NAVIGATION   

     The Beginning    

     Pre World War 1

     The War Years   

The following pages are a transcript from the "AUSTIN - 50 years of car progress" booklet. It was published by The Austin Motor Company Limited in 1955 and is Publication No. 1235.

     Between the Wars

     World War 2

     Post War

     Facts & Figures

 
   

   

The war to end all wars

3 ton Austin truck

SE5a

1918 Austin 30 hp Vitesse Phaeton

In February, 1914, the Company changed from private to public ownership and the capital was increased to 50,000. All seemed to be set fair and then the situation changed almost overnight. In August the Great War began. Within a few weeks the machines that had been building Austin cars began to turn out munitions, and all the resources of the factory were harnessed to serve the country. As the appetite of the armed services for weapons and equipment of every kind continued to increase, the rapid expansion of the Longbridge factory became inevitable, until by 1917 it had trebled its size and in addition had its own flying ground on a flat-topped hill south of the main works. The employees, many of them women, rose to over 22,000 during the peak years.

 

During the four war years over 8,000,000 shells were produced along with 650 guns, 2,000 aeroplanes, 2,500 aero engines and 2,000 trucks, plus a host of other items.

 

Before the end of the war, plans were announced for concentrating, when peace returned, on the production of a 20 h.p. car only. It had a monobloc, four-cylinder, side-valve engine of 3 inch bore by 5 inch stroke, and a four-speed gearbox with a central change. The body was of much smoother and cleaner lines than pre-war and the car was available as either a four seater tourer, five seater colonial car or as a landaulet. The price created a sensation, the tourer being only 495, compared with 700 for its pre-war counterpart, and this despite the loss in value of the pound between 1914 and 1919.

The war years brought rapid expansion to Austin.

Not only was a wide variety of war materials produced but the factory itself trebled in size. Shells, guns, aeroplanes, aero engines, trucks etc., flowed from its machine shops in ever-increasing numbers.

     

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