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1954 Austin A50 Cambridge Pre-production [HS5]

1954 Austin A50 Cambridge [HS5] in I Am A Car, Documentary, 1954

Class: Cars, Sedan — Model origin: UK

1954 Austin A50 Cambridge Pre-production [HS5]

Position 00:00:48 [*][*][*][*][*] The vehicle is part of the movie

Comments about this vehicle


dsl SX

2015-06-12 01:35


The film always just calls the cars Austin Cambridge - there is never a reference to the A40 or A50 choice, and none of them have rear badges which is the only clue I know to tell them apart; most A40s were poverty spec without over-riders and A50s were deluxe with over-riders but this is not a solid rule. The voiceover describes a choice of 1200cc or 1500cc engines (which is what separated the A40 and A50) plus - intriguingly - a choice of 2 or 4 doors, although no 2 door is seen. Other sources confirm 2-door prototypes were built of A40 - although seems not A50 - but pulled from production at last minute before launch.

Other clues that these are pre-production cars come from factory sequences - they look like soft-build first batch moving slowly down the line with too many workers, as if learning what to do - not full production speed. And one factory shot has an apparently freshly made A40 Somerset in the background. Plate dates on all the Cambridges seen are Aug 54 at the latest - some much earlier, going back to 1952, but I think the only reliable ones are Birmingham series with xOx variations, as discussed below.

Also noted that all cars where this is visible have push-up door windows - these used tabs on the glass eg
[Image: 00-48pog785f.jpg] (POG 785)
[Image: 02-40cambshmoonbstud.jpg] [Image: 02-40cambshmooncstud.jpg]

[Image: 02-40cambshmoondstud.jpg] (I think it's GPR 11)
Many of the other Cambridges show door cards without winders, so even though tabs not recognisable, it's the same system. All production cars got winding windows almost immediately after launch - one source says within a couple of weeks - which supports the idea of these as pre-production, and that this film was made before the Sept 54 launch.

Several of the cars reappear in different sequences during the film, not just single sequences per car, but each character (or couple) seem to stick to the same car, which helps link the appearances and reappearances and plates.

So in order of first appearance:

1] POG 785 (Aug-Sept 54 plate) - opens and closes the film - not sure what the character is meant to be apart from a bloke who drives round a lot
[Image: 00-48pog785b.jpg] [Image: 00-48pog785c.jpg]

[Image: 00-48pog785d.jpg] [Image: 00-48pog785e.jpg]

[Image: 00-48pog785g.jpg] [Image: 00-48pog785h.jpg]

[Image: 00-48pog785j.jpg] [Image: 00-48pog785k.jpg]

2] POG 786 (Aug-Sept 54 plate) - travelling clothes salesman car
[Image: 01-18pog786bvan.jpg] [Image: 01-18pog786c.jpg]

[Image: 09-48pog786.jpg] [Image: 09-48pog786b.jpg]

[Image: 09-48pog786c.jpg] [Image: 09-48pog786d.jpg]

[Image: 09-48pog786e.jpg] [Image: 09-48pog786f.jpg]

[Image: 09-48pog786g.jpg]

3] unknown plate at 01-41 - characters don't match other set pieces, but has nice view of door card without winder
[Image: 01-41cambs3.jpg]

4] POG 325 (another Aug-Sept 54 plate) - couple having picnic
[Image: 01-49pog325.jpg] [Image: 01-49pog325b.jpg]
plus this later isolated shot
[Image: 01-49pog325c.jpg]
(which could also be OOP 280 - below)

5) OOE 276 (Oct-Nov 53 - if genuine this was nearly a year before launch). Great positioning of minor controls in 2nd thumb to shatter kneecaps in a crash. Family car - couple with kids
[Image: 02-20ooe276.jpg] [Image: 02-20ooe276bkneecaps.jpg]

[Image: 02-20ooe276c.jpg] [Image: 02-20ooe276d.jpg]

[Image: 02-20ooe276e.jpg] [Image: 02-20ooe276f.jpg]

6] GPR 11 (March 54 plate Dorset) or GFR 11 (Feb 53 Blackpool) - I don't trust either of them. Newly-wed/honeymoon couple, and he's a car enthusiast who loves playing round under the bonnet while she watches adoringly
[Image: 02-40cambshmoon.jpg] [Image: 02-40cambshmoone13-12.jpg]

[Image: 02-40cambshmoonf.jpg] [Image: 02-40cambshmoonhgpr11.jpg]

7] POG 766 (or might just be 786 again) - wind tunnel testing. It says that Austin was only factory in the world at that time with a wind tunnel which could take a full-size car - but sounds a bit exaggerated - maybe the only factory in Birmingham with one seems more believable. And if this really was a global first, why was the Cambridge about as streamlined as a telephone box??
[Image: 03-47pog766onlyfswtinwirld.jpg] [Image: 03-47pog766onlyfswtinwirldb.jpg]

[Image: 03-47pog766cambsqltopen.jpg]
(are you supposed to leave quarterlights open in wind tunnel tests??)

