Prairie Homes, Falling Water, and Cherokee Red

Frank Lloyd Wright, the ubiquitous American has had a deluge of words dedicated to his life, his work, and his unique vision for American life.  More than a half century after his death, he is still a source of conversation, study, and interest.  While I can revel at the magnificence of the Darwin Martin home, I am more interested in FLW’s preference for American Bantams.

If you are a member of the AABC, Cathy Cunningham authored an article delving deeply into Wright’s large fleet of tiny cars. (“The Wright Bantams for the Job”, The American Austin Bantam Club News, Vol. 37, No. 6, November – December 1999, pgs 6-9).  Cathy’s article points to a number of then extant accounts of FLW’s fellows who were part of the traveling caravan of Bantams.  Since the publishing of her article, another book has been written purely about Frank Lloyd Wright’s automotive choices.

There is a member of the clubs who has a Station Wagon which is purported to have been the FLW station wagon.  The only problem is that the previous owner merely relied on an oral history of the car and did not have the paperwork to support its provenance.  Although the American Bantam Car Co. had some great records of cars which were built, no records appear to have survived indicating who originally purchased a vehicle.  It seems that a lot of that information was kept in the hands of the specific dealers and would have only made it to the factory if the original warranty information made its way back to Butler.

In Cathy’s article, there is a photo at the bottom of one page showing the fleet in a 1938 Bantam salesman’s showbook.  Here is the photo:

Frank Lloyd Wright Bantams cropped

As I don’t have a copy of this showbook, I do not know the information that was originally attached to this photo.  However, by accident I stumbled upon the original publication of this photo:

Frank Lloyd Wright Bantams

The original fleet was sold by Madison-Bantam Sales at 531 State St, in Madison, Wisconsin.  (Please be careful when you try to look at this address on Google Street View.  I appear to have interrupted some sort of meditation class).

531 state st

Oops, this would be the class.

In any event, the clipping above is from the November 20, 1938 Wisconsin State Journal as you can see below:

November 1938.png

This would tend to show that Frank Lloyd Wright’s Station Wagon needed to be built and delivered in Madison prior to November 20, 1938.  As such, the latest possible Wagon which could have been his would be 62922.  So, it would seem that around 60 Wagons could have possibly been Wright’s.  Maybe it would be a good time to take a look under the hood of your car and see if it’s yours.

For more reading on FLW’s cars, you may be interested in this book:

The Car Is Architecture

Click here to view The Car Is Architecture – A Visual History of Frank Lloyd Wright’s 85 Cars

Front End Thursday

1938 -1939 American Bantam Mascot / Hood Ornament

A year after Nash used a Jarvis hood ornament to grace the hood of its Lafayette, it made its appearance on the American Bantam.  I have never had the chance to hold a Nash unit and compare it with a Bantam one, however I have heard that the Nash mascot is a bit bigger to suit the larger car.  The Jarvis 3408J is a hard piece to find in any condition these days.  Usually, they are pitted beyond recognition, broken, or bent.  This one is pitted, but a good shop should be capable of repairing it.  Interestingly, these were reproduced in the 60’s-70’s in Japan, although little is known about those reproductions.  These were used from 1938 until the 1940 model cars began production.

Click here to see the listing: american bantam mascot


1938-1939 American Bantam 15 bar grille shell

The 15 Bar grille shell was used on a large number of cars, and is preferred by many.  This one however, gives you an idea of what many restorers have had to work with.  The sides of the grille apron, where it meets the fenders are destroyed.  You need to have a good set of hands to make this grille fit a Bantam nicely again.  I think my grilles were mostly welded back together in the same area, but thankfully very skilled people came between me and the damage.  A nice bonus is that this may come with the Bantam badge, although the listing does not mention such.  This should be correct for 1938 through late 1939 cars.

Click here to see the listing: american bantam grille shell

Happy Belated Thanksgiving

In the past month, there have been a few scattered items which I didn’t end up posting on here.  It’s amazing how few parts have come available.  I was going through some old emails today and found that one member of the ABS raised a very good point when I was a complete newbie.  To paraphrase, be patient, these cars and their parts are out there; sometimes there are dry spells and sometimes there are more items than can find owners.  Right now, with the holidays, people have more on their mind than working on their cars and cleaning out their garage.

