Rare Rides: Vintage England Via the 1957 Austin Cambridge

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides vintage england via the 1957 austin cambridge

Recently Rare Rides featured the Rolls-Royce powered Vanden Plas Princess, which was the very pinnacle of luxury offered by BMC’s coachbuilding arm.

Today we’ll check out one of the less luxurious cars British Motor sold to the proletariat: It’s an Austin Cambridge from 1957.

The Cambridge sedan entered production in 1954, replacing the short-lived and stodgy Somerset. Gone were the flowing fenders and bathtub styling, hallmarks of a “ Transatlantic” design theme Austin thought would appeal to Americans. The Cambridge was more modern, more tidy, and available in several different versions.

Cambridge nomenclature was always preceded by some lettering: A40, A50, A55, or A60. Sometimes the model name meant more power and equipment, and other times it meant a revised car. The A40 was the cheapest version, sold between 1954 and ’56. Powered by an inline-four of 42 horsepower and 1.2 liters, it was only produced as a sedan.

Produced concurrently between 1954 and 1957, the A50 had a 1.5-liter engine for a more serious 50 horsepower. BMC was keen on distributing this more powerful Cambridge abroad; Japanese customers received an additional wagon variant, and in Australia it became a ute.

A slight restyling for 1957 turned the A50 into the A55. Now called Cambrian for North American export, it received additional identities as the Austin 1/2 Ton and Morris 1/2 Ton when it donned the body of a commercial vehicle. This version was available as a traditional four-door sedan, a commercial sedan delivery and pickup truck, and a ute for Australians. The A55 had a slightly tweaked engine, offering one additional horsepower over the old version. Zero to 60 arrived after just 27 seconds.

1958 was the last year for the A55 version, as styling had grown dated and customers desired a larger sedan. A Mark II A55 started production in 1959. At 11 inches longer and two inches wider than the original version, the car’s sleek new body featured fins and was designed by Pininfarina for extra flair.

But the stylishness didn’t last long, as in 1961 the Cambridge was updated yet again to the A60 version. Passenger A60s remained in production through 1969, and the commercial version soldiered on through 1973. All were replaced by the Austin 1800.

Today’s Rare Ride is an A55 from 1957. It’s left-hand drive and presently located in Switzerland, where the seller asks $9,000.

[Images: seller]

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  • Inside Looking Out Inside Looking Out on Oct 08, 2019

    Correction: This car was developed for India, not USA. I would rather take Trabant of the same era than this, at least Trabant is a product of German engineering in its finest. Or Wartburg.

  • Glued Glued on Jul 14, 2022

    Fun fact: The only place BMC sold a two-door saloon of this car was Canada. This version wasn't even sold in the home market. Yay, fun fact!

  • Johnds Years ago I pulled over a vehicle from either Manitoba or Ontario in North Dakota for speeding. The license plates and drivers license did not come up on my dispatchers computer. The only option was to call their government. Being that it was 2 am, that wasn’t possible so they were given a warning.
  • BEPLA My own theory/question on the Mark VI:Had Lincoln used the longer sedan wheelbase on the coupe - by leaning the windshield back and pushing the dashboard & steering wheel rearward a bit - not built a sedan - and engineered the car for frameless side windows (those framed windows are clunky, look cheap, and add too many vertical lines in comparison to the previous Marks) - Would the VI have remained an attractive, aspirational object of desire?
  • VoGhost Another ICEbox? Pass. Where are you going to fill your oil addiction when all the gas stations disappear for lack of demand? I want a pickup that I can actually use for a few decades.
  • Art Vandelay Best? PCH from Ventura to somewhere near Lompoc. Most Famous? Route Irish
  • GT Ross The black wheel fad cannot die soon enough for me.