Austin Twenty

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Austin Twenty
Austin circa 1920 3851581011.jpg
Twenty Allweather coupé 1919
Overview
Manufacturer Austin Motor Company Limited
Also called Austin 20/4 (from 1927)
Production by April 1919–1930
15,287 produced[1]
Assembly Longbridge
Body and chassis
Body style saloon, tourer, coupé, landaulette[2]
16-cwt light van[3]
Powertrain
Engine 3,610 cc (220 cu in) Straight-4[2]
Transmission single-plate clutch; four-speed gearbox; propellor shaft to back axle with helical-bevel gearing[2]
Dimensions
Wheelbase 130 in (3,300 mm)[3]
Chronology
Predecessor new
Successor Austin 20/6
Austin Twenty engine
4
Overview
Manufacturer Austin Motor Company Limited
Production by April 1919–1929
Combustion chamber
Configuration Straight 4-cylinder
Displacement 3,610 cc (220 cu in)[2]
Cylinder bore 95 mm (3.7 in)[2]
Piston stroke 127 mm (5.0 in)[2]
Cylinder block alloy cast iron, alloy crankcase
Cylinder head alloy detachable
Combustion
Fuel system ignition by magneto[2]
Fuel type petrol[2]
Oil system lubrication by forced feed[2]
Cooling system cooling water is pump circulated[2]
Output
Power output 45 bhp (34 kW; 46 PS) @2,000 rpm
Tax horsepower 22.38[2]
Chronology
Predecessor new
Successor Austin 20/6

Austin Twenty was a large car introduced by Austin Motor Company Limited after the end of the First World War in April 1919 and that first model continued in production until 1930. After the 20/6 model was introduced in 1927, the first model was referred to as the Austin 20/4.

Before 1919 Austins had been expensive prestige cars. In the 1920s there were people who believed the four-cylinder Twenty comparable with if not superior to the equivalent Rolls-Royce. If the coachwork were light enough the Twenty could also give a three-litre Bentley a run for its money. The final inter-war version was the enormous, extremely elegant fast and powerful side-valve Twenty-Eight of 1939. The overhead-valve (25) Sheerline and its companion Princess were to continue the line after the Second World War; however, by the 1930s Austin had lost its aristocratic cachet, having become well known for its Twelves and Sevens.[4]

The deceptively potent four-cylinder Twenty found fame at Brooklands both in private hands and with Works drivers Lou Kings and Arthur Waite (Herbert Austin's Australian son-in-law and competitions manager).[4]

One model policy[edit]

Before World War I Austin had produced a range of expensive cars but, influenced by the manufacturing philosophy of Henry Ford, Herbert Austin decided that the future was in mass-producing a single model. The Longbridge plant had been considerably enlarged for wartime production, and it was here that the company had a base to put the theory into practice now with the capacity to manufacture 150 cars a week.[4]

During the war Austin had owned an American Hudson Super Six which he clearly admired. Its overall layout would form a basis for the design of the new one model car policy.[5] The car would, however, prove to be too large for the home market, only about 3,000 Twenties had been sold by July 1920[4] and the one-model policy was rapidly dropped when Austin's company was placed in receivership. Six months later in November 1922 Austin launched his Austin Twelve, in many ways a scaled-down Twenty.[5]

Four-cylinder engine[edit]

The engine with its 95 mm bore and 127 mm stroke had a cast-iron cylinder block with detachable cylinder head mounted on top of an aluminium crankcase. It developed 45 bhp at 2000 rpm. As an advance on pre-war practice, the engine was directly bolted to the four-speed centre-change gearbox, which drove the rear wheels through an open propeller shaft.

The car driven by A E Filby from London to Cape Town and back in 1932 and 1935
Mayfair limousine 3.6-litre 1926
with aftermarket bumper
Mayfair limousine 3.6-litre 1926

Chassis[edit]

The chassis, based on that of the Hudson, was conventional, with semi-elliptic leaf springs on all wheels and rigid axles front and rear. Wooden-spoked artillery-style wheels were fitted. Initially brakes were on the rear wheels, only but front wheel brakes were fitted as standard from 1925 and at the same time the wheels became steel-spoked.

Body[edit]

At its 1919 introduction three body types were listed; a tourer, coupé and landaulette.[6] These were joined in 1921 by the Ranelagh fixed head, two-door, coupé. For 1922 the Grosvenor limousine and landaulette, a Ranelagh four-door, fixed head, coupé and Westminster drop-head coupé were added.