The last couple weeks have resulted in my efforts slowing with the near culmination of assembling my 1940 Bantam chassis.  It needs to come apart again so I can begin restoring the bits to newish condition, but it’s nice to see something that has existed as scrap for decades become something fairly car like.  I’m trying to figure out the front shock absorbers and finalize the braking configuration.  However, even with all of these things, the car has been on the back burner.

I made a tally of cars in the process of being restored and their owners.  Currently, there are at least 50 American Austin/Bantam cars in various stages of resurrection among at least 30 owners.  So, if you’re afraid that you’re alone in your quest, rest assured that you’re in good company.

Around here, I’ve started doing some work chronicling the history of the Brennan IMP.  If you’re a long time reader, you know of my fondness and intrigue regarding that little motor.  Right now, there are a couple of old brochures up, but soon, I should have it’s 30 year history documented for those who do have them.

I hope you had a happy holiday and that you are looking forward to the upcoming ones as well.  Stay tuned for updates!





Bantam BRC Pilot Replica for sale!

As a Bantam enthusiast, it may seem difficult to avoid the BRC these days; and that is not a bad thing.  In a time when fewer and fewer people know what a Bantam civilian car even is; the BRC is a great way to reintroduce the world to the little car company that did.  Even if the Jeep doesn’t do it for you as an enthusiast, think about its importance in two ways.  First, the Jeep is pretty important to our history.  Secondly, any press is good press for our little cars, the more folks we can bring to our hobby, the better!

Showing people around the world, that one of the vehicles most responsible for the freedoms they enjoy today is directly traceable to a small city in western Pennsylvania can be eye opening.  There are a bunch of people hoping to get the story out about the economy car company that may have saved our world.  Besides those two big BRC events planned this year, there has been at least one book published recently focusing on the development of the Reconnaissance Car.  If you want to help spread the word about the BRC and American Bantam, helping support a project to make a mini-series for television may be an excellent means to do so.

Now, if you’re not too familiar with crowd funding, these campaigns are usually fantastic because you have a chance to get something in return for your donation, other than the satisfaction that you are helping someone’s dreams come true.  Unlike other campaigns where you can buy a hoodie, a key chain, a copy of the product, or even differ with a celebrity; the folks at this campaign have really set the bar high.  For a $100,000 donation, you can get a BRC pilot car replica!  Now, they are seeking to raise $1.2 million, so if twelve people get together to buy pilot cars, this campaign will be successful in no time!  Now, lets get together and help get our little cars the fame they deserve. (Also, I personally hope that this mini-series will feature ample shots of people driving civilian Bantam cars.  I can’t see it making too much sent to have Roy Evans driving around a Chevy)

Check out the campaign here:  Buy a BRC

BRC idiegogo

Bantam 2 mile token: Encased Penny

Two cents a mile sounds great to me!  Back when the 1938 Bantam was introduced, the company produced a souvenir encased penny to commemorate the special car.  The coin was an advertising gimmick highlighting the thriftiness of the small car with big car styling.  I’ve seen these on ebay before, and they usually sell for much more than a penny.  While I think they’re neat, they’re still out of my budget for a penny.

Click here to see the penny: Bantam Penny Sold for: 26.00

Attention viewers! Do you have any spare parts you’d like to sell?

Besides linking you to the most current eBay auctions, is about much more.  The concept embodied by this website is a lot broader than I can let on at this point, as developing it one stage at a time is the only way to do it properly.  Revealing the complete plans would leave you wondering why I am so slow at getting this thing together.  So, besides providing you with a frequent blog of items for sale and a listing of vehicles for sale, I am now listing parts both for sale and wanted.

Please take a few moments to check out the new used parts for sale sections and the NOS / reproduction parts for sale sections.  The purpose of these pages is to make your restoration just a little bit easier.  Remember, eBay auctions only last several days and craigslist ads have mysterious lifespans that no one fully understands, however a listing here runs until sold.  The idea behind this system is to keep leads alive as long as possible, this way parts and cars don’t slip back into the woodwork to be forgotten about until the next time an owner is motivated to put the effort into selling.  I want people who are looking for parts to be able to get exactly what they need so their project isn’t put on hold at the whim of some rare piece.  I want you to have options available, so not only are you getting a part you need, but the best one for you.

Right now, there are only a few listings; but browse a bit and show your support.  If you have anything you’re looking for, contact me to place an ad.  If you have somethings you wouldn’t mind selling to clear some space in your garage, there is plenty of room here.  If you manufacture reproduction parts or perform some essential service for our hobby, your listing is wanted.

