In the 1954, a teenager in Texas adopted an American Bantam roadster as his first car for the hefty sum of $350. It was sitting on the used car lot of a Jaguar dealer where its original owner traded it in for a new Jag. It was clear that the car had been well cared for and was really just ready for to be adopted by a new family. When the teen got it home it looked something like this:
After a little bit of elbow grease and paint, the teen ended up with quite a sporty roadster to start his freshman year off. He drove it with delight for two years before replacing it with a Ford convertible, finally giving the Bantam to his father. At that time, his roadster looked like this:
In the stewardship of his father, the car stayed on the road until around 1966. He had a friend with a 1939 Bantam coupe and a Crosley Hot Shot. The engine from the Bantam, along with some other parts, were harvested as spares. The engine from the Hot Shot went into the coupe and its wheels with new tires ended up on the roadster. In that configuration, the car was enjoyed for years until it eventually went into long term storage.
Over the decades, the car was always subject to love, whether it was on the road or in storage. At some point, the roadster’s engine was brought back into working order so that it could return to the road again. Running well, the owner’s father proudly enjoyed the car, sharing it with crowds at a variety of local car shows and events. It made its last journey under its own power around 17 years ago when it was driven on a 60 mile round trip to a show in Dallas. By the time the car was driven into the garage after that last show, the odometer had rolled all the way to 61,598 miles. Yet, in all of those miles, the car has remained well kept and very true to its original form.
As you can see from these photos, the car has been sitting in dry indoor storage and still retains the coat of black paint it received 60 years ago. Considering that this car has spent its entire life in Texas, it is no wonder that there is no surface rust or rot visible anywhere.
Although the car has had a few modifications such as the addition of aftermarket headlights and turn signals, nothing has been done to really alter the originality of this magnificent survivor car. The body is overwhelmingly straight and well preserved. The seller has stated that the underside of the car is also rock solid.
Under the hood, it appears that there have been a couple of upgrades over the years involving the generator and possibly the intake setup, however the car still has the original two main bearing crankcase that it left the factory with. The casting number on the cylinder block indicates that it may have been swapped out for a later tall deck three main bearing block unit at some point. The car also sports the optional larger capacity accessory radiator which was introduced in the later part of the 1939 model year.
The car also comes with its original side curtains, tonneau cover, and one of its original 15 inch wheels; which are all remarkably well preserved.
The owner first bought the car as a 1941 model car, even though it left the factory in August of 1939. It was likely only first sold at a dealer in 1941 in a state which adopted the year of first sale as the year of manufacture. At that time, such information didn’t matter as the car was bought to be a daily driver for a teenager, not a numbers matching show car. However, that is what this car could be today; a well preserved 1939 Deluxe Roadster complete with many of the hard to find pieces often lost with time.
As mentioned above, the owner and his father had set aside some extra Bantam parts to keep this car going. Not surprisingly, they still have a number of those parts as well. The spare parts are not included with the roadster at the listed price. These parts include a two main Bantam crank case (which appears to carry number 64183 indicating it was from a 1939 coupe), a cylinder block, a cylinder head, a pressurized crankshaft, an oil pan, a flywheel, a clutch and pressure plate assembly, starter parts, an exhaust manifold, a firewall to radiator support bar, and an accelerator pedal.
With a little bit of time and effort, you could get this roadster back on the road where it belongs. From what the seller has said, it sounds like it is remarkably solid and is merely in need of a new home to give it the attention it deserves.
At present, the car will sell with a bill of sale as the original title was misplaced and has not yet been found. If the title is found, this ad will be updated.
The car is located in Grapevine, Texas, and the owner is asking $9,900 for the roadster. This price does not include the spare parts listed above.
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