The Austin Saleman’s Trophy

A cocky alloy rooster perched haughtily atop a cast aluminum base.  Polished to produce a glint in any potential customer’s eyes, it was clear that this rooster meant business.  Wouldn’t it mean business to have it perched atop your sporty roadster?  Wouldn’t it give other motorists the idea that your bantam car packed more than pint sized power?  You’d probably dole out the additional few dollars for the Custom Line Austin or if that was too much you may just buy the accessory cap.

Okay, so maybe it wasn’t a trophy per se back in the day, but this ash tray is marvelous.  Given that the base has a corresponding casting number to the Rooster, it is likely that these two pieces have been long time mates.  My best estimation is that this served as a promotional piece to help Austin dealers up sell potential buyers or served as some sort of reward for successful sales agencies.  Personally, my money is on the former.  So, it probably padded his wallet and was quite the piece to hang onto.

Many experts agree that these roosters were originally available in a pewter toned finish which was a product of not polishing the casting.  This is what an original NOS unit looks like:

Austin Rooster Mascot

Posted to the AABC Facebook group by Cathy Cunningham, the Rooster perched above an ash tray is quite a find.  As you’ll see below, this rooster (who has likely been exposed to decades of secondhand smoke) is a bit more polished and glamorous looking.

American Austin Rooster Ash Tray 1

Yet, both the NOS cap and the polished rooster share similar casting numbers and mounting means:

 

In a slightly zoomed out photo, you can see that the casting number on the ash tray base has a similar suffix as the rooster cap itself, indicating that the base was likely designed to compliment the cap around 1933 rather than being a more modern addition.

American Austin Rooster Ash Tray 92

The cap is AA-2840 while the base is 2840 (Thanks for catching this Drew)

 

The seller has rejected offers of over $500 and is waiting to see where the auction goes.  As of now the starting bid is $425 with a little over two days left until the hammer falls.

So, even if this wasn’t a salesman’s trophy, perhaps it will be the trophy of your collection.

Click here to see the American Austin Rooster Ash Tray

Monday morning parts finds

American Bantam Headlight Lenses (pair)

American Bantam Headlight Lenses.jpgClick here to see the American Bantam Headlight Lenses

American Bantam Austin Intake Manifold

Please note the repair to the mounting ear which will need to be cleaned up.

Click here to see the American Bantam Austin Intake Manifold

American Bantam Handle Assortment

Click here to see the American Bantam Handle Assortment

Reproduction Interior American Bantam Window Crank

Reproduction Bantam Window Crank.jpg

Click here to see the American Bantam Window Crank Reproduction

American Bantam Door Handle Reproduction

Reproduction Bantam Door Handle

Click here to see the American Bantam Door Handle Reproduction

American Bantam Generator Mount Bracket

This is a four hole generator mount which should work for late 1938 American Bantams through the end of production.

American Bantam Generator Mount Bracket

Click here to see the American Bantam Generator Mount Bracket

American Austin Bantam Steering Wheel

American Austin Bantam Steering Wheel.jpg

Click here to see the American Austin Bantam Steering Wheel

American Austin Timing Cover

This cover is the correct style for M series American Austin engines.

American Austin Timing Cover.jpg

Click here to see the American Austin Timing Cover

American Austin Generator Mount Distributor

Please note, each American Austin and Bantam engine utilized a distributor having a different advance curve.  While they may look similar and fit similarly, they will not necessarily run the same without modification.

American Austin Generator.jpg

Click here to see the American Austin Generator Mount Distributor

American Austin Steering Box

American Austin Steering Box.jpg

Click here to see the American Austin Steering Box

American Austin Hood Latches

American Austin used two different types of spring loaded hood latches.  However, I don’t have the information handy to explain if these are right for Austins, and if so for what years.  Please check your application.

American Austin Hood Latches

Click here to see the American Austin Hood Latches

American Austin Hood Latches

American Austin used two different types of spring loaded hood latches.  However, I don’t have the information handy to explain if these are right for Austins, and if so for what years.  Please check your application.

American Austin Hood Latches b 1

Click here to see the American Austin Hood Latches

 

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

Black Friday Austin Bantam Sale?

If you are ready to give your credit cards a work out this week, here is a good place to start!

American Austin Instruction Manual

American Austin Instruction Manual

Click here to see the American Austin Instruction Manual Sold for 30.00

1969 American Austin Bantam Club Annual Meet Bumper sticker

1969 American Austin Bantam Club Annual Meet Bumper sticker

Click here to see the 1969 American Austin Bantam Club Annual Meet Bumper sticker Sold for 15.00

American Austin Radiator Badge

American Austin Radiator Badge

Click here to see the American Austin Radiator Badge Sold for 58.00

American Austin Radiator Badge 2

American Austin Radiator Badge 2

Click here to see the American Austin Radiator Badge Sold for 129.99

America Austin Bantam Tow Truck & Tractor photos

austin tow truck and tractor 1

Click here to see the America Austin Bantam Tow Truck & Tractor photos Sold for 23.51

America Austin or Bantam Wrist Pins

Click here to see the America Austin or Bantam Wrist Pins

American Austin Key Fob/ trinket

American Austin Badge Fob 3

Click here to see the American Austin Badge Fob  Sold for 33.00

American Bantam Clutch Plate

American Bantam Clutch Plate

Click here to see the American Bantam Clutch Plate Sold for 19.99

If it seems too good to be true…

As a change of pace, I am telling you not to bid on something.  In fact, I’m writing this as a warning to prevent you from being scammed. A little bit ago, a seller on eBay listed an American Bantam Car Co. employee badge. Here is a photo of it:

American Bantam Car Co badge 1

It is listed for $19.57 and is a buy it now listing with free shipping.  This sounds like a great deal, doesn’t it?  Perhaps we should consider comparable listing to see how good of a deal it is.

