Austin 12/6

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Austin Light Twelve-Six
Austin Six Saloon (1932) GS3184 5902656341.jpg
Light Twelve-Six Harley 6-light metal saloon
first registered May 1932
Manufacturer Austin
Production 1931–1937
30,316 produced[1]
Body and chassis
Body style
  • two seater Eton
  • tourer Open Road
  • saloons: metal – Harley
  • sports saloons: Kempton, Greyhound
  • sports tourer Newberry (sic)
Engine 1496 or 1711 cc Straight-6[2]
Transmission single-plate dry clutch, 3-speed centrally controlled gearbox taking the drive through an open propellor shaft to the spiral bevel driven three-quarter floating rear axle.[2]
Wheelbase 106 in (2,692 mm)[2]
Track 4' 2", 50 in (1,300 mm)[2]
Length 146 in (3,708 mm) (1931)[2]
Width 62 in (1,575 mm)[2]
Kerb weight Saloon 19 12 long cwt (2,184 lb; 991 kg)
Predecessor variant of Austin Twelve
Successor Austin Fourteen Goodwood
Austin Light Twelve-Six engine
Manufacturer Austin
Configuration Straight 6-cylinder[2]
Displacement 1,496 cc (91 cu in)[2]
Cylinder bore 61.25 mm (2.411 in)[2]
Piston stroke 84.63 mm (3.332 in)[2]
Cylinder block alloy cast iron, alloy crankcase. Four bearing crankshaft[2]
Cylinder head alloy detachable, pistons are special aluminium alloy[2]
Valvetrain side valves[2]
Fuel system downdraught carburettor supplied by a petrol pump, ignition by battery and coil[2]
Fuel type petrol[2]
Oil system forced[2]
Cooling system radiator, fan, thermostatically controlled cooling water is circulated naturally
Power output 24 bhp (18 kW; 24 PS) @2,400 rpm
Tax horsepower 13.96[2]
Successor none
Austin Light Twelve-Six engine
Manufacturer Austin
Configuration Straight 6-cylinder
Displacement 1,711 cc (104 cu in)
Cylinder bore 65.5 mm (2.58 in)
Piston stroke 84.63 mm (3.332 in)
Cylinder block alloy cast iron, alloy crankcase.
Cylinder head alloy detachable, pistons are aluminium
Valvetrain side valves
Fuel system downdraught carburettor supplied by a petrol pump, ignition by dynamo combined as a unit with the fan above the cylinder head
Fuel type petrol
Cooling system radiator, fan, thermostatically controlled cooling water is circulated naturally
Power output 38.7 bhp (28.9 kW; 39.2 PS) @3,800 rpm
Tax horsepower 15.96
Successor Austin Fourteen

The Austin Light Twelve-Six is a 14 tax horsepower car with a 1496 cc engine that was introduced by Austin in January 1931.[2] It was named by Austin Light Twelve to separate it from the well-established Austin Twelve. The general public then dubbed the original Twelve Heavy Twelve but Austin never used that name. The Light Twelve-Six remained in production until 1936.

In August 1936 the Austin Goodwood 14 (of 16 tax horsepower) with its "sound insulated coachwork" took the place of the Twelve-Six saloons. The tourers remained available. The Goodwood was also available as a separate chassis.

Six cylinders[edit]

There was among British car makers in the early 1930s a vogue for small capacity six-cylinder engines and the Light Twelve-Six was Austin's version. The side-valve engine was new and initially of 1496 cc capacity. Thermostatic control of the cooling system was added in September 1932.[3] An increased 65.5 mm bore, larger capacity 1711 cc option was available at no extra charge from August 1933.[4] Further details of these engines are in the panels at the right.

A three-speed gearbox was supplied at first but a new four-speed Twin-Top [note 1] version was an option from 1932 and became standard in 1933. A new synchromesh gearbox was announced in August 1933 along with the availability of the large 1711cc engine to go with new chassis and bodywork.[4]

Brakes suspension steering[edit]

The chassis was very conventional with semi-elliptic leaf springs on all wheels and rigid axles front and rear. The transmission brake has been discontinued in favour of brakes on the road wheels. Steering is by worm and wheel. At the top of the steering wheel there is an electric horn button and the headlamp control lever for the dip and switch mechanism. The electrical system for both lighting and starting is 12-volt.[2]

The chassis was shared from September 1932 with the four-cylinder Light Twelve-Four as well as the original Austin Twelve.

In August 1933 a newly designed chassis was introduced for the Twelve-Six and Twelve-Four cars. It had a dropped and cross-braced frame under the new bodies. At the same time a new design for front and rear axles entered production fitted with new brakes and a new revised linkage to the driver's brake pedal. The back axle was modified and now has combined load and thrust journals to reduce weight.[4] Steering gear, previously worm and wheel, was changed in August 1935 to an hour-glass worm and sector.[5]


Items supplied as standard include an air cleaner and an electric windscreen wiper in front of the driver and a big reflecting mirror together with a clock and a petrol gauge, motometer and retractable luggage carrier.[2][6] From September 1932 bumpers and Magna wheels were provided on deluxe models without extra charge.[7]


