Autumn - September 2011 - Issue 3

For all those with an interest in the history, products &
workers of the motor vehicle factory at Longbridge


Featuring the BMC-BL Rally and Spares Day Ferry Meadows Peterborough

Line up of assorted models at the 18th BMC-BL Rally 7th Aug 2011 - with an interloper - Photo JB

Left to Right: Austin A40 Farina Mk II, MG1100/1300, A60 Cambridge estate,
Wolseley 4/44, Morris Oxford Series VI, Vauxhall Victor FB, MG Y-type







  From the Chairman ……………………………….....................................2
  BMC-BL Day at Peterborough ……………………………….................3
  Cars In The Park - Lichfield……………………………….....................11
  The Austin Cambridge - 75 years young…………………………… 14
  Commemorating Lord Austin……………………………….................17
  Around The Clubs - The Wolseley Register………………………..  19
  Forthcoming Events - .……………………………..................................20
  Rover in the news …………..………..…......................................……..  20
  Longbridge Redevelopment……………..……………..........................21
  Isle of Wight Austins……….…………………….....................................24
  UK Car Production……………………………….....................................26
  About Us - The Federation aims and objectives…….……………    27


From the Chairman

A big thank you to all who have renewed their membership.

Our AGM will be on the 15 October at 3.00pm in St John The Baptist, Church
Hall. Culmington Road B31 4JN

This is when the members of the committee who wish to be nominated for the
next year in office can be elected. At the moment we have a vacancy for a
Membership Secretary, If you would like to take on this position, please could
you contact me before the 30 September 2011 by emailing me at

As has been pointed out many times, we are not another car club but a body that
promotes a broad range of Longbridge and Austin related causes and is in a
unique position to welcome a Vintage Austin as readily as the last MG Z cars.
Look forward to seeing your all at the AGM.

Kind regards

John Baker.






The 18th BMC - BL Rally & Spares Day
Ferry Meadows, Peterborough 7th
August 2011

I was picked up at 7.30 by Colin Corke in his mint Allegro SS on this sunny
morning. This is the first time I had travelled in an Allegro for many years. In fact I worked for the company in the Press Cars Department, and well remember preparing the fleet of Allegros for the launch that was to take place in Malaga.  We had moved from Longbridge (West Works) in Oct/Nov 1972 to a factory unit on the Enfield Estate Redditch, as this had more room and better facilities to prepare the fleet of cars.

I have to say that the SS ran very smoothly, and with not much traffic around we made good progress. Those of you who have been to this event, know that the last few mile are where you can get lost. This area road system must have the most junctions and islands in the UK. Well, after one mistake, we arrived at Ferry Bridge park. The event takes place on a very large flat field, that has plenty of space, but lacks the character of Cofton Park.

This was the third time I had been to the event. The first time I felt very much at
home and there was a good mixture of models to see. This time I felt that it had
lost some of its charm. There were fewer vehicles attending, which was probable due to the high cost of fuel, which may well affect all rallies this year.

They had decided this year to site the auto-jumble well away from the vehicles,
which probable was a mistake. The organisers, to reduce their costs had only a few Portaloos available, and were let down because the caterers failed to turn up. I hope that for next year it will regain its title as the premier event for the BMC & BL marques.

John Baker

A is for Austin, and Allegro, and for picnic al-fresco - Photo HP




The Allegro is the Austin model associated in many minds with new BL management at
Longbridge. Genuine innovations included the Hydragas suspension units and the
Fabrostrip wiring harness. The latter won a Design Centre Award in 1974.

The Allegro changed the landscape of Longbridge - the transporter bridge over the
Bristol Road was built for the Allegro production line to replace the trucks previously
used for the movement of body shells between the different parts of the plant.

A line-up of wedgies at Peterborough - Photo JB.

Long wheelbase and Hydragas suspension in a wedge-shape so trendy it soon became dated the ADO70 provided Citroen-like abilities at lower cost and complication and with the choice of 4 or 6 cylinder power.

The value of these cars is now trending upwards. Rarest model is the Wolseley 18-22 - the last car to have its name up in lights.












Maestro and Montego montage - Photo JB

Nearest car is the “basic” Maestro as revealed by the sturdy steel bumpers. The
coloured plastic on most cars became brittle in cold weather and shattered under slight
knocks. With suspension like a Golf but with superior handling the Maestro together with its booted and spurred sister the Montego featured its very own race series.

