My summer vacation offered up many great automotive sights, one of which was a lovely Austin van, which just happens to be the vehicle used by the cartoon caracters 'Wallace and Gromit'! This red utility van from England was parked in front of a store, and while it didn't look like it moved often, it appeared to be complete and in good shape.
Other than the cartoon version, I had never seen one of these little vans before. After looking up some information, I learned that it was called the Austin A35, and produced from 1956 until 1968. The Austin A35 also existed as a saloon (2 and 4-door car), station wagon, and even as a small pickup (for one year).
When viewing the van from the side one can really appreciate how small the A35 is. The wheelbase is barely longer than the doors, which aren't very long themselves. As I have mentioned in previous blog entries, I am a huge van of small, useful European vehicles, and so I am naturally impressed by this little van. And while the Austin appears very rounded, the passenger and cargo area is really just a box with the corners knocked off, so there is much useable space behind the front seats.
My favourite part is certainly the tiny hood. Instead of the large, full-opening hood that we see on modern cars, the small curved opening of the A35 hints at the tiny 950cc (or optional 1100cc) 4-cylinder engine that resides there. It looks more like a trap door to a basement than the hood of a car, and allowed for beautiful, clean sculpting of the front fenders and grille.
The Wallace and Gromit version was in the 2005 film 'The Curse of the Were-Rabbit'. I saw this movie years ago, and only have a vague recollection of a van in it, so I am definitely going to have to track down the movie and watch it again! I was already a Wallace and Gromit fan, but have an even deeper respect for these characters with such discerning automotive tastes!
Check out the original trailer for the movie and you'll see the blue twin of this lovely little red one I got to see!