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Lot 668
1940 American Bantam Roadster


Selling on Saturday Evening


• Fresh high-quality restoration
• Rarest Bantam body style - 1 of 15 Roadsters for 1940
• Featured on the cover of Classic Car Magazine July 2012
• Highly sought-after 4-main bearing engine

50.1 cid L-head inline four-cylinder engine, 22 HP at 3,800 RPM, three-speed manual gearbox, 1,261 lbs. curb weight; wheelbase: 75”

When the imported English Austin was restyled by Alex de Saknoffsky in 1935 to celebrate the launch of the new Bantam Corporation, it was a cutting-edge American design. More than 20,000 of the American Austins were built under license to Austin of England, but even though the boxy style had been restyled in 1929 by de Saknoffsky to look like a small Chevrolet, by 1935 it was looking dated. The market for very small cars was difficult in the U.S. at the time due to the sheer size of the country, the Depression, and the wants and needs of American consumers. This resulted in only 6,200 stylish new roadsters, pickups and woody wagons finding their way to buyers between 1937 and 1941. No one made much money on the redesign, as nice as it was. Alex de Saknoffsky was paid only $300 for example, but racing legend Harry Miller converted the 747cc, splash-lubrication engine to full-pressure lubrication and converted it to Babbitt-bearings. The result was much better durability and the price for the whole retooling was a bargain at $7,000. By 1940, the Bantam was part of the American landscape, at least as a suburban commuter or a local delivery truck. Only 800 Bantams of all body styles were sold in 1940, but they boasted larger brakes, Monroe shocks and headlights in the fenders. This car features the rare and highly sought-after, more durable 4-main bearing engine. The last Bantams to be sold in 1941 were 138 cars left over from the previous year, so this really is the last variant.

This smart-looking little American Bantam finished in its snappy green and yellow paint scheme is one of only 323 Roadsters produced and one of a mere 15 sold for the 1940 model year. Treated to a high-quality, comprehensive, frame-off restoration and driven just 11 miles since completion, this rare roadster is simply stunning. Always stored and carefully maintained in a climate-controlled facility, the car comes with shop manuals and pre- and post-restoration photos. This American Bantam is irresistibly cute and attractive. It is sure to garner attention and praise whenever and wherever it is shown. Roadsters, especially of this quality, seldom come up for sale, presenting a unique opportunity to acquire such a rare and interesting automobile.

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