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Austin, Herbert

Austin, Herbert (1866–1941). Motor car manufacturer. Austin served his engineering apprenticeship at Langlands Foundry, Melbourne. He became manager of the Wolseley Sheep Shearing Company and in 1893 returned to England to work for the company in Birmingham. He was one of the first British engineers to envisage the possibilities of the petrol-driven car and built his first three-wheeled Wolseley car in 1895. In 1905 he went into business for himself as the Austin Motor Company Ltd. at a 2.5-acre site at Longbridge, Birmingham. By the following year he produced 120 cars with a work-force of 270. Invention, design, and technical skill were Austin's strengths. The Austin Seven (Baby Austin), launched in 1922, brought motoring within the means of the masses. Along with the Austin Twenty (1919) and the Twelve (1921), these models enabled the company to survive the difficult post-war period and expand. By 1939 the company employed 20,000 people and produced 76,482 cars on a 200-acre site.

Richard A. Smith

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