A 75 mph Sports variant was added in 1921 with a modified higher-compression engine and wire wheels, but it was very expensive, and only around 23 were sold.[5]

As well as the cars, a range of commercial vehicles was also built on the chassis.[3]

By the end of October 1921 Austin were able to advertise that 6,566 Austin Twenty cars were now on the road, that so far during 1921 2,246 had been delivered and that distributors and agents were showing unbounded confidence with their orders for Twenties and the new Austin Twelve placing large contracts for 1922.
Prices at Works were: tourer £695, coupé £850 and landaulet (sic) £875.[7] Marlborough landaulet, £950 at Works.

Effective 4 April 1923 in response to harsh market conditions but in public attributed to improved facilities for manufacture and lower cost of materials and labour, prices were reduced to the following:[8]

  • Chassis £500
  • Tourer 5-seater £595
  • Westminster 2-door coupé £750
  • Ranelagh 4-door coupé £750
  • Marlborough Landaulet or Limousine £750
  • Mayfair Saloon Landaulet or Limousine £850[8]

20/6 Six-cylinder engine[edit]

Austin Twenty
Austin nine - Flickr - Terry Wha.jpg
Twenty six-cylinder landaulette by Gordon c.1927 3.4-litre
Overview
Manufacturer Austin Motor Company Limited
Production by May 1928—mid 1932
Assembly Longbridge
Body and chassis
Body style saloon, limousine
Powertrain
Engine 3,397 cc (207 cu in) Straight-six[9]
or
3,610 cc (220 cu in) Straight-4
Transmission single-plate clutch; four-speed and reverse gearbox; propellor shaft to back axle with helical-bevel gearing[2][9]
Dimensions
Wheelbase Ranelagh 11' 4", 136 in (3,500 mm)
Mayfair 10' 10", 130 in (3,300 mm)
Whitehall 10' 0", 120 in (3,000 mm)
Carlton 10' 0", 120 in (3,000 mm)
Track 4' 8", 56 in (1,400 mm)[9]
Kerb weight 36 cwt
4,032 lb (1,829 kg)[9][10]
Chronology
Predecessor Austin 20
Successor Austin 20/6
Austin Six engine
20 / 6
Overview
Manufacturer Austin Motor Company Limited
Production October 1926—mid 1938
Combustion chamber
Configuration Straight 6-cylinder[9][10]
Displacement 3,397 cc (207 cu in)[9]
Cylinder bore 79.35 mm (3.124 in)[9]
Piston stroke 114.5 mm (4.51 in)[9]
Cylinder block alloy a separate casting from the head and crankcase. crankshaft is carried in 8 bearings[9]
Cylinder head alloy detachable, pistons are aluminium[9]
Valvetrain side-valves are on the nearside of the block. tappets are automatically lubricated. timing is as the back of the engine.[9]
Combustion
Fuel system dual carburettor, fed by gravity from vacuum tank on dash. manifold provides heating for the mixture[9] Fuel feed by Autovac[10]
Fuel type petrol[9]
Oil system forced feed[9]
Cooling system Radiator is within an external shell, fan is operated by belt and there is a pump to force circulation of water[9] There is an adjustable thermostat[10]
Output
Power output 49 bhp (37 kW; 50 PS) @2,000 rpm[9][10]
58 bhp (43 kW; 59 PS) @2,600 rpm[11]
Tax horsepower 23.42[9][10]
Chronology
Predecessor Austin 20/4
Successor Austin 28

New body October 1926[edit]

The car that was destined to succeed the Twenty, the six-cylinder 20/6, was announced at the October 1926 London Motor Show[12] with production really starting in early 1928, and until 1930 the two different engines were sold alongside each other, but 1929 would be the last year of full production for what was now called the 20/4.

There was a 12-volt electrical system for lighting and starting. Timing was at the back of the engine. From there on the off-side were driven in-line the generator, water-pump and magneto.[9] Reported refinements for the 1929 Motor Show included: chromium plated exterior fittings, Triplex glass, improved (dome type) "mud wings (front mudguards) and new gas (sic) and ignition control levers "neatly placed above the steering wheel".[13] For 1930 the specification included Biflex magnetic dip and switch headlights and wire wheels.[14]

Chassis[edit]

The engine, clutch and gearbox, which was centrally-controlled, all formed one assembly that was held in the frame by two brackets with a rubber-lined frame at the front. The rear axle was three-quarter floating.[9]

Steering[edit]

Steering is worm and worm wheel type. Beneath the hand wheel there is a convenient ring-operated horn switch.[9]

Brakes[edit]

