Buyer’s guide: Austin A30/A35

| 3 Oct 2023
Classic & Sports Car – Buyer’s guide: Austin A30/A35

Why you’d want an Austin A30/A35

Perfectly pitched into Britain of the early 1950s – battling the crippling costs of war, but looking forward to a better future – the A30 Austin Seven was the ideal transport for a young family.

Post-war Britons wanted independence, but times were tight, so an affordable, light car that was solid, while returning 50-60mpg (a figure rarely beaten even now), was a revelation.

Austin had contracted Raymond Loewyʼs US styling house to help design the car, though Holden Kotoʼs proposal was heavily modified in-house, not least by reducing it to the overall dimensions of the pre-war Austin Big Seven.

David Bache had a hand in some later restyling, especially the 1953 dashboard.

The A30 boasted monocoque construction, a new overhead-valve engine, a four-speed three-synchro gearbox, four doors (a two-door came later), 12V electrics and surprisingly good handling, aided by a rear anti-roll bar.

The significance of the introduction of the new A-series engine, which would endure for half a century in production and power so many iconic BMC vehicles, cannot be overstated.

Classic & Sports Car – Buyer’s guide: Austin A30/A35

With only 803cc, the original A30 unit was willing but far from swift, reduced to slogging at 30mph in third up anything steeper than the gentlest of hills, yet by the standards of the day it was more than adequate.

In November 1952 The Motor wrote: ʻIts acceleration and speed capabilities are greater than a large proportion of its potential public will ever require.ʼ

The 948cc engine in the A35 of 1956 was far livelier and better geared, and is often credited with being the sweetest of the A-series units.

The A35 was replaced by the Mini in 1959, but the Countryman estate variant continued until late 1962, while the 5cwt Van version soldiered on to 1968, featuring the 1098cc A-series for four years and an 848cc version (the same size as the original Mini) from 1963-ʼ68.

The rarest production variant is the 5cwt Pick-up, of which only 475 were built from 1956-ʼ57.

The Austin A30 won the Tulip Rally outright in 1956 and the likes of John Sprinzel campaigned A35s in production saloon races; an A35 also set a bevy of long-distance class speed records at Montlhéry in 1957.

Now, they are popular again for racing at the Goodwood Revival and elsewhere – great publicity, though a fair few of the best survivors have been turned into racers.

Images: James Mann

Austin A30/A35: what to look for

Classic & Sports Car – Buyer’s guide: Austin A30/A35

Trouble spots

Please see above for what to look for before you check out any Austin A30/A35 classic car for sale.

Classic & Sports Car – Buyer’s guide: Austin A30/A35


The legendary A-series engine began its long life in the A30, so this was a modern, advanced unit for its day.

Now, some parts for the earliest 803cc A30 version are becoming scarce, but the 948cc A35s are better served.

These engines are sturdy if well maintained and have huge tuning potential if you’re after more performance.

Classic & Sports Car – Buyer’s guide: Austin A30/A35
Classic & Sports Car – Buyer’s guide: Austin A30/A35

Get underneath

Look for signs of regular greasing, check the condition of the brake hoses, and for wear in kingpins, bushes, bearings, the steering box and joints, plus tyre wear/cracking.

A difficult area to repair properly is the rear spring hanger, which rusts badly, extending into the boot floor and inner wing. Check it hasn’t been bodged.

Classic & Sports Car – Buyer’s guide: Austin A30/A35


Austin A35s had a remote gearshift, A30s a long lever into the ’box.

Look out for bearing noise (it stops if you dip the clutch), weak synchros and for jumping out of gear.

Classic & Sports Car – Buyer’s guide: Austin A30/A35


Smart, original interiors are rare and many cars have had trim swapped over the years, but good-quality retrim kits are available from Newton Commercial.

Austin A30/A35: before you buy

Classic & Sports Car – Buyer’s guide: Austin A30/A35

Loewy Studios and Austin devised a sturdy monocoque, but age and poor rustproofing mean body condition is the key consideration when buying – and 50 years of low values is plenty of time for rampant bodgery.

Engines and gearboxes have often been swapped around: check the engine number (a riveted plate on the top right of the block) and the size (cast into the left side of the block, eg 950).

Plenty of cars have been modified to 1098cc, 1275cc or more. Bigger engines need ribbed-case transmissions; they will quickly destroy smooth-cased ones.

More power needs better brakes, such as an MG Midget front-disc conversion or Austin A40 8in front drums.

Engine wear makes itself known through bearing rumbles and knocks (needing a full rebuild, probably £2000) or oil smoke, which may be worn piston rings (full rebuild) or just valve stems/seals (cylinder-head overhaul, £250-500).

If driven hard (over 3000rpm) on unleaded fuel, the valve seats will eventually fail and hardened seats will be needed (c£300).

Low power may be due to eroded valve seats/poor sealing: check compressions if suspicious.

Parts for 803cc engines are now scarce and expensive – even the water pump and oil filter are hard to find.

With its low power (but great charm), the 803 has purist appeal but is less easy to live with than the larger engines.