8] MXA 190 (1952-53 London plate - "Home Delivery Export Scheme" - another one which smells fishy) - someone coming home to a nice semi-detached home with built-in garage - aspirational 1950s middle-class lifestyle message
[Image: 10-03mxa190.jpg] [Image: 10-03mxa190b.jpg]

[Image: 10-03mxa190c.jpg]

9] OOP 280 (April-May 54) - a doctor's car
[Image: 12-00oop280a.jpg] [Image: 12-00oop280b.jpg]

[Image: 12-00oop280c.jpg] [Image: 12-00oop280.jpg]

[Image: 12-00oop280e.jpg]

10] OOG 10 (March 54) - a farmer's car
[Image: 12-17oog10.jpg] [Image: 12-17oog10b.jpg]

[Image: 12-17oog10c.jpg] [Image: 12-17oog10d.jpg]

[Image: 12-17oog10e.jpg]

-- Last edit: 2015-06-22 15:47:31

dsl SX

2015-06-12 02:10


Cambridge with strange details
[Image: 03-01cambspre-pro.jpg]
- grille does not look production format - close but not quite right - and wing badges squarer script than the flowing production "Austin of England"

Assorted Cambridge design/testing. Cold start tests apparently done at -6 degrees which is probably Farenheit, and -6ºF= -21ºC.
[Image: factory.2.jpg] [Image: factoryb.2.jpg]

[Image: factoryc.1.jpg] [Image: factoryd.1.jpg]

[Image: 04-31coldstart.jpg] [Image: 04-31coldstartb-6.jpg]

[Image: 04-31coldstartc.jpg]

Nice details of shiny new Cambridges
[Image: factoryj.1.jpg] [Image: factorym.jpg]

[Image: factoryk.jpg] [Image: factoryl.jpg]

Building Cambridges (and some A30s in backgrounds)
[Image: factorye.1.jpg] [Image: factoryf.1.jpg]

[Image: factoryg.1.jpg] [Image: factoryh.jpg]

Finished Cambridges
[Image: 08-05cambsbuilt.jpg] [Image: 08-05cambsbuiltb.jpg]

[Image: 08-05cambsbuiltc.jpg] [Image: 08-05cambsbuiltf.jpg]


2015-06-12 04:50


I commend you for adding so many nice pictures from a total twaddle production.

dsl SX

2015-06-12 13:32


:king: - it's great footage and high quality - well worth watching. The problems are the "plot" and the commentary.

Q-Ball JP

2015-06-12 16:42


The wind tunnel line was also a fabrication. The first automotive wind tunnel was actually built in Stuttgart by Wunnibald Kamm years earlier.

johnfromstaffs EN

2015-06-12 16:57


I ran an A50 Cambridge for a while following the writing off of my 1960 VW 1200 by a half blind idiot in a Ford Corsair 2000E.

The Cambridge (OUK 478) cost £15 and lasted for a few months until its test certificate ran out, when it was scrapped. Vague steering and a bouncy front end were about its best points, although it was a very reliable starter, second swing of the starting handle would always get it going. The Morris front end of torsion bar front suspension allied to rack and pinion steering was far superior to the floppy Austin.

-- Last edit: 2015-06-12 18:21:08

dsl SX

2015-06-13 18:04


dsl wrote 7] POG 766 (or might just be 786 again) - wind tunnel testing..........
[Image: 03-47pog766onlyfswtinwirld.jpg]

Q-Ball wrote The wind tunnel line was also a fabrication. The first automotive wind tunnel was actually built in Stuttgart by Wunnibald Kamm years earlier.

Found this book photo - it's reproduced in a Morris Minor book, so author may be a bit confused -
[Image: austinwindtunnelfromminorbook.jpg]
.... originally from a BMC publication about 1956 "The Quest For Perfection"
[Image: bmcqfp.jpg]

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