Pro build on rare panel van. SBC, A/C, leather, Pseats, windows, back-up camera
- Make: Austin
- SubModel: Model 40
- Type: Wagon
- Year: 1948
- Mileage: 3,559
- VIN: G2S2L356876
- Color: Blue
- Power options: Air Conditioning
- Fuel: Gasoline
- Transmission: Automatic
- Interior color: Tan
- Options: Leather Seats
- Vehicle Title: Clear Want to buy? Contact seller!
Anglo-American hybrids have been some of the most successful ventures in the automotive kingdom. The British are quite good at building beautiful cars with handsome interiors, but, as the jokes would suggest, they can be mechanically troublesome. But with a good old-fashioned American V8 under the hood, modern wiring, and a dose of horsepower, the results can be spectacular. Of course, you know the obvious ones like the Shelby Cobra and the Sunbeam Tiger, and there’s little doubt that the formula works.
This fantastic 1948 Austin A40 panel delivery van isn’t a sports car in the same sense as the Cobra and Tiger, but it does benefit from the same Anglo-American relationship. It’s 100% original steel bodywork, and we invite you to take your time looking at the photos, because this is just a beautifully proportioned and designed little commercial vehicle. Check out how the front fenders swoop into the bodywork, disappearing as they hit the rear wheel arches. Note the character line that kind of defines the quarter panels, preventing it from looking like a rolling billboard. And the detailing is simply beautiful, from the grille to the Flying A hood ornament to the ‘Austin of England’ script on the sides of the hood. Even without 350 cubic inches of Chevy thunder under the hood, it would be hard not to love this neat little truck.
The paint is a late-model VW color called Techno Blue, and it looks fantastic on the Austin’s dramatic bodywork. The truck was built by Hugh Brooks of Rods by Brooks in Guelph, Ontario, Canada, and you may know his name because all those little latches and other useful items you use on your rod are his creations. He also builds a few one-off machines like this Austin, and the result is spectacular. The bodywork was probably not this good when it was new, with great gaps, even panel fit, and even those gigantic side panels are laser-straight and distortion-free. The paint is two-stage urethane, so it has a deep gloss and fantastic durability, perfect for a truck you’re going to want to drive regularly. All the Austin’s original brightwork was retain, save for the bumpers, which have been replaced by a neat custom-made valence in front and a roll pan in back, complete with a pair of LED taillights. Even the original semaphores (that’s British for “turn signal”) pop out of their housings behind the front doors and light up while they do it. Too cool! Of course, the chrome remains in excellent shape, from the grille—which resembles an International grille from the same period—to the expensive Hagan “fattie” mirrors perched atop the doors.
Don’t let the Austin’s diminutive size fool you, the interior is comfortable for two and will carry plenty of gear without any problems. Tastefully upholstered in tan leather and tweed, it has a contemporary look that retains a lot of the Austin’s original charm. Those are late-model power bucket seats that make it easy to get comfortable and dig the “Flying A” armrests on the doors, sculpted to match the hood ornament out front. A modern tilt column is topped by a color-matched steering wheel and new aluminum gauge panels were fabricated to replace the originals. The auxiliary dials are ahead of the driver, with a speedometer and tach in the center, all by VDO. There’s also a Vintage Air A/C system that’s very effective and fully functional, a Lokar aluminum shifter for the TH350 3-speed automatic transmission, and a Pioneer AM/FM/CD stereo system that sounds great in the well-insulated cab. A secondary panel below the radio houses controls for the wipers and headlights, as well as a 12-volt power outlet. Living in its own housing above the windshield is a trick rear-view camera screen, which is a useful tool in the panel delivery, which obviously has some blind spots. And I suppose you’ll ask about the foot pedal on the floor, which is nothing more than the high-beam switch, so don’t get excited.
In back, you have a cavernous cargo bay, which is by design. However, there’s no way Austin was building such beautifully finished cargo trucks in 1948. This one features matching tan carpets, tweed side panels (again with the Flying A insignia), and a custom headliner overhead. Cargo lights provide plenty of visibility for moving around back there and the cargo doors swing wide to make loading and unloading easy. The wheel wells have obviously been tubbed to house the wide-by-huge rear meats, and there are several neatly concealed storage bins in the walls, including one that provides access to the fuse panel. Oh, and there’s a CD changer back there, making this Austin ideal for long road trips.
Under that pointed, rounded hood it’s all familiar American V8 horsepower. A rebuilt Chevy 350 cubic inch powerplant makes for entertaining performance in the flyweight Austin. Beautifully finished with lots of polished aluminum and chrome, it’s a neat fit, but everything you need is there and service access is decent. There’s a Carter AFB carburetor up top, a modest cam inside, and an Edelbrock intake manifold. The block has been painted to match the bodywork, so it looks tidy, and the inner fenders and firewall have been contoured and smoothed to accommodate the engine and look great. A big radiator up front is cooled by an electric fan and all the accessories are chrome. Ceramic-coated headers hug the block and dump into a great-sounding stainless steel exhaust system that dumps just ahead of the rear wheels—the sound is definitely V8 but never obnoxious. It’s also well sorted, so it starts quickly and easily, idles well, and never gets fussy. We’ve had it idling for 20 minutes in the midday heat and it never gets hot or cranky, and for a hand-built machine, it works shockingly well. Get in, turn the key, and drive it anywhere. That’s the promise of most hot rods, but not many live up to the promise as well as this fantastic little van.
Underneath, you get a fully reinforced chassis with boxed side rails, custom cross-members, and all the features you want in a car you’re actually going to drive. The front suspension is a Heidt’s independent setup with polished A-arms and coil-over shocks, plus rack-and-pinion steering that’s both more precise and easier to maneuver than the original setup. The transmission is the aforementioned TH350 3-speed automatic, which feeds a custom fitted Ford 9-inch with 3.50 gears inside, all hanging on a 4-link with adjustable coil-over shocks. Everything under the car has also been painted to match, including the rear axle, driveshaft, frame, and even the brake backing plates in back, and it still has a sparkling look that suggests not too many miles since it was finished. Finally, it sits on totally appropriate Weld Racing “Rod Lite” wheels and 135SR15 Michelin skinnies in front and 295/50/15 meats in back.
This Austin is way cooler than you expect, so if you like the look, you’re going to be thrilled when it lands in your driveway. It’s big enough for 6-footers to be comfortable behind the wheel, so no worries there, and the robust hardware and lightweight bodywork make it very entertaining to drive. And when was the last time you saw one? How about never! Very rare, very pretty, and very well built, if you’re tired of the same old stuff at all the shows, this is a fantastic way to become the star of the show anywhere you go. Call now!