A range of engines from the A-plus petrol and plain diesel on the cheapest models to 2
litre turbocharged MGs offered an enormous choice of performance with economy.
Estate versions of the Montego had the option of a third row of folding seats Volvo style.  The “talking dashboard” giving voice readouts on the state of car systems was ahead of its time - no satnav technology to integrate with it then.














Morris Marina and Ital motors meet. Is this a Marinade? - Photo HP

BL decided to take on all rivals and have a range of both front-drive and rear-drive cars. The latter designed for the fleet market where simplicity of design and easy servicing was desired. Unfortunately this decision spread both the engineering and capital resources too thinly across too many disparate designs.

Underneath the Marina has been described as a beefed-up Minor with longitudinal
torsion-bar front suspension and quarter-elliptic leaf springs and live axle at the rear.
With more power this made the handling interesting particularly on a rally stage.

Body styles were 2 and 4 door saloons. The “coupe” look of the 2 door compromised by the need to use the same front doors to keep costs down. Engine options were the A and B series, the latter available with twin carbs in the TC. Estate car and commercial versions - van and pickup - followed.

The Ital was an attempt to refresh the model with a new look. Engines were the A-plus
and the O series OHC engine.

From September 1982 until UK production ceased in 1984 the Ital was made at








Front Row: Mini, Mini, Mini, Mini, Mini, Mini, Mini
Back Row: Mini, Mini, Mini, Mini, Mini, Mini - Photo JB

“Zulus Sir, thousands of them!” Sorry, wrong movie.

The Mini is the only model that stretches across BMC, BL, BAe and BMW. The last of
the line have few parts that would fit on the first. It was never intended to live that long
but it was a hard act to replace. And some say impossible.

This Mini camper is a regular at Peterborough - Photo JB







Move up to a Maxi for modern practicality - Photo HP

The Maxi is an historic car in many respects. The last Issigonis design. The first Austin with a 5-speed gearbox. The first BMC model designed as a “hatchback“. The first launched under BL management. The early cars can be licensed free as historic vehicles - before the 25 year rule fell victim to the moral compass of a new Chancellor.

Spacious and versatile - there is nothing quite like a Maxi - possibly the only car in
which an adult tricycle can be transported without being dismantled.

Refinement defined - Westminster and VDP line-up - Photo JB

Row here of Westminster A105 and 110 - although the inclusion of a Vanden Plas Allegro implies
that at least one of the 110s might be a VDP Princess R.






Morris Minor migrate to the meadows - Photo HP

Synergy = Merlin engine plus P51 Mustang. A similar combination of the Austin A-series engine in the Morris Minor was one of the best things to come out of BMC transforming a floundering jelly mould into a fun-to-drive car. Rack and pinion steering gave confidence at all speeds - even flat out with the speedometer needle waggling over “Empty” on the fuel gauge. Duck egg green as a standard colour for Minor 1000s meant aspiring Arthur Daleys only had to wind the clock and respray the doors when selling Pandas.

A30, A35 with Rostiles, A55 Cambridge, A35, Wolseley 6/80, Morris Oxford series III - Photo HP






Metro range - left - early model - right Rover 100/114 - Photo HP

Post BL - BMW and beyond - Rover 75s and MG ZT - Photo JB

Rally Report by John Baker.
Photographs by John Baker and Harry Parker.
Nerdy Text by “Anne O’Rourke“







Cars in the Park - Lichfield Rotary Club
Beacon Park - 2nd-3rd July 2011

Organised by Lichfield Rotary Club as part of a nationwide series of events the Lichfield Cars In The Park was held in Beacon Park, near to the centre of the historic city. All proceeds from the show are donated to worthwhile Rotary Charities.

Variety at Lichfield - Cortina, MkII, MG TC, Minor 1000, Morris 8 - Photo HP

Wolseleys at Lichfield - Photo HP







One-Up from the Seven and Mini are the Big 7 and Metro - Photo HP

Austin Sheerline dressed ready for a wedding - Photo HP






Longbridge at Lichfield - Allegro VDP, Mini and Maxi - Photo HP

Rag-Top seducers - Nash Metropolitan and Triumph Stag - Photo HP








Austin Cambridge - 75 Years Young
1936-2011 - celebrated by ATDC

This year it is 75 years - three-quarters of a century - since the launch of the
Austin 10hp Cambridge in August 1936. The ATDC celebrated this at their
National Rally at Alcester Rugby club with a Cambridge Birthday Cake and a big line-up of Cambridge and Conway models at the front of the rally field.

