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Homepage. This page: Colour photographs of Mk2 Austin A55 Cambridges, and another rolling off the production line.

1. Austin A55 Cambridge saloon.

Among several pictures that he sent in, Alan included this cracking old photo, showing his parents with their shiny (new?) Austin A55 Cambridge Mk2 - just look at UFN 495's paintwork shine!
Austin Cambridge

The Cambridge and other BMC saloons

The Cambridge shown was the last of several BMC/Austin cars that carried this badge at one time, the late 50s and 60s Cambridges as seen here were styled by Pinifarina, their first attempt for BMC being the Mk1 A40 Farina of 1958. The styling is very similar to that of the Peugeot 404, again a Farina design. In fact BMC, by this time very keen on badge-engineering and the economies of scale that it brought, took the basic 3 box, 4 door saloon design, and evolved them into a number of different marques, which by this time were all part of the British Motor Corporation. As well as the Austin Cambridge, you could now buy a similarly shaped Morris Oxford, Wolseley 15/60 (later 16/60), Riley 4/68 (later 4/72), and the MG Magnette. The Wolseley 6/110, Vanden Plas Princess 3 litre and 4 Litre R also borrowed heavily from the original design. Marque loyalty was still a big deal in the 50s and 60s, hence the profusion of similar looking saloons in BMC dealerships - lifelong enthusiasts of the Morris brand for instance would rather lose a vital limb than be seen climbing aboard a contemporary Austin, despite Austins being identical under the skin.

Cambridges, and other Farinas, are disappearing from the roads all the time - rust has seen most of them off, a small number have been preserved, and a significant number seen off in the delicate hands of the banger racing set. We're told that many were bangered because they were beyond economical restoration, however I'd rather have seen them consigned to a quiet corner of the scrapyard, and at least be available to people needing bits. Ah well.

My first experience of the big Farina was via a Wolseley 16/60 that I had a few years back, bought from a work colleague. It needed some welding, so I deposited at the local garage after I cut the sills off, and let them get on with it. We ran this low mileage car for a few months, but er indoors didn't much like the boxy styling and it soon went to a new home. Although no road burner, I liked it a lot and its comfy leather seats were a nice place to be. The Wolseley was the plush Farina in the BMC range, the Oxford and Cambridge being aimed at the cost-conscious family motorist, and were less oppulently furnished. Sporting motorists were encouraged to drive home the Riley or MG Magnette version.
In 2008 I took the plunge and bought an A55 Cambridge Mk2 as a runabout, the full story can be found here. Despite repeated attempts, I've yet to convice erindoors of the Farina styling.

2. Another Mk2 A55 Cambridge leaves the production line.

This next publicity photograph dates to circa 1959/1960, and shows a Mk2 A55 Cambridge nearing the end of production, possibly at final inspection. Not a speck of rust to be seen anywhere, underneath or on top, even the chrome plating on the bumpers is still under its protective wrapper. One chap leans over to inspect the Austin's 1,489cc B-Series engine, while another attaches the number plate from below. Other Cambridges wait patiently in the queue behind, while a collection of Mk1 A40 Farinas are just visible, over to the right of shot. Another shot taken of the same building, but with many more vehicles in view, can be seen over on the Morris Oxford V/VI page (image no.4). I also recommend having a look at a collection of photographs that all feature a BMC servicing facility, possibly the same one as featured here, but before it became operational.
(Please click the thumbnail to view full-size image.)
A brand new A55 Cambridge on the production line / inspection

3. Crash test Austin.

Many's the Cambridge that met its maker following a session on the banger track, smashed to smithereens for little apparent purpose. The Mk2 A55 shown below also covered its final few yards before being intentionally crumpled, but in this case it was in the name of research, not amusement. The car was photographed being driven straight into an experimental design of street lamp, one designed to break away on impact and minimise the damage caused to the car, and of prime concern, its occupants. This picture captures the brief moment after impact, the lamp post already toppling backwards in the general direction of the poor Austin's roof. Note the high-speed cameras and monitoring equipment lining the test track. Much of the car's brightwork has been removed, including the chunky chrome headlamp surrounds, the front bumper (replaced by some test gear), hubcaps, and the windscreen. Onlookers spectate from a safe distance.
Austin Cambridge used for crash testing

4. A55 rear view.

The date is September 1968, and the location is a leafy Lloyd Street, in Llandudno, North Wales. A bevy of four-wheeled British beauties, captured on film by a female photographer, await identification. Partially obscured by one of the trees is a smart two-tone Mk2 A55 Cambridge from 1959, registered XGO ??? thus hailing from the London area. This example has a tow bar, so perhaps the owner enjoyed caravanning rather than hotel-based holidays? Parked close to the Cambridge's front bumper is a now-rare Mk1 Cortina estate, in two-tone rather than faux-woodie trim. A red 1100/1300 is parked a little further away.
To the left are examples of Renault R8 or R10, another Mk1 Cortina, an Imp, another 1100/1300 (they used to be everywhere), and a red Hillman - possibly a Husky estate.
Rear view of a 1959 Austin Cambridge
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