View Full Version : 1952 austin somerset

04-01-2004, 11:17 PM
There's one here for sale that I might actually look at on the weekend. My dad had one of these and I remember it well.
This one sounds solid with a rblt engine, but hasn't run for awhile $1300 obo Canadian...
Anyone have any info on these cars?

04-01-2004, 11:30 PM
My first car was a '51 A-40.
Basic early BMC stuff. The engine is an 850 but a newer Sprite engine will go in easily. The trans is a bit different than a Sprite. Mine had 16" wheels and hydraulic brakes only on front (mechanical in back). Lever shocks and king pins. Many had sunroofs (mine did). The trunk lid folds down and is quite large.
They have a comfy but narrow interior.
The hood has a nice "Flying A" that looks just like the Aeronca logo.
Here's a neat one (an A-35, I think):


04-02-2004, 12:30 AM
That picture above is either an A30 or A35 Austin...

As for Austin info check out this website (out of Los Angeles area) www.austinworks.com (https://www.austinworks.com) This New Zealand website might be worth exploring too, run by an Austin nut... https://www.peacockfamily.co.nz/classic.html

There are probably some clubs over in the U.K., specific to Austin, that would likely have some useful websites I would think, just google search and you should find some stuff.

An Austin A40 Somerset is under-powered, typical of many 1950's British family cars. In stock form I'm sure it would be a great local runabout in the Vancouver/Fraser Valley area. Or as Nial mentioned, there are ways to upgrade them very easily using genuine BMC equipment. The only other thing I'd caution is to not pay too much money for it... dollar value on a Somerset (post-restoration) will never be very high and likely never go up much either from present values, personally I wouldn't pay more than $750 for a Somerset needing full restoration, from what I've seen a nice example goes for around $5,000 Canadian, and there are plenty of Somerset's in British Columbia and across the country so they aren't ultra-rare like some cars may be.

Just my two cents and I'm not claiming to be an expert but there is generally lower high-dollar interest in an Austin Somerset than in a sports car of similar age and this will likely always be the case.

[ 04-01-2004: Message edited by: Sherlock ]</p>

04-02-2004, 07:10 AM
Don't be scared of an A 40 though.
They are not overpowerd but they can still keep up with modern trafic reasonably well. We had an A 40 Devon in the family for years, and after my grandfather had stoped driving an aunt took over the little green Austin. They used to come up to the farm here from Perth (about 120 miles) in it regularly and it never once let them down. It would cruise quite hapily at about 55 MPH but was usualy driven a little slower. The engine is bulletproof, the gearbox can give trouble with age but is not usually to much of a problem, and the suspension and rear axle are well made and relativly trouble free. There were not a lot of Somersets here but thousands of Devons and Dorsets. The Somersets that were here though didn't seem to give too many problems and I still know of a couple of complete ones owned by their original familys.
They weren't renowned for rust over here, but we have a very dry climate that may help keep it at bay and despite what you may read here about Lucas the lord of darkness, the electrics don't give a lot of trouble either. Just bare in mind that it is a 50 year old family saloon and not a sports car and I am sure it will give you good service.
Good luck. graemlins/cheers.gif

04-02-2004, 08:40 AM
Thanks, all,
I realize that a somerset will never really be worth much, and it would be a money losing scenario. This beast has been painted with tremclad to keep it from rusting. But supposedly the floors, etc are very solid and the car doesn't need any rust repair. But of course, who knows until you see it. This would just be an occasional driver to the Brit car shows, etc. around here. I've already got a fun sportscar that can handle highway speeds.
I thought the convertible model had twin carbs, and thought the somerset cars had 1200 cc engines in them, but I may be wrong.
There was also a '64 Ford Anglia($600), and a Sunbeam talbot drophead for sale here as well($3,000). Oh and a couple of early '70's Cortinas. Spring cleaning, I guess...

tony barnhill
04-02-2004, 08:44 AM
Hey, its an unusual old car - question is: can it be saved (****, the resale value!)? &, do you want it? I'm a sucker for little orphan cars so I say - GO FOR IT!

