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Austin A90 Atlantic

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Austin A90 Atlantic

Flamboyant, Americanised, Over the Top, all words that have been used to describe the Austin Atlantic. Whatever emotions this unique car evokes, you can be assured that once you driven one it will guarantee pleasure, a feeling of serenity, a rush of adrenalin at speed, and definitely turn heads wherever you go.

If you want something different, yet a practical classic car for reliable distance motoring, then you cannot go far wrong with an Atlantic.

Designed in 1947, built in and released in 1948, the A90 convertible was conceived to earn dollars, and the Austin Motor Co. had it sights set firmly on the US to get them. Initial reaction in the States was that of trepidation, a quirky British car, certainly different, but what is it? The price was too high, the engine was too small, only 4 cylinders of 2.6 litres, the Americans wanted 6 cylinders and lots of power in excess of their needs. The belief was that this was the only means of creating reliable, high mileage motoring on long distance freeways, with minimal mechanical problems.

On the UK market the car was seen as too excessive for British tastes, too big and too expensive, both to buy and to run. At 22 mpg, fuel rationing, and new cars in any event being limited to the privileged, this brave new model was not off to a good start.

Along to the rescue came Alan Hess, the then PR man at Austin, and well known for his daring stunts in the interests of promoting Longbridge products. He conceived the idea of proving the worth of this new Austin, and took off for the racetrack at Indianapolis. With a standard production convertible finished in Seafoam green metallic paint, with biscuit coloured interior, he thrashed the course for 7 days and 7 nights continuously, with the aid of his fellow compatriots, Dennis Buckley, Charles Goodacre, and George Coates. Between them they shared the driving and kept the car going in, at times, horrendous weather.

The rewards were high, 63 speed and endurance records achieved, some in new categories, others `stolen' from their American holders. Most of them are today still unbroken.

Unfortunately over the coming months, sales were poor, and in an effort to gain wider appeal, a saloon was quickly conceived. On its release at the Earls Court show in September 1949, it stunned the public and critics alike. Bright paintwork - none of the average dullness here - and exotic interiors, the whole car was a sight to see and - if you were lucky enough to buy one - to be seen in. This was the executive saloon of its day, with all the gadgets and comfort you could want, with speed to impress.

For a year the convertible and saloon were produced in tangent, then afterwards the latter continued alone. In June 1952 the A90 Atlantic ceased production altogether. Shortly after, Austin merged with Morris, the British Motor Corporation was born, and new models came along to woo the public once again.

But one thing remains certain, the likes of the Austin A90 Atlantic were never to re-appear. It will always be unique, and will always have a special place in the history of British car production.

Today it has a cult status, and is highly sought after by those enthusiasts who long for something Flamboyant, Americanised and Over the Top. In other words something special, and different.

By Den Barlow - September 2005

Model history, data & photographs on this page courtesy of Den Barlow.




Austin A90 Atlantic Saloon & Convertible

Years Produced


Number Produced

7981 Austin A90 Atlantics were manufactured, roughly a 50% split between the two models

Body Type

2 door Saloon or Convertible, in addition the convertible offered an option of power operated hood & side windows


14ft 9in


5ft 10in


2660cc 4 cylinder inline


88 bhp @4000rpm


4 speed, column change

Driven Wheels


Brakes Saloon

Drum, all round Girling hydraulic

Brakes Convertible

Drum, mechanical front, hydraulic rear

Front Suspension

Independent with coil springs and Armstrong dampers

Rear Suspension

Semi elliptic springs with anti roll bar and Armstrong dampers


Burman cam type




Austin A90 Atlantic Saloon & Convertible

Top Speed

92 mph

0-60 mph

16.6 seconds

Fuel Consumption

22 mpg approx

Austin Atlantic Owners Club International

The only club specialising solely in the A90 Atlantic, both convertible and saloon.


Originally formed by Den Barlow & Vernon Cox in 1987, and now run by two enthusiasts - James King and Edward (Elvis) Austin, for the promotion and preservation of this unique Austin model.


With over 20 years of experience of owning, restoring and running these cars.


We can help with parts, information, technical advice and moral support. Workshop manuals, handbooks, sales material, can be supplied. Also special customized model cars, dinky size, made to order.


We maintain a register of existing Austin Atlantic cars worldwide. Membership is free, but registration of your car is obligatory, and a one off admin fee is applicable.


Click Here to contact the Club.


Useful Links

Austin Atlantic Owners Club International

Austin A90 books at