Is your Bantam in need of a new heart?

$4,000 is a lot of money, there is no question about that.  So when confronted with a price tag calling for that much money, it’s best to be an intelligent buyer.  This engine has been listed for auction by a seller who has been listing a lot of Bantam and Austin parts over the past few months.  This engine is probably one of the greatest finds in the collection because of the potential it may offer.

I don’t have an awful lot to say about this engine, as people have their different views on rebuilt engines and engines that are rebuilt but lay dormant.  While some may recommend tearing it down to go through the engine, others may be willing to run it as is.  If you’re willing to accept this as being equal to a modern rebuild where all of the parts have been wet magnafluxed, rebabitted, and assembled with the highest quality materials; this could be a bargain.

In theory, I believe it should be torn down and inspected before being run; but then again I am usually a “get the ether and a jumper pack” kind of guy because I just want to hear the engine come to life (which is a terrible idea).  I’ll let you be the judge, but I’ll give you a few things to consider:

  1. In the 1980’s, parts may have not been magnafluxed or at least not wet magnafluxed (which is a far superior method of crack detection).
  2. Original Bantam rod bolts are notoriously weak, we do not see a bill of materials indicating what was used.
  3. New main bearings were cited in the ad. Does that mean the rebuilder used NOS front and rear bearing retainers with their original poured babbit, were original retainers rebabbitted, or were some sort of inserts used?
  4. We don’t know if the new rods were the NOS 38 style rods which were available with original babbit or something else.  In any event, how were they modified to accommodate the undersized crankshaft?
  5. The engine does not appear to have any of its openings sealed.
Screenshot (74)

This is what a NEW or never run rebuilt Brennan IMP looked like in the exhaust ports after laying dormant for years.




This engine could be great or it could be a very expensive (but pretty) collection of parts.

What are your thoughts? (A few people have already chimed in and have inspired some additions to this post).


Click here to see the American Bantam Engine



A matter of timing

Here is stock number 666 of the Perfection Gear Co. – Chicago:

american austin timing gear 3

It looks vaguely familiar, right?  However, there is something that has you scratching your head.  It has 30 teeth and looks like something you’ve definitely seen before, the cam gear of an American Austin engine.

american austin timing gear

It does look quite familiar, however, it isn’t a cast iron piece, but is actually a fiber gear. Something which, to my knowledge, did not come on an Austin from the factory.  Fiber gears were known for their silent running characteristics.  When when properly made (and stored) they can supposedly live a long and healthy life in an engine.  However, they do have a reputation for silently stripping and eventually letting go.

Personally, I don’t think I would run a fiber gear in my Austin and risk plugging up the small oil passages with fiber gunk.  However, the box is cool and the part is probably something you wont find again.

If you are considering buying this for your car, please note that Austins and Bantams used a variety of different timing gears.  You should check your application before taking the plunge.

Click here to see the Austin Fiber Timing Gear

For more reading on fiber gears check these links out:

Model T Forum

Ford Barn

Ford Garage (Check out that Bill Stipe gear.)

American Austin Reproduction Radiator Cap

The other day, I received an email from a person who had what he believed to be an American Austin radiator cap.  We exchanged a few messages and the owner sent me a few photos.  It’s always nice to chat with people regarding parts they have, helping them identify them, and ultimately helping them to find a good home for what ever they have.  If you have any parts or cars that you are looking to identify and pass along to a new home, feel free to contact us.

If you are interested in learning more about the history of American Austin rooster cap reproductions, click here.  The seller shared a photo with me of the bottom, indicating that it does not have any of the original Stant manufacturing information.  The lack of lettering and the plethora of detail leads me to believe this is one of the caps made by Hal Thompson, which I believe could have also been sold by New Castle.  This cap is likely not made from stainless, but is chrome plating over some other non-ferrous metal.

American Austin Radiator Cap

Having had a busy couple of days, I did not get a chance to get this identifying information to the seller before he listed it; but I did just get it to him.