Behind the gearbox there was a "locomotive" transmission brake operated by a hand lever on the off-side of the gear lever. The brake's shoes were to some extent self-adjusting but might be regulated by two hand screws. "This brake is intended to be more than just a parking brake". The four wheels had brakes operated by rods from the brake pedal . Compensation was made so that balance was preserved in the back and front sets of brakes. The application was partly taken by rods but finally by cables. The brake drums were enclosed and have outlets for water or oil. The front braking mechanism was simple, there was only one arm which had anchorage above the pivot pin and did not turn with the wheel. The cams were at the bottom of the drums and the steering pins were hollowed to allow the necessary expanding control.[9]

Suspension[edit]

The front and back springs were half-elliptical. At the back they were carried under the axle. Both sets had lubricating gaiters and shock absorbers. There was no camber to the forward springs. There were no stops behind the back shackles.[9]

Pricing[edit]

  • Open Road tourer 4-cylinder £425
  • Open Road tourer 6-cylinder £525
  • Carlton saloon 4-cylinder £495
  • Carlton saloon 6-cylinder £595
  • Marlborough landaulette 4-cylinder £475
  • Ranelagh limousine or landaulette 4-cylinder £575
  • Ranelagh limousine or landaulette 6-cylinder £675[15]

Road test[edit]

Seats are comfortable. The speedometer only showed up to 60 mph, within the engine's capacity. No sign of overheating. Clutch satisfactory, lower gears much quieter than on previous Austins. Brakes suspension and steering were not at all bad but could be made better.[9]

Twenty four Mayfair saloon 3.6-litre
1927
Twenty six Ranelagh limousine 3.4-litre
1931

New body August 1932[edit]

Austin Twenty
1935 Austin 20 6 Ranelagh 2.1 4379320799.jpg
Ranelagh 20/6 limousine 1935
Overview
Manufacturer Austin Motor Company Limited
Production August 1932—mid 1934
Longbridge
Body and chassis
Body style saloon, limousine
Powertrain
Engine 3,397 cc (207 cu in) Straight-six
Chronology
Predecessor Austin 20/6
Successor Austin 20/6

"A body design that makes this magnificent seven-seater even more than ever like a £1,000 car. Its streamline front, waistline moulding and petrol tank housing, all new, enhance its superb lines".[16] Syncromesh was added to the gearbox in mid 1933. Other minor improvements included: illuminated semaphore direction indicators, side deflectors for the front door windows and an interior visor, a lockable metal spare wheel cover.[17]

The Twenty remained available as a Ranelagh limousine or landaulette both on a wheelbase of 11 ft 4in., £595, or as a Whitehall saloon with a 10 ft wheelbase £515.[17]

Ranelagh rear view 1935

Road test[edit]

This 7-seater limousine has four good doors and six side windows. Front seat is fixed as is unfortunately the windscreen but the screen is large and gives a good view. The back seat has three armrests. The occasional seats fold away neatly, give enough support to the back and knee and toe room is well arranged. Equipment includes such fittings as: two interior lights, five blinds, parcel net and ventilator in the roof, bag pockets on the doors. Upholstery in the rear is cord and in front is leather.There is a large cupboard to the left of the instruments. An amplifying telephone (to the driver) is provided. The gear lever has a catch for reverse and a quiet-second together with syncro-mesh is provided. There are just the four brakes which are applied by rods and cables by hand lever or by pedal. The half-elliptical springs have Silentbloc shackle bushes and zinc interleaves and are damped by hydraulic shock absorbers. Price £575.[10]

New body August 1934[edit]

Austin Twenty
Austin Six registered December 1936 3377 cc.JPG
Ranelagh 20/6 limousine 1936
Overview
Manufacturer Austin Motor Company Limited
Production August 1934[18]—mid 1938
Longbridge
Body and chassis
Body style saloon, limousine
Powertrain
Engine 3,397 cc (207 cu in) Straight-six
Dimensions
Wheelbase 11' 4" 136 in (3,500 mm)
track 4' 9¼" 57.25 in (1,454 mm)
Length 16' 7" 199 in (5,100 mm)
Width 5' 10½" 70.5 in (1,790 mm)
Height 6' 4" 76 in (1,900 mm)
Chronology
Predecessor Austin 20
Successor Austin 28

"Clean-cut beauty in the modern trend". "Entirely new frontal design including a longer bonnet and new-shaped radiator and rear panelling". Syncromesh on all but first gear.[19] Flush direction indicators with automatic return. Bumpers are fitted fore and aft. The spare wire wheel and its tyre are now carried in the boot and the luggage platform on the door can be swivelled to one side. Dip and switch of the headlamps is controlled by a foot button. The Jackall four-wheel hydraulic jacks, workable from inside the car, will raise all four wheels at once or the front and back ones in pairs. The brakes are of Girling type.[20][21]

