Austin A70 Hampshire
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 3
The first generation A70 4-door saloons were known as the "Hampshire", though some estate and pickup truck versions were also produced as the A70 Countryman and A70 Pick-up respectively. The 2.2 litre (2199cc) straight-4 pushrod engine provided the same power output, at 67 bhp (50 kW), as it had when installed in the earlier Austin 16 hp. The new car was nevertheless lighter, and probably also benefited from reduced wind resistance: published acceleration and top speed figures were correspondingly brisker. Accelerating from 0-80 km/h (50 mph) took 14.5 seconds and the maximum speed was 83.3 mph (134.1 km/h).
On the outside, the Austin A70 Hampshire featured a modern, yet functional streamlining embodied in the design. The front wings swept back along the sides and merged into the all-enclosed rear fenders resulting in a very attractive appearance which we think looks ultra-cool these days. The medium-sized Austin adapted a well-tried engine to a chassis of the then latest design, and the launch price in Australia was A£875 plus tax.
Austin A70 Hampshire Engine
The A70 or Hampshire model Austin was powered by the well known Austin 16 overhead valve engine with a capacity of 2199cc giving an output of 67 b.h.p. at 3,800 r.p.m. It was a well-tried unit by 1948, the 4 cylinder engine being flexible, quiet and powerful. It was coupled to a 4-speed synchromesh
gearbox with gear-lever on the steering column. Consistent with Austin practice at the time, second, third and top gears were fitted with synchromesh
Austin A70 Hampshire Chassis
Chassis design was almost identical to the Austin A40
and the front suspension
consisted of helical coil springs and wishbones operating in conjunction with double-acting hydraulic shock absorbers. The steering
system was of the cam type with the steering box mounted on the chassis member directly operating the side and cross tubes. This had proved successful on the A40 and was considered in the immediate post war era as being particularly suited to independent suspension. The rear suspension was by orthodox zinc inter-leaved semi-elliptic springs assisted by piston-type shock absorbers inter-connected by anti-roll torsion bar.
The three-quarter floating rear axle was of the banjo type with a ratio of 4.1251, the spiral bevel drive and differential unit being mounted in a sturdy steel carrier to ensure quiet operation. The brakes were the then latest Girling type with the front two-leading shoe brakes having hydraulic and the rear mechanical operation. The hand-brake was mechanical and was conveniently fitted on the steering column under the instrument panel. The chassis itself was a box section frame stiffened by cross members with a strong cruciform bracing to provide rigidity both portionally and diagonally.
Behind the Wheel
The body of the A70 Hampshire was a full 5 or 6 passenger saloon with a large enclosed luggage compartment. The windscreen was extremely deep, giving very good visibility and accessibility was at a maximum. The front end treatment was similar to the A40
with an alligator-type bonnet and the deep valenced wing contours extending along the sides to the rear wimg which was completely enclosed. The car was upholstered in cloth or hide and the instrument panel and the window mouldings were tastefully finished to match.
The instruments were well laid out in the centre of the panel with a speaker grills and enclosed boxes mounted on either side. A long parcel shelf underneath the instrument panel extended from side to side and was a very useful Austin feature. The equipment included an electrically blown heater with de-mister connections and provision for radio. Tools were housed in the lid of the luggage compartment where they were neatly clipped into position and the spare wheel was mounted below the luggage floor.
On the Road
The A70 was a car which gave very good performance when judged against similar vehicles of the day, and when driven as a family sedan without sporting pretence. That's not to say you couldn't stretch it out a little provided you made good use of the gears - but this was a car that was never going to - nor was ever meant to - set your heart racing. But it was a very good car - road testers of the time found 60 m.p.h. was possible in the quiet running third gear and 50 m.p.h. "was a good comfortable speed to reach before changing to top when one is in a hurry." In top gear a genuine 65-70 m.p.h. could easily be maintained, with plenty of power in hand for emergencies.
qualities of the car matched the performance of its engine. Road holding was excellent and the ride soft and comfortable. On corners the car behaved particularly well and pitching and rolling were conspicuous by their absence. Its placeability in traffic was excellent and stability was maintained at all speeds. Visibility from the driving seat was good and the driving position itself was both convenient and comfortable.
Summing up, the A70 was, in its day, a handsome and powerful car combining utility with comfort and convenience. It was capable of excellent road performance when judged against its contemporaries. Production of the model ended in 1950
with just over 35,000 built. In 1950 the UK price was £648, which included the heater.