There were just two four-door six-light (three windows on each side) saloon bodies offered: a Harley pressed metal car and a Clifton fabric bodied saloon.[2] For 1932 the fabric saloon (now well out of fashion) was dropped but a de luxe Harley saloon with bumpers and a sunshine roof and open two (Eton) and four-seater (Open Road) tourers were added in September 1931.[8]

Light Twelve-Six Open Road tourer registered November 1934
Light Twelve-Six Clifton 4-light fabric sports saloon c. 1931-1932

Road test[edit]

The review of the metal Harley was favourable. Of special note was the unusually good entrance by all doorways. The design of the rods and cables to the new brakes on the wheels was criticised though in use the brakes were excellent. Both the cooling and the clutch worked well. The lower gears were reasonably quiet. The steering is too sensitive though the action is light and the suspension would not disgrace a car of four times the price. With the driver and one passenger the top speed was 48 mph.[6]

A subsequent review 15 months later suggested that engine vibration might be damped by rubber insulation. The new Twin-Top gearbox has indirect gears that are a great improvement over Austin's previous offering. A change to a cam steering mechanism was recommended to improve the steering's steadiness. 60 miles an hour was the highest comfortable speed.[9]

Range development[edit]

Bumpers and Magna wheels were standardised on all Austin's de luxe models in September 1932 and in addition there were all round price reductions.[7] In August 1933 a new Ascot saloon was announced with chassis improvements and the same changes as made to the Twelve-Four range. The new Ascot had a new separate compartment for the spare tyre and its hinged panel forms a luggage platform when lowered.[4][10]

The chromium-plated radiator shell was succeeded in August 1934 by a radiator cowl painted in body colour and the body given more modern wings with valances for better protection. The Harley was dropped for 1935.[11]

Light Twelve Six Ascot saloon
registered April 1935 with
Magna wire wheels
Light Twelve-Six Ascot saloon
and spare wheel compartment 1935
Magna wheels

Sports variants were added in August 1933 with a lowered chassis and higher compression engine. A 4-seater sports tourer and a saloon named Greyhound.[4] In 1936 another body named Kempton was available on the same chassis.[12] These cars carry a distinctive radiator shell. The sports models shared the new illuminated semaphore direction indicators and synchromesh gears.[4]

Current catalogue after August 1933 (cars supplied with either 13.9 hp or 15.9 hp engines for the same price):

  • saloons: standard £205, Harley £225 or Ascot £235, the last two with sliding heads (sunroofs)
  • open tourers Eton 2-seater £200 and Open Road 4-seater £200
  • sports tourer £275 and Greyhound sports saloon £305[4][13]
Light Twelve-Six 1935
Kempton sports saloon, 1711cc
also available with 1496 cc engine, both engines with a high compression cylinder head and high lift camshaft producing
41 bhp @ 3,800 or 37 bhp @ 3,800
Light Twelve-Six 1935
Newbury 4-seater tourer
Ascot spare wheel compartment (12/4)

1936 Ascot saloon Kempton sports saloon Open Road tourer Eton two-seater
length 158 in (4013 mm) 156 in (3962 mm) 158 in (4013 mm) 158 in (4013 mm)
width 61.5 in (1562 mm) 62.0 in (1575 mm) 61.5 in (1562 mm) 61.5 in (1562 mm)
height 66.0 in (1676 mm) 62.0 in (1575 mm) 67.5 in (1715 mm) 67.5 in (1715 mm)

Austin's Goodwood 14 took the place of the Twelve-Six saloons. The tourers remained available but briefly and were not replaced.


  1. ^ Top gear was always direct drive to avoid noise from the gearbox. Development of still expensive but "silent" gear sets provided a third gear as near quiet as top gear


  1. ^ Sedgwick, Michael (1989). A-Z of Cars of the 1930s. Devon, UK: Bay View Books. ISBN 1-870979-38-9. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u Austin, The Times, Saturday, 24 Jan 1931; pg. 3; Issue 45729.
  3. ^ The Austin Motor Company Ltd. The Times, Tuesday, 6 Sep 1932; pg. 9; Issue 46231.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Cars Of 1934. The Times, Tuesday, 15 Aug 1933; pg. 8; Issue 46523
  5. ^ Cars Of 1936. The Times, Tuesday, 13 Aug 1935; pg. 7; Issue 47141
  6. ^ a b Cars Of To-Day. The Times, Tuesday, 24 Mar 1931; pg. 10; Issue 45779
  7. ^ a b Cheaper Motoring. The Times, Tuesday, 6 Sep 1932; pg. 10; Issue 46231
  8. ^ The Austin Motor Company Limited. The Times, Wednesday, 2 Sep 1931; pg. 7; Issue 45917.
  9. ^ Cars Of To-Day. The Times, Tuesday, 10 May 1932; pg. 10; Issue 46129
  10. ^ The New Austin. The Times, Tuesday, 14 Aug 1934; pg. 7; Issue 46832.
  11. ^ New Austin. The Times, Thursday, 30 Aug 1934; pg. 9; Issue 46846
  12. ^ Cars Of 1937. The Times, Tuesday, 11 Aug 1936; pg. 17; Issue 47450.
  13. ^ The Austin Motor Co. Ltd. The Times, Tuesday, 15 Aug 1933; pg. 6; Issue 46523