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Prototype Swiss Alps


Dorset Prototype (84K)

Austin Prototype - June 1947

An A35 grille badge shows that had it been put into production it would have been the first A35. It has a 1000 cc short stroke version of the A40 engine and was 3 inches narrower than the A40. It clocked up considerable mileage before the idea was dropped. Note the artillery wheels from the 8 hp series.


Furka Pass (80K)

Captain Eyston beside the 'Dorset' prototype at the Rhone Glacier, Furka Pass

To those who have little or no connection with the manufacture of cars, it will probably come as a surprise to learn that the announcement of a new model is preceded by a period of at least two years of intensive work on the part of quite a number of people. During this time the new car develops from an idea, by way of drawings and models, to the finished product which is eventually made public.

A very important stage in this train of events, which takes places towards the end of the development period, is the road testing of a prototype. In June of 1947 a team of Austin experts accompanied by Captain George Eyston, the famous racing motorist, took the A40 Devon and Dorset Saloon prototypes to the Swiss Alps - a particularly fortunate choice of country as far as The Austin Magazine is concerned as it enables us to include as background some of Europe's loveliest scenery, but, needless to say, this particular testing ground was decided upon for very much practical reasons.

Sustenpass Summit (88K)

The 'Dorset' prototype at the summit of Sustenpass (11,500 ft.)

The Alps, apart from their scenic beauty, also boast some of the world's most grueling motor roads, with gradients, bends and atmospheric changes which provide far more severe conditions than can be obtained in Britain.

Hills which, on the way up, mean continuous driving in low gear for fifteen miles or more and on the way down mean braking on and off for the same distance are searching tests for both transmission and brakes, not to mention the pulling power of the engine. The steering lock which can negotiate Swiss hairpin bends without reversing leaves little to be desired, and an ascent to the rare atmosphere of over 8,000 feet altitude in less than an hour will reveal even the slightest tendency to overheating.

The fact that the A40 came through more than ten consecutive days of such hammering without the least sign of strain speaks for itself, but by way of confirmation Captain Eyston has summed up their performance in these words: "I think these new Austins are a tribute to British craftsmanship at its best and they are, in my opinion, the finest light cars that Austin has yet produced."

Swiss Alps

AUSTIN WORKS designed by Rob Stuart