Tag Archives: Filby

Deserts, Malaria And A Leopard – Austin Twenty

In 1919 Herbert Austin launched his Austin Twenty which he hoped would be the back bone of what he hoped would be a single vehicle policy requiring only variants of the Twenty to be manufactured.

Austin Twenty, Heritage Motor Centre,

Novel features for the UK market of the Twenty included a central gear change and coil ignition, both of which were to be found on the Hudson Sir Austin had driven during the 1914-18 war years.

Austin Twenty, Heritage Motor Centre,

Unfortunately the combination of the British governments Horsepower Tax on the 4 cylinder 3621cc / 220cui motor and high production costs meant Austin had to scale down his hopes for the twenty and expand his model range by introducing 12hp and 7hp models.

Austin Twenty, Heritage Motor Centre,

The Twenty was initially advertised for £485 and by 1922 when today’s featured Twenty was built the price had risen to £625.

Austin Twenty, Heritage Motor Centre,

In 1932, when today’s featured car was ten years old, it was purchased for £33.00 by a Mr AE Filby who fitted it with stronger rear springs so that it could carry 12 gallons of water and a total of 50 gallons of fuel.

Austin Twenty, Heritage Motor Centre,

Mr Filby then set off from London on a four year journey across Europe, the Sahara through East Africa all the way down to Cape Town… and back !

Austin Twenty, Heritage Motor Centre,

During his 37,000 mile adventure Mr Filby caught malaria in Kenya and his dog was eaten by a Leopard, but apart from a broken leaf spring, u-bolt and head lamp fittings the 58 mph Austin fared well on a single set of Dunlop tyres.

Austin was so impressed they bought the car from Mr Filby as an excellent example of dependability. In 1938 Mr Filby repeated the journey with an Austin 12 he bought for £20.

Thanks for joining me on this “Deserts, Malaria And A Leopard” edition of “Gettn’ a li’l psycho on tyres, I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking at a Formula One Car built in Send, Surrey. Don’t forget to come back now !


Best Of British – Heritage Motor Center

On my way home the other day I took a wrong turning off the M42 and decided to continue along the M40 to the Heritage Motor Center at Gaydon.

MG ADO 70, Heritage Motor Centre, Gaydon.

I arrived just in time for a tour with a guide being a mid week afternoon it was a one to one tour. Among the exhibits are many prototypes from the British Motor Corporation / British Leyland / Austin Rover / MG Rover conglomoration prior to it’s collapse in 2005, above is a Prototype MG built on the 1970 Mini 1275 platform by Michelloti.

March 701, Heritage Motor Centre, Gaydon.

There are a smattering of cool racing cars going right back to Austin’s earliest day’s, above the 1970 March 701 chassis #701/4 which Jackie Stewart drove to 2nd place finishes in the Dutch and Italian Grand Prix.

Austin Seven Swallow, Heritage Motor Centre, Gaydon.

In 1922 Austin launched the Seven as an economy working mans model, in 1927 William Lyons founder of the Swallow Side Car company decided to build an upmarket convertible version and the following year followed that with a saloon, the one above was built in 1933, Swallow Side Car eventually became Jagaur, some other brands that the Austin Seven unwittingly helped to establish are BMW, Bristol and Lotus.

Austin A90, Heritage Motor Centre, Gaydon.

Among my favorite categories of vehicles at the Heritage Motor Centre are the adventurers the 1955 Austin A90 above was driven 17,500 miles by Richard Pape from North Cape in Norway to Cape Town in South Africa between July and October 1955. The White 1922 Austin twenty in the background was bought by a Mr Filby for £33 in 1932 and then driven 37,000 miles to Cape Town and back.

Land Rover City Cab, Heritage Motor Centre, Gaydon.

There are several vehicles which have appeared in films in the Heritage Motor Centre collection, above a Land Rover City Cab that appeared in the 1995 movie Judge Dredd.

Rover T4, Heritage Motor Centre, Gaydon.

Rover was thrust into the white heat of technology in during 1939 – 45 was when it was asked to turn Sir Frank Whittle’s prototype gas turbine jet engine into a production unit, a project Rolls Royce had to turn down because it was too busy building the Merlin V12’s. After hostilities Rover built 5 road vehicles powered by gas turbines including the 1961 T4 above. The car eventually went into production in 1963 as the P6 marketed as the Rover 2000 regrettably with a 2 litre / 122 cui 4 cylinder motor replacing the gas turbine.

My thanks to Dave my tour guide for a highly entertaining 45 min tour.

Thanks for joining me on this “Best of British Edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres”, I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !