Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 3
Launched in 1932, the Austin 10 would become the companies best seller for the remainder of the decade, then continuing in production (albiet with significant revisions) right up until 1947.
Conservatively designed, the Austin 10 used a pressed steel body built on a cross braced chassis. To provide better road-holding, the engineers were able to lower the height of the car (and thus centre of gravity) by dipping the chassis 2.75 inches (70mm) between each axle.
The Austin 10 was powered by a 1125cc four cylinder side valve engine (good for 21bhp), which drove the rear wheels through a four speed gearbox and open drive shaft to a live rear axle.
Suspension was by half elliptic springs all round, and cable operated brakes
were fitted. Foot to the floor, going downhill and with a slight tail wind, the 10 could easily reach 55mph.
When first feleased, the four-door saloon was available in two distinct versions, the “base” model costing £155, and the “Sunshine De Luxe” offering an opening roof and leather upholstery, all for an extra £13.
1933 saw the saloons joined by an open two seater or "Open Road" tourer, a "Colwyn" cabriolet and a van. A sports model, the 65 mph, 30 bhp "Ripley" joined the range in 1934. Mechanical upgrades for 1934 included a stronger chassis, synchromesh on the top two gears and 12 volt electrics.
Styling changes came in late 1934, the radiator
surround being replaced by one painted in the cars body colour, and it was given a slight slope. Synchromesh was added to second gear and "semaphore" type indicators were standardised. The saloon was renamed the "Lichfield", and now featured a protruding boot which enclosed the spare wheel.
The Austin 10 Six Light
A new body style was added in 1936 with the six light (three windows down each side, with one behind the rear door) "Sherbourne" but the big change came in 1937 with the almost streamlined "Cambridge" saloon and "Conway" cabriolet. Other changes included Girling rod brakes, 16 inch steel disc wheels replaced the 19 inch wires and the passenger compartment was significantly increased in size by moving the engine forwards by 4 inches (100 mm). Top speed rose to 60 mph. These changes did not appear on the open cars, which no longer included the Ripley sports, until 1938 when all cars also gained an aluminium cylinder head
on the engine.
Argentine born Ricardo "Dick" Burzi joined Austin from Lancia
in 1929, and he was responsible for the radically different 1939 iteration, the body shell now incorporating the floor to give a semi-unitary structure
. Other improvements included hinges being fitted to the bonnet (rather than the previous and now very old-fashioned side opening type) and the radiator
grille became rounded. Unfortunately the cabriolet model was dropped.
In spite of the outbreak of World War 2, production of the Austin 10 continued in large numbers, some 53,000 being manufactured throughout the war years, the pick-ups and vans being affectionately named “Tillies”.