Cool & Unusual Rod! 1934 Austin Bantam

This cool street rod is several degrees from the norm, and I love it! While the fiberglass ’34 Austin Bantam body isn’t that unusual, the chassis and drivetrain choices certainly are. Thanks to reader Matt R. for alerting us to this cool find! It’s listed for sale here on craigslist and can be found in California City, California (of course!) The asking price for all this coolness is a mere $4,000.

Instead of the typical ladder frame and V-8 combination, the creator of this rod decided to go down a very different path. The frame appears to be from an Austin Healey 100/4 or 100/6, complete with four-wheel drum brakes and what I’m pretty sure are 15″ real knock-0ff wire wheels (thankfully, upgraded from the original 48-spoke ones), probably sourced from a later Big Healey, MGC or Triumph TR. The rake and stance of the car are just perfect to me, with the external spare adding to the visual appeal. The paint looks to be in good shape from the pictures as well.

It looks like the original builder never completed the inside, which is fine with me. I’d add at least one opening door ’cause I’m old. A Toyota five-speed manual transmission is connected to that extra-long shifter. It looks like the original Healey floor pans are still in place.

Another surprise awaits in front — that’s a Ford Model A engine sporting twin SU carburetors, an MSD ignition box, and other attachments. The seller states that it will turn freely but has not run in a long time and that it needs a distributor. Would you hang on to the Model A engine or go elsewhere for a power plant? The seller also mentions a clear title, which I’m guessing belongs to the Austin Healey frame as I think that’s a Healey commission plate at the top of the firewall.

I can’t get over how this hodge-podge of mechanical components just looks so right! This is one hot rod I would definitely be bringing home if it weren’t 3,000 miles away. What do the rest of you think?


  1. Driveinstile Member

    The proportions, the wheel and tire size are just right. I really think the Model A and Toyota 5 speed combo is an excellent idea and I wouldn’t change a thing. There’s A Model A hot rod running a 4 cyl model A engine local to me, and it really sounds great running through the gears. And you can just tell the guys having a blast driving it.
    Whoever starting building this had a really great vision, and I sure hope that someone does it justice and finishes it.

    Like 12
    • Mike

      Ditto on your comments. The seller was going in the right direction. It would be up to the buyer to guess the right design trajectory and finish up with something really cool. That color is not helping. Needs to be a nice two tone with that cove stamped in the sheetmetal.

      Like 4
  2. SMS

    Such a shame that it hasn’t been run in years. This looks like fun and something to drive around while you add to it. If it were me I would probably never be finished tinkering with it.

    Like 4
    • Richard Love

      It’s a Model A lump. They run after decades of inaction.

      Like 1
  3. Fred Veenschoten

    I like it too but if the spare tire was lowered into the body it would do wonders to the look.

    Like 2
  4. Steve Brown

    Yank the Model A engine and put in a modern Toyota 4 cylinder with some hot parts. Could be very fun with 250hp and Toyota reliability. Gotta do something about the brakes tho.

    Like 3
    • Gsuffa Gsuffa Member

      More power requires better brakes. Then handling issues become more apparent. Narrow tires limit you and you worry about the differential…

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