An Australian citizen named Herbert Austin made many attempts to become a successful businessman and write his name in the history of entrepreneurship of the 20th century. With a small livestock clipper company, he planned to capture a huge market share in Australia. However, after meeting Frederick Walsley in 1895, Herbert got the idea to create his own car. In 1904, he already settled in the UK, where by then the third largest automobile market in the world and the largest number of automakers were located. As a result, the most successful pre-war model was Austin 7, which from 1922 to 1938 sold 400 thousand copies.
Without thinking for a second, Herbert names his company in honor of himself - “Austin”, and devotes his entire life to the formation of the automobile empire, steadily managing the Austin concern and all its subsidiaries until his death in 1940. World War II slowed down all of UK industry, and even Austin, the third largest automaker in the Foggy Albion, was affected by the decline in production. Nevertheless, the legacy that Herbert Austin left behind helped the company successfully overcome the crisis period and reach the level of a million cars sold in 1947, and five years later the number of cars sold annually reached two million copies.
The successful year of 1952 ended with the formation of the British Motor Cororation concern, which emerged through the acquisition by Austin of companies such as Morris, Riley, Walsley, and MJ. Thus, BMC has become the largest automaker not only in Europe but throughout the world. And after the concern joined such brands as “Jaguar” and “Rover”, it became known as “British Leyland”.
Nevertheless, the path to success was a thorny one, since after the war all the products of British automobile factories were pre-war developments that had not been modernized, due to the fact that all large companies switched to developing new models from scratch.
In 1947, the Austin Princess model was introduced, which became the company's first luxury car. The car had a four-liter six-cylinder power unit, with a capacity of 137 horsepower. The main advantage of the model was not so much its balanced technical characteristics as the price, which was two times lower than that of the main competitors of the model from Bentley and Rolls-Royce. In addition, thanks to cooperation with the Italian design studio Pinin Farina, Austin, and later British Leyland, did not spend extra effort on creating their own design.
In 1959, two models were introduced - Mini Cooper and Austin Seven-850, which occupied the niche of compact and inexpensive cars in the automotive market of Europe. Each of them could be equipped with either a 48-horsepower single-liter engine for the standard version and 71 horsepower for 1.2-liter engines that were installed on larger versions of the Mini and Seven-850.
In addition, the production of Austin sports cars was launched, which were called Austin-Healey and were moved to a separate brand, which lasted until 1971 and was closed for financial reasons. The last Sprite model was manufactured under the Austin brand for several years and sold 130 thousand copies worldwide.
In 1969, a new model was introduced under the British Leyland brand, which was called Maxi and replaced the Seven-850. In essence, it was a modified Mini model, which received a 1.5 liter engine with a capacity of 90 horsepower.
A year later, a Maxi version with a forced power unit was released, as well as a new generation Mini with an economical 1 liter engine with a capacity of 48 horsepower. In addition, a sports version of the Mini, called OT, was available. And in 1973, Allegro sedans were released, which were another modification of the Mini and Austin Seven-850.
In 1975, Austin began production of a new generation of Princess, now the mid-size family sedan, which was equipped with hydro-pneumatic suspension and engines from 1.7 to 2.3 liters.
The new Maxi-2 model was introduced in 1980 and was delivered in a 1.75 liter engine, whose power was 92 horsepower. In addition, on the Mini platform, an ultra-compact Metro model was introduced, which received an updated body design and a 1.2-liter engine.
1983 and 1984 gave new models to Maestro and Montego, which differed only in the volume and power of the power unit. Also in 1984, a new British Leyland conglomerate structure was formed, which was called Austin Rover. Now the single concern was divided into two independent companies, united only by a single top management. And in 1988, the shares of Rover were completely bought out by British Aerospace, which aggravated the position of Austin, which every year lagged behind its competitors, and the money invested in the reorganization of the concern did not bring dividends. In 1989, the government erased all Austin’s hopes of revival, introducing new requirements for the environmental emissions of large enterprises, and the company's shareholders, in order to get at least some profit, chose to sell it to the former Rover, who was interested in selling the MINI model for to the whole world. And so the story of one of the most serious players in the UK car market ended. The only reminder of former glory are MINI cars owned by the German BMW, but each of these cars fully retained the features that were laid down in them during the Austin.
1958 Austin LD Wandsworth Ambulance Prototype Mk.II