1939 American Bantam RoadsterSOLD
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Estimate: $30,000-$40,000 US

Offered Without Reserve

AUCTION RESULTS: Lot was Sold at a price of $60,500

22bhp, 50 cu. in. inline four-cylinder engine, three-speed manual gearbox, beam axle with transverse leaf springs front and live axle with quarter elliptic leaf springs rear suspension,
four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 75"

Bantams, whether the early American Austins or the later more streamlined models designed by Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, have one undeniable attribute. They are cute. In fact, a Bantam’s picture – usually taken with a man of ordinary stature towering over its diminutive form – should illustrate the term "cute" in a definitive automotive dictionary. Because they are undeniably automobiles in miniature rather than rolling eggs or motorized bubbles, they are just about the cutest little things ever created in automotive form.

Whatever possessed its founders to form the American Austin Car Company in 1929 is difficult to fathom. Americans didn’t think tiny, Americans thought big. Gas was cheap. Distances were long. The competition was Ford and Chevrolet. Their bigger cars cost less than an American Austin. Tiny Austins may have been successful in England, a small island filled with cramped cities and villages. Equally petite Austin-based cars were successful in Japan, whose geography could be described in the same way, and in Germany. But in America, Henry Ford cranked out more cars in a week than the entire motor industry of some industrialized countries did in a year, they could be bought for a few weeks’ wages and fueled with abundant and cheap gas.

The American Austin failed in six years, only to be resuscitated in 1937 by its indefatigable champion Roy Evans as the American Bantam Car Company. Evans came up with a redesigned engine with three main bearings and got Alexis de Sakhnoffsky to create the definitive Bantam styling, a charming blend of curves and colors that is as captivating today as it was in 1939.

The very rare and charming little 1939 Bantam American Roadster presented here belonged to and was restored by the president of the American Bantam Club before entering the McMullen Collection in 1994. Though it has been some time since the car was restored, it is still in very presentable condition and attractively appointed in two-tone red and burgundy with a tan interior. These Bantams are truly fun, cute and useable cars, and this example is no exception.

Reference Number 8637

as of 4/17/2007

Car 1939 American Bantam Roadster
VIN 63877 
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