Austin - Princess (A125 & A135) - MK I, II, III, IV and Vanden Plas

Princess naming

In 1947, Austin produced two virtually identical chassis, one for the A125 Sheerline (built entirely by Austin at their Longbridge factory) and the A135 chassis used by Vanden Plas to produce the Princess at their Kingsbury works (North London). Although Vanden Plas was by now wholely owned by Austin and much of the running gear and instrumentation was the same in the two cars, the Princess was the Austin flagship, with a higher specification leather, wool and burr walnut interior. The original Princess DS1 (DM1 with glass divider between front and rear) was powered by a 3.5 litre straight six engine. This was enlarged to a 4.0 litre unit and the car was renamed the DS2 (DM2 with glass divider) without further modifications. Both the DS1 (DM1) and DS2 (DM2) were often built to order. Customers could specify the colour required and a range of different setups were available. These included triple or single carburetors and twin or single exhaust systems. Whilst the sportier multiple carb version performed better, it tended to achieve only 12 to 14 mpg. The single carb however gave fuel consumption between 22 and 27 mpg. Performance was very good for a car this size with top speed of 90mph and acceleration 0 to 60 mph of only 20 seconds.

However, from August 1957 the "Austin" part of the badging was dropped, so although Austin was producing a Princess, it was no longer the Austin Princess by name. From May 1960 the Vanden Plas marquee was applied in front of "Princess". Later, the Vanden Plas Princess was revived as a single model of the Leyland Princess range, built by British Leyland (BL) in the 1970s and initially sold through Austin and other dealerships; this car was never actually badged Austin Princess in the UK (though it was in some export markets) and is commonly referred to as simply the Princess.

Austin A110 Sheerline

 

Production 1947 : 12 produced

Austin A110 Sheerline

Predecessor none
Successor A125
Class Large Saloon/Limousine
Body style
Saloon, 4 doors, 5 seats
Engine 3460 cc Straight-6 OHV
Top Speed 78 mph
Length 15ft 11.5 inches
Price ex Works (Aug 1947) 1 277

Austin A125 Sheerline

Production 1947 - 1954 : 9 000 produced

1952 Austin A125 Sheerline

 1952 Austin A125 Sheerline

Predecessor A110/120
Successor A135 Princess & Vanden Plas Princess
Class Large Saloon/Limousine
Body style
Saloon, 4 doors, 5 seats
Limousine
Ambulance
Hearse
Engine 3995 cc Straight-6 OHV
Top Speed 83 mph
0-60 20.6s
MPG 15mpg
Steering Worm
Drive train F/R
Length 15ft 11.5 ins
Suspension - Front Independent/Coil Springs
Suspension - Rear Beam axle/Semi-elliptic leaf springs
Price ex Works (September 1948) 1 277 (Suitcases 21)

The Austin Sheerline was a luxury car produced by Austin Motor Company from 1947 to 1954.

The Sheerline was designed by Austin before World War Two (1942) but production did not begin until 1947 because of the commitment to war production. It was a luxurious car in the style of the contemporary Rolls-Royce or Bentley but at a much lower price. There were about 8000 built but it is now becoming quite rare.

The first cars, designated A110, had a 3460 cc straight 6 overhead valve engine but this was soon increased to 3995 cc with 125 bhp (93 kW) and the designation then became A125. Initially only a Saloon version on a 9 feet 11 1/4 inch wheelbase chassis was made but this was joined by a (rare) Limousine version in 1950 on a stretched 11-foot (3 m) chassis. Later on there came more versions including a hearse and an ambulance. At 37 hundredweight (1850 kg) for the saloon and 2 tons (2000 kg) for the limousine this was a heavy car and to maintain performance a low final drive ratio of 4.55:1 with 16 inch tyres was fitted. Suspension was by coil springs at the front and half elliptic leaf springs at the rear. The saloon version had a top speed of 82 mph (132 km/h).

In 1954 production ceased with the Austin luxury category passing to the similar A135 Princess Mk II which had also been in production since 1947 and would continue until 1956.

The 1947 Sheerline became Austin's first post-war, all-new model and carried on the established Austin tradition of offering a large saloon/limousine. The Sheerline was originally called the Austin A110 Sheerline but after only 12 cars had built the car was renamed the Austin A125 Sheerline.

Produced at Longbridge the A125 came as either a 4 door saloon or as a Limousine, both cars featured "Razor Edge" styling by Austin's own design team. Both variants had a distinguished look with a large upright radiator, Lucas P100 headlamps and well appointed interiors, the cars were intended to be alternatives for the Bentley, Daimler and Armstrong Siddley customers to consider.

