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