuild and obviously many new parts. David Anderson showed us an MGB piston and rod which had come adrift and wrapped itself around the camshaft inside one of his race motors, Jane Vollebregt had a pair of MGB big-end or main bearings that had been hammered to death in her race engine. A Sprite lay-gear with most of the teeth missing from first gear was brought along by John Fowler – once again testament to what happens when expecting components designed to work with 40bhp are asked to cope with over 3 times that output. Graeme Longhurst showed us what remained of a Cooper’S’ exhaust valve seat insert after it had dropped down and been pummelled by the valve and piston for a short while; and Peter Witney brought along the broken V8 oil pump drive that brought his HQ Monaro to a stop several years ago. Steve Schmidt displayed an assortment of parts from various past and present competition cars. There were a pair of snapped and twisted Sprite axle ends, a Cooper ‘S’ CV joint bearing cage in several pieces, a shattered differential planetary gear from his racing Mini Moke, a broken Cooper ‘S’ cam follower caused by a faulty casting, a cracked Cooper ‘S’ syncro ring, a couple of Fiat 124 differential crown-wheel teeth, and a chewed up Welch plug from inside a modified Cooper ‘S’ flywheel housing.
All the broken parts were displayed on a table out the front and it created a lot of interest from those present. Thankyou to all those who brought their mangled parts along.