Austin introduced its big 20hp model in 1919, a car heavily influenced by a Hudson Super Six that Herbert Austin drove during the war.
Incorporating many of the Hudson features that had so impressed the Austin boss, the Twenty was powered by a lusty 3.6-litre four-cylinder engine with a cast-iron block, a detachable cylinder head and an aluminium crankcase. Driving through a four-speed gearbox it developed 45bhp at 2,000rpm and could lope along at a genuine 70mph.
Immensely durable and reliable, it was considered by many to be at least the equal of the contemporary Rolls-Royce 20hp and, with light enough coachwork, it could even give a Bentley 3-Litre a run for its money. Popular as a hire car, it was not unusual for a well-maintained Twenty to clock up over half-a-million miles in its working life. This made it a particular success in export markets where road conditions could be quite demanding. ‘You invest in an Austin’ was the sales slogan of the time, reflecting the high quality of components and fittings compared to many rival makes.
This 1925 Austin 20 started life in the funeral trade. Originally bodied as a hearse, it was converted to a four-seat tourer in the 1980s, a photograph on file showing the coachwork that it wore at this time. For some reason, its owner decided to rebody it again, this time with a two-seater body, the car seeing little, if any use thereafter.
Its current owner acquired it late last year and carefully recommissioned it after 20 years off the road. The Vintage Austin Register assisted him in getting an age-related number and he fitted a new battery, brake light switch and flashing indicators more appropriate for modern road conditions. He also fitted new rear lights, adding that the lovely original lamps at the front are all in working order as is the 7-day clock.
He made some side-screen frames which have yet to be covered and was investigating the replacement of the rear bodywork to make it back into a four-seater again, but for family reasons has decided that he must sell his delightful old Austin. He describes the car as ‘up and running’ and has used it for local trips, quickly building confidence in the car after its extended period of slumber.
His loss is your gain, as this imposing, top-quality Austin has a huge amount of potential for further development, or could be used exactly as it is today. Estimated here at less than the price of a Chummy, it looks like a most attractive proposition for someone looking for their first Vintage car, or for the Austin enthusiast looking to upgrade to the top-of-the-range model at modest cost.