Rare Garage Find: 1948 Austin A90 Atlantic

Austin A90 Atlantic

Of all the millions of Austins built, the A90 Atlantic is probably the last car anyone would expect to find hiding in an old garage in Canada. The Atlantic was never built in any significant number and the lack of rust protection means that very few remain today. The garage you see above was full of European classics and in the center of them is the exceptionally rare Austin. This 1948 Austin A90 Atlantic Convertible has to be one of only a few remaining in North America that isn’t a pile of rust or that hasn’t been stripped of all of its vital parts. If you enjoy under-appreciated and rare oddballs, this might just be the car for you. Have a look at it here on eBay in St. John, New Brunswick, Canada.

Austin A90 Motor

The Atlantic might have never been all that successful, but when production ceased in 1952 all the spare A90 Atlantic parts were used to build the Austin Healey 100-4. While it was a smart business decision, it is also one of the major reasons so few A90 Atlantics survive today. Many were stripped of their mechanical systems in order to repair or restore Austin Healeys. Thankfully this car has survived untouched and intact. The seller claims the engine is free with compression on all cylinders. Looking at it, I’m actually surprised this motor isn’t seized up. It sounds like the previous owner knew a little bit about how to store their cars and tried to provide them with some level of protection.

1948 Austin A90 Convertible

If you were to park this car next to an Healey 100-4 you wouldn’t believe that they were powered by the same engine. Heck, you might not even believe that they came from the same company. The A90 Atlantic looks much older and far less sporty than the Healey. The A90 was designed for the American market, if you look carefully you’ll notice design elements taken from some of the most popular American cars of that era. Ironically, the more European Healey was far more successful in American than the Atlantic ever was. Even after successfully setting a number of average speed and endurance records and some success in rally events, the car never caught America’s attention. Perhaps it was the design or maybe it was the introduction of some competitors like the Jaguar XK120.

1948 Austin A90 Atlantic

Restoring this car will be a massive challenge, even for the most dedicated of enthusiast. Rust has always been a major issue for these cars and while this one is solid, it is still going to need a considerable amount of metal work. The seller spent several years trying to buy this car and after finally getting it, they decided the rust repair was beyond their ability. Certain parts, especially those specific to the convertible, could be difficult to find. Austin typically shared parts across their entire production line, so hopefully that will make finding parts a bit easier. This is the kind of car that takes a particular buyer, one who has the means to restore a rare car but also enjoys eclectic and odd vehicles.

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Comments

  1. Don Sicura

    When the top goes down, the price goes up………lol

  2. jim s

    a photo tour of this garage would be nice, i see a minor and vw van. not sure what other cars are. check out the flying “A ” on the fenders. at $ 4750 with no reserve is it going to get restored or use for parts for other cars? nice find

  3. SoCal Car Guy

    Yes, beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder, and that is one homely little troglodyte of a car. hard to believe that it could be even a distant relative of something as handsome as a Healey 100-4.

    As to the rust issues, some of the best metal fabricators in the U.S work for street rod and custom car builders, or build bodies for them. Check the Web sites for builders like Bobby Alloway, Troy Trepanier, or metal masters Marcel & Sons (who custom-fabricated the entire body for James Hetfield’s art deco sedan that was debuted at the 2014 Grand National Roadster Show.

  4. Mark E

    I guess I’d pass. If I wanted to sink lots of money in a rare English car of this period with near impossible to find parts, I’d go with a Jowett Jupiter.

  5. Clay Bryant

    Check real close on the E-bay listing in the 6th picture showing the car and you’ll see the car starter.

  6. Chris H.

    Rare or not, this would make a killer street rod. The proportions on this would look amazing if it sat lower, and had some really nice modern wheels and tires. Maybe even a mild resto-rod…

  7. Tim Moore

    Sweet project!

    I live in canada, and off the top of my head I know where there are 5 of these within 2 hours of me. Why is it unusual to find it in canada? There was a decent network of dealers selling British cars in canada at the time, so it would be more surprising to locate them stateside

    • Peter Hackney

      Tim-Hi,

      Not sure if you will get this. Would like to hear from you re the A90 Atlantics you know of. I am compiling a register of those that still exist. .

      Regards-Peter.
      pjhackney”at”optusnet.com.au

  8. Rick Russell

    This is not the First Atlantic I have seen. A friend of mine in Minesing Ontario completely restored one from the ground up including embossing the flying”A” on the door trim panels. The amount of work this tradesman put into the vehicle was a good a restoration as I have ever seen, and I have seen plenty. Would like to see this one on the road someday in all its previous glory.

  9. Tim

    With production from 1948-51 being 7, 981 units, I’d call the Atlantic scarce, but not rare. Parts are available if you know where to look (England is a decent bet) and this being a convertible makes it the most desirable model, and so should bring the highest value once restored, however I wouldn’t go in to this restoration expecting to make any profit. It’s a car for someone who loves them and has the time for it. They are out there, and so are the missing parts.. Curious to see how high the wuction price goes. It’s at 5 grand now, and given the amount of work it needs, that’s a fair price. We don’t need any more expensive split window fiascos!

  10. scotts

    Another task for the boys at “Gas Monkey”.

  11. That Guy

    Eons ago (like in the 70’s or 80’s) there was a guy who used to bring one of these to the Palo Alto Concours d’Elegance in California. I remember it being a rather bright metallic blue, which may or may not have been the original color. It’s been a while since I’ve been to that show and a very long time since I recall seeing that car. It’s one of only two or three I’ve ever seen in the metal, and they are every bit as odd-looking as they appear to be in photos. Though to be fair, this “bathtub” look was being used by a number of manufacturers at the time, and it probably didn’t seem as funky then as it does to modern eyes.

    I believe these are becoming rather expensive and sought-after back in the UK, so that may be where this one will end up.

  12. gunningbar

    Ay…..it is a homely waif….hope it finds a good home.

  13. Chuck Foster Chuck F (55chevy)

    If I wanted a bathtub Brit convertible 4 cyl car I’d get a Metropolitan, better looking for a midget clown car, and probably better parts support, two examples not far from me (59-61) for $1200 and $2k, flippers at that price? Although the rear view of the Atlantic does look better than a Met.

    • Ralph

      The car under wraps behind the Austin is a pretty clean Met that is staying in the family.

  14. Clay Bryant

    Good deal on the Metropolitans if they are pretty complete and more so if they run.Had one 35 years ago that I bought and sold twice.Interesting fact…………The doors are interchangable from left to right.When you ordered one you drilled your own handle holes.(look at ’em.)They have a real good club.Good place to advertise.

    Like 1
  15. Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

    This one sold for $5,600 with only 6 bids.

  16. Ralph H

    Hi I am the seller of this beauty. Just fell over this site a year after the sale. car was sold on to a fellow in Nevada for restoration. It was a good solid intact car but as noted the rust was more than I could handle. glad it is new hands and will hopefully see the light of day soon. now back to the Jensen project car i am working on.

    Like 1
    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      Thanks for the update Ralph!

      Like 1

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