Peter sent me the "woodie" photographs shown here. They show a cracking Austin A40 station wagon that belonged to his parents in the 1950s. Sadly the car ended up being written off after a collision with a lorry, so CMS 277 is no longer around sadly. It looks to be based on a commercial rather than saloon chassis, if the larger 17 inch wheels and front wings with larger openings are anything to go by. Saloons would also have chrome strips on the doors, whereas vans and pickups didn't. Whoever built the coachwork on this A40 chassis did a wonderful job, the swooping line of the roof and the woodwork really looks great. Note the split rear tailgate, perfect for an impromptu picnic or cup of tea.
In 2014, a few years after posting the above two photos, Peter dropped me a line again with another photo he'd found of the one-off A40. Black and white this time, it shows more clearly how well the "woodie" timber & steel coachwork had been blended into the lines of the Austin's factory-produced door and front end. The rear wheel spats are based upon those fitted to the early A40 Countryman, Van and Pickup. An AA badge now adorns the car's "Mazak" radiator grille. Again note how pronounced the curvature of the roof is. Producing woodies based on old saloons or pickups was not all that un-common in those days, but few designs and interpretations worked as well as this one, I think - many ending up being reminiscent of a potting shed on wheels. Thanks for sending it over.
2. A Devon saloon car
Nigel emailed this old photo over, it shows a standard four-door A40 Devon saloon that once belonged to his family. The Austins shown in the first three photos on this page do not have separate front opening quarterlights, whereas my '49 saloon and later pickups all do, typical of the detail alterations that BMC tended to make to their cars during a production run.
The Devon was a 4dr saloon first introduced in 1947, and was a clean sheet of paper for Austin, who after the war were still producing models largely based on their pre-war offerings. Power was from a new 1200cc engine, that would later become the B series, and feature in BMC/BL cars into the 1980s in enlarged form. There was also a short-lived 2dr version, called the Dorset, which is a very rare motor nowadays. Those wanting to cut more of a dash, could opt for the convertible A40 Sports, which utilised the same basic running gear from the Devon, but with twin carbs fitted to give it a little more ooomphhh.
The Devon would be replaced by the Somerset model in the early 1950s, utilising the Devon's chassis and engine, but clothed with a more bulbous body, very similar in style to the larger A70 Hereford.
3. Austin A40 Devons at Longbridge.
Old Nail, a former contributor to the site forum, sent this picture over, showing a large number of Austin A40 Devons parked up.
I'm fairly sure this photograph was taken at Longbridge, and it shows lots of A40 Devons as far as the eye can see.
4. Irish-registered A40 Devon.
Next, a photo showing an Irish A40 Devon, looking a little tired and due for a good scrub up! The chrome looks filthy, and the numberplate has received several knocks. Perhaps the owner was a little less than careful with their dumpy little Austin, the angle he or she has parked at wouldn't win too many prizes with the old bill nowadays. The ZE registration letters show that this Austin was registered in the Dublin area. This series had a long run, from Jan 1940 right through to February 1952. Just visible in the background is a later A40 or A50 Cambridge.
5. A Devon and its owner.
This next shot shows a raffish chap, cigarette in hand, leaning against his shiny Austin Devon. The car's registration is KLK 986, a London series used from December 1948 onwards. This Devon has the optional steel sliding sunroof, and also doesn't come equipped with front door quarterlights, as most did. Everything else looks just as BMC intended it, although the front bumper is pointing skywards for some reason, making it tricky to use the starting handle should the need ever arise.
(Please click the thumbnails to view full-size Austin images.)
I've always liked the Devon model, introduced before Austin merged into the BMC empire. I once owned a black A40 saloon.
6. A Swiss A40.
Two British classics are in evidence in this 1950s photograph. A stationary Morris Minor almost rubs bumpers with a coachbuilt Berna truck, while pulling away from the parking area is a Swiss-registered A40 Devon, fitted with a roof rack - a handy fitment as the Devon's boot isn't the largest. The country plate for Switzerland (CH) can just be seen, alongside the A40's number plate. Visible alongside the Minor is the shapely rump of a Graber-bodied sports tourer, based on ???
7. Devon racing car (!)
Here I have two old photographs of a race meeting at an unidentified location. Appearing in both is car number 19, an A40 Devon which is lined up to compete in what looks like a club race meeting in the late 1940s. I've joined the two photographs together to best show the "grid", apologies for the horizontal scrolling required but it was the only way to add them in as one image and still leave some of the detail in evidence. The location has the feel of an ex-wartime airfield to it - many post-war races were held at disused runways and perimeter tracks, the two most famous being those that went on to become the Silverstone and Goodwood racing circuits. A double decker bus is parked at the side of the track, with a banner draped upon it identifying the "Start and Finish". Perhaps those people sat in the relative comfort of the upper level were the event's commentators? Behind the bus is another interesting commercial vehicle, in the shape of a CMP (Canadian Military Pattern) truck, with its distinctive - raked forward - screens. An Allard is parked close to it.
The vehicles are quite an eclectic mix of road-going cars. Number 15, alongside the A40, is a Ford V8 Pilot. Behind the Ford are the swooping lines of a 1947-1950 Bristol 400, entry number 30. Parked with the Bristol is car 23, an Austin 8 (similar to the 10 but with a single rear window rather than two). There is also a glimpse of an upright Ford - perhaps an E494A Anglia.
Possibly rarest of the bunch is a Healey Elliott, stopped one place ahead of an L-Type Vauxhall Wyvern. I can't quite make out the Healey's registration, it looks like JRD 7 or similar. The car bringing up the rear could well be a Citroen Traction Avant (Light 15).
8. 1950 A40 in Canada.
Many A40 Devons found their way to Canada, proving popular thanks to their rugged no-frills design. Greg dropped me a line recently with the following three family photographs he has, each showing the grey Austin Devon, with blue interior, that his parents bought new in 1950 from a local agency in Toronto. His father specified a sliding steel sunroof for their new car - an option not often found on surviving cars, perhaps due to their propensity to leak in water (something that Greg remembers being an issue from day one with their car).
Photograph number one sees a young Greg with the family's pet Brittany Spaniel, Gyp, at a lodge in Northern Ontario. This was either in 1950 or 1951.
The second photograph features Greg's mum stood alongside the Austin, possibly on return from a holiday. Note the registration plate, with light-coloured lettering on a dark background. In the final photograph the registration has changed, and now features dark lettering on a paler background.
Greg's mum is shown once again stood with the dependable Austin, this time in 1954.
Big thanks to Greg for sending these photos over :-)
9. 1949 example.
The latest contributor to the A40 Devon photo page is John Burgoyne, who sent over the following two photographs and was agreeable to them being included on this page. The A40 was owned by John's parents, and they referred to it as the "boneshaker" - I remember mine being a little roly-poly, and under-damped, but not particularly bone-rattling. The car's London-area registration, KXE 703, suggests that it was a 1949 example (as was mine). John is shown here as a young lad, stood with his Aunt. The location is probably Richmond Park.
Other than sporting a "GB" plate it looks to be in standard trim.
The second of John's photos is a side view of the same car, with his father stood on the left. The location is Brighton, on a day out to the seaside. My thanks to John for sharing his photos, great to see them thanks :-)
A40 Devons and Dorsets can be found in various locations across the site. This page for example features a factory leaflet describing the colours that these cars were available in, when first launched in 1947.