English Prewar Convertible: 1939 Austin 8 Tourer

Brian BirknerBy Brian Birkner

No matter what type of cars you like and follow, there always seems to be interesting and unique machines that pop up out of the woodwork. 1939 was the first year for the Austin 8 but was also the same year that England entered World War II, bringing the civilian production cars to an end to focus on the war effort. Amazingly, this rare Open Tourer has survived quite well, and is even a left hand drive variant! Production of the convertible 8 ended with the entry into WWII, and was not continued after the wars end, making this English convertible quite rare. Offered for $8,900, it looks as if this Austin could be revived and enjoyed for the cost of some elbow grease, and a few parts. Check it out here on ebay out of Henderson, Maryland.

The small 900cc inline four is dwarfed by an immense generator, air cleaner, and radiator. Despite the history lesson from the ebay ad, there is not much information given on this rare Austin. There is a battery in place, but the fine layer of dust makes it seem like this one hasn’t been touched in a while. While there is some chipping paint in the engine bay, there is no real surface rust to be seen.

Very basic, the interior is reasonably clean, and appears in fair condition. Due to the rarity and condition of this car, some may feel inclined to leave the car in its present condition, or make suitable covers for the seats to not take away from its originality. The door panels are currently removed from the car, but have aged rather gracefully with only the carpeted sections appearing rough. There is some crazing and chipping paint above the dash, but overall the dash and gauges look very nice.

Most of the paint is in place, but there are a few areas where the paint is chipping away. The paint chipped areas look to be recent as there is little to no surface rust present on the bare sheet metal areas. With the tires wearing shades of blue, it would seem that the wheels have been touched up at some point in time. There are no heavily rusted or rotted areas present on this Austin, certainly making it a very special survivor. With a few updates like fresh carpet and a new convertible top, this Austin could be left as a survivor, or restored to make it crisp as new. Would you restore or preserve this rare English convertible?

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Comments

  1. RayT Member

    I’m just guessing here, Brian, but am pretty sure neither the paint nor interior trim are original.

    A lot of body work will need to be done to get this looking good. It might be a bad photo, but the driver’s side panels look as if they have taken a hit or two in the past. Bring a magnet.

    All that said, the Austin certainly deserves a restoration. It would be a fun toy to have.

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  2. Luki

    Original design executed by the animation team @ Walt Disney Studios.

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  3. ROAR

    Austin has a long reputation of those bits made into successful road racers–look at YOU TUBE to see one whizzing around course today!

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  4. Dave Wright

    Another installment of clown car mania…….. more interesting than a Crosley.

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  5. glen

    I can understand approximately 500 or something, but “approximately 4” ? Whatever the amount, it is a nice find.

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  6. Bob

    They are a tiny car. I am familiar enough with them to know that they can be a lot of fun for not a lot of investment.
    Don’t worry about going faster than your ability to control the car, It can’t happen.

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  7. waynard

    Once a car has been repainted and reupholstered it can’t be considered a survivor. This car has definitely been repainted and almost certainly reupholstered. Paint slopped everywhere. Is that not visible to the reviewer? Wheels “touched up”? Please. Could we have a bit more accuracy?

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  8. Joe Haska

    I have a friend who has an English Ford Roadster of about the same vintage. Not seeing them side by side, I could be wrong, but they look like somebody copied someone else’s design. Is it just me or is there a reason they are so similar? I obviously know nothing about English cars, except , I have heard of the Prince of Darkness!

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  9. Doug

    Just put a supercharged LS in it- 650+ horsepower should be enough, especially if one keeps the stock tire size…. might want to upgrade to disc brakes, though…..

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  10. Rustytech

    There once was a man from Boston who bought him a baby Austin….his $&@$ Fell out and he lost em. Anybody remember that funny little rhyme? As I remember these could be fun little cars. This is going to need lots of work, but it’s pretty simple, and not too expensive.

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  11. Britcarguy

    At least Earl Scheib took off the hubcaps before painting the wheels.

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  12. bog

    Cute, but not $ 8,900 cute. No underside photos that I could find. That being said, it would make a nice around-town “attention getter” here, where we have lots of old and odd cars.

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