We can now reveal that the car we’ve chosen bears the same name as the county it is celebrating; the 1954 Austin A40 Somerset.
Our Apprentice, Matthew Garside is busy restoring the A40 Somerset in our onsite Workshop and Restoration Centre in time for our journey. Take a closer look at the A40 and hear more from Matt about his work in the above short video.
More about this car…
- The A40 Somerset is the only car named after the county of Somerset, a county often associated with going on holiday, and follows Austin’s convention in the 1950s of naming cars by their engine power (it had around 42 hp) and counties - other cars included the Devon, Dorset, Hampshire and Hereford.
- It has a distinctive style with the prominent grill and lines which flowed down from the front wing. One expert calls it – ‘short, chubby and irresistible’.
- It has the characteristic ‘flying A’ (for Austin) bonnet mascot one of the most charismatic of all such ornaments and even resembles the flying B of Bentley! It has a four speed column mounted gear change with hydraulic drum brakes. There is independent front suspension and a semi-elliptical sprung live rear axle. The lever shock absorbers tended to give a very bouncy ride with wallowy handling.
- It is regarded by many as the last ‘real’ Austin arriving just before the merger with Morris and having a separate chassis and body.
- The fascia is largely metal with dual gloveboxes and central gauge pod which made it easy for the factory to produce both right- and left-hand drive versions. It also gives the dashboard a pleasing symmetry, although probably not ideal ergonomics. There are two seats – but they can be arranged as a three seater bench.
- The steering wheel is massive, with the four speed column mounted manual gear change with four rectangular dials. Access to the rear is awkward – but once you are in there there’s a surprising amount of room.