Never Seen One: 1952 Austin A40 Pickup

While Ausitn’s A40 isn’t uncommon to see in two-door form, I can’t recall seeing too many pickups roving around. With just 40 bhp on tap, they certainly didn’t have much in the way of hauling capabilities, but I’m sure light-duty use on the farm was feasible. This one is hiding out in Western Massachusetts, which doesn’t surprise me at all considering how many artists and free-spirits and thinkers live out that way. We featured it way back in April (read that post here), but it just recently popped back up for sale, so we thought it would be worth checking out again. It’s an Austin pickup after all! Find it here on craigslist for $5K.

I dig the bed on these things, with the fat wheel arches and fender spats. The body looks bad at first glance, but I’m hopeful most of that is just surface rust. The rear fenders are actually aluminum, as is the bed with steel and wood framing. The seller mentions the fenders actually come right off, which will certainly make the inevitable brake job far easier. The Austin has been off the road for 50 years, and the engine has been partially disassembled – so there’s definitely some work ahead of the next owner.

However, there’s a good amount of component sharing with the standard Austin A40, so parts sourcing likely isn’t as difficult as you might anticipate. The interior looks surprisingly complete, even if the dash is rough. But certainly, a cockpit you could live with until the rest of the truck’s major mechanical components are sorted. As a 1952 model, the Austin should have a column-shifted transmission, fully hydraulic brakes and a centrally-mounted gauge cluster.

I’d love to know the origins of the roof-mounted lamps – I’m sure there’s a story there. The seller advocates for a rat-rod or street rod conversion which normally offends my sensibilities on a rare specimen like this, but check out that profile – this would look pretty nasty slammed on some fat, widened steelies, wouldn’t it? But that’s just me; how would you restore this rare Austin A40 pickup?

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  1. CanuckCarGuy

    Roof mounted lamps seem somewhat common on older farm trucks; maybe the intention is to get them higher, to make them visible while on the dusty back roads?

    • JunkFixer

      The lights were a requirement in some northern states back during this time on vehicles where the “tail/stop lamp(s) were frequently obscured by cargo or the presence of a trailer”. Many trailers didn’t or weren’t req’d to have lighting (tho I doubt this truck towed much), and the load bed of this truck is very small. Many items were hauled with the tailgate down, obscuring the lights.

      What the lights mean is that this truck actually did some work, likely in and around the Yankee Kingdom/Upstate NY.

  2. Beatnik Bedouin

    That is a rare find, especially stateside.

    For my two-cents worth, I’d love to see it restored, but perhaps with a later BMC engine under the hood and overdrive added to the back of the ‘box, as it’ll be geared pretty low. It is possible to change out the rear end ratio, for those who would want to decrease engine revs at highway speeds.

    I remember seeing old trucks that had roof-mounted turn signals, back in the 1950s. I think it was to ensure that they were seen by other motorists.

    • Chinga-Trailer

      An 1800 cc MGB engine would go in fairly easy – I did this to a just slightly newer A40 Somerset and was the only time I went with an automatic – out of a USA delivered Austin Marina. Was also able to fit the front disc brakes. Almost made a reliable driver out of it, but the steering box was shot and wasn’t sure how to fix it!
      This would look really cool with some custom made skirts for the front wings as well – think Figoni et Falaschi tear drop!

  3. jw454

    I’ve never seen one of these in person but, I’m betting the only way I’d fit in this is to ride in the back. It looks pretty tiny in there. It would be nice to see it next to another common vehicle to give it some scale.

    • Beatnik Bedouin

      It’s slightly smaller than, say, a contemporary Nash Rambler or Hudson Jet.

    • ken TILLY

      @jw454. I’m 6 foot tall and had no trouble fitting into the company A 40 pickup, however, that was back in 1956, a couple of months after I passed my driving test, so maybe I was a little more athletic than I am now. The company also had a four door saloon and that was much more difficult to get in and out of!

  4. stillrunners

    like !

