online since 01.08.2019
last updated 01.03.2022
The Austin A40 Sports, even in the 1950s, was no sports car. The power-weight balance is too poor and the 1200 ccm engine had to compete in the up to 1500 ccm class with Jowetts and early Porsches. Nevertheless, people successfully entered their Sports in races and rallies of all sorts during the 1950s!
The first trace I could find dates to May 1952: When the British Racing Drivers’ Club added what they called a Production Car Race to the Daily Express International Trophy program at Silverstone on 10 May 1952, they probably reckoned it to be something to amuse the spectators between the real races. Whatever the thinking, it was a success. Ordinary saloon cars being raced around the Grand Prix circuit certainly caught the crowd’s attention in the 1950s as it does today. Spectators enjoyed watching Stirling Moss and Peter Walker in their Jaguars, challenged by a batch of Aston Martins, Frazer-Nashes, and Allards together with MG TDs and Jowett Jupiters in the 1.5-liter class all in one race scheduled for 17 laps!
On that event in 1952, there was an Austin A40 Sports racing as well! Driven by Michael Alexander Christie, a friend of the Jensen brothers (see "the Jensen connection"), who in the 1950s ran a successful Jensen dealership and soon afterward would found "Alexander Tuning". Starter number 2 finished 26th out of 26 finishers :) 9th in the 1.5l class, five laps behind the winning Stirling Moss! Hats to that attempt! Moss averaged 84.1mph in his Jag while our brave Austin came to about 58,5mph if there is something to my calculations.
I don't know if there are pictures of the car or if it is still known to have survived, unfortunately.
In 1985 Dennis Cremer documented the story of the team that won the 1956 RAC Rally:
"In 1956 Angela Palfrey entered the RAC International Rally with an A40 Sports, registered MAD23. She won the Ladies' Trophy, not bad for a car three years out of production! This attractive young lady rallied the Sports extensively. She covered over 200 000 miles (two changes of the engine) in the Sports with total reliability. The car was given to Angela on her 21st birthday. She had it painted silver instead of the original blue. In the '50's it was to be seen with a dachshund mascot in place of the 'Flying A', making it very distinctive at that time. It is thus seen in the Castrol Achievements booklet for 1956." (Cremer 1985)
Co-drivers were Aileen Jarvis and Alice Lord, Leonard Lord's daughter! Curiously they beat among others Pat Moss in the new MGA!
Cremer, Dennis 1985a. 'A40 Sports - Rallying in the 1950s'. County Counsel, 64, Apr. 1986, p. 4-5.
Cremer, Dennis 1985b. 'A40 Sports and RAC International Rally 1956'. County Counsel, 68, Dec. 1986, p. 1, 4.