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Homepage. This page: A black A40 Somerset spied driving along the seafront at Sidmouth, plus other examples.

1. BMC's Austin A40 Somerset .

This old photo, cropped slightly to better show the car, sees a black Austin Somerset cruising sedately down the middle of the road, alongside the seafront at Sidmouth. No double yellow lines, or any roadmarkings in fact, spoil the view. In the distance is a pre-war car, possibly a Model Y Ford, parked at the roadside with something else more recent in front of that.
The Somerset is registered as TLG 571, a good old Cheshire number. Perhaps the occupants were enjoying a holiday to Sidmouth, in the days before affordable overseas holidays, helped along by the advent of jet airliners such as the De Havilland Comet, and Boeing's 707. A lone seagull can be seen atop a lamp post, watching the Somerset (aiming for it?) as it potters by, and a small black dog in the distance feels that he has plenty of time to cross the road, before the A40 gets there.
Austin A40 Somerset saloon car
It can be interesting to compare old photographs with more recent view(s) of the same location. The pic below, taken from a different angle in more recent times, allows some comparisons to be made. A number of changes have taken place in the intervening 40-50 years or so, not least an increase in traffic, and the disappearance of the small hut on the front, that can be seen in the first photograph.
A more recent view of this location

2. Another A40, this time in Dorking.

Next up, a postcard sent over by Les from his own collection, that features a number of old motorcars, including a Somerset, parked outside The White Horse Hotel in Dorking. I've cropped it down a little to better show the line-up of cars. From the left, there is an Austin A50 or A55 Cambridge, an Austin 10 (LPH 888), a Ford 100E (with the now-rare three bar grille), the Austin Somerset (PKJ 734), and a Rolls-Royce (MV 1917).
An A40 Somerset and other classics outside a hotel

3. An Austin Somerset parked in a car park.

The next photo shows a cheery family posed with their Austin Somerset, reg. NGT 440, parked in a '50s car park. The chrome looks quite dirty but otherwise it looks to be in pretty good condition. The NGT registration series was issued in the London area, from October 1952 onwards.
An Austin Somerset stationary in a car park

4. A Somerset seen in 1952.

Adrian emailed over the fourth A40 Somerset photo to feature on this page, he remembers it as a young child, it belonged to his father and was registered UVX 602.
A Somerset in 1952

5. A40 Somerset "rally" cars in South Africa.

Herb kindly posted over the next two photos, both featuring an A40 Somerset - possibly the same car in both photographs. The first shows the little Austin being hurled around a circular stage on a club rally/driving test in S. Africa during the 1950's. Somersets were never the best handling cars ever designed, so aren't perhaps the most obvious choice for a rally car. I'm guessing this was used as the family car during the week, and, come the weekend, it was pressed into more exciting activities such as this driving test. This one, car number 23, is being driven with great gusto.
(Please click the thumbnail to view full-size image.)
An A40 Somerset being used in a driving test
The second of Herb's pictures is a head-on shot of a Somerset, readied for the Protea Rally in South Africa. The car looks to be in very standard trim, with just a pair of extra lamps, a racing number, and a selection of enamel badges hinting at its competition activities.
A Somerset readied for the Pretoria Rally in S Africa

6. An Edinburgh-registered Somerset.

Two fine old British cars are shown in this next shot, a MkVI Bentley to the left, parked alongside an A40 Somerset (registered in the Edinburgh area, post-May 1952). Quite who the beaming chap is I don't know, he looks jolly pleased, perhaps he's just graduated, and is in the process of part-exchanging the Austin against the Bentley..! Does JWS 967 survive?
Austin Somerset and a Mk6 Bentley

7. An A40 outside a newly-built home.

No notes accompany this next photo of an A40 Somerset, so whether this Kent-registered Austin was photographed in that area isn't known. In the background, what looks like a newly-built detached home, with an accompanying garage, perfect for working on the A40 at servicing time. Given how often the suspension needed greasing on these 1950's Austins, this would no doubt have seen some regular use. I hope this curvy Austin doesn't leak oil like mine did, otherwise the driveway outside the garage doors would soon have lost its clean and tidy look.
Austin A40 in Kent

The A40 Somerset of 1952-1954.

My A40 Somerset in 2001
Photographed in May 2001, the Austin Somerset I ran for a while. Reg. VSY 988, where are you now? sold to someone in Bristol.
The Somerset, introduced in 1952 and replacing the more upright A40 Devon, featured a much more bulbous style of coachwork than the outgoing car, yet shared much of it's forefather's running gear, including the pre-B Series 1200cc engine. Whereas the Devon looked similar to the larger A70 Hampshire, the smoother-shaped Somerset shared many design cues with the revised A70 Hereford. Performance was moderate if not brisk, the 1200cc four cylinder engine being coupled to a four speed gearbox featuring a column shift. I owned a beige Austin Somerset for a while a few years ago, and it was a pleasant enough car, although as with the Devon, it was a bit wallowy and it felt somewhat under-damped up front. Most Somersets were saloons, all featuring four doors, leather trim and a painted dashboard. Some also had the added benefit of a steel sliding sunroof. For those seeking an economical yet eyecatching car, perhaps to use in sunnier climes than those usually encountered in the Austin's native Britain, there was a two door A40 Somerset Convertible, or dhc (drop head coupe) version available.
Return to Old Vehicle Photos Page 7.
A further selection of photos like this will be added to A40 Somerset photos (Page 2).
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