Geneva, 1 March – It is 100 years since Herbert Austin founded the Austin Motor Company at Longbridge in the UK. Today, he is to be honoured by the European Automotive Hall of Fame. He will be remembered alongside other industry legends such as Henry Ford, Karl Benz, Etorre Bugatti, Alec Issigonis and Armand Peugeot.
Each year, during the Geneva Motor Show, the European Hall of Fame honours technical, managerial and entrepreneurial achievements in the industry. In 2005 Herbert Austin joins with Vincenzo Lancia, Pierre Lefaucheux and Ferdinand ‘Ferry’ Porsche.
The European Automotive Hall of Fame has a permanent home at the Palexpo in Geneva. The presentation will take place at a celebration dinner, attended by over 300 senior automotive executives, following the opening day of the motor show.
Austin was one of the founding fathers of the British motor industry. He was born in Little Missenden, Buckinghamshire in 1866. At the age of 16 he went to Melbourne, Australia, where he worked as an engineer before returning to Birmingham, England in 1889 to supervise Frederick York Wolseley’s sheep shearing equipment factory.
The two later started making cars, and Austin started his own company a century ago, this year at Longbridge. Austin Motor produced 120 Endcliffe Phaetons. The 25 BHP car was priced at £6.
His business ingenuity and dream to build cars saw the company export cars all over the world. Notable products made at Longbridge include the Austin Seven, which was unveiled in 1922. The Seven set the standard for a European small car that was inexpensive and met the needs of the family. By 1926 annual production was 14,000. The car was built until 1939, when Austin’s Longbridge factory was turned into a manufacturing base for military vehicles, equipment and aircraft – the Hurricane fighter, Stirling and Lancaster bombers being the most famous. During the war, the Longbridge factory tripled its size to 22,000 employees. He was knighted for his contributions to the war effort but Austin died in 1941.
An event is being held at Longbridge to celebrate and commemorate the founding of the Austin Motor Company and 100 years of continuous motor vehicle production, during the weekend starting Friday 8 to 10 July 2005. It will be the largest ever gathering of Longbridge built motor vehicles and is to be held on Cofton Park, opposite the factory in South Birmingham. Visit http://austinmotor.co.uk for more information.