Pick of the Day is a different sort of restomod

1970 Austin America has had a JDM transplant and other updates

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restored
This 1970 Austin America has undergone a Japanese mechanical update

According to the dealership advertising this 1970 Austin America restomod on ClassicCars.com, “this one is just too much fun to pass up.”

“This ambitious build melds two eras and two continents together so seamlessly, that we’re thinking this may be the beginning of an entirely new collector’s niche,” the dealership suggests.

Restomods are popular with American collector car owners, especially those who like the looks of the classic 1950s and ’60s Detroit iron but who want the dependability and ease of driving such a car with modern technology installed under the hood, and under the rest of the sheetmetal as well.

The Pick of the Day applies such updating to a small European classic.

The Austin America was and is a classic British economy car, but this one has been upgraded with the punch of a Japanese Domestic Market update that includes a VTEC engine, 5-speed manual transmission and custom sport suspension, as well as wide wheels, a raked stance and bright red paint. 

The dealer notes that to make its Mini more appealing to American buyers, the British Motor Company produced the vehicle in a somewhat larger size and thus the Austin America, a 2-door sent to the U.S. to compete with Volkswagen’s Beetle. 

A reported 59,000 were sold in the U.S. from 1968-1972, but the cars lacked power and, the dealer notes, suffered from a propensity “to rust right off the boat.”

“Nevertheless, no one would argue that the look of this car isn’t fantastic, similar to a combo of the MGB GT and Mini, two cars that the entire world has always loved.”

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Apparently, this Austin America survived all that and is offered with “laser-straight” bodywork, which has been enhanced in the restomod process with fender flares, Minilite-style wheels and fog lamps.

It also has been equipped with high-back bucket seats in vinyl and cloth and a restored dashboard with tachometer, as well as a Pioneer audio system, while retaining its original 3-spoke steering wheel and manual floor-mounted shifter.

“Under the hood is the where the real story begins,” the dealer adds, “with nothing left from Britain in the engine bay except the build plate. Instead, you’re looking at a highly desirable and modified 1.8-liter DOHC Honda VTEC Type R that was fitted so expertly that it almost looks like it was born there. 

“Freshly built and in excellent order, this peppy import block hammers down around 220 horses, and really moves the lightweight body of the Austin with ease, with a quick scream off the line and an easy flick into the corners, and thanks to the thick aluminum (or shall I say, aluminium?) radiator angled in nicely, it stays cool up and down the tachometer.”

Remember that original shifter? It now manipulates a Type R 5-speed from a late-model Acura Integra, the dealer assures, adding that the car also has reworked suspension with coilover shocks in the rear and front disc brakes.

The vehicle is located in Fort Worth, Texas, and is being offered for $29,995. To view this possibly trend-setting listing, see Pick of the Day.


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A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

6 COMMENTS

  1. I shepherded a 1969 Austin America, purchased used from a fellow college student. Got to know the car fairly well, especially the quirks (of which there were plenty) engineered in by the good people at British Leyland. It helped that I worked for a BL dealer at the time, operating their parts department – and yes, that was when I was attending college. Loved the car, but ended up having to sell it to a mechanic friend of mine after learning that the head was cracked. While it was running, the America was a darn decent little bug. When it wasn’t, well, my father nicknamed it the “Little Yellow Monster”.

  2. Refreshing to see a restomod that doesn’t include the mandatory “Crate 350” or some version of the “LS whatever”

  3. Do you mind if this piece gets used in Idle Chatter, the journal of the 1100 Club, based in the UK? Full author credit of course 🙂

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