Line-up of Cambridge and Conway models at ATDC National Rally 2011 - Alcester RFC

The most popular size car in the 1930s was the 10hp tax class. The Austin Ten
was introduced in 1932 with a new monobloc engine effectively a 4 cylinder
version of the Lt12/6. Competition was intense and the Ten was improved with
mechanical and body changes through the rest of the decade.

The Cambridge represented a step-change in the design. A new chassis and
new all-steel body provided a lighter car with more space and performance within the same compact dimensions. Girling high-leverage compensating brakes provided the stoppers. Smaller steel “Easiclean” wheels enabled horizontal stowage of the spare and hence space for a lockable luggage boot.

The Cambridge helped Austin achieve record sales in 1937 and was their best
selling model over the next two years.







Inside the Cambridge - Steering wheel and instruments

After the war new cars were mostly exported and were not readily available on
the home market. Waiting lists extended to years, and nearly-new cars traded at above list price well into the 1950s. In this market pre-war cars had a new lease of life. The Cambridge retained its place and value as one of the most popular family cars on the road.

Nearly 30 years after its introduction the Cambridge was finally pushed down into the “old-banger” category in the early 1960s by a reduction in purchase tax on new cars, introduction of visibly date related registrations and the 10-year MOT test, the flood of modern designs, and the construction of motorways

As an “old-banger” the Cambridge became an affordable first car for many a
young lad (and a few lassies). Its sturdy, simple and largely over-engineered
design meant that even when thrashed and inadequately serviced it continued to provide reliable motoring at low cost.

Now for those who want an old car that looks venerable but does not cost a
fortune to buy, own and run, the Cambridge is the one to have.

Text and pictures by “Anne O’Rourke”






The Cambridge line-up from the rear - nearest car is Conway cabriolet

Austin Ten Parts Price Lists - The sticker says - “From Jan 14th 1947, retail prices of Austin Parts
are subject to a 70% surcharge, instead of 50% as hitherto“






Commemorating Lord Austin’s Passing 70 Years Ago
Service at Graveside - 22nd-May 2011

David Kear, Vice President of the Austin Ten Drivers Club, realised that this year was the 70th anniversary of the death of Herbert Austin, 1st Baron of Longbridge, and decided that the event should be remembered.

A daytime air raid on the factory on 13th November 1940 resulted in the death of nine employees, including Adrain Vickary and Alfred Draper who were, we
understand, apprentices when the only bomb to damage the factory landed on
the Millwrights Pen (latterly the Engineers or Indirect Material Stores). The
steelwork in this building bore the scars of that bomb until it was demolished
three or four years ago.
Bomb damaged steelwork in the former Millwrights Pen

Lord Austin attended the funerals in poor weather and caught double pneumonia from which he never recovered. This contributed to a fatal heart attack on 23rd May 1941. He passed away at his home, Lickey Grange. On 27th May he was buried at Holy trinity Church, Rose Hill.

Sunday 22nd May 2011 was the nearest Sunday to the 70th anniversary of Lord Austin’s death. David arranged with the Vicar of Holy Trinity Church, the Reverend Margaret Brighton, for a short service to be held round the grave after the church’s Sunday service. Over a dozen Austin Ten Drivers Club Members and Austin Ex-Apprentices gathered on a blustery day at the Churchyard. The rain held off and on occasion the sun even made an appearance. Some had arrived in cars manufactured during Lord Austin’s lifetime.






At Lord Austin’s graveside David Kear presents the
Rev. Margaret Brighton with an Austin Wings brooch.

During the service Margaret told of fond memories of being driven about in her
father’s Austin Seven, David Kear paid tribute to Lord Austin’s life and
achievements mentioning that the community round Longbridge and Lickey
owed so much to the great man to this day, and Austin Ex-Apprentice Gerry
Moorcroft (1954-1959) read “The Motorist’s Prayer“. Floral tributes were laid on
the grave before David presented Margaret with an Austin Wings brooch.

There cannot be many people who are remembered in such a way 70 years after they had passed away, but Lord Austin is one of them and deservedly so.

