Canadian Countryman
 

Greetings from the Atlantic coast of Canada! Halifax, Nova Scotia specifically, not far from a famous landmark known as Peggy’s Cove.

 

Here resides a very unique-to-this-side-of-the-ocean A60 Cambridge Countryman. A 1962 edition that is truly a ‘survivor’.

 

By way of introduction, I am Terry Williams, a confirmed British car fanatic, as witnessed by my 1970 MGB GT which I’ve owned for some 33 years, a 1968 MGB roadster which I restored back in the late 80s/early 90s – and now, this wonderful Austin.

 

I wasn’t actually looking for a mid-60s British station wagon (North American for Estate), I‘d actually been restoring a ’77 MG Midget, of which I had grandiose plans of presenting to my son to drive to university later that year. That dream bubble popped when the car failed its safety inspection (MOT) by many thousands of dollars (pounds). So it was banished to a corner of my garage with an uncertain future.

 

In the autumn of 2000, I happened across a photo ad of the Austin, and was intrigued, as I had never seen one before. I called the number listed and engaged the owner in a brief description of the car and arranged to see it the following weekend. In passing as our conversation closed, I mentioned something witty to the effect of, “I hope I don’t like the car too much, I have no idea where I’d put it, as my garage is full of 2 MGBs and a Midget.”

 

“A MIDGET!!??” came the reply. “Would you be interested in a trade?”

 

Y’know, every once and awhile, time actually stands still – as it did for this moment. I pondered the sweet possibility of the possession, and in as calm a voice as I could muster, uttered:.

 

“Uh, yeah….”

 

So, being a forthright individual, I went on to explain the status of the little MG, the total of the file folder of accumulated receipts and work performed over two years. Conversely, he was also quite candid in his history and description of the Austin’s status. To both of us, it was an intriguing opportunity. Kismet, as my wife described it.

 

The following weekend provided a glorious late October drive down the south shore of Nova Scotia, to a small town known as Mahone Bay. There, we meet Austin and his story begins to unfold…..

 

Purchased new in 1962 by a retired gentleman in Fredericton, New Brunswick (a neighboring maritime province), the car was only used during the summer months. As the gent spent his winters in Florida in the US, the car was garage stored every winter from ’62 through to 1968. Upon returning from Florida that year, the owner discovered that the annual provincial registration fees had increased to a point he refused to pay. So, the car sat untouched, unused from early 1968, through to 1975. The car was sold to its second owner who appreciated the uniqueness, and used it as a summer toy for a number of years.

 

Eventually, the hydraulics & brakes needed work, and the owner having neither the knowledge nor time to attend to them, saw the car sit idle once again through to the early eighties. The third and current owner had purchased the car, intending to restore it, but once again, a lack of the necessary resources, time and money, and Austin languished thru to our meeting.

 

The overall condition of the car is what first caught my eye. Absolutely original and unmolested in every respect, every lens, gauge, piece of trim – all there, all just as it was when it left the factory almost 40 years earlier. A deal was struck, (even trade) and arrangements were made for the swap the very next weekend.

 

As the photos confirm, this is an extremely solid time-warp of a vehicle showing 79, 600 at ‘purchase’. I spent the winter of 2000/2001 tending to a complete brake system rebuild, plus the clutch hydraulics, new tires, motor mounts, carb rebuild, front shock replacement and sorting out a few electrical maladies. All the while, astonished at the originality and condition of the car.

 

The Austin saw the roads once again in the spring of ’00, and has logged some 3500 trouble free, smile-laden miles along the way. It has also garnered several nicknames, and reference terms of endearment – such as “Austin Under-powered”, “goes 0 to 60..eventually..”, measure it’s 0 to 60 times with a calender..has all the aerodynamics of a brick…

 

I have had the wheels blasted and refinished, and the top re-painted. Originally black, it had developed some nasty rust spots (from being under a tarp at some point I imagine), so the roof was stripped, repaired and repainted in a very dark blue. The wheels white – to match the rendering on the period brochure you’ll occasionally see on eBay.

 

I was torn to go any further on a restoration. The originality of the car, its history and glorious patina, would be lost, not to mention that the financial investment involved, would never be realized So, I decided to run it and enjoy it exactly as it was. There was a rusty bottom on the tail gate, and the corner of the upper section of the tailgate needed some attention. I spent many desperate years trying to locate the rubber seal used for the rear fixed windows and tailgate glass. There’s also a latching mechanism I seem to be missing. For the upper tail gate, it’s comprised of two rods pivoting from a central handle. When closed, the rods slide into receptacles on the body.

 

 

The car has been treated to a number of upgrades, including the eBay acquisition of the ‘Flying A’ hood ornament, which I’m told is a rather rare piece. This one was found in Tasmania! I am also of the understanding that this is a very early car, perhaps the 84th or 85th off the line.

 

Thousands of Farinas were exported to Canada, and they must have been plentiful, because everyone I meet has a “my aunt/uncle/ Dad/I had a Austin/Morris/Wolseley/ Riley/MG that we learned to drive/was my first car/had my first sexual encounter…” Of all the memories people seem to have, not many can recall seeing an estate version.

 

The car has yielded a variety of treasures over the months of its revitalization. A vintage, very art-deco St. Christopher’s medal, an metal magnetic hidden key holder – containing an original, unused key, the original jack & wrapping, and tool roll with ‘Austin’ wrenches (Whitworth?), and the original driver’s handbook.

 

By the  fall of 2006, I overcame my apprehension of pursuing a restoration., and on the 24th of October – began stripping the car down for a total re-paint, and tending to those few pesky rust areas (think ‘tip of the iceberg’!). By the end of November, the car was off to the body & paint shop – with promises of a return just before Christmas. (Yeah, right!)

 

Resplendent in it’s fresh coast of Horizon Blue, the dark blue top has now been joined by the same colour being added to the ‘fins’, and across the tailgate – using the body crease as a separation line. I had seen this treatment on an Australian Freeway Countryman, and thought it complimented the design characteristics of the car.

 

Single-handedly, I have increased the financial well-being of the local chromeplater. All three rear bumper sections, door handles, front over-riders, lower tail lamp bezels were treated to a new lease on life, complimented by many lucky NOS finds – headlamp rings, tail lamp assemblies, front bumper bar and rear over-riders.

 

This is the first time in some 30 years the car has shone this much without being wet!

 

I had all glass removed, save the door windows, and it all now awaits installation with the finally-located weatherstrip seals. Interior assembly is next on the docket, fresh carpeting, some vinyl repair and the car will be practically complete.

 

My wife and I have two targets on the ’07 calendar with Austin – one being the annual British Car Day on Prince Edward Island, and the other being the “British Invasion” held each year in Stowe, Vermont, USA. I have attended this event in the past with my two MGBs (my son driving one…), and I can hardly wait to hopefully have the only Austin A60 Cambridge Countryman on the field!

 

Terry Williams

Halifax, Nova Scotia

Canada

twilliams@chumhalifax.com