Working together, we can create something amazing; and I would love for you to be part of it.



Emblems on eBay: 1940 style

If you’ve been looking for a pair of emblems for a 1940 project, now may be your chance.  I haven’t been tracking Bantam items as long as many of my readers, but there are some items which you just don’t seem to come across that often.  Lately, carbs and Austin headlight parts seem to be quite popular, although pricey.  I’ve only seen one of these Bantam emblems in the past three years, and it disappeared with a buy it now.  These have some issues and could mostly use a rechrome and paint to match your car, but otherwise they are pretty decent.

 bantam emblems 1940

Click here to see these emblems: 1940 American Bantam Hood Side Emblems (Pair) Nice

Also, I have my lap top back from a long stint being repaired.  Please look forward to some new updates and expedited posts coming in the near future.  If anything should be a recommendation for a Microsoft Surface, it should be the fact that I have been using one exclusively for managing this website for almost two months.

Austin Centric parts and some Bantam hood sides

After a bunch of parts ended on ebay last night, for astronomical prices to boot.  As those were ending, another set of items were listed by the seller.

First up:  An American Austin Tillotson M10A carb.  Unlike the one which sold for nearly $500, this is the earlier more common carb.  The seller states that it is not split or broken.  However, in the first photo it looks as though one of the bosses that holds a stop for the throat side lever is broken.  You may want to ask for more photos.

Austin Tillotson M10A Carb1

Click here to see the eBay listing: Austin Tillotson M10A Carb Sold for: 246.94

If you’re looking for a core steering wheel, here is one which is cracked and missing much of its ribbing.  These are no longer remanufactured, so it may be difficult to find someone to repair the original rubber compound of the wheel.

steering wheel 1

Click here to see the eBay listing: Austin or Bantam Steering wheel Sold for: 88.36

Austin Hub Caps:

American Austin Hub Caps1

Click here to see the ebay listing: American Austin Hub Caps Sold for: 89.98

American Austin Coupe mirror:  If you need one for your Austin Roadster, this may be modified as the original ones were to delete the top scallop and bolt hole.

 American Austin Coupe Mirror

Click here to see the ebay listing: American Austin Coupe Mirror Sold for: 37.60

I’m not sure how many of these have gone missing over the years, but this looks to be the cowl vent for an Austin coupe or a Bantam Coupe, Convertible Sedan, or Convertible Coupe.

American Austin Bantam Cowl Vent

Click here to see the ebay listing: American Austin Bantam Cowl Vent Sold for: 47.77

Lastly, the seller has a pair of Bantam hood sides.  They have no holes punched for either the Bantam emblems installed on 1940 Bantams or the garnish used on the 1939 Deluxe model Bantams.  The seller supposedly has a $150 reserve on them, it’ll be interesting to see what this command.

Bantam Hood sides 1

Click here to see the ebay listing: Bantam Hood sides Sold for: 100.00

When a window shuts, a door opens. A Bantam Roadster project is on its way.

The 1939 Bantam project in Missouri has sold to a new owner, someplace much warmer than where I am right now.  In fact, that Bantam is looking forward to having its restoration completed and then some miles put on those new tires.

1939 Bantam Roadster

1939 Bantam Roadster

If you were interested in a Bantam Roadster project, do not despair.  In the next few days, a 1938 Bantam Roadster will be listed here; ready for your imagination and hands.  Although it is a slightly heavier project than the one in MO, it is a 1938 with the 15 slat grille and the innie style headlights.  Just like all Bantams, it will be a car worthy of your time.

Here is a sneak peek at what is coming soon:


1938 Bantam Roadster Coming Soon

American Austin Radiator Badge

Good morning!  Over night, the Ohio seller listed this lovely American Austin badge.  Although we can’t see the rear retaining piece, the clossonie appears to have suffered damage.  It’s not perfect, but as of yet, faithful reproductions of this piece are not available.  If you have a Bantam and need a reproduction grille badge, you are in luck, those have been manufactured recently. If you are interested in bidding in this item, you may wish to contact the seller for photos of the back to make sure it has the correct fastener in the back.

1930 - 1934 American Austin Radiator Badge

1930 – 1934 American Austin Radiator Badge

If you would like to check this badge out on ebay click here: American Austin Radiator Badge Sold for: 69.00