Austin History: Herbert Austin started the Austin Motor Company in England in 1905. The first car was a chain driven four-cylinder and only 200 were made. He was able to expand his company producing aircraft and artillery during WW II and afterwards decided to build a variety of vehicles based on his 3620 cc, 20 horsepower engine. He made cars, trucks and tractors but sales were marginal and his bank took over in 1921. The Austin "Seven" was introduced in 1922. The "Baby Austin" was built under license from Datsun and sold in the U.S. as the American Batam from 1937 to 1941. The American Austin Car Company was an independent subsidiary from 1929 to 1934.
When Herbert Austin died in 1941 Ernest Payton took over and he was replaced by Leonard Lord in 1946. Their first post-war cars were similar to previous models. In 1952 Austin merged with the Nuffield Organization to form the British Motor Corporation (BMC) and he became a senior partner. Soon after he made a deal with Donald Healey to build the famous Austin-Healey sports car.
Leonard Lord oversaw the development of the now famous "Mini", also known as the "Morris Mini Minor" and introduced it in 1959, leading the industry in front wheel drive, transverse engine, vehicles. The British Motor Company merged with Jaguar in 1966 to become British Motor Holdings (BMH), who then merged with Leyland Motors in 1968, leaving Austin a part of the huge parent group, British Leyland Motor corporation (BLMC).
The Austin Metro was introduced in 1980 and sales were good. In 1982 Austin was renamed the Austin Rover Group and badged the MG. Then came the Austin Maestro and Austin Montego. The Austin name was dropped in 1987 although the cars were still made and sold. The rights to the Austin name passed through the hands of British Aerospace and BMW before being sold to MG Rover and then Nanijing Automotive.
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