With a starting bid of $50.00, this could end up being a tremendous bargain.  I picked one of these up a year or so ago after a lot of hunting and am likely going to use it on my 33 Austin.  At the price, why not cast a bid?

Click here to see the American Austin Radiator Cap

Small items for a Sunday night.

A lot of people who sell things frequently on eBay have strategies for maximizing the value of their item.  One such strategy call for listing items on Sunday evenings or to list them so that the end on Sunday evenings.  The theory behind this is that you have a greater chance of catching the attention of buyers who are more likely home and you have a better chance that they may engage in a late auction bidding war.  Whatever the merit of these ideas, it may behoove you to spend a little time on ebay on Sunday nights to see what is being listed or what is ending.

Your weekend wrap up includes:

1995-2017 AABC and ABS club magazines

Bantam Club magazines

There are a few ways to get these news letters, and they generally require you to join each club.  This seller is making his collection available for someone looking into whether the clubs are right for them.  the 1995-2017 period was very fertile for tech articles and historical pieces.

Click here to see the Club magazines

The paradox of choice.

Listed as a 1940 Roadster, a seller in Kansas City, MO has offered up a lovely two toned vehicle which I know I will be watching.  Before I get a bit too verbose, here is the car:

American bantam roadster KCMO 4

Click here to see listing for the: American Bantam Roadster

There is something about this car that I like.  It’s certainly not very authentic, but I like it.  It has the worn in look of a favorite pair of shoes.  You could slip right into it and hopefully putter off with minimal effort.   Beside the fact that the car is too small to probably get door dinged in a parking lot, you still wouldn’t worry about them too much in this car, even if you had to.

As I mentioned, the seller has listed it as a 1940, but that likely is not accurate.  Then again, does accuracy really change the way the wind feels in your face or the feeling of your mouth tightening into a smile?

Some things to note:

  • Buyer states the vin number is 60134, which would indicate a 60 series 1938 American Bantam and the car has numerous details from an early car
  • Two main bearing engine which appears to have the early 1938 aluminum head with separate water outlet


If you are looking for something a bit more authentic, there is always this car:

1938 American Bantam Roadster st louis 7

Click here to see this: 1938 American Bantam Roadster

Or if you’re looking to bring an original car back from the brink, this may be just the thing for you:


Click here to see the 1939 American Bantam Roadster

The last of the three cars above is my own project.  However I would probably want to get into something like the top car to start with rather than a complete project.  The best way to do it is to buy the driver and restore the project as you see fit.

It’s funny, when I first started my Bantam journey, there were very few options available.  Today, you have three examples in varying condition on ebay alone.  There are multiple for sale through this website, and scores for sale on the current Everything Bantam Lead Sheet.  If you’re looking for a car, this is a pretty good time to be looking.



Bantam Headlights, read on at your wallet’s peril.

Headlights for Bantams can be a sore subject if you are trying to build a perfect Bantam and you don’t have a pair.  The original headlights were perfectly proportioned for the small cars and have a very nice look when properly put together.  With spring loaded lenses which are retained by carefully aligned notches and outlined with crisp stainless trim, a nice Bantam headlight is quite elegant.

Last night, an eBay seller who has been progressively listing a large collection of Bantam parts listed a pair of Bantam headlights onto ebay.  Warning, they are not cheap and you should probably demand better photos before bidding.

Here are some photos which the seller has provided:

American Bantam Headlights 1

Here are some additional photos:


Last April, I had the chance to hold these headlights in my own hands.  I can say that they were original seeming steel headlight buckets, but they will require work to be concours correct.  While I didn’t commit their condition to my memory, I do remember advising the seller that these assemblies have visible internal rust damage and have had incorrect repairs done to the assembly.  With the rings painted over, it’s difficult to discern what the condition of the rings actually is.

