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Rescued Monte Carlo Rally Austin A35 to tackle stages once again

by Jon Burgess
18 May 2022 2 min read
Rescued Monte Carlo Rally Austin A35 to tackle stages once again
Photos: Jon Burgess

An ex-works Austin A35 thought long-lost has been found by enthusiast and professional driver Matt Prinn of the Austin A30/A35 Owners’ Club – and will be competing again on the Monte Carlo rally routes it failed to tackle 64 years ago.

Prinn displayed the remains of the competition car ‘as discovered’ at the Beaulieu Spring Autojumble in May, with plans to return it to the road while retaining as much of the original bodywork as possible, despite its basket case appearance.

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Better known nowadays as a classic touring car driven to the limit (and over it) at Goodwood, the Austin A30/A35 also had a brief rally career. For the 1958 Monte Carlo Rally, the BMC Competition Department prepared a single A35 for Irish duo Jimmy (James) Millard and Dudley Reynolds. Unfortunately it failed to finish, while a privateer entry driven by the late John Sprinzel and Wille Cave suffered a similar fate.

Not much was done to uprate the little Austin, numbered 155 and registered ‘AYI 453’, for the rally. Twin SUs boosted the power from its standard 34bhp to 45bhp, a thicker anti-roll bar was fitted, the interior was gutted and a set of Dunlop Weathermasters wrapped the tiny wheels.

Records are unclear as to what exactly happened to the A35, but it didn’t make Monaco, crashing somewhere in France. It appeared on the Circuit of Ireland rally later that year fully repaired, and went on to compete extensively in England, Ireland and Wales well into the 1990s, having been resprayed from its 1958 shade of Court Grey to the red used by the Austin-Healey 3000s and Minis during the period.

Rescued from Ireland during lockdown, Prinn brought it back to England where new-old stock parts were sourced through the club to repair the bodywork. He’s adamant that it will not be re-shelled, but the engine is seized and the electrical system is destroyed, so there’s a whole lot still to be done even beyond the crusty bodywork.

“Obviously, being a works car – the only works A35 ever built – it’s very special, and Beaulieu was its first outing” says Prinn.

Once complete, it will tackle the Rallye Monte Carlo Historique with Prinn, co-driven by Max Croot, whose family competed on the rally in period. The Historique traces old rally routes and begins, just as it did for that 1958 crew, in Glasgow. “It’s an A35, so the only real thing to worry about is it turning over when it sees a corner!” Prinn adds.

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