1939 Bantam Model 60 Station Wagon

The Austin Motor Company hoped to capitalize on the Austin Seven’s success in the United Kingdom and entered the United States market in 1929. After establishing the Austin American Car Company in the Greater Pittsburgh area in Butler, Pennsylvania, the promising new company started building United States-Specific cars in 1930. Advertised as the “Sensible Transportation” choice for the discerning economic driver, the new American Austin boasted forty miles per gallon of gasoline, minimal oil use, and even less tire wear. Unfortunately, American buyers were not interested in the inexpensive, featherweight micro car. With the used car values falling to effectively nothing during the Great Depression, there wasn’t a market niche to fit into anymore, and the company went under in 1935.

That same year Roy S. Evans bought the company, used the American Austin’s very compact 75-inch wheelbase chassis, updated the 747cc four-cylinder engine to produce 20hp at 3900rpm for swift 60mph top speed, and with the help of a styling refresh from legendary designer Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, the new American Bantam was ready for sale for 1937. These improvements were still met with minimal interest and the little Bantams were still slow to sell, with an estimated total production to be below 7000 units. But, with the US Government needing a General-Purpose vehicle for the soon to be ramping up World War II, Evans proposed a prototype for a General-Purpose vehicle "G-P” (pronounced Jeep) and won the contract. However, unable to meet production requirements for the new “G-P,” companies such as Willys and Ford took over production and often get the credit for the Jeep’s invention.

This 1939 Model 60 Station Wagon underwent a meticulous nut-and-bolt restoration in the late 2000’s to be a truly exceptional example for the niche marque. Finished in a deep Forest Green metallic that complements the Mifflinburg Body Company’s Maple body panels, a cobra grain black vinyl roof and brushed stainless steel rain guards frame the optional-extra double-pane safety glass and sliding rear passenger windows. The quality continues inside with seats finished in correct brown leatherette and the floorboards are covered in black vinyl with reproduction “Bantam” logo floor mats. Even with the very trim proportions, the seats are mounted such that the fixed steering wheel and three-speed transmission’s gearshift remain unobtrusive, and the exposed-beam roof allows for additional headroom. The straightforward, blonde-stained maple dashboard houses two central gauges: one with the Bantam Logo, needles for Amps, Fuel, and Oil, and the other with a quite optimistic 80mph speedometer. A rear tailgate and split window open to the rear bench’s seatback for additional storage space.

A testament to the high standard of restoration work are the accolades received upon completion: Lake Mirror 2010 Best of Class – Microcars Winner; Roy Evans Best of Show – American Austin/Bantam Club 2011; featured on the cover of Antique Automobile magazine September/October 2011; Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA) National First Prize 2011; Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA) Grand National 2012: First Prize in the Senior Category (Grille Tag: W25235); Best In Class Microcars at Pinehurst 2015, and, featured on the American Austin Bantam Club’s website as a reference vehicle.

This woody wagon’s tiny proportions are absolutely adorable, it combines all of the most desirable aspects of any full classic, but in a tiny, charming, and totally usable package.


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