|(1919 to 1930)|
|Manufacturer||Austin Motor Company Limited|
|Also called||Austin 20/4 (from 1927)|
|Production||by April 1919–1930 15,287 produced|
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||saloon, tourer, coupé, landaulette 16-cwt light van|
|Engine||3,610 cc (220 cu in) Straight-4|
|Transmission||single-plate clutch; four-speed gearbox; propellor shaft to back axle with helical-bevel gearing|
|Wheelbase||130 in (3,300 mm)|
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.
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 son-in-law and competitions manager).
One model policy
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.
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. The car would, however, prove to be too large for the home market, only about 3,000 Twenties had been sold by July 1920 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.
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 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.
At its 1919 introduction three body types were listed; a tourer, coupé and landaulette. 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.
As well as the cars, a range of commercial vehicles was also built on the chassis.
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. Marlborough landaulet, £950 at Works.
1919 Austin 20 Tourer in Raising the Wind, Movie, 1961
1930 Austin 20 in The Citadel, Movie with Rex Harrison from 1938