Rex returns the Austin

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After several incarnations the ex-Mal Gower Austin A40 is now in the hands of Rex Webster.

There is only a couple of Austin A40s still actively competing around Australia, their distinctive look always has them an unforgettable favourite with the fans.

New South Welshman Rex Webster and partner Liz Mudd have recently returned one of these classic bodied cars to the track after a complete rebuild.

Webster is no stranger to building cars and is well known in the modified car scene

“Rex has been involved with modified cars forever,” Mudd said

“He is best known for his modified FJ which won Top Judged at the first ever Summernats. Rex then took the car to the USA and won Top Street Machine and Top Custom at the Oakland Roadster show and also at an invitation only show, Fresno Autorama, the car won Top Custom car of the Show,”

“The FJ also won Top Car of the Show at the Street Machine Olympics which was the biggest outdoor car show in Southern California at the time. Before the car was taken to the USA it was shown, and won nearly every major award at all the major shows in Australia. Interestingly this car started life as a drag car running in the modified production class at Castlereagh in the 1970s and the car is now owned by Paul Beck.”

Webster has some racing pedigree as well; Rex along with his brother Tony owned and raced a big block Capri for a short time at Castlereagh before Rex recently returned to the track with a big block one tonner in Super Street.

The Austin began life in the mid 90s built for Mal Gower and known at the time as “Swamp Rat”, competing in aspirated form before the car was lengthened for Supercharged Outlaws duties in the new millennium. Gower sold the car to Chad Taylor who ran it for a short time before passing it on to Webster who has completely rebuilt the car

“Rex started the rebuild by repairing anything that needed repairing which was lots, particularly the roll cage which needed re-welding and then to set about trying to wedge a 540ci Merlin big block into the engine bay,” Mudd said.

“This required the fire wall to be set back 5″ from where it was originally and the steering to be moved and modified, the car was originally set up for a Powerglide transmission, it now has a Turbo 400 trans and the cross members so mounting points and trans tunnel all had to be moved or modified along with the tailshaft that had to be shortened and rebalanced.

“The accelerator and brake pedals had to be moved and modified, all bodywork is removable and all rivets have been removed and replaced with stainless button head screws, the front mudguards have been rebuilt to fill in the cutouts where the car was previously fitted with zoomies and the body has been repainted in a bright blue of Rex’s own making. The engine was fitted so as to enable the plugs, distributor and heads to be removed while the engine is still in the car.


“Rex built the headers himself, they have been HPC coated, then the wiring was all tidied up with the help of Craig Pinkney who crews for Rex whenever he can and Dave Liston-Smith helped with replacing all the lexan windows and various other jobs. Don Hudson is always on board with help, advice and buckets loads of technical info.”

The Austin has been on track recently at Sydney Dragway for some shake down runs.

“Rex has only made six passes in the car to date and the best ET so far is 10.1 at 137mph, “ Mudd said

“At the moment the plan is to get the car and driver running consistently and if all goes well having a crack at Super Gas which might be fun.

“There is also room with the engine setback to fit an 8/71 supercharger which should boost the horsepower considerably, but that is in the long term plan at this stage.”


Austin Specifications

540ci Chev
Merlin Block
Pro Topline Alloy Heads
10:1 compression
Scat forged pistons
Scat H-beam rods
Scat forged crank
4.5″ bore, 4.25″ stroke
Mechanical roller Crow cam

Yella Terra Roller Rockers
Manly Valves
Edelbrock Victor 454 R manifold
1050 Holley Dominator
MSD 6AL ignition
Runs on 98 fuel
Standard Heads

Trans Turbo 400 fully manualised by “Turbo Ted” Murray Schofield.
10″ 3000rpm stall convertor made by Chris Agnew.
Hurst quarter stick shifter

Diff Mark Williams 35 spline 9″
Romac billet axles
Full floating hubs
3:9 gears
Full spool
Willwood front brakes
Commodore calipers rear

Rear 15″ high 14″ wide Alloy Rodlite Wheels made by Weld Racing with Mickey Thompson 32″ x 14″ slicks.
Front 15″ x 4″ Alloy Rodlite Wheels made by Weld Racing with Moroso Front runners.


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