Austin 12/4 two-seat drophead coupe, with dickey seat.
Jolly japes a-plenty going on in this post-war photograph of a late 1920's Austin Twelve-Four drophead coupe (with dickey). Jim from the Vintage Austin Register suggests a build date of 1927 or 1928 for this particular car, and thinks the coachwork may be by Mulliner, rather than being an in-house creation from the Longbridge works (thanks Jim). The old girl certainly looks quite tired, not helped by the eleven chaps piled upon her, compressing the rear springs like never before I imagine.
Two people are sat inside the car, while two are in the rear dickey seat area. Another duo are stood on the rear bumpers, while the nearside running board supports a few more. The scuttle ahead of the windscreen offers seating for one, while a chap demonstrating a fine tank-top beneath his jacket - and clutching a baseball bat - has decided that the top of the radiator (sans mascot I trust) makes for a perfect seat. Poor old Austin, the days of glistening in a showroom, perhaps surrounded by other shiny 12/4s and a smattering of new Austin 7s, must feel like a long time ago.
(Please click the thumbnail to view a full-size version of the Austin photograph.)
The Austin 12/4 was introduced in 1921, with two-wheel brakes initially but upgraded to anchors on all four corners in 1925. The 1,861cc engine (initially 1,661cc) produced 27 bhp, and
was rated for taxation purposes at 12.8HP (RAC). The very first cars were available as tourers only, although within months further variations were added to the range, including a coupe for 675 pounds.
The Heavy 12/4 was probably the first vintage car I ever encountered, starring as it did in Val Biro's Gumdrop children's stories, a favourite even with our little 'un today (and me also).