This competition-prepared 1957 Austin A35 is ready to race, Goodwood Revival-style, as our tester, Charlie Calderwood, discovers

Austin A35

by Classic Car |
Published on

Price £25,000

Although it hasn’t come straight from the workshop, this A35 is in ready-to-go condition, and has recently raced at Donington and Castle Combe. Though road-registered, it’s not really designed for it. With photos of the car rallying from the Fifties it seems competition is what the car was born for. It’s a relatively cheap ticket into historic motorsport, though we have seen immaculate prepared A35s, admittedly with less competition history, sell for less.

Once you negotiate the starting procedure – isolator off, fuel pump on, ignition on – the engine fires up far faster than your typical A35. The A-Series is a bit lumpy at low revs, but doesn’t struggle to tick over, though getting underway is a bit tricky thanks to the binary race clutch.

A35 engine

The bodywork on this car is ready to race. There’s no visible structural rust, while the paint finish is good across the exterior. There is a slight crease on the nearside front wheel arch, presumably from light contact, but this is so slight as to not be worth rectifying on a racer. There are also a few smudges of brown creeping out of the door hinges and in certain spots of the footwell. Tiny specs of corrosion for now, but ones that show the paintjob has a few years on it. The car wears four Dunlops, dated 2018, with decent tread levels.

There’s not a lot to the interior, though obviously that’s the point. The original passenger seat remains and is in good condition, though the rear bench has gone, as have all carpets and the dashboard. The driver has a Cobra race seat hooked up to a four-point harness. Both the aftermarket switchboard and dial cluster are in good shape, and look just a few years old, with everything working as it should. A Moto-Lita leather-rimmed steering wheel has replaced the original, and is also in good condition. There are no window winders, because the windows have been replaced with hand-lowered Perspex.

The dealer wasn’t able to present us with the build sheet for the engine when we viewed the car, though he tells us the engine has been built to Speedwell specification. Much of the car uses Historic Racing Drivers’ Club Acadamy parts therefore, but the engine, now bored out to 1275cc and producing 130bhp, drinks through twin SUs, rather than a single carburettor. Torque, acceleration or speed data hasn’t been measured, but we do know it had a bottom end rebuild two years ago – that tallies with the condition of the rest of the components in here, which look in fine order, if not brand new. We couldn’t see any oil leaks and there are only small blemishes to the paint in the engine bay. The drive revealed no untoward noises from the firm suspension. The brakes operate fine, though aren’t at full efficiency until warmed up by aggressive use.

The dealer wasn’t able to locate the history file, but we have been promised that one does exist. As well as the limited-slip differential currently fitted to the car, another differential with alternative ratios will be included with the sale.. This is one of four cars for sale tested in the latest issue, part of 23 pages of buying tips and advice, including Quentin Willson’s Hot Tips, Ads on Test, Price Guide Quarterly in association with Hagerty insurance and Jaguar/Daimler XJ6/12 Buying Guide in the latest issue of Classic Cars.

Price £25,000 Engine 1275cc in-line four-cylinder, ohv, two SU carburettors Power 130bhp Torque n/a Performance n/a Length 3467mm Width 1397mm Fuel economy n/a

Steering wheel

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