Takin’ it to the Streets

Whether you think Michael McDonald was an excellent addition to the Doobie Brothers matters not as this article is about a different sort of Takin’ it to the Streets, one where our skills and services are proudly put on display in an effort to get a Bantam out on the road again and visible to the everyday enthusiast. However, before we can get rolling this entry will give you a perspective of what our locating services entail so you can see how we have gotten where we are.

Over the past four years, I have been detailing our in-house project, the Bantam “Sportsman”. In doing so, I have had the opportunity to share some important details regarding Bantams and have been inspired to begin assembling a photographic parts guide. However, one thing has been sorely lacking, the shop and I haven’t had an actual running driving Bantam. How can a guy without a Bantam really dole out the advice you need to keep yours going or to help you figure out if you may even enjoy it? For advice and mechanical services, I usually like to refer you to the real experts (there are some fantastic people who I almost always defer to on certain subjects). In explaining what the cars are like, I always admit that much of my information comes from listening to others and through observation.

Although I’ve wanted a running Bantam for a while, and for a brief period had a running Austin, the urgency of the hunt became more apparent as this site has continued to grow. More often then not, I have found myself looking at project cars which would need a tremendous amount of work to get on the road. So, as an in-house project, I began the locating process for a 1940 American Bantam Hollywood or Convertible Coupe in near running condition. I established a budget which I was willing to spend and how much work would be acceptable to take on; as well as how far I would be willing to travel to buy the car.

As you may have seen, our locating services begin with an annual fee; helping to illustrate that the perfect car may not come available in the same week you are looking.  This keeps me on the trail for an entire year, seeking out that perfect match; if it’s out there.  I set out to work looking for the car; including calling old lead, past owners, current owners, dealers, and began scouring every imaginable classified. Late one night in September 2016, I spotted an ad for a Hollywood on a social media site dated May 27, 2010. On a lark, I messaged the seller. Here are the photos I poured over while I waited for the seller to reply.

 

Three months later, I found out the car was still for sale. It was restored about 30 years ago by the same man who restored a 1930 American Austin Coupe which I previously owned for a while. The car was far away, but not too far away; it was about a four hour drive. The owner did not want to discuss the price until I had the chance to look at the car in person, in order to make sure that I knew exactly what the car was.

In February, we took a drive down to look at it. It was nice, an older restoration and apparently an AACA Junior Winner in the 1980’s. Was it 100% correct? No. However, it ran nicely and the owner took me for a pleasant drive in it. Amazingly, it is a numbers matching car and it retained about 97% of it original parts. I really got the chance to crawl around the car and use my learned knowledge about 1940 Bantams to help identify what aspects were correct and what I’d need to take care of in the future. At the time, the seller wasn’t sure what had been done to the engine in the past, so I was a bit leary of trusting the engine as being a perfect unit. Too far apart on the price, we parted ways and each said we’d think about it to see if we could come up with a price that would work for both of us.

Months later, after pouring over the photos, the car was still available and I decided that it was the one. The seller and I came up with a deal. We headed down with a U-haul trailer and some tie down straps. The seller had it charged up and waiting for me. After some quick loading and exchanging of paperwork, a 1940 Hollywood was finally on its way back to New York to represent TrustInRust.com and to help me get a bit more hands on experience with these fantastic machines.

American Bantam Hollywood traveling home

Here’s a photo to give you an idea of the car’s size relative to ordinary vehicles:
American Bantam Hollywood traveling home (2)

It took a bit less than a year, but persistence paid off. The plan for this car is to get it running, keep it tuned up, make it into a dependable driver, and try out some of our reproductions on it.  In the future, you can look for this at club meets, local cruise nights, and other shows. In getting it going and keeping it going, be sure to keep checking back for entries on the topic.  These will be blog entries on actually piloting a Bantam and not just building it or appreciating it.  I hope this will be helpful.

The shop project Sportsman will continue to provide information regarding a full restoration of a Bantam and inspiration for creating detailed parts guides.  However, this car will hopefully encourage you to either get one or to get yours on the road.  So, besides our services, I hope to take this Special 4 to the streets and see what it can do.  Care to join along for the ride?

If you’re interested in reacquainting yourself with Takin’ it to the Streets, click here.

Takin it to the streets doobie brothers

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