Austin Clip Art made for the Austin Eight Register by Guy from Belgium
Click on the image for some more in Colour.
Right after the introduction of the Austin Eight an introduction movie was made, called climbing high. An Austin Eight Ascends an aggregate of 25,000 ft in twelve and a half hours in the Lake District.
The main source for the article below is from
"The Austin Times" from February/March 2006, and was published with kind regards to Martyn Nutland.
The last years of peace were the most dynamic at Longbridge since Herbert Austin designed and launched the Austin Seven. Leonard Lord was at the helm and amongst his ambitions was the complete rejuvenation of the car range. It is perhaps fitting the outcome has been dubbed the ‘Lord Look’, most notably typified by alligator bonnets and a chrome grille that was pure Buick.
At the opening of the Berlin Motor Show on 17 February 1939, the Austin stand was minus any example of the Eight. The visiting German Chancellor, one Adolf Hitler, viewed the Austin stand and asked, “what have you done with the Seven?” Hitler’s first car had apparently been an early example of the Austin Seven. On the release date for the Eight, 24 February, three examples were placed on display.
Initially there were to be just four base models. The Eight was to be produced as a two- and four-door saloon, tourer and light van. For the first time since the early years of the decade, un-named and known simply by their RAC horsepower ratings, plus the prosaic code that would not have been familiar to many outside the industry and trade.
AR = Austin 8 four door six light saloon.
ARA = Austin 8 two door four light saloon.
AP = Austin 8 tourer
AV = Austin 8 van
The Eight and Ten made it comfortably to the showrooms before war was declared, the Twelve just squeaked in, and the Sixteen didn’t happen until after the armistice.
Outside there were self-cancelling trafficators running off the six volt electrics and chrome bumpers, but no over-riders, which is an easy and quick way to tell an Eight from a Ten from the front! Indeed at the back the bumper only protected the quarters and another dead give-away when viewed from the rear is the Eight’s single pane window. The Ten has a divided one as on the Twelve and Sixteen. Reverting to bumpers for a moment, the pre-war cars could be lifted by attaching a ratchet operated jack to the bumper bracket at the relevant corner. Post war cars had a trap ‘door’ on either side forward of the front seats through which a Stevenson’s telescopic jack was lowered and operated with the wheel-brace. The van had a screw jack hand-me-down from the Seven.
The little Eight was just over 12’ foot long overall and 4’ 8” wide and when it was launched there were six options. The most basic was a two door saloon (Fourlight Saloon) without a sunshine roof and costing £128 - £139 with - model code ARA. For the same £139 you could have had instead a four door (Sixlight Saloon) with a plain roof or one with a sunshine roof for £149. The four door model code was AR.
Unusually, by today’s standards, something a little bit more exotic was, with one exception, cheaper. A lovely two door tourer cost £132 and a whole ten shillings, and its four-seat counterpart a round £135. They came with a hood and side curtains the latter being stowed when not in use in a special rear compartment. The windscreen folded flat and there were cutaways to the tops of the door so hairy drivers could jump in if they wished!
The body shells were the same but on the two seater the rear seat was replaced by a large, flat, luggage platform making the model ‘very attractive for touring’. The code was AP.
There was also a pretty little 6 cwt van – AV.
Colours for the saloon cars were blue, black, maroon and grey and the same for tourers except blue was deleted. Production of the Austin 8 cars ceased for the duration in 1942 and of the van in 1940. By then about 46,400 had been made. A proportion of those would have been for military use – some saloons, some two-seater tourers. The latter were outwardly distinguishable from the civilian version in that they had two large, near-vertical louvres in the scuttle instead of the chrome embellished horizontal slit in the bonnet side panel. The wheels were also of a disc type without the perforations of the peace time cars and the front registration plate was often above the bumper bar instead of below it. Most probably the only difference to the engine was that the coolant inlet on the right side of the block was cast steel and not aluminium. But there may have been other detail changes. More information related to the Austin Eight military tourer, can be found on the Military tourer section on this web page.
Apart from Austin Eight vehicles commissioned by the armed forces their engines found a variety uses. These included use in the Beresford Stork portable fire pump and of course, for the airborne lifeboat where they had a dubious reputation amongst ‘the powers that were’. Other appearances were as the machinery for merchant ship lifeboats where they adopted the model name, Thetis, as applied to Austin Seven marine engines since the mid-1930s. Marinization took the usual form of major modifications to the cooling and lubrication systems, the application of a wet plate clutch and adoption of magneto ignition the latter also being fitted to the stationary engines.
Production of the Eight car and van recommenced in August 1945, but there was now only one private version – the four door saloon re-coded AS1. The van was AV1. Numerically the model was Austin’s most successful car of the post-war era, out-stripping even the Ten with sales between 1945 and withdrawal in 1947 of some 56,000 - 500 more than the larger model. The price though was now well over £300! The marketing of any car is fascinating and the Austin 8 no exception. There was nowhere much for the company to place the Seven other than as mobility for the masses or ‘introductory’ motoring. By the time the Big Seven came along the customer for economy cars was much more sophisticated and that model was positioned rather differently – perhaps too much so.
The model codes for the post war eights were:
AS1 = Austin 8 four door six light saloon.
AV1 = Austin 8 van.
Casual talk of full Australian car manufacture was first raised by Prime Minister Bruce in 1927. In 1930, the Scullin government introduced tariffs on imported motor vehicle mechanical parts, such as gears, axles, bearings and motor parts. By 1937 nearly half the factory cost of motor vehicles in Australia was attributable to local content; by 1939, 40 per cent of replacement parts were manufactured locally. In December 1939, the government entered into an agreement with Australian Consolidated Industries (ACI) for the production of vehicles; based on 1938 legislation, the agreement enabled the payment of a bounty on the production of each engine as well as protection from foreign-owned competition. The Motor Vehicles Agreement Act 1940 gave ACI practically exclusive rights to manufacture chassis and engines in Australia. The combined effect of the Motor Vehicles Agreement Act and the Bounty Act was to prohibit companies with less than two-thirds Australian ownership from building engines or chassis. Due to the outbreak of the World War ll, ACIмs output never developed to the intended level of full production.
Before the war ended, the government recognised the need to assist industry to move from wartime production to civilian production and established the Secondary Industries Commission within the Department of Post-War Reconstruction. The Commission was instrumental in having the ACI Agreement and the Bounty Act repealed, allowing foreign-owned companies to establish chassis and engine works, and paving the way for the construction of complete vehicles. The Department of Post-War Reconstruction wrote to every known manufacturer and assembler of motor vehicles and motor vehicle components, seeking to establish the state of their development, their plans for future production and their desires for government assistance. The Department was prepared to offer financial assistance and tariff protection to assist a company to manufacture entire vehicles in Australia.
|1939||Jan||2||First chassis into production|
|1940||June||¹40 241||Cast iron gearbox fitted|
|1942||July||47 046||Production ceased during War|
|1945||Aug||47 601||Production re-started|
|1947||Oct||131 655||Production finally ceased|