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Homepage. This page: A chance to win one of the six-cylinder Austins of the early 1930s.

"An Austin a day is given away".

Something you don't see every day, an entry ticket for a competition to win an Austin Twelve Six "Harley" De-Luxe, dating to May 1932. The 12/6 was a small capacity, six cylinder saloon car, first introduced by Herbert Austin and Co. in 1931. The "Harley" was a six-light (ie 3 windows per side) all-steel saloon car, sold alongside a fabric bodied saloon, also powered by the 1.5 litre straight six engine. The "Harley" was dropped in 1935, replaced by the "Ascot" which had made its debut the previous year.
The competition was organised by Kensitas, a cigarette company. An Austin would be given away every day, until further notice, to whoever it was deemed had sent in the best entry on that day. Entrants had to say in exactly 20 words why they rated this firm's product highly.
"Every day, except Sunday, until further press notice, a £235 Austin Twelve-Six De Luxe Saloon will be awarded to the competitor from whom is received the best 20-word statement - best in the opinion of the judges, from the standpoint of truthfulness and advertising value - describing the quality and merits of Kensitas cigarettes."
Austin 12/6 Harley competition
Whereas smoking is now deemed socially unacceptable, and the obvious health risks are well known to both smoker and anyone unfortunate enough to be in the presence of a smoker, back in the 1920s and 1930s the wicked weed was a popular sight and no-one really understood the possible health risks. Mention is given though to certain benefits offered by this brand however, especially reduced irritability to the throat thanks to an "exclusive private process which includes the use of modern ultra-violet rays".
Win an Austin 12
The Austin 12/6 Harley De Luxe's specification was mentioned on the back of the ticket, and the car described as "A luxuriously modern car. Sunshine roof. Selected hide upholstery. Triplex Glass. Bumpers front and rear. Four wide doors. Four wheel brakes. Finger-light steering. 13.9 Six cylinder engine. Four speed twin-top gearbox. Five wire wheels. All exterior bright parts chromium plated. List price £235". I wonder why this ticket was never filled out, and how many of these pre-war Austins were actually given away?

2009: Updates regarding this Austin 12/6 competition.

Amazingly, a couple of people have been in touch regarding these chances to win an Austin 12/6. Firstly, Willie dropped me a line - he actually owns one of the 12/6s given away during the Kensitas promotion, and adds: "I own one of these cars which was won in 1932. It was won by a Dr Ogg of Bishopbriggs, Glasgow, and was supplied by Carlaw Cars Ltd of Glasgow. I am the car's second owner. I would be interested in any other feedback ref this competition". Amazing to think that a Doctor won one of these cars, having come up with a winning slogan advocating the benefits of smoking this brand of cigarette!!
Winner of an Austin is announced
A second nugget of information was sent over by Luuk Sikkema in The Netherlands. He stumbled across a few old sheets of newspaper from the 1930s, and on one is a mention of someone winning one of these Austins. He had a look online and found this page about the competition. He says:
"Underneath the upholstery of a seat of an organ bench, we found some interesting copies of old newspapers. In one of these, The Daily Mirror from June 14, 1932, I found a short message about the Kensitas Car-a-Day competition. On your site, you told that you didn't know how often the Car was given away. Now, it must have been at least 121 times.
On page 16, I found:
SAWYER WINS A CAR
The 121st winner of an Austin Saloon in the Kenitas Car-a-Day competition is Mr. Richard East, a foreman sawyer, of 38 West-Grove, Gipsyville, Hull."
Thanks to both Willie and Luuk for sending these snippets of information over. Are there any more Austin 12/6s out there still that were given away as prizes?
Return to the Motor Collectables section.

2010: More news on the Austin-A-Day competition in 1932.

A little while back, Jim from the Vintage Austin Register dropped me a line. He also has spent some time investigating the Kensitas Win-an-Austin promotion from 1932. He's kindly provided a scan of another similar ticket, and a photo of an Austin 12/6 similar to those offered in the competition. He penned an article for the Vintage Austin Magazine, and the following paragraphs are excerpts from it ...
Another Austin 12/6 competition ticket
All you had to do to win one of these new Austin 12/6 ‘Harley de-Luxe’ motor cars was to describe, in no more than twenty words the quality and merits of smoking Kensitas Cigarettes – then, as if to give you a guide as to what they are looking for, they added some ‘suggestions’ which are cunningly underlined on the face of the coupon, which of course you found in every packet of the said brand of Cigarettes.
The way this worked was quite simple (and presumably it would have been best to collect all the required tokens before you started.) On each tear-off piece of the entry form you inserted just two words from your 20 word statement, numbering each word accordingly, then you did the same with the next and subsequent forms until you have completed your statement on ten forms. Of course what they did not tell you that after purchasing ten packets of Kensitas and smoking 200 cigarettes you have now put your health at some potential risk, even though (it states) that over a 1,000 British doctors stated that Kensitas Cigarettes are less irritating (than what?) – and are always kind to your throat. but then we only know with hindsight that this was probably not a very sensible thing to do.
The advertising stunt, instigated by Austin’s PR Manager who made 179 Saloon cars available to J. Wix, the owners of the Kensitas name at a very cheap price delivered as required direct from the factory, however the MAA did not approve of the way in which the Austin Motor Company’s PR Manager had fixed the deal, and felt that the cars should have been sourced through their agents. By the October of 1932, the MAA eventually conceded that this method of selling was not against the interest of the dealers and agents, and peace was once again restored.
It would be most interesting to know just how many Austin 12/6’s were actually given away during the life of this competition, and whether any of them still exist today – but how would we ever find out? – Over to you!
Speaking to Norman Milne recently, who until his retirement from the Austin Motor Company, was Press & Publicity Manager, told me that the campaign was not a great success and very few Austin 12/6’s were actually given away.
I am indebted to Ken Bargh for kindly supplying the coupon, and to Ron Kentish whose 1932 Austin 12/6 appears above (Not, I trust one of the ‘winning’ cars), and of course Bob Wyatt who supplied much of the factual information. It is perhaps interesting to note that Sun Ripe Cigarettes ran a similar campaign back in the mid 1920’s when they gave away Austin Twelve-Four Motor Cars as prizes. (see Vol.5 No.6).
Thanks for allowing me to reproduce the article Jim! If any more information on the Kensitas Austin 12/6s comes to light, I'll add it in here.

Other "win a car" competitions.

The story of how a lady's father won a 1951 Humber Hawk, in a competition held at RAF Changi in Singapore, can be found here. In 1924, a draw was held in Oxford on behalf of the local hospitals. The top four prizes were all Morris motor-cars, donated by the factory. Details of The Oxford Motor Ballot are on this page.

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