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An awesome cutting edge, high speed, highly sophisticated product of genius thinking often seen during the Cold War era, and an F4 Phantom...
Austin A40 Devon - built 1949During the summer of 2005 I heard that a nice old Austin Devon was up for sale. I'd always had a soft spot for these post-war mid-sized Austins, so naturally my ears pricked up when this news filtered through.
Days and days of blackmail, persuasion, compromise, and several promises of DIY tasks to be done on the house, and I finally managed to gain muted sanction to acquire this shapely postwar machine. The fact that I'd recently re-acquired my old 122S Volvo didn't help matters when trying to justify this A40. Ah well.
Anyway, the day dawned in mid September when I was due to collect it. Fortunately it passed the MOT with flying colours. A squint underneath the car confirmed that the underside was in very clean order, and should last well if I keep it away from dampness and salty roads in winter. Prior to the MOT, new wheel cylinders had been fitted to the front brakes, so these should last for some time. The car is fitted with a mild steel exhaust, but comes with a spare stainless system, which will he handy to have in stock when the original disintegrates. Others spares include a steering column & box, rear springs, a gearbox, and some small trim items.
This engine would go on to be used in the later A40 Somerset, and, in various enlarged forms, in cars such as the MGB, Wolseley 1500, MG Magnette, and the many badge-modified variants of the Farina-styled Austin Cambridge, by which time it was up to 1622cc. This early-ish example has a floor mounted gearchange, later cars would feature a column shift, as seen on the later Somerset.
Driving the Devon is highly entertaining, and, even when compared to the Volvo, is a real timewarp experience. Cornering is reasonable, thanks in part to modern-ish radial tyres that it is currently fitted with. Acceleration isn't tooooo bad, and it cruises along quite happily at 45mph. It could go quicker, but in deference to its age, I try to not push the Devon's engine too hard. The original semaphore indicators still work as intended, although they have been supplemented by flashing indicators.
The bodywork, sat on its separate chassis, is in good order all around. The chrome is reasonable too, some could do with replating perhaps one day, but I'm not going to lose any sleep over it. The interior is similarly very nice, the rear seats and headlining have been replaced, leaving the front seats in original but still perfectly usable condition. In the end, I sold the Devon, after more than five years of ownership. More photos of the A40 can be found here. I owned the A40 for a number of years, finally selling it late 2010.
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