Properly adjusted, the brakes are adequate for standard engines – but seized cylinders and poor adjustment can make them scary.

Austin A30/A35 price guide


  • Pick-up: £5000/15,000/24,000
  • Van: £1750/6000/15,000
  • Countryman: £1500/5000/12,000
  • Saloon*: £1000/3000/8000

*A30s are worth around 15% less than A35s

Prices correct at date of original publication

Austin A30/A35 history

1951 A30 launch at Earls Court: single rear light, T-key boot release, keyless ignition

1952 Bootlid lock, twin rear lights

1953 Two-door option, larger grille, revised seating (leathercloth standard), new dash (trapezoidal speedo), full-width parcel shelf

1954 5cwt Van: stiff rear suspension, low-ratio axle, roof ventilator, stiffening side panels, single bucket seat .Countryman estate: Van body, but car-spec mechanicals

1956 948cc A35 saloon/Countryman: body-colour grille, indicators, slimmer front seats, remote gearchange, bigger rear window; Van gets low-compression 948; 5cwt Pick-up added, fold-up seat in bed

1957 Pick-up dropped (475 built)

1959 A35 saloon replaced by Mini

1962 MkII Van/Countryman with non-indented doors; Countryman dropped, MkIII Van with 1098cc (until 1966)

1963 848cc option in Van

1968 Van production ends

The owner’s view

Classic & Sports Car – Buyer’s guide: Austin A30/A35

Keith Bennett bought his Austin A35 in 1982 after having admired a friend’s A30.

“I got it for my wife Chris to run around in,” he recalls. “We joined the club and soon realised ours was in better condition than most of the others there.

“It’s a four-door Deluxe version with rear quarterlights and chrome overriders; it had led a charmed life with only two previous owners.

“We used it a lot, fitted a towbar and pulled a trailer with it. By 2009 it was getting rusty, so I stripped it down and The Mobile Welder did all the bodywork.

“It had new sills, repairs to the floor, rear wheelarches, inner wings and other small patches.

“I rebuilt the engine, the gearbox and the running gear myself – I had a garage full of spares. A stainless-steel exhaust is the only modification we’ve made.

“I really enjoy driving it, and the brakes are good if you keep on top of them. We’ve won a few prizes at shows over the years, too.”

Also consider

Classic & Sports Car – Buyer’s guide: Austin A30/A35
Classic & Sports Car – Buyer’s guide: Austin A30/A35

The Morris Minor (left) and Standard 8/10 (© Tony Large) are alternative buys


Widening the Morris Minor just as production began gave it a longer life than the A30/35. Sidevalve-engined at first, it thrived on the A-series from 1952. Parts are plentiful, rust the biggest enemy.

Sold 1948-’71 • No. built 1,303,331 • Price now £2-23,000*


Aping the A-series, Standard’s small engine was 803cc in the 8, then 948cc in the 10 ahead of BMC. Overdrive and an auto were (rare) options. Cheap, but few are left now and parts/rust are tricky.

Sold 1953-’60 • No. built 300,817 • Price now £1-6000*

*Prices correct at date of original publication

Austin A30/A35: the Classic & Sports Car verdict

Classic & Sports Car – Buyer’s guide: Austin A30/A35

No-one can fail to be charmed by these diminutive, characterful saloons and recent historic motorsport action has boosted interest in them further.

They are still good value compared to Morris Minors, so now is the time to buy.

Austin A30s in standard form are less versatile than pokier A35s, but still fun; many have been uprated.

Just watch out for rust, and past modifications and bodgery: a good one is brilliantly cheap to run.


  • Economical and usable
  • Most parts are available and cheap (especially for the A35)
  • There’s strong club support
  • They are extremely easy to maintain and own



  • Rust can be rampant under past patches – inevitable for a car that has been cheap for 50 years
  • Some A30 parts are very hard to find

Austin A30/A35 specifications

  • Sold/number built 1951-’68/577,871 (194,256 A30s; 142,565 A35s; 240,575 Van/Countryman)
  • Construction steel monocoque
  • Engine all-iron, ohv 803/848/948/1098cc ‘four’, single Zenith carburettor
  • Max power 28bhp @ 4800rpm to 34bhp @ 4750rpm
  • Max torque 40lb ft @ 2400rpm to 50lb ft @ 2000rpm
  • Transmission four-speed manual, RWD
  • Suspension: front double wishbones, coil springs rear live axle, semi-elliptic springs, anti-roll bar; lever arm dampers f/r
  • Steering cam and lever
  • Brakes 7in (178mm) drums (hydraulic front, mechanical rear via central slave cylinder)
  • Length 11ft 4-6in (3457-3505mm)
  • Width 4ft 7-8in (1400-1422mm)
  • Height 4ft 10¼in-5ft ¼in (1480-1600mm)
  • Wheelbase 6ft 7½in (2020mm)
  • Weight 1512-1680lb (687-764kg)
  • Mpg 45-60
  • 0-60mph 40.2-30.1 secs
  • Top speed 63-72mph
  • Price new £475-560 (1955 A30, 2dr-Countryman)


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