13 May 2021

More than an old car #171: Austin 8

The next few weeks may be busy for me, so please understand if my posts are not that regular. With that said, let me introduce you to this 1946 Austin 8, which I believe many would not have heard about it...

The Austin 8 was first introduced in 1939, which incidentally coincided with WW2. It succeeded the best-selling Austin 7 as the predecessor had become increasingly dated for customers. A restyling was called for and following the arrival of Leonard Lord, the development of a new car was accelerated. The chassis was completely new and was bolted to the body, with semi-elliptic leaf springs for its suspensions. Initially, 4 base models were introduced: 2 and 4-door saloons, 2 and 4-door tourers and a van. There was also a special version made for the British military known as the 'Tilly', which was a purely 2-seater tourer featuring some differences from the civilian units. 

After the war, production resumed but this time, only the 4-door six light saloon and van remained. However, tourers were still produced but only in Australia by General Motors-Holden. Reviews at that time were positive: there was admiration on the effectiveness of its handling, straightforward control panel, brakes and general convenience for passengers such as a large boot, sun visor and rear blinds. The Austin 8 was powered by a 900 cc 4-cylinder engine (the same as the Austin 7), allowing it to reach a top speed of 56 mph (90 km/h), with an acceleration of 40.5 seconds (0-80 km/h). It was 149 inches (3785 mm) long and weighed 15.5 cwt (787 kg), with a fuel consumption of 38.7 miles per gallon (6 litres / 100 km).

Production of the 8 ended in 1948 with 56,103 units made, of which an estimated 189 post-war saloons are known to exist today. This particular unit is understood to be an original Singapore car with registration S8192: Austin 8s were sold here based on old newspaper records. It still exists here today to my knowledge under a new number plate, and the yellow-black paint really makes it stand out. As with many cars from this era, they are pretty obscure to begin with. While I do not know if it will appear anytime soon, I hope that this has been informative about a organic slice of Singapore's motor history!

(credits to @garytsl on Instagram)

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