An employee badge sold on October 7, 2017 for $427.22 after a very intense bidding war.
Click here to see the listing:  American Bantam Car Co. Employee Badge

That item was coming from Pittsburgh, PA and looked like this:

American Bantam Car Co badge 1

Wait a minute, that’s the same badge; not only the same badge, but the same photo of the same badge!  Either some benevolent soul in 阳泉市, China appears to have purchased this to give one of us other enthusiasts a chance at a real bargain or this listing was made by a malevolent individual to make an easy $20.

While I don’t know for certain, I know that I’ll be keeping my $19.57 in my pocket and will wait patiently for the next listing and suggest you should do the same.

For your reference, here is a photo of the bogus listing:

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Sportsman 4: Checking the Frame for Straightness

The chassis has found its new home in the shop, comfortably placed on a dolly and jack stands.  It doesn’t look too bad on the painted concrete floor, but it certainly shows signs of its age.  The first step in this project will be disassembling the chassis to strip it down to its most essential components.  As it sits, this chassis could be something you found in a chicken coop in Washington State, buried in mud in a Louisiana barn, or even under an original pickup truck in New York.

American Bantam Frame

Once the frame is stripped bare, you can begin to imagine all of the forms it may someday take on.  Will it the backbone of a stock restoration?  Will it hold together a special?  Perhaps it will be pushed to the limits keeping together a pepped up custom?  So long as it is still straight and strong, its possibilities are nearly unlimited.

Properly supporting American Bantam Frame

Whatever your dreams and plans may be, you need to make sure that you are not only starting with the correct foundation but, more importantly, a true one.  Bantam chassis consist of a forged front crossmember, two hat channel steel side rails, a central steel K member, and a rear crossmember of one of various configurations.  Like a model T, these frames were built to flex a bit.  They have little in common with the chassis of standard cars built during the same period.  These chassis are meant to have a bit of a spring to them which you can really sense if you put a foot on each frame rail near the center and put all of your weight on them.  It will undoubtedly bow in the center.  While this motion is normal, you should make sure that your rails are not buckled, twisted, or otherwise out of line.  You should also make sure that your frame doesn’t show any signs of rot or heavy pitting.  If the frame is damaged, you may want to consider finding another.  Frames are fairly plentiful and as this is the basis of the whole project, you are better off starting out with the best.

There are no published specifications indicating what a “straight” bantam frame should exhibit. The first endeavor was to mount the frame on four corners with the two at either end being level and the positions symmetrical from left to right.  Using some strong and straight wood provided for a flat mounting area so I wouldn’t have to worry about my frame slipping off of the jack stand grips to skew my measurements.

Remember, lifting this frame is not a hard feat, it’s probably 75 lbs at best.  However, be careful when lifting and shifting it.  You may need to adjust it a few times as you shim the jack stands or wood to level them out.  Once they are level, you can start inspecting and measuring your chassis.

Amazingly, three of the four mounting points were positioned well for leveling the frame. The front drivers side stand required a shim for which a small piece of junk mail filled the part quite well. Once I determined the wood itself was level, I placed the frame on it at similar points on each side. The frame made perfect contact at each point and the levels appeared to indicate relative trueness of the frame. I’m sure there are better ways to do this which would allow for more accurate results, but this seems to work.

Once it appeared there there was no twisting of the frame, I decided to see if the frame was pinched at all. Seeing the slight bends on the rear cross-member let me to believe there may be some issues in this regard. After realizing how hard it would be to do this with a standard tape measure and only one set of hands, I devised a better system.

First, I marked the frame with respect to fixed features found on each side using a heavy duty crayon. I marked off two measuring points on each side on the rear of the frame and one set of marks on the front. I then stretched out each of two very cheap harbor freight measuring tapes to hold them down to the frame using equally cheep harbor freight welding magnets. The magnets managed to hold the tape taut, but did pull a little bit when I exerted too much effort on the tape.

Both of the diagonally strung tapes measured up at the same distance which really began quieting my fears that this frame may be bent. Finally, I took my very precise Lowes ruler and suspended it across the frame where the tapes intersected. Sure enough, they intersected at the center of the span at that portion of the frame.

Not pictured was my determination that the frame was straight along its span.  Using a straight edge, I checked both hat channel side rails.  Both rails were flush with the straight edge until the point where the chassis sweeps upward.  Combining the straight edge test with the flush alignment of the chassis to the level wood helped me establish that the frame was in decent shape.