Tony Osborne - Austin Ex-Apprentices Association

Pictures and text by Tony Osborne.
First published in the ATDC magazine July 2011











Around The Clubs - The Wolseley Register

The Wolseley Register was founded in 1964 and originally catered for vehicles to the end of the vintage era only. This time limit was subsequently extended several times, and the Register now caters for all vehicles of the Wolseley  marque, including Wolseley-Siddleys, certain Siddleys and Stellites, until the end of production of Wolseley cars in 1975.

Over the years, the Register has seen many changes. Eventually our organisation grew to a size where it became necessary to elect a proper committee and, in 1979, out constitution was formerly adopted by the membership.  Another important event was the appearance of the first issue of our club magazine Wolseley World which in 1979, replaced the original newsletter.

Today the Register has members all over the world and a strong membership
nationwide with regional groups in most parts of the country. For details on
joining the Register and more information visit our website at

All welcome in the Wolseley Register - St Chad’s Cathedral, behind - Photo HP.






Forthcoming Events - 2011




18 Sept

Westbury, Brackley NN13 5YD

Turweston Aerodrome

18 Sept


Roger & Imelda Wood

1 October

Celebrating - 20th Anniversary of the Meeting
and 50th Anniversary of the Jaguar E Type

Keith and Mary Wynn
Reto Defresco
Swiss Classic British Car Meeting
Web site:http://www.british-cars.ch

15 October


St John The Baptist, Church
Hall. Culmington Road B31 4JN

6 Nov



8 Nov

Red Lion Pub, Little Missenden

Red Lion, Little Missenden, Bucks.

11 - 13 Nov

at the NEC Birmingham

Footman James NEC Classic Motor
Show -

15 Nov 2011 Final Copy Date for the December Newsletter
14 April 2012

PRIDE OF LONGBRIDGE RALLY Presented jointly by austin Longbridge Federation & RCAT

1 April 2012

Anniversary Celebration Run to Madeira Dr.
All pre-war Austins invited.

Austin 7 Owners Club
Details to Follow
Reserve the Date Now

22 April 2012

DRIVE-IT DAY BIRMINGHAM Victoria Square Lord Mayor of Birmingham - www.didbrum.com

Clubs call Alan Billington
Indivs call Tom Griffiths




Rover In The News
Stolen Car Found in Belarus

In a Twitter message West Midlands Police Sergeant Blakeman wrote:- “Have just informed the owner of a car stolen in 2008 that it has been found in Belarus, thanked me but said he would not be collecting it.“

The car was a 1994 Rover stolen in Wolverhampton in 2008 and found 1056 miles away in Belarus, once part of the USSR. The former owner’s reaction is rational because the  car would cost more to recover than it is worth and in any case if he received payment from his insurance company he no longer owns it - the insurance company does.

West Midlands police explained that low-level criminals were being used by crime bosses to steal high-performance and vintage cars to order. The Daily Telegraph reported “The recovered Rover, however, is not thought to have been stolen in this way.






Longbridge Redevelopment Update

Bourneville College

This £66m building opens for business in September when 15,000 students will attend every week. This will have a major impact on the area, so contractors working on the major road scheme are trying hard to finish before the college opens.

Bourneville College - 18 August 2011 - Photo JB

Although the primary function of the College is for courses, it will also have
facilities that will be open to the general public and at the weekends. These include a Gym called Urban Fitness and will be run by European Corporate Wellbeing. Along with the normal equipment usually available, there will be a spinning area for the popular group cycling classes and a sauna and steam room It is hoped most students will travel to the college on public transport, as with this location a train station is near by. For those that do come by car, a temporary car park will be open soon on the Old West Works site, that will have 500 places










Bourneville College - architect’s impression

This is the view from South Works, in the foreground is the Austin Park through which the River Rea will flow. This part of the development will be done when work starts on the Town Centre later in the year.



My-Place Youth Centre at Longbridge - architect’s impression

As one building project comes to an end, another has already started with the building of a new Youth Centre to be called My Place. This is located on Devon Way by the Austin Social Club.










At a cost of £5m, funded by a grant under the Government myplace programme, and from the Big Lottery Fund scheme to invest in facilities for young people across the UK

        “The facility will play an important part in the long-term social, cultural and
         economic improvement of the area, as there is currently no statutory youth
Counsellor Les Lawrence, Cabinet member for children, young
         people and families for
Birmingham City Council.

17 August 2011 - My-Place Youth Centre under construction.
View looking from the Austin Social Club - Photo JB












Isle of Wight Austins

It used to be said that the Isle of Wight - or “The Island” as it is known locally - was permanently half a century behind the times. Certainly when I first visited it had that feel - steam trains, steam paddle-ships, petrol railcars along Ryde Pier, Guy utility buses, and only one set of traffic lights on the whole island.

