Austin 16 hp (1946)
If you had observed the global automotive industry over the past ten years only, you could be forgiven for thinking that the UK had only really ever had luxury and low-volume marques.
You'd be wrong of course, but the remnants of the once thriving industry would otherwise not provide you with much insight to a outcome that was otherwse.
In fact, post WWII, the UK had the second largest motor industry in the world, and boasted multiple mainstream manufacturers. And, also boasted one of the strongest export industries also.
The root of how it all fell apart is difficult to pinpoint to single issues. Potentially, such a strong start meant that the lack of global competition did not force UK makers to adopt mass-production methods as a replacement for the craft industry methods employed previously. Maybe there were too many mainstream brands in a market with a slow growth curve. Maybe the US makers had a stronger market capitalisation position and were able to expand competitively into global markets more effectively.
The end result was the same. A number of moderate volume makers, building cars for essentially the same (European) customer base, ran out of money and slowly consolidated into such conglomerations as BMC, BLMC, Austin-Rover and finally disappeared.
Austin was one such maker.
There post WWII offering shown here was the 16 hp, a derivation of the pre-war 12 hp (which continued alongside the 16 hp), but offering more power and equipment.
The 16 hp boasted 67 hp from its 2.2 litre 4-cylinder engine (the 16 hp noted the taxable horsepower). The car was a solid, middle-class kind of a car, though the British market perhaps was more in need of a vehicle like the Mini, or, as was created in European markets, the Renault 4CV, FIAT 500 and the VW Beetle.
In 1952 Austin merged with Morris to form BMC limited, along the path to the conglomeration of most mainstream UK marques.
The Austin name is currently owned by the Chinese firm SAIC, having bought many of the assets of the MG-Rover Group upon the collapse of the Phoenix Consortium in 2005.
For more information on the Austin Marque:
and the Austin 16 hp Motor Car:
This Lego miniland-scale 1946 Austin 16 hp has been created for Flickr LUGNuts' 103rd Build Challenge, titled - 'The Fabulous Forties!' - a challenge for any vehicle produced through the decade of the 1940s.
An older engineer whom I know owns an Austin 16 hp (or the identical 12 hp), and has garaged the car for quite some time. His daughter recently used the vehicle as her wedding car, having dreamed of doing so since childhood.
Fortunately the old Austin was able to brought back to working condition for the event, though managed to incur a speeding fine on the day (really???).