I’m sure I may have done better with factory measurements for the frame and a fancy frame jig, but I am very satisfied with the results. For all intents and purposes, this frame is straight.  After all of this, I am ready to begin transforming this bare chassis into the Bantam Sportsman project.

For this project you may need:

Tape measure

Two Thin Tape Measures, at least 10′ long

Click here to see the auction for the Tape Measure

Jack Stands

Four Jack Stands – these will come in handy for the entire project

Click here to see the auction for the Jack Stands

level straight edge

A straight edge / bubble level – Probably a good thing to always have for other projects.

Click here to see the auction for the Straight Edge / Level

The Shop Project: Sportsman I

Perhaps I’ve introduced this project before, but I can’t find the post.  So, in the case I’m repeating myself, I’m going to try to spice this story up for you and present it from a new direction.

This story begins in 2013, when I had tried, to no avail, to buy several different Bantam Hollywoods and Convertible Coupes.  At that point, this website didn’t exist and a person interested in a Bantam was not faced with the paradox of choice you have today.  What did exist was the ability to pursue leads in a scattershot approach with the hopes that something great would turn up exactly when you were looking.

One night, using my scattershot approach, I found a craigslist ad in Tehachapi which piqued my interest.  Now, if you didn’t already know, Tehachapi is in California; a place I have never been.  For us on the east coast, California is known as a haven where all of the antique cars are rust free.

The ad described a hoard of fantastic proportions, at least with relation to the market of the time.  There were a few photos of the whole collection and just one illustrating the gem of the collection, remnants of a 1940 Bantam.  The car had been picked clean over the years and had undoubtedly given life to many other Bantams.  Yet, there was something about it that made me think it needed to make the journey to New York.  Thoughts of turning it into the car of my dreams ran through my head, without knowing exactly what those dreams were.  Seeing the body, I knew it could be a blank slate of sorts.  One where I could exercise some creativity without destroying something likely to be restored.  I could try to break the mold a bit with this one.

By the time the plans for the body began to materialize in my mind, the lot was spoken for, but thankfully the buyer and I were able to get in touch with each other.

Here is a photo from the ad:

thumbnail_2013-10-27 11.13.40

Here is the body emptied out:

Remants of a 1940 Bantam

An original California car.

 

Here is a front view:

front view

Front view of the 1940 Bantam

As you can see, it is a bit rough and you may thinking it is more of the stuff of nightmares than dreams.  However, this body isn’t all that bad for what I am planning.  Stick around for more updates and learn about its trip across the country to its new home.

As a disclaimer, my mechanical, sheet metal, and woodworking skills are fairly weak.  This will be a learning experience and will hopefully give others the courage to adopt a project in need of a lot of love.

American Bantams at Barrett Jackson

Last night five little cars put on quite a show, four American Bantams and one American Austin.  These five, nicely restored, Bantam sized classics crossed the Barrett Jackson auction block at around 8PM EST.  It’s not every day you see a Bantam on television, in fact, then again it’s not every day that you see a Bantam at all.

az17-bantam-block-7752

1939 American Bantam Utility Wagon Crossing the Auction Block

For some more information on the company that built these incredible cars and invented the Jeep, click here.  If seeing these cars piqued your interest in America’s First solid effort at mass producing a microcar, you may wish to consider joining the Austin Bantam Society or American Austin Bantam Club where you will find yourself among the company of some truly great people.  If you’d like to check out these cars in person, the AABC will be hosting its annual meet in Reading, PA this July and the ABS will be holding one in the early fall.

If you’re looking for a fun little car to take on a jaunt to dinner or something sure to steal the show wherever you go, the Bantam is for you.  If you’re looking for a small classic car which you can work on or store in limited space, the Bantam is for you.  If a car which was designed by numerous world class designers interests you, consider a Bantam.  If you’re considering a great car to introduce your family to the classic car hobby, which are fairly simply built out of very few parts, the Bantam is your car.  Perhaps you even heard Craig Jackson mention that, at 10, an American Bantam Roadster was his first restoration.

As I’m sure you can tell, I’m a fan of these cars and the great people who collect them.  If you’re looking for a car or project, there are bunch of them on this site which are currently available.  If you already have a car but need some parts or guidance, drop a line.  If there is something in particular which you are looking for, please go to the contact us tab and let us know.

We’re glad you stopped by and hope you consider a Bantam in your future!

New Listing: The perfect souvenir from this years meet, an American Austin Coupe

With a little work, this little gem could be exactly the type of car you have been hoping for. Originally restored by the owner’s father in the 60’s, he started detailing it in the 1970’s but did not finish. The car has sat in this condition for the past few decades but was running not too long ago. The current owner believes there may be an issue with the clutch and also thinks all of the parts will come with the car. The seller has cherished his father’s car for decades and wants to make sure it gets into the right hands.

Although this is listed as a project, it looks like a solid car that just needs a little TLC to be a runnable car. I would be tempted to enjoy it without the canvas installed to enjoy a sun roof.

The car is located in Copper Canyon, Texas and the seller is asking $8000.

Click here to see the listing:  Coupe for sale