The Last Real Austins 1946-1959 – Book Review by Grant Ford

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The Last Real Austins 1946-1959 - Book ReviewPublisher Veloce produces a series of ‘Those where the days’ books on a variety of transport themes; I recently enjoyed another in the range titled Austerity Motoring by Malcolm Bobbit so I was delighted to follow on that theme with Colin Peck’s The Last Real Austins. This style of publication is easy and incredibly informative reading and the era covered in terrific detail is one of the most interesting in UK transport history. The visionary Leonard Lord and the ability of the workforce to adapt and produce world leading cars at this time in history is quite inspiring. Peck explains how chances were taken with the overseas markets; by following the Government’s instructions the giant Longbridge juggernaut had just one aim, export. Purchasing a new Austin in the late 1940’s was far easier if you resided in America or Australia rather than Alton or Aylesbury but the export drive undertaken by Austin put food on British tables. The book explains why certain models were successful and others less so and unravels one of life’s greatest mysteries; why was the A90 Atlantic not one of the biggest selling cars of all time? Other facts of note the A40 was built under licence in Japan by Nissan in the early 50’s and Austin ditched the common place RAC horse power used in the naming of their cars in 1947 adopting todays BHP for their models. The Aussie’s loved a ‘Ute’ and Austin supplied them in different versions (A40 & A70) as they did for the Canadian consumer. Factories opened around the world and the author explains why some flourished and others didn’t. From ‘Woodies’ to save on steel, commercial derivatives of family cars,  military including the Champ & Gipsy to the Healey sports cars, all are covered in detail. If you are an Austin fan this book is a must and if you are a classic car enthusiast who prefers their transport prior to the swinging sixties you will appreciate Mr Peck’s efforts. As for the images they are superb and certainly wouldn’t look out of place in a publication of five times the cost; a brilliant mix of older black and white with stunningly clear up to date pictures of machines over half a century old. Luckily the book stops way short of the ‘where did it all go wrong’ years so the reader can reflect on the craftsmanship, engineering excellence and brave management. At a time when the country needed the UK motor industry to expand worldwide Austin went further than any other manufacturer, especially with the A40 model, the sales figures into the US were an incredible achievement. Verdict: The Last Real Austins 1946-1959 by Colin Peck. I really liked this book, helped maybe because I appreciate cars of this era but also it is pleasant to read, not heavy going at all, although still contains plenty of facts and detail. With 89 pages filled with great photographs it is a lot of book for not a lot of money.
  • £14.99 UK / $29.95 USA
  • ISBN 978-1-84584-193-5
  • Paperback 190mm x 205mm
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  • Tel: 01305 260 068