Flathead V8 Powered: 1932 Austin Bantam Hot Rod

Someone stuffed a flathead V8 in this little Bantam! They even managed to cram the Ford transmission and rear-end under there. It’s not currently running and the work looks like it was done long ago, but I bet this little hot rod could be a blast once it’s back on the road! It’s located in Watertown, CT, and is listed here on Facebook Marketplace for $3,950. Thanks go to Peter R for sending in the tip!

The seller mentions that the engine has 60hp aluminum heads installed. Makes you wonder what other speed parts might be hiding in there… It would be interesting to know when this car was built and by whom. The rear end was narrowed to fit under those flanks and the body has a nice patina to it. I think this thing would really stand out at any car show and, with some brake upgrades, would be exciting to drive!

The Austin Bantam was a very small car, hence the model name, so it would have been the perfect option if you wanted to build a hot rod and didn’t want to go the more common Ford route. Even today, this looks like a more unique and cheaper option than an expensive ’32 roadster. That said, the quality might be a little lower and you might have a harder time finding parts. Things look pretty simple in there though.

Put the hood back on and you have a sleeper! I’d love to have this little guy in my garage. I would leave the exterior alone and just focus on getting it running and driving again. I’m not sure what I’d do with those brakes but I’m sure a suitable upgrade could be found. Throw some old leather over that bench seat and you’d be ready to go Model A hunting!

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  1. BlondeUXB Member

    My dream car/project.
    I sent this tip/sighting.
    Sadly it sold before my wife found it in her heart to grant purchase permission…

    Like 15
  2. Dusty Stalz

    Talk about a precursor to the AA/FA cars like Pure Hell or Winged Express. Even with that unblown flattie I bet this was a handful with that wheelbase and track.

    Like 10
  3. Mikey8

    The Bantams were built in Butler, PA. The Bantam plant built the first prototype of the Jeep.

    Like 13
  4. Neil Oswalt

    If it’s a ’32, it’s an Austin. Bantam didn’t come around until after Austin went bankrupt.
    I have a ’32 Austin 5 window sedan…

    Like 4
    • BlondeUXB Member

      Austin American (?)
      Didn’t they have bantam rooster radiator caps ?

    • steve

      They didnt go bancrupt, BMC took them over, that was their downfall

      Like 1
    • BlondeUXB Member

      Wikipedia breaks it down this way:
      At one point, the “Baby Austin” was built under licence by the fledgling BMW of Germany (as the Dixi); by the Japanese manufacturer Datsun; as the Bantam in the United States; and as the Rosengart in France. And in England the Austin was the most produced car in 1930[9]

      The American Austin Car Company struggled to sell tiny Austin cars in the US market. It operated as a largely independent subsidiary from 1929 to 1934 was revived after bankruptcy under the name “American Bantam” from 1937 to 1941. They became best known as the first company to submit the Bantam Reconnaissance Car working prototype, saving time by using Austin nose and fender parts of what would evolve into the extremely successful and iconic WWII Willys MB “Jeep”. The design was unfortunately handed over to Willys and Ford for production with a revised nose and fender design, while Bantam would largely just build trailers during the war.

      • Bill McCoskey


        As I understand it, the primary reason the Jeep project was awarded to Ford & Willys was that American Bantam didn’t have the production capability, nor did they make any effort to show they could ramp-up production to meet the requirements for the job. Instead, they were awarded the Jeep trailer contract [and other small military orders]. The company did stay very busy durinng the war.

  5. Mike

    I thought the aluminum heads were 85 hp and cast iron heads were 60 hp?

    • BlondeUXB Member

      Aftermarket speed parts. Popular in 3/4 midget racing…

      Like 2
  6. Jeffry Harris

    I think they are saying it is a V8-60 or the small 60 hp model which was pint sized compared to the 85 hp motor. They were fitted to late 40’s MG’s by returning GI hot rodders who found them in England during the war. That is a perfect place in a Bantam. I remember a story i read in grade school (60’s) about a motor pool mechanic during the war who found a beat up ford and swapped the engine into a jeep. The Colonel (just because i have no idea what his rank was) got in to go somewhere and started it, and then listen to the sound, something was wrong, hum. Got out and walked around the jeep, and then opened the hood, it all looked okay, well to non motor head, closed the hood and left. Oh the things that happen when someone isn’t watching, thank goodness for creative people who make the world so much more interesting.

    Like 10
    • Roger

      My dad was also a motor pool mechanic during WWII and he and some others built a complete Jeep from just a body and a bent frame,built the rest from scrounging the rest,he also told me about the Bantam the joke was put 25 cents of gas,spit in the radiator and fart in the tires🤣

      Like 5
    • Frank Abad

      I remember reading the same story when I was a kid in grade school in the 60’s 😆

  7. Dave

    I can see this painted purple with red and yellow flames, Firestone cheater slicks on the rear, capped headers, EFI, four wheel disc brakes. Nothing sounds like a flattie, and a rod like this doesn’t need a ton of horses to be fun to drive.

    Like 1
  8. moosie moosie Member

    Click on this link , interesting read.


    I knew they were quick and put on quite a show.

  9. Bill McCoskey

    The parts manager at the local [Rockville, MD] AMC dealership in the 1960s fully restored one of these to stock condition, assembled it in the family room in the basement, then drove it out the sliding glass door when finished!

  10. John Morneault

    I’ve got a pic of this car sitting in its previous resting place! Not sure how to post it on here. Email me if interested Admin.

  11. Michelle Ahern

    Hello, nice to see this Bantam hopefully getting restored. It actually came from my fathers garage, I was a kid when he backed it in there 30 plus years ago. It was cut like that because it was used for plowing snow, which a gentleman name Erine Olson from New Britain did that and used it for plowing. It’s had 2 owners before my dad. Any more questions you can call me 860-202- 0058

    Like 1

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