The Big Car Database

Bantam

The American Austin Car Company was an American automobile manufacturing corporation.

The company was founded in 1929, and produced motorcars licensed from the British Austin Motor Company from 1930 through 1934, when it filed for bankruptcy.

In 1935 the company was reorganized under the name American Bantam. Production resumed in 1937 and continued through 1941, including the first prototype of what later became the Jeep.

History

American Austin Car Company was founded in 1929, in Butler, Pennsylvania, in premises that had belonged to the Standard Steel Car Company. Their intention was to assemble and sell in the United States a version of the Austin 7 car, called American Austin. After some initial success the Great Depression set in, and sales fell off to the point that production was suspended. In 1934 the company filed for bankruptcy.

The automobile was designed in the hopes of creating a market for small-car enthusiasts in the United States. The cars had 747 cc (45.6 cu in) inline-four engines, enabling the car to return 40 mpg-US (48 mpg-imp; 5.9 L/100 km), and travel 1,000 miles or 1,600 kilometres per 2 US qt (1.7 imp qt; 1.9 l) fill of oil. It was capable of 50 mph (80 km/h) in high gear. Styling resembled small Chevrolets, with Stutz- and Marmon-style horizontal hood louvres. The bodies were designed by Alexis de Sakhnoffsky and made by the Hayes Body Company of Detroit. The coupe was billed as a sedan, and sold for $445, slightly less than a Ford V8 roadster. The Great Depression made the cheaper secondhand cars more appealing, so sales dropped off.

More than 8,000 cars were sold during the company's first (and best) year of sales, but sales fell off to the point that production was suspended in 1932. It restarted in 1934 with bodies now made in-house, but stopped again between 1935 and 1937.

About 20,000 cars were produced.

Beginning in the 1960s, the car gained a following with hot rodders, as well as among drag racers. The 75 in (1,900 mm) wheelbase made it attractive, even compared to the Anglia.

American Bantam

In 1935, Roy Evans, a former salesman for Austin, bought out the bankrupt company, which was reorganized under the name American Bantam. The formal connection with UK Austin was severed, though a relationship was maintained. A series of changes was made to the American Austin car design, including a modified engine, and an exterior sheetmetal designed by Alexis de Sakhnoffsky.

Production was resumed in 1937, and continued through 1941. Despite a wide range of Bantam body styles, ranging from light trucks to woodie station wagons, only about 6,000 Bantams of all types were produced.

American Bantam's 1938 model was the inspiration for Donald Duck's car which was first seen in Don Donald (1937).