Austin also offered a A135 Princess version of the Sheerline, this particular model was styled and built by coachbuilder Vanden Plas. For some reason these large Austin's failed to capture the publics imagination and most cars were purchased by hire companies or for civic ceremonial duties, a few were also built with Ambulance bodies for private hospitals.

Austin A135 Princess MK II & III

Production
1947 - 1956 : 1 910 produced
MK II : 760
MK III : 350
(Total production for all versions of the Princess including chassis only was 3 515)

 Austin A135 Princess MkII DS3

Predecessor A120
Successor A135
Class Large Saloon/Limousine
Body style Sports, 4 doors, 5 seats
Limousine
Engine 3995 cc Straight-6 OHV
Top Speed 89 mph
0-60 20s
MPG 12mpg
Steering Worm
Drive train F/R
Suspension - Front Independent/Coil Springs
Suspension - Rear Beam axle/Semi-elliptic leaf springs
Price ex Works (Nov 1953 MK III) 2 183

The A135 Princess first appeared alongside its smaller sister the Sheerline in 1947, its position being more of a flagship than a serious production model. Like the Sheerline, the Princess first used a different Austin model code for the first batch of cars, in this case it first appeared as the A120 but became the A135 after receiving the bigger, 3995cc engine.

Essentially the A135 Princess was a coach built saloon or limousine version of the Sheerline offering similar styling and interior appointments. Some early cars used triple carb's to overcome the cars heavy weight, this tuning arrangement gave 135bhp which helped performance somewhat.

The A135 Princess stayed in production until 1956 in which time it had undergone many improvements and had passed through Mk I, Mk II and Mk III phases, including some long wheel base limousine versions. The model was eventually replaced by the new Princess IV in 1956 which sold as a Vanden Plas from 1957.

Princess MK IV - no longer badged as an Austin

Production 1956-1959 : 200 produced

Princess Limousine Mk IV

 

Predecessor Austin A135
Successor Vanden Plas Princess
Class Large Saloon/Limousine
Body style Saloon, 4 doors, 4 seats
Engine 3995 cc Straight-6 OHV
Price ex Works ( Feb 1957 MK IV LWB Saloon) 3 376

Launched in the 1956 the Princess IV was the last in the well regarded big Austin / Vanden Plas Princess range. As with the earlier Princess cars the IV came as either a Sports Saloon or Touring Limousine and offered the usual appointments and high build quality, most were purchased and used by hire firms or by local councils for "civic duties".

The Princess IV now came equipped with power steering, servo assisted brakes and Hydramitic (automatic) transmission as used on Rolls-Royce models of the period. Production ended in 1959 and was replaced by the much smaller 3 Litre Vanden Plas Princess range.

Vanden Plas Princess

Production 1952 - 1968 : 3 344 produced

 1962 Austin A135 Vanden Plas - 4 Litre

 1962 Vanden Plas - 4 Litre

Predecessor A135
Successor none
Class Large Saloon/Limousine
Body style Saloon, 4 doors, 6 seats
Limousine, 4 doors, 6 seats
Engine 3995 cc Straight-6 OHV
Top Speed 89 mph
0-60 19.5s
MPG 13mpg

The final version of the Austin powered Vanden Plas limousines appeared in 1957, the Princess 4 Litre. As before these impressive cars were built by Vanden Plas on separate Austin chassis, powered by the old D-Series 3993cc six cylinder engine. These large, almost truck-like engines developed 120bhp, however due to the cars enormous bulk and weight the cars top speed was around 75mph.

The Princess 4 Litre normally came as either a saloon or limousine, however some landaulette versions were also built. Due to the traditional and formal design these gigantic cars tended to be bought by either private hire companies or local councils (for carrying the local Mayor!). With the formation of British Motor Holdings a Daimler version was introduced to replace the ageing design, production of the Princess ended in 1968.

 
1952 Austin A125 Sheerline

1952 Austin A125 Sheerline

Austin A125 Sheerline

Austin A125 Sheerline

Austin A125 Sheerline

Austin A125 Sheerline

Austin A125 Sheerline DS1

Austin A135 Princess MkII DS3

1951 Austin A135 Vanden Plas

1951 Austin A135 Vanden Plas Princess

Vanden Plas Princess DM4 Motorhome

1964 Princess IV

1965 Austin A135 Vanden Plas Princess

1965 Vanden Plas Princess

1954 Vanden Plas Princess

 

 

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