Little Zoey hides a chequered past

Launched back in 1958, Austin’s A40 Farina was a radical change from the historic British brand’s A30 and A35 models and turned out to be a top seller for BMC.

While the cute little A30’s design was an in-house effort from the pen of Dick Burzi, and basically a scaled down version of the A40 Devon of 1952,  the A40 was designed by Pinin Farina in Turin, Italy — and was one of the first modern hatchbacks.

It was a fairly basic machine with a 948cc BMC A-series four-cylinder engine that produced 25kW and 68Nm, but it had neat, clean styling, used little fuel (7.4L/100km) and was a popular economy car of its day.

But the little BMC motor was also highly tuneable, the car weighed only about 800kg and it wasn’t long before a few started to appear on racing circuits. 

Nowadays one or more can often be seen competing in historic production car races at Goodwood.

There are few A40s left in Australia, where they were assembled at BMC’s Sydney plant.

They were also built in Mexico, South Africa and The Netherlands.

Most, however, came from BMC’s Longbridge works in Birmingham.

Worldwide 342,162 were produced between 1958 and 1967. 

So what’s one of the few survivors worth today? 

That depends on condition but we reckon a good one should fetch around $4000.

However, just recently one fetched $68 short of AU$84,000 at a Bonhams auction in England.

What made it special was it was its history.

It was dear Zoey, the 1958 model with rego number XOE-778 and  chassis #AA2S62642: the one in which Pat Moss and Ann Wisdom won the ladies prize and 10th overall in the 1959 Monte Carlo rally. 

XOE immediately became known as Zoey and though she disappeared from the scene for a some years after her giant-killing performance in the Monte, Practical Classics magazine editor Paul Skilleter bought her in 1978 and chose her as the mag’s first big project.


“She was a typically common British saloon, but one with a special history,” he said.

“The rebuild called for care and attention to detail and we were meticulous in preserving as much of the original metal as possible. It was a lengthy process.”

Once restored, Zoey was developed for historic rallying and swept the board in the 1985 Coronation Rally with Paul Skilleter and Paul Rosenthal at the controls.

Then it was acquired by an Irish enthusiast who agreed to let the magazine folk borrow it for the 40th anniversary of their publication in 2020.

Next, the owner decided to sell Zoey.

She came with a good file and log book, with images and stamps documenting her extensive history. 

The documentation shows she competed in five events in 1992, including the Donegal Historic Rally, Cork Historic Rally and the circuit of Ireland History Rally. 

The A40 was featured in the first issue of Practical Classics magazine and 40 years on she was again be on the cover to celebrate the magazine’s milestone. 

Today, the car is in a good and usable condition and retains many historic and original stickers.

Overall, the bodywork is solid and presents well, Bonhams said, adding that there are small blemishes “as you would expect with a competition car.”

“Inside, the interior is purposeful but shows that it has been put to good use, and comes equipped with roll cage and bucket seats. 

“The car offers a new owner the rare opportunity to own a piece of history, with the option to use the car as is or further enhance the performance and return to the rally stages in anger once more.”

The new owner has not been identified, but what is clear is that Zoey has for most of her life had a heck of a lot more muscle under her bonnet than the original 25kW.

Still, $84,000? 


CHECKOUT: Spare a thought for Dulcie (and $7.3 million)

CHECKOUT: Salty Austins given the old heave-ho!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *