1940 American Bantam Coupe – WA

In the early 1950’s, a couple brought their Packard to their usual service station. Talking with the proprietor, they learned that his daughter was heading off to college and she needed a car for campus. They had just the car, a smart looking Bantam which they parked after wartime fuel rationing ended. Trading the car toward the work on their Packard, the coupe found a new home. In short order, the garage owner lovingly made the Bantam roadworthy for his daughter.

1939 American Bantam Front 3 quarter view fender headlight

When the fall semester began, the sleek blue and white Bantam coupe went with its new owner. The Bantam served dutifully as her trustworthy companion during college, but was parked in 1956 when she embarked upon a lifetime of adventure. Tucked into a small corner, this car went into hibernation waiting to be recommissioned.

A quick glance betrays the fact that is is a time capsule with many stories to tell. The serial number reveals that this car is a Standard Coupe built on July 19, 1939. The production log does not share much other insight regarding this particular car.

At first glance, you will notice that the headlights are mounted to the top of the fenders, in the 1938 and commercial style. This rare configuration of sheet metal only found its way onto a few cars, some early 1939’s and others specially ordered cars as noted in the production log. Although it is not known if this car was originally ordered with the earlier nose, it seems very likely that this sheet metal is original.

1939 American Bantam Driver side profile hubcaps headlight

1939 American Bantam for sale passenger side

The side profile on this coupe is striking. Early headlights, smooth sided hood, and a single bullet tail light bring the design together. Although the tail light was likely a custom touch by an owner long ago, the unit was well selected and really suits the car. It’s such a nice look that the factory should have considered this lamp on production coupes. Looking carefully at the rear of the car, you’ll notice a gas cap. That is another hint that this car was improved upon to drive.

This car has been retrofitted with a gas tank at the rear of the and a fuel pump mounted on the chassis to avoid problems the gravity fed tank may have caused.

Seeking to obviate other problems, the car was fitted with a down draft carter carburetor for enhanced driveability and performance. The carburetor is currently off of the engine but has been rebuilt.

While the engine has not run in decades, under the hood, the car looks like most of the original components are in place and as though it is ready for someone to carefully bring the Bantam back to life. Even the conversion to a down draft was accomplished without cutting or disturbing any original Bantam units. You would likely want to open the engine up and check everything out appropriately, but externally it looks like you won’t be left wanting for parts unless you wanted to return to an updraft carburetor setup.

You may have picked up on something odd about the radiator tank. What you saw is an exceedingly rare Bantam accessory heater. I have only come across two complete set ups for these heaters prior to seeing this car. Besides the rubber hose leading from the upper plenum to the ducts, everything appears to be in place.

Now, it’s clear that this car is special; but it gets better. This car appears to be rock solid. The body and chassis look a bit crusty from usage and age, but there doesn’t appear to be any rot anywhere. Let these photos speak for themselves:

The word that should come to mind is ‘remarkable!’ Not only are all of the sheet metal covers in tact, but the floor is beautiful. All of the beads are still present and undercoating appears to remain on the underside of the solid floors. Below the floors, the very original chassis looks fantastic. It is clear this car is very close to how it left the factory in 1939. The drive shaft has its original boots, the hardware hasn’t been changed and lost. The road grime has even allowed for a majority of the chassis’ original black paint to remain intact.


The view from behind the steering wheel is exactly what someone would have experienced driving a Bantam as a used car; not an over restored machine in which you would need to worry about where to park to avoid door dings.

Everything you would interact with is as Butler intended. Turning the H.A. Douglas ignition switch and chrome starter button will someday bring the engine back to a bristling idle. The beautiful cream gauges look ready to have their thin black needles jump to life. Well-preserved concentric rings and finger grips of the steering wheel mesh with your own hands, ready for you to confidently take this Bantam down the road. A late shifter handle is arced perfectly to catch your next shift.

The upholstery is a blank canvas for your imagination. You can embrace it as it is or fine tune it with new materials that will make the car a little more comfortable.

Such is the beauty of this car, it’s pretty perfect as it is. You can mechanically recommission it and enjoy every moment you spend with this car or you can take it to any level your heart desires. If you wanted to restore this car back to showroom condition, you would be hard pressed to find a better example on the market to start with.

This car is located in Washington State and the seller is asking $10,000.

To inquire about this car, please use the contact form below.


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