Road test[edit]

The engine has been greatly improved in its running as to its smoothness and refinement probably due to the revised carburation. Syncromesh is often obstructive for second gear. The landaulette will do about 65 miles an hour in top gear. Price £650, landaulette and limousine.[21]

Mayfair 20/6 saloon 1936
Produced:[22]
  • 1933— 629
  • 1934— 491
  • 1935— 555
  • 1936—
  • 1937— 380

28 Six-cylinder engine[edit]

Austin Twenty-Eight
Otrebusy4 DSC1449.JPG
Ranelagh 28 limousine 1939
Overview
Manufacturer Austin Motor Company Limited
Production July 1938 – September 1939
Quantity 300 (sold)
1938—138
1939—152
1940—10[23]
Longbridge
Body and chassis
Body style saloon, limousine
Powertrain
Engine 4,016 cc (245 cu in) Straight-six[24][25]
Dimensions
Wheelbase 11' 4", 136 in (3,500 mm)[24][25]
Track front: 4'10", 58 in (1,500 mm)[24][25]
Track rear: 5'0", 60 in (1,500 mm)[24][25]
Kerb weight 39 cwt
4,368 lb (1,981 kg)[25]
Chronology
Predecessor Austin 20
Successor Austin Sheerline
Austin 28 engine
Overview
Manufacturer Austin Motor Company Limited
Production Longbridge
Combustion chamber
Configuration Straight 6-cylinder
Displacement 4,016 cc (245 cu in)[24][25]
Cylinder bore 86.36 mm (3.400 in)[24][25]
Piston stroke 114.3 mm (4.50 in)[24][25]
Cylinder block alloy Cast iron. Aluminium pistons with anodised surfaces. Four-bearing crankshaft with a vibration damper.[24][25]
Cylinder head alloy aluminium, detachable[25]
Valvetrain inclined side valves, inlet larger than exhaust, pressure lubrication for the tappets[24][25]
Combustion
Fuel system downdraught carburettor, coil ignition with automatic advance[24][25]
Oil system floating filter pick up for the oil pump and anti-surge valve[24][25]
Cooling system forced water circulation thermostatically controlled[24][25]
Output
Power output 90 bhp (67 kW; 91 PS) @3,200 rpm
Tax horsepower 27.75[24][25]
Chronology
Predecessor Austin 20/6 engine
Successor discontinued replaced by ohv
Austin Sheerline 3460 cc and 3995 cc "100 hp engine"

New body July 1938[edit]

The last of the Austin range to be given Dick Burzi's new body-shape it was announced twelve months after the entry into production of Austin's update of their Sixteen into their stubby-nosed Eighteen, a 50% more powerful engine in a longer-nosed (by 18 inches) body. The new body which only shared its general appearance with the smaller Eighteen was described as notable for its roominess and luxurious comfort. Generous seating with a flat unobstructed floor together with draught free ventilation by sliding quarter windows, sound insulation for all the steel body panels and generous luggage accommodation were further new features.[26] Equipment includes a reversing light.[24] The price of the new Twenty-Eight was £700.[24][26]

Other improvements across the board would include: pistol-grip handbrakes under the dashboard, increased luggage accommodation, piston-type hydraulic shock absorbers, more accessible batteries and a quick filling petrol tank.[26]

Steering[edit]

Steering system was by Marles-Weller.[24]

Brakes[edit]

Brakes were by Girling.[24]

Suspension[edit]

Rigid axles back and front supported low-periodicity positively lubricated half-elliptical springs with hydraulic shock absorbers and jacks.[24]

New engine July 1938[edit]

The new 4-litre engine was announced to a gathering of Austin agents and distributors at Longbridge at the end of July 1938. The design with the alloy cylinder head having proved so successful on the Austin Fourteen it would now be applied across the range. It included a higher compression ratio, "upwards of 6 : 1" which in combination with the larger inlet valves improved fuel consumption and power output.[26]

The cylinder bore was increased by 7 mm from 79.35 to 86.36 mm lifting cubic capacity from 3.4-litres to 4-litres. The tax rating was increased from 23.42 to 27.75 but the power output went up from 58 bhp (43 kW; 59 PS) @2,600 rpm to a reported 90 bhp (67 kW; 91 PS) @3,200 rpm.[24]

The previous eight main bearing crankshaft was replaced with a four-bearing crankshaft fitted with a vibration damper which decision fitted with the then current trend.[24]

