In the context of an industry gripped Britain, the Austin Atlantic was a sensation in 1948, an all new 95 mph (152 km/h) British convertible car with modern, full width styling. Indirectly, the Atlantic could be had with a powered hood and windows. Other discerning luxuries included an Ecko radio, adjustable steering wheel and a heater. Austin had been first off the mark into post war production in 1945, and the A90 Atlantic was Britain’s first car designed specifically for the American market. The rugged internals comprised a long stroke, overhead valve, 2600cc four cylinder engine giving 88bhp. More telling was the 140lb/ft of torque at just 2500 rpm. There were four speeds on a very American style column shift, with soft coil springs wishbone suspension at the front and semi elliptics to locate the solid rear axle. The Atlantic’s pace impressed the pundits. At the time, it was one of the handful of cars since the war that could top 90 mph (144 km/h), and 0-60 mph (96km/h) in 16.6 seconds wasn’t exactly hanging about in 1948. Stateside sales never took off, despite Austin’s valiant attempt to alley fears about its durability – in 1949 an Atlantic broke 63 American stock car records at Indianapolis over seven days.
Later, Len Lord was to claim that the attempt hadn’t helped sell a single Atlantic in the USA. Austin tried to sustain interest in the car with a huge $1000 price cut in 1949 and, in 1951, by offering a fixed head saloon. But the writing was on the wall by then. The convertible ceased production in January 1951, while the saloon struggled on until September 1952. The final production tally for the Austin Atlantic was 7981 cars.