Saturday, December 12, 2015

1947-1952 Austin A40 Devon

"AUSTINS LAST LONGER. Why? — because Austin workers, whose fine training has become world famous, produce a car completely dependable in every way. This goes for the old stalwarts still carrying on at home, as well as for the new Austins now going abroad to win new credit for Britain."

Whenever you come across a quirky looking vehicle in Cuba, chances are that it comes from Britain. Case in point: the A40 Devon, pictured here. This thing is tiny — it truly looks like a midget beside contemporary American cars. In Great Britain, though, it was considered a proper mid-sized sedan.

The A40 was penned by Ricardo 'Dick' Burzi, an Argentinian-Italian designer who had worked for Austin since 1929, and became head of styling under Austin's new boss Leonard Lord in 1938. Lord himself had a fine sense for aesthetics and took great interest in car styling. Thus, Burzi became the executing force of his patron's ideas, making sure to bring the "Lord-Look" into the Austins. The charming and slightly cartoonish appearance became somewhat an Austin trademark and appeared again in the successor A40 Somerset, which had equally peculiar proportions, but showed a smoother styling.

From the 1940s onwards, the British government took increasing influence in the strategic development of the British motor industry. The pressure was high after World War II, when the country desperately needed cash to pay back the dollar debts that Great Britain had piled up during the war. The little Austin soon should become elected as one of Britain's major postwar exports to the U.S., where it didn't have much competition. Because the A40 was sold cheaply, it became a commercial success across the Atlantic. Accordingly, the various British ads had a very patriotic tenor: "The new 'A40', big dollar-earner for Britain".

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