From the late Fifties onwards, Austin made ever-increasing use of the Pininfarina company of Italy in the design of their cars.
The first and still among the most notable example of this winning combination, that still catches the eye to this day is the A40 Farina with its somewhat rectangular body.
The Austin A40 Farina was launched at the 1958 Paris Motor Show, and met with a stifled reception, even though very few people could have realised that the car would go on to be recognised as among the most important vehicles that the company would ever produce.
Firstly, the Austin A40 Farina was noteworthy because it was the first post-war Austin to be designed out with the BMC organisation, marking the onset of a long and highly successful association with Pininfarina.
Austin certainly threw Pininfarina in at the deep end from the start of their relationship, handing them the challenge of designing a compact car that would take over from the best-selling A35.
The Pininfarina and Austin cooperation did a good job, with the two-box design that typified the A40 Pininfarina now defines all modern hatchbacks.
The Austin A40 Pininfarina swiftly captured the attention of the UK motoring public, with demand for the A40 being so high that Austin had no option to extend even the production run of the A35 to meet the demand for a two door compact.
Ironically, the A40 was powered by the same A-series engine that powered the A35 as well as some of the earliest Morris Minors. The A40 also used some A35 parts, including, at least for a while, the same hydro-mechanical brakes.
This form of honeymoon period drew to a close with the introduction of the A40 Farina Mk II in 1961.
The MkII came fitted with all-hydraulic brakes, along with a slightly longer wheelbase and a new grille.
The following year, Austin began to be fit the A40 with a 1098cc version of the A-series engine, to give it a little more power. Austin also came up with a clever Mini- Countryman variation, ostensibly a forerunner of the hatchback that would become so popular in the late Seventies. In many ways, the Pininfarina’s design of the A40 Farina was ahead of its time, with features that would go on to shape the rest of the BLMC range for years to come. The extensive use of glass combined with the car’s clear-cut, sharp lines, tending towards sharp-edged fins at the rear, slab sides and those neat, upright rear lights shaped the future of design for Austin and the other BMC member companies for at least the next decade.