While trawling through the classifieds for an American Austin these owners had few options, as surviving cars were few and far between on the open market.  The options were to buy one from the east coast or Montana.  Montana was first choice and the transaction was completed.  This particular American Austin had been in a barn for 30 years, untouched and somewhat partially exposed to the elements.  The car had decayed tremendously and the bottom 6 inches had totally rotted out.  On top of this, the car had rolled onto its left hand side at some point in its life and crushed the upper left hand cowl, including the corner of the dashboard, and lower rocker panel build.

The American Austin was far from complete, but did come with a few boxes full of items in decayed condition and components that had been changed out throughout its life, and poor repair jobs had been undertaken to keep the car on the road.  Very questionable indeed, if the Austin was roadworthy in that condition.

On the positive side, the owners were excited to save one of these rare cars, instead of buying a fully restored American Austin to maintain numbers, as survival rate is low:  right around 70 Austins total.  With that excitement, the owners did extensive research on the little Austin and  provided very valuable information and even signed us up for the monthly edition of ‘Rooster Tails,’ a magazine dedicated to all that is American Austin and Bantam.

The owners flew us out to California to meet Lynn James, the owner of a 1931 Roadster that won ‘best in class’ at Pebble Beach in 2003.  This was the first time an American Austin had been introduced to such a concourse event.  The objective of the visit was to take footage of the class winner and gather as much valuable information to apply to this restoration (over only two days).  Another plus to the visit, was to checkout Lynn’s parts inventory, as we needed to figure out what was correct and incorrect on our American Austin, and of course what was totally missing altogether.  So after the visit, our direction and handle on this project was much clearer and we proceeded with the restoration.

Below are photos to illustrate the beginning of the story of this Austin. First, the body was lifted off the chassis.  This was an easy task, since the sheet metal had sheared around the body to chassis mounting area, leaving the body essentially just resting on the chassis.  The inner wood structure, apart from being totally rotten, was barely hanging in position.  The wood structure was carefully removed, labelled, and shelved, for later developments in the restoration.  The chassis and components were totally seized with rust and worn out from many years on the road and in the barn.  The body is now stripped and ready for media blasting.

Photos of a 1931 American Austin before restoration

In the barn in Montana

1931 American Austin restoration

Side view in the barn

1931 American Austin restoration

Left hand cowl damage after the body roll

1931 American Austin restoration

Floor to inner rear panel shot

1931 American Austin restoration

Interior wood structure shot

1931 American Austin restoration

Austin body disassembled and ready for media blasting

1931 American Austin restoration

shot of the body

1931 American Austin restoration

Rear of the body

1931 American Austin restoration

Very weak structure in the body

1931 American Austin restoration

Rusted mechanical pieces


This is the first in a series of posts on this American Austin, describing the history of the Austin and presents photos of the car before any restoration work. Part Two shows the condition of the Austin after return from media blasting and describes the donor chassis. Part Three covers the restoration of the chassis and mechanical parts. Part Four begins covering the metal work part of the restoration and talks about starting the new floor construction. Part Five follows on the floor rebuild and presents photos of the tunnel damage and restoration.  Part Six describes the finishing of the right-hand floor rebuild and restoration.

For more information check out the automotive restoration services we provide at our workshop in Denver.

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