This is my 1958 Austin A35. I’m a 22 year old who’s come from a family of small car enthusiasts. We have more Austins than members of our family, so that tells you something. My dad bought an A30 when he was a teenager, and has owned it ever since. In 2009, he bought my Austin A35 for spares, as it was a bit of a ruin. However, the moment I saw it I immediately insisted that it had to be saved. I don’t know what it was, but I fell in love with it. I’d always thought of the classic car thing as a bit daft before, but then my mind was changed instantly. Over the next few months I worked on it every hour I could manage and with the help of my dad we eventually got the job done. His help was pretty important, because I’m not famed for patience or a long temper, which obviously is not necessarily ideal when it comes to a restoration. Either way the beauty of it is it’s so easy to work on that it was a brilliant learning curve!
The car had been sitting for about 30 years, but it was pretty good mechanically. I had to replace the forward shock absorbers and did a fair bit of work on the brakes, but the engine and drive train was pretty good! The main problem with the car was the bodywork. Austin A35s can rust pretty badly and without a chassis that’s obviously a bigger issue! The sills needed replacing and the floors had a fair bit of welding too! I also replaced bits of piping as well as a wing. I renewed and overhauled a few bits and bobs (carb, radiator etc.) and tried to clean everything up where required. The car also had a respray. By the time I’d passed my driving test “Basil” (as I’d dubbed him) was ready to go.
In the 5 years since, I’ve had to do a few replacements as problems have come up, but nothing enormous. The biggest thing has been a head gasket change.
Since then, he’s been a daily driver. He’s managed the trials and tribulations of being a young fellow’s car with grace and remarkable endurance. He’s dealt with all weathers, all road types-been to parties, you name it – Right up to collecting chicken feed! He’s not a concours example, but he’s incredibly reliable and a huge amount of fun to drive. I love the Austin A35. It’s always been in the shadow of its contemporaries such as the Morris Minor (despite the Austin A35 being the better car, in my opinion). It’s light and rolls a bit but with its rear wheel drive, it’s surprisingly exciting. It’s got the lovely torquey 948cc A-Series engine, and, as a monocoque body, is nice and light. I’m a fan of the styling too – somehow traditional, but with a hint of modernity. The Austin A35 is still economical and parts availability is excellent. I’d pick this car over anything else any day of the week.
He’s by no means the largest or the flashiest of classics, but he has never let me down. I do a lot of miles in my A35 and I enjoy every one. After 5 years of constant use it’s beginning to look a little tatty again, but it’s only superficial. I can never imagine selling him, and I hope I’ll never have to.