Dragster Spotlight: Thomas Harris’s Austin A40 ‘Emma’

‘Emma’, the Austin A40 Farina was bought in 2008 for £175 when I was 17 as a first project and when finished, a first road car. The plan? A nice set of wheels, the car sitting low and the A series engine slightly modified, nothing much!

The hard work begins…

Being heavily influenced by my fathers love for Drag Racing and growing up around fast cars, meant that naturally, I was going to follow in his footsteps and actually race cars myself. So when a Rover V8 engine popped up on Ebay for £32, it was only natural that I wanted to put it in the A40. The A40 then turned into a great father and son project, cutting the floor out of the car, building a chassis, buying lots of parts up and down the country etc. Being mostly funded by my college EMA money at the time (£30 a week!), the car got the name Emma! For the very little money that the car costed to build, it did the ¼ mile in 13.8 with a near enough, standard Rover V8.

We turned away from the Rover v8 as they are very expensive to get decent power from. Well, too expensive for me anyway! So the hunt for a bigger V8 was on and the Rover running gear was removed from Emma the day after its last ¼ mile pass with it. It went on Ebay and the sale of the Rover running gear funded a 383 Dodge V8 and 727 Torqueflite gearbox! What a result! Emma with the new engine and gearbox and all the parts it needed to make it run was then up and running in 6 months after the Rover V8 was taken out. They were a harsh 6 months on our wallets!! By comparison to a lot of other cars, it was very cheap for the times on the strip the car was going to do!

13. 8 seconds over a 1/4 mile with a Rover V8: Adrenaline kick noted.

Emma with the 383 cubic inch Dodge is great fun and a right buzz to drive. Our personal best time at the moment is 11.62@ 117mph (with a misfire!). It is a sleepless night before going to the drag strip, hoping that the changes made to the car will improve its performance. It is always a frustrating wait before a drag meet! On race day, the car will always get attention as there are not many A40 Farina drag cars in this country. It is always a pleasure to talk to people about the car when questions are asked and it is quite funny to see the look on people’s faces when they see the 383 sitting in Emma. When actually racing the car, the feeling is amazing. The pull, smell and sound of the car is the best thing ever.

Engine and transmission – 383ci Dodge V8 from a Coronet with a 750dp Holley carb, Edelbrock rpm intake manifold, Headman Headers, Felpro head gaskets, Mopar Performance purple cam, MSD pro billet distributor, MSD leads, MSD blaster ss coil, Mallory hyfire 6a ignition box, Holley blue top fuel pump, Moroso electric water pump and a mini high torque starter motor. The transmission is a 727 Torqueflite with a turbo action 3000rpm stall torque converter and a b&m ratchet shifter. The engine and gearbox are solid mounted.

Emmas chassis uses a Vauxhall Viva front clip with the Viva steering column and rack and on the rear uses a Reliant Scimitar axle with the 4 link set up and Spax adjustable coilovers.

The car will go 10 seconds this year with the changes that are being carried out. Oh, and it may be time for some wheelie bars… Emma will be stripped apart after this year though, as big changes will be made (involving a new chassis and some turbos). All the running gear currently in the car will be going into a Standard Flying 9!

Standard A40s? Overrated.

Thanks to Thomas Harris for the contribution. Good luck this year!

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