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Homepage. This page: Original photographs of the post-war 2-door Austin A40 Dorset, of 1947-49.

Austin A40 Dorset.

The 4-door A40 Devon and the 2-door A40 Dorset were brand new models in Austin's post-war line-up. Both cars featured separate chassis, hydra-mechanical braking systems, and a four-cylinder all-iron engine of 1200cc. Whereas the A40 Devon sold in good numbers during a production run that lasted until 1952, the 2-door A40 Dorset proved far less successful, and was quietly dropped in 1949 after just 15,939 were sold. The A40 Somerset saloon, replacement for the Devon but sharing the latter's running gear, would only be offered in 4-door layout only, no 2-door saloon was offered.
Two period photos of the Austin A40 Dorset turned up a little while ago, the best of the two shows a side-on look at the Dorset, clearly showing its 2-door layout and elongated rear side window. The Dorset and early Devons can be identified by their smaller, 5" diameter, headlamps. Later cars would switch to regular 7" Lucas units, with separate sidelights mounted beneath them. The other photo of this Dorset is sadly rather blurred, so a small version has been incorporated within the image shown below.
(Please click the thumbnail to view full-size image.)
A40 Dorset car
A40 Dorsets are extremely rare today. Relatively few left the Longbridge works, and of those, most will have long-since been scrapped. Many of those that did survive into old age were snapped up by hot-rodders of varying talent, thus depleting numbers even more. Indeed there's a greater likelihood of seeing a Dorset with a V8 sticking up through the bonnet, vast chrome wheels and painted in a lurid colour, than chancing upon an original car in proper condition. I don't recall ever seeing a Dorset at a classic car show.

2. A further selection of A40 Dorset photos.

I must thank Charles for digging out and sending over this next set of great photographs, that all feature an Austin Dorset that belonged to his parents. They ran the A40 for a number of years, before being replaced by a Vauxhall Victor in 1957. Eagle-eyed readers will spot one or two interesting modifications that were made to the car, as Charles now describes:
"A few things stand out in the photos of the A40 - mostly the DIY boot extension. This would have been made by my father, who was a keen woodworker in his spare time, making (as well as novel car accessories) furniture and boats (including one that turned out to be too big to fit through the workshop door; I remember helping him to remove the door and bits of the frame). There is also a crude reversing light evident in the latter years and what looks like a two-way light mounted above the back of the driver's door. I have no idea what this was, but it looks quite professional."
The first of Charles' photos shows the Austin stopped at a road junction on the B2067. The reversing light that Charles refers to can be seen in this photo - perhaps a lamp taken from an old moped? The two-door arrangement of the Dorset - which didn't include opening quarterlights in the front doors - can clearly be seen here. The small lamp attached to the roof gutter is a parking light, usually connected to a small electrical socket on the dashboard somewhere.
Side view of the Austin A40 Dorset
Next, a nearside view of the classic Austin. The amazing home-made boot extension, resting on the open bootlid, is in place for this trip around the roads of North Wales, specifically on the A496.
Austin Dorset with boot extension
The third of Charles' photos is a head-on view of the Austin, which was registered KGC 985, a London series first introduced in September 1948. The smaller-diameter headlamps fitted to Dorsets and early Devons can be seen here, as can the lack of separate sidelights beneath the headlamps. Unusually, this A40 also has the optional sliding steel sunroof. Cracking photo.
A40 Dorset - front view
Lastly, a look at the interior of the Dorset. I think I can see a slim chain hanging down next to the passenger side window, and a fold-down shelf has been fitted to the inside of the passenger door. Thanks again to Charles for sending these over from New Zealand, where he now lives.
Austin interior view
In addition to the A40 Dorset and Devon, there were also van, pickup and Countryman (estate) car versions, while in Australia you could also buy a tourer and a coupe utility. UK buyers who wished to cut more of a dash, could have plumped for the A40 Sports, mechanically very similar to Devons and Dorsets under the skin, albeit pepped-up a little thanks to twin carburettors.
Return to Page 12 in the vintage car gallery.

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