Sadly, modernity has caught up. Over-crowded and heavily-potholed roads now match the worst to be found in southern England. The ferries are bigger and take large trucks and tourist coaches - but still charge fares that make the Solent one of the most expensive pieces of water to cross in the world.

No Trouble At Mill - IoW Austins line up on for inspection at Calbourne water mill - Photo PW

What has not changed is the fantastic welcome that islanders give to their
visitors. For the “10s, 16/6s and All That” event in June crowds of Austins, plus a few “Moggies” - several Minors and a Morgan - turned up in order to turn back the clock. Austins from England, Wales and even France joined the locals to create what may have been the largest gathering of the marque on the Island at Calbourne Mill and later at Yafford.







An accretion Austins - and a few guests - gather at Yafford to admire a Tiger Moth - Photo PW

We also had a guided tour of a local company that makes stoves for export
around the world. Using local labour and skills the family firm of A J Wells and Sons manufacture Charnwood wood and multi-fuel stoves to a high specification in a range of modern and traditional styles. Why import from Scandinavia when you can get local stoves?
www.charnwood.com Even the family dog is involved!

On another part of the site the company makes enamel signs, including many for London Underground. There is a long tradition of using ex-London Underground rolling stock on the Isle of Wight railways, so somehow it seems appropriate that an Island firm makes new enamel signs for UndergrounD stations.

Isle of Wight Austins embody the spirit that led to the creation of the Austin
Federation. Local members of the group are also members of a range of Austin car clubs related to the models they own - whether Sevens, Vintage Austins, Tens and larger hp models, or Farina A40. They regularly get together for events involving motoring or other activities. Several members have “repatriated” IoW registered cars back from the mainland to the Island.
The Editor






UK Car Production
Increase over last year

SMMT figures show that car production increased by 4.1% in the first 6 months of this year and in July were 1.3% higher than in July 2010. Production was up 3.7% in the year as a whole. Production of engines was up 4% but commercial vehicles down by -5%. Total production was 760,946 cars in 2011 (to end July) of which 83% were exported. But sales in the domestic market were down -36% with exports up 19%.

The spin put on these figures needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. The car scrappage scheme had brought sales forward and its ending in March 2010 meant that for April-July 2010 production and domestic sales were low. Had there been no increase this year on last that would have been serious. Looking ahead, slowdowns in the economies of Europe, USA and China, the export markets on which UK vehicle production relies, do not bode well. Home sales are dire. Here my local Mazda dealer is selling preregistered  11 cars at 20% off list price in order to shift stock before the 66 Reg. Down the road another dealer is offering similar cuts in prices on nearly-new cars.

It is likely that production for the rest of this year will reduce. Expect long Christmas breaks. Next year may not take off either. “The Olympics” as an excuse for reduced car sales next July? Your read it here first.


Tailpiece - Austin mini-Metro






About Us - The Federation of Austin Clubs, Registers and Associations

Aims and Objectives
The primary objective of the Austin Federation is to bring together clubs, organisations and associations, throughout the world, which have an interest in preserving and maintaining the Heritage, Name and Products of the Austin Motor Company and of the Longbridge Plant. The Federation is also open to individual members who share these interests.

The aims are to:-
 Publicise and promote Austin and its heritage
 Facilitate the sharing of historical and social information
 Collate information allowing member organisations to manage their events diary
 Promote recognition of major milestones and anniversaries in the history of
           Austin Longbridge works.

Opinions expressed in the Newsletter are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views
of the management Committee of the Austin Federation.

The quarterly electronic newsletter is distributed to all member clubs, organisations and associations, to
individual members, and to others who have a continuing interest in Austin or Longbridge.

This Newsletter is copyright of the Austin Federation, except where extracts of others work is quoted in fair comment. In submitting content for publication you agree to share your copyright with us. Sources will be acknowledged. Other than for commercial gain the content of this Newsletter may be copied in whole or in part by members, member clubs, registers and associations, provided this newsletter is acknowledged as the source. If you consider that any copyright of yours has been infringed by the content of this newsletter please contact the Editor.

Please send information about your Club and its activities for publication in the Federation

Copy date for December edition - 15 November 2011.
Peter Winney - Editor

Please send your material to -