  5. Terry Johns

    A friend of my Dads has one back in the Uk, his is less than 10,000 miles and 100% original looks great, but like most early BMC cars their horrid.

    Maybe the way to go is Hot Rod it with a 1380cc Cooper S engine

  6. Bob S

    There were a couple of British car dealerships in the small town in Western Canada where I grew up in the 40s and 50s. Austins were very common, including trucks like these.
    I never drove the Austin truck, but I have driven a few A40 and larger Austins. They were a good enough car for the 40s, but with the better roads and higher speed limits, these cars were all gone by the early 60s.
    The engine and components weren’t even up to sustained speeds of 50 mph, let alone 60. The suspensions were crap and the cars were narrow with a high C of G.
    Working on them was a total PITA. I had an Austin Healey Sprite in 63, (A40 engine and running gear), and cracked two cranks, rebuilt the tranny twice, and even snapped a rear axle. I never went anywhere without my tool box, and ended up making enough highway repairs, that I would only recommend buying one to an enemy.
    The only good news was, that I was going to university, didn’t have a lot of extra money, and parts were cheap. My buddy and I could pull the complete front end and engine in less than 30 minutes, using hand tools and a 2×4 with a rope to lift the engine and transmission. This was necessary, because the throwout bushing was carbon, and was not very durable. Instead of leaving the car in gear with the clutch depressed, it was necessary for the life of the bushing to put the car in neutral with the clutch released until the light turned green. It was fun and inexpensive to drive, but Lucas came by the name “prince of darkness” honestly.

    • geomechs geomechs Member

      I can relate to your reference, ‘Prince of Darkness.’ I’m sure that anyone with a British car or motorcycle can as well. Actually the components were well made; it was more the massive amounts of wire that the systems ran. It seemed like every circuit ran its own ground (EARTH) to frame or a buss. I found that simplifying the system made it a lot more reliable. Of course it also helped to keep the oil out of the distributor or magneto, or the generator (dynamo) if it was driven off the gearcase. I might add that in 47 years of mechanical repairs I also met the ‘Bosch, Prince of Darkness,’ many times as well.

      • TouringFordor

        Massive amounts of wire – I had a Triumph Stag that had two blower motors. Instead of using resistors to vary the speed, low speed ran the motors in series, and high speed ran the motors in parallel. Lots of wiring, and a huge blower motor switch.

  7. Wayne

    We’re relatively common in Oz back in their day.

  8. Bruce Joslen

    Always been a big fan of these. Nice body shape, and great to work with. I had one with a ’68 Holden 6, 186 engine and running gear. Old photo, sorry.

  9. Howard A

    I’d expect to see foot pedals, like a pedal car, in the floor. Again, for Europe in the 1950’s, I’m sure this was adequate. Americans ( seem to) need trucks with 500 hp, and dial tuned suspension, and variable this and that, to go shopping 100 miles away,(to save 50 cents) while Europeans just needed to haul a couple boxes across town. While I always hope these stay as is, you and I know full well what will happen to it, and that’s ok too.

  10. Nevis Beeman

    Google ‘ Austin Counties Car Club’ who would fall over backwards to help get this grand old pick up back on the road, with advice, support & parts.

  11. Gray Wolf

    Gasser material!!

  12. Maestro1 Member

    I hope it gets restored. Perfect grocery getter, parts runner, don’t be in a hurry……

  13. Alexander

    Wasn’t this already on Barn Finds within the past year?

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

      Alexander, that’s stated in the opening paragraph of the post (with a link).

  14. Dustin

    Please please please restore it correctly!

  15. Rob

    I have a 49 A40 pickup with a MGB 1800cc engine, MGB rear end and 66 Austin A60 frt. brakes. Great little ride and use it 9 months of the year. I used it to move the contents of a 2 bed house, ya a LOT of trips but got it done.

  16. Bajan

    I have a A40 pick up , it has been in my family for 56yrs .

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