Regarding the ring, it is not a continuous piece, there should be a small gap of approximately 1/4″ at the bottom of the headlight.  Like this:

The purpose of this gap is to accommodate the lens indexing nub which causes the focusing lines to be arranged appropriately.  Although the above bucket does not illustrate the feature, the bucket is likewise supposed to be notched to accommodate the indexing nub.  If you don’t have the indexing reliefs, your lenses will not fit properly in the bucket.  The photos posted by the seller show headlights which have been likely repaired at the bottom and the indexing mechanism has not been retained.

Bantam headlights were built in three configurations. One configuration was an index notch axially aligned with the mounting stud, these were used on 1939-1940 passenger cars.  The other configuration called for a left and a right headlight where the notch was rotated approximately 30 degrees from the mounting bolt, depending on whether it was a left or right unit.  The second configuration was used on all other American Bantams.

If I were going to spend that kind of money on headlight buckets, I would demand very detailed photos of the perimeter of the opening (inside and out) and photos with the reflectors removed.  From my understanding, many Bantam headlights ended up in trash bins because they were prone to rotting out.  I would want to make sure that these are as pristine as possible before investing in them.

By the way, I’m not trying to dissuade you from buying these, but I want to make sure you know what you’re getting into.

Click here to see the American Bantam Headlights

Folk Art Friday & King Pins

Penciled in darkly on the upper right hand corner of a hand drawn advertising proof is the mark Wm. E. Lickfield 5/37.  It’s upfront in its truth, but similarly cryptic as it reveals very little to me.  On it’s face, this line tells us both the name of the artist and when he marked this creation.  However, nearly 81 years later, the name and the date are not very enlightening; not even with a google search.   Before I get any further, allow me to share with you an interesting eBay find:

Alternative Bantam Advertisement 1

As you probably already know, 1935-1937 was a great time of flux for the American Bantam Car Co.  The company introduced its cars prematurely for 1937 with drawing of vehicles that were never built.  If I recall correctly, that brochure featured the sketchings of a former Ford designer who imparted a fairly dated look onto the nimble economy cars. The cars were subsequently redesigned by Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky and the earliest date of completion of a Bantam vehicle was on December 28, 1937.

Seven months prior to the completion of the first American Bantam it seems as though someone sketched out this advertisement.  Just a few thoughts, in May of 1937, it isn’t clear that the design for the Bantam was close to finalized let alone many other details of the car.  This may be lend an insight into the fact that the illustration is fairly generic, that the few words on the ad are also quite generic, and that the logo was heavily based upon the Union Pacific Railroad symbol.


You could spend a bit of time picking out all of the differences and eccentricities that this sketch exhibits, but look closely at the words American Bantam.  Does that font look familiar?  Sure it isn’t slanted 15 degrees to the right, but look at how rounded those A’s are.  We may be looking at the origin of the font which came to define our beloved brand.

backfilled bantam emblems 2

If you search the name William E. Lickfield, you will find two results for the 20th century.  One gentleman lived in Camden, New Jersey and the other appears to have had a presence in Philadelphia, PA.  The Lickfield from Philadelphia has a few entries in history related to typefaces, typesetting, and type design.  Perhaps this advertisement was done as a requirement for a job application? Whatever its motivation, it is clear that this artist was very skilled with type design.

The eBay listing indicates that the item is located in Bristol, PA which isn’t too far from Philadelphia.  The ad states that Mr. Lickfield worked at American Bantam.  While I don’t have any other information to offer in substantiating that claim, I think this piece is fascinating.  If you are interested in the history of the American Bantam Car Co., perhaps you need to add this to your collection.  Without more than an eBay description, it is difficult to really know the provenance of this piece, but it is, nevertheless, cool.

Click here to see the listing: Bantam Advertisement

Also, if you’re not looking for a collectible at this time, but you want to tighten up your loose Bantam spindles, perhaps you may be interested in a pair of king pins.

Bantam king pins.jpg

Click here to see the listing Bantam king pinsSold for 35.88


Have a great weekend!