The new detachable aluminium alloy cylinder head was fitted over inclined side valves and anodised aluminium alloy pistons. Pressure lubrication was supplied to the tappets, coolant temperature was controlled by thermostat and coil ignition was provided with automatic advance.[24]

Road test[edit]

A new and roomy seven-seater which has much to recommend it including the price. Unusually good windows, long and fairly deep give a good view and enhance the appearance of the car. The cushions and shaped squabs are comfortable, the compartments are divided by sliding glass panels. There are folding foot rests, blinds to the division window, shaped armchair backs to the seat and a double arm rest in the centre. The occasional seats give reasonable comfort, the doorways behind are wide, the boot has two good-sized fitted suitcases with the spare wheel below and its platform is designed to take 1½ cwt 168 lb (76 kg) of extra luggage.[25]

The new engine has the extra refinement in running noticeable in the other new Austin units and shows much improvement on the former Twenty. The horn button and the signalling lever are on the top of the thin three-spoked steering wheel. The brake lever is inverted and under the dash. Accessible it does not interfere with entrance and has a thumb-plate trigger. The greatest comfortable speed was 70 miles per hour.[25]

Stamina[edit]

In 2004 Martyn Nutland reported there were just two still in existence and some part of a third car.[22]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Baldwin, Nick (1994). A-Z of Cars of the 1920s. Devon, UK: Bay View Books. ISBN 1-870979-53-2. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Motor Show. Price increases, Austin, The Times, Tuesday, 11 November 1919; pg. 8; Issue 42254.
  3. ^ a b c Motor Transport. The Times, Thursday, 7 February 1924; pg. 5; Issue 43569
  4. ^ a b c d Martyn Nutland, Brick by Brick: The Biography of the Man Who Really Made The Mini – Leonard Lord, 2012, AuthorHouse ISBN 978-1-4772-0318-7
  5. ^ a b c Wood, Jonathan (August 2009). "Austin Twenty". The Automobile (UK) 27 (6). ISSN 0955-1328. 
  6. ^ "Austin Twenty: The price of cars". Austin Advertisement. Retrieved 10 August 2012. 
  7. ^ Display advertising, The Austin Motor Co Ltd, Northfield, Birmingham. The Times, Friday, 4 November 1921; pg. 17; Issue 42869
  8. ^ a b Austin. Display ad. The Times, Thursday, 5 April 1923; pg. 16; Issue 43307
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w Cars of To-Day. 6-cyl. Austin Twenty, The Times, Tuesday, 15 May 1928; pg. 22; Issue 44893.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g Cars of To-Day. Austin Twenty, The Times, Tuesday, 5 September 1933; pg. 8; Issue 46541
  11. ^ Cars of To-Day. Austin Twenty, The Times, Tuesday, 28 August 1934; pg. 8; Issue 46844
  12. ^ British Twenties, The Times, Wednesday, 27 October 1926; pg. 19; Issue 44413
  13. ^ Austin. Display ad. The Times, Friday, 18 October 1929; pg. 21; Issue 45337
  14. ^ The Motor Show. Austin Twenty, The Times, Monday, 21 October 1929; pg. 22; Issue 45339
  15. ^ Austin. Display ad. The Times, Tuesday, 20 March 1928; pg. xliv; Issue 44846.
  16. ^ The Austin Motor Company Ltd.Display ad. The Times, Tuesday, 6 September 1932; pg. 9; Issue 46231
  17. ^ a b Cars of 1934. The Times, Tuesday, 15 August 1933; pg. 8; Issue 46523
  18. ^ New Austin Models, The Scotsman; 14 August 1934;
  19. ^ The New Austin. Display ad. The Times, Tuesday, 14 August 1934; pg. 7; Issue 46832
  20. ^ Austin Motor Company Limited. Display ad. The Times, Tuesday, 13 August 1935; pg. 23; Issue 47141
  21. ^ a b Cars of To-Day. Austin Twenty, The Times, 14 July 1936; pg. 8; Issue 47426
  22. ^ a b Martyn Nutland, Few Coronets, Few Kind Hearts, Austin Times, 2004, Vol 2, Issue 4
  23. ^ Martyn Nutland, Brick by Brick – Leonard Lord, Authorhouse, Bloomington IN 47403 ISBN 978-1-4772-0318-7
  24. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u Cars of 1939. Austin Models and Prices, A New 28h.p.. The Times, Wednesday, 27 July 1938; pg. 4; Issue 48057
  25. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Cars of To-Day. Austin Twenty-Eight, The Times, Thursday, 9 February 1939; pg. 10; Issue 48225.
  26. ^ a b c d Austin Car Programme:The Scotsman; 27 July 1938;

External links[edit]