Small Arms Exotic: 1937 BSA Scout

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Imagine an aluminum-bodied, front wheel drive, composite (ok, wood + metal) framed roadster that only weighs 1,290 pounds! Sounds like a modern sports car dream, doesn’t it. I don’t even mind the front wheel drive at this price and weight point! This was 1937, people! The BSA (Birmingham Small Arms) folks had been making motorcycles for quite a while and started building cars as well, just like the nearby Triumph concern (both were located in the Coventry area). This one is available here on eBay for a buy it now of only $6,500 or you can even make a lower offer!

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It looks a lot like an MG, you’re right (I’m guessing those of you that haven’t drifted off to sleep ’cause that Jamie’s writing up another old British car again might be thinking that). However, with a wet five plate aluminum clutch, a single front brake that works on the front wheel drive differential, rag-type universal joints on each independent front axle and quarter-elliptic springs, no one would ever accuse BSA of being conventional!

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According to the seller, this actual car was featured in a May 28, 1937 road test. When I tried to find the test online, the only thing of note I found was that May 28, 1937 was the day Volkswagen was founded. I’m assuming the seller must have a copy of the road test–hopefully it goes with the car. And yes, I’m pretty sure that’s a Bristol 403 in the background, but if it’s for sale it’s not listed on eBay. The Bristol and the interesting history tidbit sure makes me want to know more about this car. Speaking of knowing more, why do we know about Triumphs, but not about BSA’s today? According to what I read, there were only about 3000 of these Scouts made, in both two and four seat form. I think it’s a shame that there’s not more of these cars around, and more known about them.

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I have to believe this car would be listed for a lot more money if it were better known. There is an active club in the U.K. that’s been around since 1959 and I should note that there’s a 1938 four seat Scout advertised there for 13,000 pounds ($16,565 as of today). The seat coverings certainly aren’t original, but that’s not a huge seat to upholster, and there’s some impression given that the original upholstery may be hiding under there.

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The flathead engine is 1203 cc. I’m sure it will need some work, but it will turn freely. I’d like to be the person trying to resurrect this beauty. What do you think?

 

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Comments

  1. Dave Wright

    Very cool…….may be more weird than my old Singer Roadster but looks great…….would be a big hit at a British car show I am sure.

  2. Yellowjax Member

    I’ve had many British cars and thought I knew it all. Have never heard of this one. Like it a lot. Thanks for the post.

  3. Rick

    And gone already…

  4. Howard A Member

    So exotic, nobody knows what to say. Cute little thing, looks like something the clowns would drive at a parade. I’m sorry, older European cars always look so spindly and fragile, and what does it have, a whopping 23 hp? I know Europe is a lot of short travels, not like in the USA where you NEED an Eldorado to suck up the miles. I knew BSA made cars, just never saw one. Cool find.

  5. healeydays
  6. Robert White

    I had a BSA Thunderbolt 650 that I restored and sold back in the 90s. If I had the bucks I would buy this BSA for sure. Nice car!!

    Bob

    • Howard A Member

      Hi Bob, years ago, the guy across the alley from my folks had BSA’s. In the BSA 650 group, 1st came the faster “Lightning” ( twin carb) then came the somewhat slower “Thunderbolt” ( single carb). Wasn’t that clever?

  7. Steven C

    This thing is really cool, had no idea they existed

  8. Paul B

    Could look this good someday. Let’s hope so! Photo from Hemmings.

    Like 1
  9. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    that was cool…….wonder if one of those dealers grabbed it….hope it shows up at Pebble Beach…..

  10. Bryan Cohn

    I never knew BSA made a car. Thanks Barn Finds for my daily enlightenment!

  11. rich voss

    Reminds me so much of those early MGs. Had the pleasure of being in England, at a gas station, in Cornwall, when a club of TCs and TDs were filling up. 11 pristine examples and one pretty “ratty” one. It was a lovely Spring day and they were having a blast ! This BSA would be equally fun I’m sure, for leisurely cruising….

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