The Austin Twenty was a large car introduced by Austin in April 1919. It continued in production until 1930. The car was initially a four-cylinder side-valve of 3,610cc. After the 3,397cc six-cylinder 20/6 model was introduced in 1927 the first model was known as the 20/4.
Before the First World War Austin had produced a range of expensive cars but, influenced by Henry Ford’s manufacturing principles, Herbert Austin decided that the future was in mass-production of a single model and chose the 20 HP size. The Longbridge plant had been enlarged for wartime production, which gave Austin the capacity to manufacture 150 cars a week.
During the war Austin had owned an American Hudson Super Six which he admired. Its overall layout would form a basis for the design of the new model. But the car was considered to be too large for the British market and only about 3,000 Twenties had been sold by July 1920.
Austin rapidly dropped his one-model policy in mid-1921 when the company was placed in receivership. Six months later in November 1921 Austin launched the Austin Twelve, essentially a scaled-down Twenty.
The four-cylinder engine of the 20/4 developed 45 bhp at 2000 rpm. A post-war advance was the direct bolting of the gearbox to the engine. The three body types at introduction in 1919 were a tourer, a coupé and a landaulette, joined in 1921 by the Ranelagh fixed head two-door coupé. In 1922 the Grosvenor limousine and landaulette, a Ranelagh four-door fixed head coupé and Westminster drop-head coupé were added.
The six-cylinder successor, the 20/6 in our Slider, was announced at the October 1926 London Motor Show. Power output was 58 bhp at 2600 rpm. Production started in 1928. The two different engines were sold alongside each other until early in 1930 when the 20/4 was withdrawn.
In 1928 the cheapest model was the Open Road tourer 4-cylinder at £425. The 6-cyclinder Ranelagh limousine was the most expensive in the range, at £675.
Later versions of these big cars were built in various forms until World War II.
Picture courtesy of the Richard Roberts Archive