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Not Gonna Use The “S Word”: 1931 American Austin


How would you like to be just the third owner of this s___ 1931 American Austin? No, I’m not going to use that “s” word! It’s up for sale here on eBay, with bidding starting at a tiny $100, but of course the reserve is more than that. It’s located in Minneapolis, Minnesota.


This diminutive vehicle was originally purchased as a gift from a husband to a bride in 1931. It didn’t change hands until 17 years ago, when the current owner purchased it from the then 87 year old lady. The itty-bitty body panels were originally painted blue with black fenders, but when the lady had it restored by her brother’s body shop for her 80th birthday, she requested a color change to the current cream with brown. I don’t know if it’s a factory scheme or not, but it looks very period and fits the pocket-sized car well.


Just look at that little spare tire! It’s so…so…so…well, you know the word! The seller has posted a short video here showing the Austin in action. The seller does say that the paint has acquired a few minuscule nicks and scratches over the years, and the undersized original lights have been replaced with larger ones, although the original runty lights come with the car as well.


While the interior is compact, it does look complete. The seller tells us there is a tear in the seat bottom, and I’m sure that’s not a duplicate of the original miniature-pleat upholstery. The delicate, wee gauges look perfectly proportioned to the bantam car. Interestingly enough, later versions of this car were actually called the Bantam. These first versions were more directly related to the original petite British Austin 7, which makes sense considering the license from Austin was eventually given up, although some lesser form of relationship continued between the American and British companies.


Here we have the pint-sized 747 cc engine, producing a paltry 13 horsepower. I couldn’t even find a torque figure, but it must be a shrimpy one! Okay, I made it through the whole post without using the “s word,” but at least the post wasn’t a small one! Ooops!


  1. Peter R Member

    Rear seats were inflated like an early surf mattress.

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    • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

      Peter – I believe you are referring to the Dunlop Rubber Company’s inflatable rubber bladders inside the seat cushions, they were inflated/deflated by a standard tire Schrader valve. I had them on my 1935 Rover 12, and a couple of my older Rolls-Royce cars used them in the front seats. They were called “Dulopillows”!

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  2. Dave UK

    This beautiful looking car would just go nice next to my Austin 7 1932, and Rosengart ( French version 1938 ) here in the UK thanks for the info.

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  3. Tom Cotrel

    American Bantam went in to design the Bantam Reconnaissance Car, which became the Jeep.

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    • Joe

      Interesting. My Jeep 2dr Wrangler with body color hard top looks a bit like this car in full side view.

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  4. Scotty G Staff

    Minneapolis?! Quit taunting me, Jamie!
    I sure wish that it was still the original blue and black color/colour scheme, but it looks like a nice one.
    Not to mention this classic scene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_vxfZWA8R8

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    • MG'zer

      You can buy it and return it to the original colors! Just saying!

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      • Scotty G Staff

        That’s very true, MG’zer, although it would cost several thousand dollars to disassemble the car, change the color back to what it was, and then put it back together again.

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    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Scotty, it wouldn’t take up a lot of room!

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  5. Rovinman

    Already at US$ 5779 with 5 days still to go !
    Not such a ‘small’ price eh ?

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  6. roger

    cool car !

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  7. jimbosidecar

    There’s a “small” (oops) Bantam festival every year here in Boulder City, NV. The cars are pretty cool

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  8. Howard A Member

    You mean, all this time, SMALL was the “s” word? ( hmm, I was way off) I always thought like 15 clowns should come out of this car at the circus. The proportions are so far off. It’s like design and builder didn’t cooperate. I’m sure the Brit’s laughed at us, driving our “land yacht’s” around, when a car like this makes so much more sense. To be fair, the British don’t have vast stretches of highway, that you need a “land yacht”, and this would be horribly inadequate. I’m sure you’d get a smile at every parade you entered.

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  9. bcavileer

    Love the Laurel and Hardy video. Thanks for the laugh!

    Like 0

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