On the road for summer. Which summer? Part four

On the road for summer. Which summer? Part four

Friend and neighbour of Vintage Tyres, Ben Coleman, starts gathering spare parts for his Austin A30 restoration

Summer 2023 has come and gone, but my project Austin A30 still slumbers in the corner of a barn. But although I haven’t yet sorted out the little car’s severe body rot, the project has quietly crept forwards. I’ve started to gather spare parts needed for the rebuild, so with useful bits and pieces now stacked in, on and around the car, it’s starting to resemble a giant Airfix kit. If only a tube of glue and a few evenings’ work was all it needed!

With an A-series engine under its tiny bonnet, and suspension components shared with the Sprite/Midget, mechanical spares are, by and large, easy to find for the A30 and A35. Bodywork repair sections can also be bought off-the-shelf from specialists. However, good second-hand body panels can be a little trickier to track down. Fortunately, I struck lucky when I was offered a 1957 A35 saloon for spares. And what a fascinating thing it was.

The A35’s previous owner had bought it during the heady car-modifying days of the 1970s, enhancing it with various go-faster mods, including wide steel wheels in cut-away arches, a ‘hot’ twin-carb 1098cc engine and custom exhaust, and even a fibreglass flip-front! When did you last see one of those? It’s as if the car had rolled straight out of an old copy of Hot Car magazine.

Sadly, it was in terrible condition. After more than 40 years off the road, the hacked-about bodywork was riddled with horrendous corrosion. The owner had repainted it many times over the years – first white, then yellow, then pink, then turquoise, then black and white zebra stripes. Peeling the layers of paint away was akin to an archaeological dig. Unfortunately, inside the car was more of a graveyard, with the skeletons of several rats laid across the rusty remnants of the floorpans.

It was a shame to dismantle the ruined A35 for spares, but its best components will all help my A30 to live on, including a few useful repair sections salvaged from the body shell. As an added bonus, a replacement front shroud and a usable set of steel front wings also came with the A35, which my car certainly needs. With a full set of replacement doors already tucked away, it’s all a step in the right direction.

And as for that fibreglass flip-front? Well, maybe I should fit it along with the A35’s other tuning bits and go down the 1970s hot rod route with my rebuild! That really would be an interesting project, although the jury’s still out…