questions & answers
Welcome to the world's first organization dedicated exclusively to the restoration and preservation of American Austin and Bantam vehicles that were built in Butler, Pennsylvania. The club welcomes owners and fans of American Austin, American Bantam, Bantam Reconnaissance Cars, as well as the English Austin Seven and its derivatives.
Let's talk about your American Austin or American Bantam
Austin engines were small, thrifty and peppy
A one-owner 1931 American Austin roadster was recently discovered.
I have an Austin roadster for sale and I'm not a member of the club. Are you interested?
Yes, we are always looking for fresh leads on new vehicles. Please send an e-mail to:
orphanbabycars@yahoo.com with the subject line "Car for sale". Please give your name, address, city, state, phone number, description of the vehicle and an asking price. We do not accept ads without a price.

We will list your nonmember classified (American Austin, Austin Seven or American Bantam cars and parts only) one time in our newsletter. Upt to 40 words or less. Photos are optional and subject to space availablility. For additional classifieds, nonmembers must either join the club or pay $6.00 in advance to our treasurer for each 40-word classified. All ads are subject to review and editing. The club reserves the right to refuse any nonmember classified.
At the 2009 national meet held in New York, a member demonstrated a rare, original hand-operated press from the American Bantam factory. It was used to emboss Bantam lettering in blank hubcaps.
Where do I find parts and cars?
As you may have discovered, our cars and parts are scarce as hen's teeth but not impossible to find. That's why the most popular venue at the national meet is the annual swap meet. The American Austin Bantam Club News is also a good source, and a networking tool. If you're a new member, let us introduce your project to the club through the newsletter. Place a "wanted" classified ad. Get to know the other club members and find those rare parts.
At the 2009 technical seminar, a member showed how he installed floor pans in his rolling American Austin coupe chassis.
I want to restore the American Bantam coupe that I just inherited. Where do I start?
If you can, visit the American Austin Bantam Club's national meet. You will see some of the finest restorations, have an opportunity to take photos, ask questions, and just hang out with like-minded folks. The club regularly holds a technical seminar where members share restoration tips. One of the best seminars was held at the 2009 Batavia, New York meet. No less than five members gave demonstrations on door alignment, troubleshooting the Austin transmission, installing floor pans and making new hardware look period-correct. Even if you're not in the middle of a restoration, the meet is a good opportunity to learn new skills.

How many American Bantam vehicles exist today?
Nearly 20,000 American Austins were made, and the American Bantam Car Company Production Book recorded 6,513 Bantam vehicles built in various body styles. Nearly 2,600 BRC "jeeps" were completed, plus over 100,000 trailers. Today, at least 5% of the vehicles are registered with Austin and Bantam enthusiasts in the club. Due to the petite size of the American Austin and Bantam cars, one could estimate that at least another 200 cars may exist outside the club. Members are still finding cars that have been tucked away for years.

I have a Bantam trailer. Are there any good restoration sources available?
During and after World War II, American Bantam built far more utility trailers than all the American Austin and Bantam vehicles combined. The BT3 military trailers are highly sought after by military enthusiasts. It's easy to discern between the military trailer and the BT3-C civilian trailer. The military trailer did not have a drop-down tailgate so that the cargo box was waterproof and could float. It also carried a pintle hitch, whereas the BT3-C civilian trailer carried a standard ball hitch. You'll find detailed photos on this non-club website: http://jeepdraw.com/Trailer.html

Can a diesel engine fit in an American Austin or Bantam car?
Maybe. But just because you can doesn't mean that you should. American Austin and Bantam vehicles are poor candidates for modern modifications. To retain the stock appearance, all components under the hood must fit within the confines of a space that is 16 inches wide, 18 inches long and 20 inches high. Remember, the frame and suspension were designed to carry a 13-horsepower Austin engine or a 20-22 horsepower Bantam engine that weighs less than 150 pounds fully equipped. Austin roadster bodies are manufactured by a fiberglass firm to meet the needs of those looking for a daily driver. Original parts and bodies should be preserved and restored to the factory standards.
Herbert Austin's original Austin Seven, including its engine, was designed by eighteen-year-old Stanley Edge. The 7-horsepower water-cooled engine was loosely based on a 4-cylinder Belgian FN air-cooled overhead valve motorcycle
engine.

The Austin featured splash lubrication in an aluminum crankcase with side valves mounted in a cast iron cylinder block. Output was estimated to be 10 horsepower at 2,400 rpm, but taxable horsepower was only 7.2. That was important to overtaxed motorists in England, so the official model name for Herbert and Stanley's little wonder became "Seven".

Almost immediately, Austin Sevens began to make their mark. A Seven finished first in the Swiss Automobile Club Touring Race, the Egyptian Royal Automobile Club Race, Mulders Drift Hill Climb in South Africa, and other events. By 1930, Sevens had won more than 500 trophies and medals the world over. It was upon that reputation that Austin hoped to build a future in America.
American Austin incorporated strict quality controls into their assembly process.
From 1930-1932, the American Austin distributor was driven by a generator mounted across the front of the engine.
The 1930 American Austin engine was rated at 7.78 taxable horsepower, or 13.8 actual horsepower at 3,400 rpm. It was a mirrored version of the Austin Seven - that is, everything on the left side of the Seven engine was moved to the right on the American Austin. Therefore, few parts interchanged.

American Austin's electrical components, such as the generator and distributor, were sourced from Auto-Lite. The generator was mounted transversely at the front of the engine, and the distributor was perched on the opposite end of the generator. All were gear-driven by the camshaft. In 1932, American Austin modified its engine design so that the generator was mounted beside the engine in a traditional belt-driven fashion.

Styling differences between American Austin and American Bantam are obvious, but mechanical differences are subtle. Manifold modifications from racing engineer Harry A. Miller were put into production in late 1937, as were crankshaft improvements by former Stutz engineer Harold Crist. The result was a more powerful engine with 20 horsepower.

In 1939, Bantam introduced its most sophisticated engine, the 22-horsepower Super Four Hillmaster. It featured three main bearings around the crankshaft instead of the earlier two.
(c) 2017. American Austin Bantam Club. No portion may be reproduced without permission.
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This Avondale Ice Cream truck photo was found in our company archives. Do you know the model year?
This question came to us from the Swab Wagon Company of Elizabethville, Pennsylvania, a custom builder of wagon and truck bodies since 1868. The Avondale Ice Cream trucks were modified from the early 1938 American Bantam roadsters. At least two roadsters were delivered to Swab Wagon for conversion. The modifiers lopped off the rear decks and mounted the square, insulated ice boxes to the frames. The rear license plates and tail lights were mounted at the top of the boxes along with racks of thin tubing. The Swab name plates were attached to the rocker panels in front of the rear fenders.

A fleet of ten Avondale Ice Cream trucks was published in the July 1938 Bantam News, which was a promotional piece published by the American Bantam Car Company of Butler, Pennsylvania. To date, no surviving vehicles have been found. If you have seen one or found an old photograph, please contact us at orphanbabycars@yahoo.com.
Avondale Ice Cream truck photo reprinted with permission from Swab Wagon Company, Elizabethville, PA. (c) 2016.