American Bantam Tool Kit

If you have your Authenticity Manual handy, go to section 385.  If you don’t have an Authenticity Manual, you may want to get one by clicking here.  What you’ll find in section 385 is a detailed description of the took kit which came with each Bantam.  These kits came with one of two bumper jacks made from ACME threaded rod, a smooth black vinyl pouch, pliers, an imitation rosewood wood handled screwdriver, and a postcard to mail to the factory.  Going through the manual, you will also find that Bantams left the factory with a hand crank / lug wrench.  These cranks may have been used frequently as the access hole in most unrestored grilles seem to be in very poor condition.

American Bantam Took Kit 5

The last time a jack was on ebay was in May of 2016, you can see that listing by clicking here.  That jack, unlike the one in this listing, was a reproduction made by Lynn James.  Like all of his work, the jacks he made were meticulously faithful copies of the originals in every respect and were quite beautiful.  Unfortunately, he sold his last jack a few years ago.  If you have been keeping up with it, I have been working on a shopping list list of sorts which will, include details such as reproduction parts which have been made for these cars.  You can see some of the lists in progress here.  (Please note, the lists currently posted are drafts.  I am still working on finding photos and adding information.  If you see anything that requires correction, please let me know.)

The seller has detailed the origins of each of the tools included in the kit, so it is worth taking a read, even if you aren’t currently in the market for this item.

American Bantam Took Kit 1

Click here to see the American Bantam Took KitSold for 700 plus shipping.

Emblem Reproduction – Are you interested?

Hollywoods, if you’ve been reading for a while, you probably know that I have an affinity for these Alex Tremulis designed drop tops.  Beyond their numerous apparent differences, they feature new for 1940 Bantam badges.

1940 American Bantam Hollywood.JPG

In the photo above of a nicely restored Convertible Coupe you can see the faint Bantam signature at the top rear corner of the hood side.  According to the Authenticity manual (See pg. 40 at Section 301), these were only used as embellishment on Deluxe models and only on the hood sides.  However, these emblems seem to have found their way on numerous Hollywood/Convertible Coupe rear decks as you can see in the photo below.

1940 Bantam Hollywood Rear

If you go through the internet, you can find numerous photos of these badges on a plethora of cars including an original/as-found 1940 pickup, original non-deluxe coupes, speedsters, Rivieras, and even the BRC pilot car.  I am a huge believer in the Authenticity Manual, but I also recognize that Bantam worked with what they had and there may still be some undocumented nuances to learn.  Interestingly, someone recently posed the idea that some 1940 Grille shells do not have holes for the circular Bantam badge because the factory may have felt a switch to the newer badges obviated their presence.

Here is an up close photo of the front of these badges:

backfilled bantam emblems 2

Stamped from thin brass, chrome plated, and backfilled with the body color of the car, they each are stunning in their own way and compliment the cars nicely.  However, the thin material which they were made from was easily damaged and their thin coat of plating was easily rubbed thin.  Below you can see a photo of the back side of one of the badges, illustrating the thin nature of the piece.  It isn’t uncommon to see these bent or otherwise distorted.Bantam badge clip 1

It can be difficult to find these badges and nearly impossible to find them in perfect condition.  I have paid more than I care to admit for a pair of these and have likewise missed out on a bargain pair which was improperly labeled on ebay.  The problem is that even after you have bought these, you often need to have the reconditioned, and there is always the chance that your plater may damage the thin brass.

A few people have inquired with me about these after I sold off my last spare pair, and disappointingly, I had to turn these other people away.  So, over the past few weeks, I have been pursuing the reproduction of these emblems to help make sure other restorers can have their cars complete and bedazzled with all of their tastefully sparse trim.  At the start of the New Year (2018 if you’re reading this years from now), I am planning to do a small run of these.  They will be solid brass parts that will be chromed and will feature two threaded studs that will be located in the original positions.  They will look original from the front, but will be far more substantial so that they will survive test fitting, removal, reinstallation, and years of proud display.

I am planning on having short run of a few made.  Before I place the order I am looking to see how many of you are interested in these.  They should be around $60 each.

Are you in?