Austin Cambridge A40 - A50 (GS5)

In 1954 the A40 - A50 Cambridge arrived on the scene, and was given the code GS5. This was a total change in body design compared to the Somerset which was very bulbous.

Above shows a quarter scale clay model, with the stylist pictures in the background. They would make four or five versions of the car in quarter scale. Then when the management had decided which version they liked, a full size clay model on a wooden frame would be made as shown below.

A40-50 Cambridge Full Size Clay Model

One of the main differences was that this model did not have a chassis. With its very square front and rear it could not have been more different from the model it replaced. The new radiator grill and sunken headlamps gave it a totally new look.

Assembly of A40-50 Cambridge CAB 1

One of the plus points that the new body styling gave was a generous boot although the opening was marred by the high sill.

The model was the first to be powered by the new 'B' engine which was available as a 1200 cc for the A40 and 1500 cc for the A50. Both engines were married to a new 4 speed gearbox, but it still retained the steering column change.

A Borg-Warner overdrive was available in 1956, and in 1958 you could specify a floor gear change for the manual box. An option that became available late 1956 was called 'Manumatic' which gave two pedal control in that there was no longer a clutch pedal. This was quite innovative at the time as it was fitted with a special clutch that was made by Automotive Products Co ltd. Leamington Spa. When you went to change gear using the floor mounted gear lever, on holding the gear change knob, a micro switch would complete the electrical circuit and the clutch would disengage. The problem was that drivers would tend to rest their left hand on the gear knob thus disengaging the clutch, not a good idea.

The new facia gave the car a more modern look and the instrument pack was now in front of the driver.

Suspension was very similar to the Somerset but using improved lever-arm dampers which gave a better ride and had a much longer life. Also available for the first time on such a small engine car, was an overdrive which operated on second, third and top.

When they first came out in 1954 they had slide up windows, and the fuel filler was in the boot, trafficators were still the semaphore type. Various people attached to the testing department pointed out to Leonard Lord that the windows were hard to open when new, and were prone to slip down. You had to be very careful when filling up as petrol could overflow and go straight into the boot. This then allowed petrol fumes to enter the car. The car went into production with no modifications as Leonard Lord did not see a problem.

But complaints from the customers about these feature, soon made the company put in hand work to rectify these problems. So in early 1955 the production models had wind up windows and the boot lid was modified so the fuel filler cap had its own lockable lid. Soon after this the semaphore trafficators were changed to flashing indicators.

Austin Cambridge A40 2dr & 4dr A50 4dr

Date when launched 1954
A40-A50 4dr were discontinued in 1957
Total produced A40 30,666 A50 114,867

A40 1200 cc 42 bhp at 4,500 rpm Max torque 58 lbs/ft at 2400 rpm
A50 1500 cc 47 bhp at 4,100 rpm Max torque 74 lbs/ft at 2100 rpm

Main measurements
Length 13ft 6.3ins Width 5ft 1.5ins Height 5ft 1.5ins
Wheelbase 8ft 3.3ins Track Front 4ft 0.5ins Rear 4ft 1ins

Price ex Works
Nov 1955 A50 £718

Jan 1956 A40 £748 A50 £763

Trentham July 1958