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1940 American Bantam Hollywood Cabriolet

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Up for sale is a 1940 American Bantam Hollywood; a great example of the short run of about 180 cabriolets built by the small company before shifting production to the nascent Bantam Reconnaissance Car. Intended to replace the roadster, these car feature roll up windows and a permanently mounted set of hideaway top bows to yield an all-weather convertible. With a body designed by Count Alexis DeSahknofsy and reimagined by Alex Tremulis; the smart art deco styling made the tiny car look smart, elegant, and sporty. 


The term Austin Bantam is used often to describe all of the cars built by the Butler, PA factory that was occupied by American Austin Car Company and the Bantam Car Company. However, despite carried over staff and leadership; there is no mistake that they were two different companies that built two different lines of cars. From the ground up, every part was massaged or substituted with something better. By the end of production, passenger cars featured high revving three-main bearing Hillmaster engines, three speed partially synchronized tranmissions, better rear end gears, faster steering boxes, hydraulic shock absorbers, full floating brakes, and more. The new Bantam was faster, more nimble, and more robust than any of its ancestral Austins. 


While the prototype Hollywood was a pet project intended for the Bantam Car Company’s president to have an his roadster weatherproofed, Roy Evans was so impressed by Tremulis that he unilaterally decided to have the young designer build a prototype for a new production cabriolet. Supplied with a coupe and a protype engine, he cut the roof off, massaged the body, and crafted the rear of a Reo Royale into the sleek bustle. On finishing the car, Tremulis embarked in a cross country sprint to debut the new Hollywood. With speeds of over 80 mph reached and an exhaustion fueled rollover, the car and its creator made it to Pennsylvania. The car was such a hit that it went into production. 


Intended to replace the roadster, about 180 total Hollywoods and its stripped down sister the convertible coupe were produced as compared with under 50 of the outdated model. Of the 180 cars, only 120 were the deluxe Hollywoods with two taillights, stainless grille trim, and large selection of colors. 


The example seen here is a Hollywood. It was purchased from the Roaring 20’s Auto Museum in New Jersey by William Cathell. It was fire engine red with incorrect bumpers and a white tip. Despite being a remarkably solid and well presenting car with its numbers matching engine, Mr. Cathell hated the color and embarked upon a complete restoration. The fruit of his labor was a tastefully restored cabriolet which earned a Junior AACA first national award in 1988. The car was restored using NOS parts and some reproductions that were only available from the remaining factory inventory. At the time, no authenticity existed to provide restorers with an accurate idea of what a car looked like off the assembly line. Despite this, Mr. Cathell did a wonderful job both work quality wise and faithfully to the original vehicle. With only a couple exceptions which only an erudite Bantam restorer would notice, the car is remarkably authentic. 


Mr. Cathell also built the car to drive and enjoy. Beside featuring floating brakes and an improved clutch from the factory, something magical must have happened at the factory as this car is one of the best driving Bantams (or Austins) I have had the opportunity to drive. The clutch is smooth and almost modern feeling, the brakes are firm and appropriate, the steering is responsive, and the engine is sprightly. Driving this car brings a lot of joy. 


The car was recently treated to a new gas tank, fuel line, and NOS fuel filter to replace incorrect units. A new dry cell battery from Jim’s was installed. All in all, the car presents nicely and should make its next owner very happy. 


As to condition, the paint has a few areas where it has been damaged including some chips, cracks, and small bubbles. I have tried to capture photos exemplifying the paint issues. The horn and left taillight have stopped working and I haven’t had a chance to address either. The tires were installed at the time of restoration but have a lot of tread left. 


If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out and I will do my best to respond. I have owned this car for over six years and it was stranded several hours away during covid and its lockdowns. I only got it back onto the road this summer, but due to some life changes, it is time to let go of this car. I will probably regret selling this car as it is fantastic and the chance to buy a car like this comes up very seldomly. Usually, cars of this caliber change hands privately among club members and private collections. 

located in NY.  Asking $53,000.  





Edited by rg171352 (see edit history)
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6 hours ago, TAKerry said:

This is the opposite of most for sales. I would think this one IS about the best you can buy and the price reflects that. But I agree I could list at least half a dozen cars I would buy first.

Thank you for your compliment on my car.  I appreciate that you recognized what has gone into getting the car where it is today.



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