Wednesday, August 27, 2014

1954 Austin A40 Somerset

"Study the lines and luxury, the fittings and refinements of this brilliant Austin A40 Somerset! You'll realise that there is a car that gives you more in motoring pleasure and pride of ownership. And, when you admire its appointments, remember that luxury equipment is standard equipment in the Somerset — you pay nothing extra for it. On the road — the Austin Somerset is a beautiful car to drive . . . feather-light to handle, reliable and restful, speedy but safe . . . with ample space for five and luggage."

Next to all the big American automobiles in Cuba, this one from England looks quite cartoonish. Mind you, the tiny Austin A40 was considered a proper mid-size car in postwar Europe. Introduced in 1952, it was a mutton dressed as a lamb, as it was essentially a re-bodied A40 Devon, using the same mechanicals as its postwar predecessor.

With its dated 1,200cc (73 cubic-inch) engine with 52hp, the A40 Somerset wouldn't win (m)any races. When fully loaded, it was clearly underpowered, and overall a lumbering drive. Thus, the owner of our pictured Austin, a retired railway mechanic of Ferrocarriles de Cuba, "upgraded" to a more modern Lada drivetrain years ago. "I had to modify the firewall, as the Lada gearbox wouldn't fit in the place of Austin's original 4-speed caja. But the Lada engine was a revelation. Since then, my Austin became much more lively."

After just two years in production, the tiny A40 Somerset got replaced by the Austin Cambridge. Reportedly, nobody mourned the loss.

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