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Pint Size Barn Find: 1931 American Austin Roadster


This tiny 1931 American Austin Roadster has been in a barn for the past 50 years or so and needs to go to a new home. The American Austin Car Company built these under license from Austin in Britain in the early 1930’s, but the Great Depression forced the company to go into bankruptcy. Before closing its doors, the company managed to build about 20k cars, but only a small handful were roadsters. The seller claims there are only 64 left and this one can be found here on eBay.


This little roadster is in solid shape, but is going to need plenty of work. The 747 cc straight 4 was last run in 2000, but the head has a crack in one of its water jackets. Hopefully the rest of the engine is solid and can be salvaged. Due to its size and simplicity, it shouldn’t be too difficult to work on. Finding parts here in the States could be a challenge though, but most everything should be interchangeable with the British Austin 7. This could make for a fun little roadster to cruise in on those nice summer evenings, as long as you avoid high traffic areas. Would you restore this pint sized barn find or get it running and leave the rest as is?


  1. David Reeves

    Oh what a cute little car! I would touch up/clean the interior, then do the same to the engine and drive it till the day that I died.

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  2. Mike Allen

    I would leave it alone.These cars are so hard if not impossible to find, especially in this condition. I just hope somone doesn’t rat rod it . I have nothing against rat rods but not this please !!

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    • paul

      Nah can’t imagine someone rat roding these, why a V8 would strech from the front bumper to the rear bumper.

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  3. Carlos Royal

    At first clean it up, get it running and play with it. Maybe restore it later. The American Austin and the English Austin engines are mirror images, so only some reversible parts (like flipping the head gasket over) will interchange.

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  4. Larry Kelley

    There was a entire rear clip for one of these cars on TV last night on the show ” The Pickers ‘ , they bought it !

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  5. rancho bella

    Some may think me perverted…………but this pushes “all” the right buttons for me.
    Get it safe and running, stop any rust that may be there and drive it.

    The older I get the more I like low powered vehicles like this. I just like looking at it……..why must I be out of room.

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  6. Steven

    Cool car, I would get it running and drive it for fun and then redo the car and make it look new again. So cool

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  7. rusty

    To me the ultimate Austin Seven derivative. the hardest thing is to make a small body look streamlined/sporty/fast..they did it.

    Always wanted one so decided to collect bits to build a look a like. [there were a few later Bantam tourers around [but pricy] but a completely different design rather ungainly and similar to what was here bar the radiator]

    In the 80,s/90,s I had 7 aussie Austin Seven [mostly basket cases] only 1 complete one being a very rare Ruby Doctors coupe..but the Bantam [I’ll call it this to make it easier] always was my fav, so I set about collecting parts to make a lookalike.

    Starting with about a 32 basket case i found siting for 50 years on a farm..had a radiator, chassis and guards that would give a reasonable approximation to the front end of a bantam just add big American headlights I had from a swap meet….looking good

    Eventually I found a fibregass body of a bantom that a hot rodder was selling [the body was the thing], at the time I baulked at buying it as it was very thin for drag racing [thinking another would come up being fibreglas..it never did], and I was broke [as was my way in those days only able to afford basket cases]..so I gave up the bantam body and still regret it.

    Did i say I think this is the nicest body designed on an A7 derivative.

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  8. rusty

    Sorry to clarify my story ,the above referred to Australia where the Bantam only had later cars in small numbers.

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  9. Rev. Rory

    3/4 Rat rod, Ford V8-60, 3 speed…motorcycle tyres…

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  10. David

    I found his write up to be very confusing. First he said that the engine hadn’t run since the ’50s. Then he says it ran when in a parade in 2000. And now he’s going to see if he can fire it up. Shouldn’t the time to find that out is before listing it??

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  11. Harit Trivedi

    I don’t think that many parts were common with the British Austin 7.
    I have the later Bantam 1937ish model and absolutely no parts are interchangeable.
    Vheers Harit

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  12. Charles

    Restore it to original as built condition. It’s way too cool to leave it in its current state.

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  13. buk

    I have doubts about the “only 64 left” claim… I see 1 or 2 of these ragtops listed on nationwide CL every month. Sometimes nice, sometimes projects. Would love to own one, but projects dont seem to appear this far south.

    There’s a restored Bantam that runs around my area…makes a Spridget look like a Cadillac!

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  14. geomechs geomechs Member

    I agree with those who think it should be made driveable. I also maintain that a full restoration should be in its future. Sometime down the road, everything is going to need attention at once, and then it’s simply more practical to do it all, and get it over with.

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  15. Kman

    Those plug leads look pretty new and possibly the distributor cap as well. The fuel lines have been worked on and there’s a new filter. The canvas, (vinyl?), has been replaced and not long ago. So, is this a recent barn find? I doubt it. As David said, his “last ran” statements are inconsistent.

    Having said all that, who wouldn’t want it? A blast to drive around in and a real looker that a little spit and polish would make very attractive. I expect a skilled welder or casting shop could repair the head and perhaps the block should be milled for accuracy. I’d love it.

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  16. gp

    Restore to original. Then pull engine and slap a 70’s rotary engine and drive train for a better driving experience. Store the original motor/drive train and put back if you decide to sell. Looks like a blast, original or not.

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  17. seguin

    I would look so silly driving this…being 6′ 2″ I’d probably pop right through the top. The giant stupid grin on my face probably wouldn’t help either.

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