Found my Austin in an equipment supply store on the road from McMinnville to Amity in late summer of 2010. I was looking for a retirement project, and wanting to build a 60's style gasser for the street. The Austin was a little earlier body style than I was looking for, but I knew once I saw it that it was exactly what I wanted.
After contacting the seller, my neighbor and I hooked up his trailer and headed to look at the Austin up close. The car was pretty tired, but fairly straight, and no rust. It still had the original paint and interior, and the owner said the engine had been rebuilt. We struck a deal, and loaded it up for the trip home.
I only have a one car garage, and my 1971 Camaro I've owned for 39 yrs. had that space, so we pushed it in the backyard. I immediately began tearing it apart, in hopes I could get some things done before winter. With the rain and cold coming, I decided I needed to protect me and the car, so a cheap Costco canopy was purchased, and set up. We laid down some gravel, and sheets of plywood for a floor; fired up the propane heater and I went to work. Over the winter I purchased a 1969 Chevy 327 from a neighbor's son, and a narrowed Pontiac rear from a friend's brother. The front straight axle was one of the few new purchases, and it came from Speedway. I cut the firewall out of the Austin, and test fitted the 327 with a TH350 into the chassis. Once the drivetrain was completed I built a new firewall, and finished the floors. After wiring, and plumbing the car, my wife and I built interior panels, and covered them in a simple black naugahyde. Then we made up patterns for a headliner, and she sewed it up for me. We found an old pair of Harwood racing buckets, and some new gauges to complete the interior in a spartan gasser look. Tires and wheels were found at local swap meets or ads, as was most of the rest of the car's parts.
The canopy turned out to be pretty comfy to work in with the heater, and I spent 7 days a week out there from Nov. 2010 to Feb. 2011, and drove the Austin to the Roadster Show in it's old black paint in Feb. of 2011. After driving the car all summer of 2011, I decided last fall to get the car closer to finished. The Austin went back in the canopy and I began the task of straightening all the uneven panels, and finally shot it in epoxy primer. I also pulled the engine again, and began to do a few changes to boost HP. A pair of old camel hump 2.02 heads were installed, along with a new Isky 270 cam, and the Holley Pro Dominator and twin 450 Holleys were reworked.
Since I've got zero paint skills, and limited body skills, I turned over paint and finish bodywork to Aaron Clyde at South Bound Customs in Beavercreek, Or. Aaron got the body straighter, and shot the 1974 Corvette Dark Red Metallic. After assembling the Austin, it's been racking up miles this year, just cruising and taking in car shows. Over 5,000 miles this summer, with a few trips down the strip at the Billetproof Drags.
One of the high points this year for me and the car was meeting Ed Iskenderian at Clackamas Community College, and having Ed sign the dashboard of the Austin!
It's been a lot of fun building, the Austin, and we hope to continue to make little changes, and rack up a lot more miles over the upcoming years!