04-02-2004, 11:20 AM
My first car was an A40 Somersault. Yes they were 1200 cc's. Mine was very beat, but I learned a lot. Warped head and shot Armstrong lever shocks - boingy, boingy, boingy......... Very cool car for a young hippy in the late 60's/early 70's. I believe they're early B series engines (not the A's in the Sprites), but I could be wrong.

I've thought about buying one several times, but decided I'd rather have an A40 Dorset pickup.

[ 04-02-2004: Message edited by: Eric ]

[ 04-02-2004: Message edited by: Eric ]</p>

04-07-2004, 06:26 AM
<blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by Eric:
.....they were 1200 cc's. ....I believe they're early B series engines (not the A's in the Sprites]<hr></blockquote>

You're correct. My earlier reference to 850 cc was wrong (I must have been thinking of Minors).
I think the 1200 cc engine in these Austin cars was the basis for the "XPEG" engine that caused a lot of anguish among MG purists worldwide.
In the 40s and 50s, MG cars came with "real" MG "XPAG" engines. BMC switched over to the Austin-based "saloon engine" in the TF1500 calling it the "XPEG" engine (and they continued to use this saloon-based engine in the MGA and MGB).
If you talk to a real, old-time, died-in-the-wool MG purist, you might hear that the last "real" MG was the early TF (with the last XPAG engines).
An 1800 cc MGB engine would probably fit in one of these cars pretty easy (and I'm positive I saw a 1275 in a Devon, one time). Unfortunately, most of the surviving cars are probably runnning 350 Cu. in. Chevy engines and drag slicks.

04-07-2004, 10:51 PM
Nials picture has Peter Brocks name on it. Isn't he the guy who first penned the Cobra Daytona Coupe?

Cheers, graemlins/thirsty.gif graemlins/driving.gif

04-08-2004, 05:04 AM
Don,t know about that, but one of Australias most famous national sedan racing drivers is Peter Brock. If that is his car, the photo must be decades old.
He has raced Holdens (and others) here for 30 years, no idea if he ever raced Austins. If he did I bet he would never own up to it.

04-09-2004, 07:57 AM
<blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by waltesefalcon:
Nials picture has Peter Brocks name on it. Isn't he the guy who first penned the Cobra Daytona Coupe?


Yeah, I noticed that too.
I looked around another Aussie site.....this "Pete Brock" is a different guy (and as Graham says, the Aussie guy is a racer, and not a designer.

04-09-2004, 09:43 AM
Thanks Nial that clears that up.

Cheers, graemlins/thirsty.gif graemlins/driving.gif

04-10-2004, 02:01 PM
Watched Peter Brok the other night on cable, driving up a hill somewhere in Australia, with loads of other Classic cars. Really good show. Sorry can't remember the name of the event, but a "Works" porker won it!.



04-13-2004, 04:45 AM
I don't follow the car racing all that closley anymore, but if they were racing up a "hill", it was probibally mount Pannorama at Bathurst. That is where the Bathurst 1000 (klm) and formerly the Bathurst 500 (mile)is run. It is the most famous domestic car race in Australia, and Peter Brock has won it more times than anyone else, nine times I think, and although nearly retired now he is a local legend. I find it hard to imagine him though driving an Austin A35 race car. A friend here interupting me as I write this says he thinks he did start racing with something like that, so I just dont know. graemlins/cheers.gif

04-13-2004, 01:06 PM
It was a specific Hill Climb event on closed Public Roads, it was not part of a Race. Looked a really great event.

Talking of Historic Racing, went to Castle Coombe Circuit on Monday, Tony Jardine, (Part of the UK ITV Formula One coverage team) was racing an Austin A40 and Rowan Atkinson (Black Adder) was due to be in the same race with his Aston Martin but didn't turn up.





[ 04-13-2004: Message edited by: BEEJAY7 ]</p>

04-14-2004, 06:14 AM
It was a hill climb was it ? as mount Panorama is also a public road. They close it off several days a year and hold race meetings on it, and it looks strange on the TV to see people sitting around their houses watching the race. On most days of the year you can take your own car around the track, and the same road rules apply there as anywhere else. It is a race track though, and they race up one side of it and down the other, and it is a "mountain" and quite steep at that. I don't think they run hillclimbs as such there though, I mean the timed against the clock one way type. Whenever they hold any event there though, you can bet Brock'y won't be far away. graemlins/cheers.gif