Austin cars and trucks hit the North American shores long before the Beatles.
They were here to compete with the Volkswagen Beetle as an economical and under powered second car for suburban families.
The Austins were terminally cute and no threat to the V-8 crowd from Detroit in the 40s and 50s.
An Austin in traffic meant a suburban mom was taking the kids to a neighborhood Cub Scouts meeting and she was not looking for a street race along the way.
The old Austins had 0-60 times that were timed with a sundial and came with a prayer book to even get to 60 mph. We exaggerate on the 60 mph angle, but an Austin travelling at 60 mph hit that velocity under serious protest.
The tiny little four-banger in the Austin was a 98 lb weakling that got a lot of sand kicked in its face by Detroit’s beefier engines. Sure the Austin got some measure of revenge in fuel consumption but gas was cheap in the 40s and 50s. Most drivers wanted something that kept pace on the freeway during the post-war era.
We encountered a 1947 Austin pickup at a show with an entirely different approach to the need for speed. This baby had a vintage 1967 Corvette 327 engine that completely solved the 98 lb weakling issue with the original Austin engine.
The mild-mannered Austin truck was transformed into a crazed street monster by a creative father and son team named Bob and Chris Glover. Son Chris was the mastermind behind the transformation and he was clearly a young guy who was not afraid to wrench on a project.
The Austin had no floors or firewall when Chris began its transformation and that made it even more appealing to him because the firewall issue would have simply gotten in the way of his ‘Vette heart transplant.
The previous owner had already modified the truck into a mud-bogger/dragster candidate so Chris had to turn it back into a running vehicle-complete with a whole new bad attitude.
Chris is a guy who clearly likes to get things done, so his truck was road ready after only one winter. He modified the firewall to give him more foot room in the small Austin cab so that he would be more comfortable on the road.
“On the road” is the right term for Chris because he has put 6000 miles on the resto-mod Austin truck, all of them in style.
Chris and Bob are throwbacks to an era when you built a ride from the available parts in a wrecker’s yard so this Austin has an Olds overdrive tranny and a Dodge rear end with 3:91 gears. The little truck is fast and even somewhat frugal because it gets 18 mpg at 70 mph.
Chris confesses that he has gone a lot faster in it, but “it gets a little wiggly at 120-130 mph“-his words not ours. He said that he inherited a lead foot from his Dad.
Chris also inherited a love for unusual vehicles and projects from his father. Everything from the ‘Vette motor to the keg gas tank is very different from this little British truck’s humble arrival to the shores of North America in the late 40s.
It has lost its terminally cute looks and gained a lot of attitude during the past 66 years.