Austin Cambridge

See Austin A40 for other A40 models.

The Austin Cambridge (sold as A40, A50, A55, and A60) was an automobile range sold by the Austin Motor Company from September 1954 through to 1969. It replaced the A40 Somerset but was entirely new with modern unibody construction. The range had two basic body styles with the A40, A50 and early A55s using a traditional rounded shape and later A55s and A60s using Farina styling.

Initially the Cambridge was only offered with a 4-passenger, 4-door saloon body, though a few pre-production 2-door models were also made. It had a modern body design with integrated wings and a full-width grille. Independent suspension was provided at the front by coil springs and wishbones but a live axle with anti-roll bar was retained at the rear.

The name had previously been used to designate one of the available body styles on the pre-war 10 hp range.

A van derivative introduced in November 1956 and a pick-up introduced in May 1957 remained available until 1971, long after the demise of the cars on which they had been based.

A40 Cambridge

A 1.2 L straight-4 pushrod engine B-Series engine based on the one used in the previous Austin Somerset powered the new Austin Cambridge. A maximum power output of 42 bhp was claimed: power was transmitted to the wheels by means of a four speed gear box controlled with a column mounted lever.

Only 30,000 A40 Cambridge models were produced. After the A40 Cambridge was dropped early in 1957, the A40 name was re-used on the smaller A40 Farina, though that car, an early example of the hatch-back genre, was neither a replacement nor much related to the A40 Cambridge.

A50 Cambridge

Also introduced in September 1954, and with a body identical to that of the A40 Cambridge, was the the A50 Cambridge which used a new 1.5 L (1489 cc) B-Series four-cylinder engine with single Zenith carburettor which was good for 50 hp (37 kW). It sold better and remained in production through to 1957 with nearly 115,000 made.

The de luxe version had a heater, leather seat facings, carpets replacing the standard rubber matting, armrests on the doors, twin-tone horns, a passenger sun vizor, and some extra chrome including overriders.

Technical advances in the A50 Cambridge included an optional Borg-Warner overdrive unit for the top three (of four) gears. A semi-automatic transmission (branded "manumatic" and providing pedal-free clutch operation) was also offered, though it was not popular with buyers.

A number of modifications were introduced in October 1956 including smaller wheels and increased compression ratio (8.3:1). A de luxe version tested by The Motor magazine in 1955 had a top speed of and could accelerate from 0- in 28.8 seconds. A fuel consumption of was recorded. The test car cost £720 including taxes.

A radio and a clock were optional extras.

As with its predecessor the A40 Somerset, the A50 Cambridge was built under license by Nissan in Japan; the arrangement ended in 1959.

A55 Cambridge

In January 1957, the A55 Cambridge was introduced to replace the A50 model. It used the same 1.5 L B-Series engine as its predecessor, though with a higher compression ratio: 51 hp (38 kW) at 4250 rpm was now available.

The Cambridge had been restyled somewhat and now had a larger boot and much larger rear window. The car was also lowered by fitting road wheels which were smaller than those on the A50 but the overall gearing remained the same by changing the rear axle ratio. Two tone paint was an option.

Just over 150,000 were produced when it was replaced by a new Pininfarina-designed A55 Cambridge for 1959.

Van and pick up versions based on the pre-"Farina" A55 were also made, and remained in production until 1971. In their final years the van and pick-up were designated Morris, following a decision to remove the Austin badge from British Leyland commercial vehicles.

A de luxe A55 with manumatic transmission was tested by The Motor magazine in 1957 had a top speed of and could accelerate from 0- in 27.0 seconds. A fuel consumption of was recorded. The test car cost £870 including taxes of £291.

A55 Cambridge Mark II

The A55 Cambridge Mark II, known as the first "Farina" model because of its Pininfarina design, was produced from 1959 through to 1961. It was a rebadged Morris Oxford and retained the 1.5 L B-Series engine, now with an SU carburettor, and producing 55 bhp at 4350 rpm.

The interior had individual leather trimmed seats in front spaced closely together to allow a central passenger to be carried. The gear change was on the column and the handbrake lever between the driver's seat and the door. A heater was fitted as standard.

A "Countryman" estate model appeared in 1960. Austin Cambridge Estates were called "Countryman". (Morris Oxford Estates were called "Traveller".) A55 MkII and A60 Estates were identical from the windscreen back; the later models never got the reduced rear fins and modified rear lights of the A60 saloons.

The engineering of the car was conventional with coil sprung independent front suspension and a live axle at the rear with semi elliptic leaf springs. The braking used a Girling system with drums all round.

Just under 150,000 were built in total. A six-cylinder 2400 cc version was sold in Australia as the Austin Freeway.

A MkII A55 was tested by The Motor magazine in 1959 had a top speed of and could accelerate from 0- in 24.5 seconds. A fuel consumption of was recorded. The test car cost £878 including taxes of £293.

A60 Cambridge

An updated Cambridge model, now called the A60, was introduced for 1961. It included a new 1.6 L version of the B-Series straight-4 engine which had first been used in the MGA. Modified styling included side chrome stripes – some models with contrasting colour infills – and reduced fins on the rear wings. The style continued to be known as "Farina". This body covered a chassis that was slightly longer in wheelbase and wider in track than the A55. A Diesel version was introduced in 1961 for export cars and was available in the UK from 1962. Early manual models had the option of column gear change. The Borg Warner Type 35 automatic transmission was an option, with the selector on the steering column. The A60 Cambridge sold well, with over 275,000 built when production finally ended in 1969. Its intended successor, the front wheel drive Austin 1800 of 1964, did not dent sales, so Cambridge production was continued until 1969 at the Morris plant at Cowley although the Moris Oxford continued in production until 1971.


External links

  • Austin Memories
  • Austin Cambridge / Westminster Car Club (ACWCC) - Classic car club for all owners and enthusiasts of this range of BMC cars. Dedicated to the A40, A55 and A60, Westminster, Morris Oxford, MG Magnette, and other Riley & Wolseley derivatives.
  • Cambridge-Oxford Owners Club (COOC) - a worldwide owners club which caters for these cars and their Westminster-derived six cylinder sisters. The club aims to keep the cars on the road, provides advice, spares and a social forum for enjoying the cars.

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