American Austin Car Company
Fate sold
Founded 1929
Defunct 1946
Headquarters Butler, Pennsylvania, USA
Industry Automobile
Products Vehicles

The American Austin Car Company was a United States automobile manufacturing corporation tied to the British Austin Motor Company. The company was founded in 1929, and produced motorcars from 1930 through 1934, when it filed for bankruptcy.

In 1935 the company was reorganized under the name American Bantam. Production resumed in 1937 and continued through 1941, including the first prototype of what later became the Jeep.

American Austin Car CompanyEdit


1931 American Austin

The American Austin Car Company was founded in 1929, in Butler, Pennsylvania in premises that had belonged to the Standard Steel Car Company.[1] Their intention was to assemble and sell in the United States a version of the Austin 7 car, called American Austin.[2] After some initial success the Great Depression set in, and sales fell off to the point that production was suspended. In 1934 the company filed for bankruptcy.

The automobile was designed in the hopes of creating a market for small-car enthusiasts in the United States. The cars had 747 cc four-cylinder engines and looked something like small Chevrolets with Stutz and Marmon-style horizontal hood louvres. The bodies were designed by Alexis de Sakhnoffsky and made by the Hayes Body Company of Detroit. The coupe was billed as a sedan, and sold for $445, slightly less than a Ford V8 roadster. The Great Depression made the cheaper secondhand cars more appealing, so sales dropped off.

More than 8000 cars were sold during the company's first (and best) year of sales, but sales fell off to the point that production was suspended in 1932. It restarted in 1934 with bodies now made in-house but stopped again between 1935 and 1937.

About 20,000 cars were produced.

From the 1960s onwards the car gained a following with drag racers, who used them as base material for altereds. These were hybrid of street driven hot rods and all out drag racing machines.

American BantamEdit


1939 American Bantam

In 1935 Roy Evans, a former salesman for Austin, bought out the bankrupt company, which was reorganized under the name American Bantam. ("Bantam" is a smaller-bred version of any particular poultry breed — the name must have been chosen for the size of the automobiles that the company made.) The formal connection with UK Austin was severed, though a relationship was maintained. A series of changes was made to the American Austin car design, including a modified engine, and an exterior sheetmetal designed by Alexis de Sakhnoffsky.

Production was resumed in 1937 and continued through 1941. Despite a wide range of Bantam body styles, ranging from light trucks to woodie station wagons, only about 6,000 Bantams of all types were produced.

American Bantam's 1938 model is famous for being the inspiration for Donald Duck's car.

Original JeepEdit


1941 American Bantam Jeep Prototype

American Bantam also pioneered the first Jeep to a design by Karl Probst[1] and built 2765 of these after discontinuing the manufacture of passenger vehicles. Some of the motors and chassis were imported Toledo, OH; the bodies were made at the American Bantam Car factory in Butler, Pennsylvania.

However, because the company did not have the best engine, and lacked production capacity to produce the vehicle on the scale needed by the United States Department of War, the contract was to be determined by a test trial. Eventually the U.S. Army gave the Bantam's designs to Willys-Overland called the BRC (Bantam Reconnaissance Car) 40 and awarded the bulk of orders to Willys and Ford,[3] while Bantam went on to produce Jeep trailers (T-3).

This photo is not of the Bantam prototype. The original had rounded fenders.

Later productionEdit

After Jeep production stopped, Bantam made two wheel trailers. This continued until the company was taken over by American Rolling Mills in 1956.[1]

Gallery Edit


Smallwikipedialogo This page uses some content from Wikipedia. The original article was at American Austin Car Company. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with Tractor & Construction Plant Wiki, the text of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons by Attribution License and/or GNU Free Documentation License. Please check page history for when the original article was copied to Wikia

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Georgano, N. (2000). Beaulieu Encyclopedia of the Automobile. London: HMSO. ISBN 1-57958-293-1. 
  2. "First American Midget Car Runs At High Speed" Popular Mechanics, September 1930
  3. Hartwell D The Mighty Jeep American Heritage Magazine] Vol 12, No 1, December 1960

External linksEdit

and American Bantam Photo Galleries at

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.