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Manufacturers / U.K. / Austin

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Austin vehicles


Austin 25/30   (1906)

Herbert Austin (18661941), later Sir Herbert, the former manager of the Wolseley Tool and Motor Car Company founded The Austin Motor Company in 1905, at Longbridge, which was then in Worcestershire (Longbridge became part of Birmingham in 1911 when its boundaries were expanded). The first car was a conventional 5 litre four cylinder model with chain drive with about 200 being made in the first five years. In World War I Austin grew enormously with government contracts for everything from artillery to aircraft and the workforce expanded from around 2,500 to 22,000.


Austin 50   (1910)

After the war Herbert Austin decided on a one model policy based around the 3620 cc 20 hp engine and versions included cars, commercials and even a tractor but sales volumes were never enough to fill the vast factory built during war time and the company went into receivership in 1921 but rose again after financial restructuring. To expand the market smaller cars were introduced with the 1661 cc Twelve in 1922 and later the same year the Austin 7, an inexpensive, small and simple car and one of the earliest to be directed at a mass market. At one point it was built under licence by the fledgeling BMW (as the Dixi) and Datsun, as well as Bantam in the U.S., and as the Rosengart in France.


Austin 12   (1930)

A largely independent United States subsidiary operated under the name American Austin Car Company from 1929 to 1934; it was revived under the name "American Bantam" from 1937 to 1941.

With the help of the Seven Austin weathered the worst of the depression and remained profitable through the 1930s producing a wider range of cars which were steadily updated with the introduction of all-steel bodies, Girling brakes, and synchromesh gearboxes but all the engines reamined as side valve units. In 1938 Leonard Lord joined the company board and becmae chairman in 1941 on the death of Herbert (now Lord) Austin.


Austin Dorset , Devon (A40)  (1947)

During the Second World War Austin continued building cars but also made trucks and aircraft. The post war car range was announced in 1944 and production of it started in 1945.

The immediate post war range was mainly similar to that of the late 1930s but did include the 16 hp significant for having the companies first overhead valve engine.


Austin Sports (A40)  (1950)

In 1952 Austin merged with the Nuffield Organisation (parent company of Morris) to form the British Motor Corporation (later British Leyland) with Leonard Lord in charge. Austin were the dominant partner and their engines were adopted for most of the cars. With the threat to fuel supplies resulting from the 1956 Suez Crisis Lord asked Alec Issigonis to design a new small car and the result was the revolutionary Mini launched in 1959. The principle of a transverse engine with gearbox in the sump and driving the front wheels was carried on to larger cars with the 1100 of 1963, the 1800 of 1964, the Maxi of 1969, the Allegro of 1973 and the Metro of 1980.

Austin automobile and engine designs were copied by the fledgling Nissan of Japan. That company produced Austin-derived models into the early 1960s.


Austin Metro   (1981)

In 1982, the by now greatly shrunk British Leyland company was renamed Austin Rover Group, with Austin acting as the "budget" brand. However, the continuing bad publicity associated with build and rust problems on the Metro, Maestro and Montego models meant that the badge was dropped, and the last Austin-badged car was built in 1987.

The rights to the Austin badge are owned by MG Rover, currently in administration, the heirs to the empire that was once BMC and BL. There are no plans to resurrect it. Austin's historic assembly plant in Longbridge was, until its collapse in April 2005, MG Rover's only remaining plant.

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