The Austin A40 Sports evolved from a series of joint venture projects between Austin and Jensen Motors. Inspired by the Jensen Interceptor, Austin’s Chairman Leonard Lord wanted to sell a Jensen bodied touring car using A40 mechanicals that would serve as a “halo” car for the entire A40 model range. The car was designed by Eric Neale – who had joined Jensen after his earlier departures from Singer and Wolseley – and featured an aluminum body-on-frame design with the coachwork produced in West Bromwich by Jensen. Final assembly occurred at Longbridge with most of the mechanical components sourced from the A40 Devon.
The Austin A40 Sports featured the 1.2-Liter engine from the A40 Devon in more powerful trim to bring total output to 46bhp with twin SU carburetors and a floor mounted shifter (later moved to the steering column in subsequent versions). Steering was by worm and roller with independent coil springs and a rigid beam axle front suspension with semi-elliptic leaf springs at the rear. Horsepower was limited for a presumed sports model and the top speed of 77.8 mph was a long haul for the Austin A40 Sports. Acceleration was barely adequate for the time (and less than so for a performance oriented model) with 0 to 60 mph taking just under 26 seconds.
The car made it debut at the 1949 London Motors Show at Earls Court with production starting in November 1950 with the GD2 series. Almost a year later, in August 1951, the GD3 version debuted with the column mounted shifter and full hydraulic brakes. The dash fascia was modified also but the car never resonated with the public despite its high build quality and not unattractive looks.
Sales were never good and by the time that production ended in 1953 – after 4011 cars had been built – Austin had itself a real sports car with the debut of the Healey 100 that combined dynamic looks with sterling performance at levels the A40 Sports could never reach. Fewer than 50 cars are thought to remain worldwide making the Austin A40 Sports a rare sight on both sides of the Atlantic.