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John Vevers

Working class Austin’s upper class contender

Once you have driven one of these cars, which Rolls-Royce seriously considered as the basis for a new model, it’s hard to fathom why they weren’t more popular. From the safety of what was a more egalitarian New Zealand at the time, it’s tempting to think that, despite Austin having made substantial vehicles before, including 1927’s 3.4-litre Austin Twenty and the Westminsters of the late ’50s, it had hit a glass ceiling. Its success with small and cheap cars — even though, like both the Mini and the Maxi, they were often innovative — had redefined the brand. Not to put too fine a point on it, snobbery has always been a feature of many car markets, and buyers of upmarket cars inevitably preferred a Rover, Triumph, Jaguar, or Mercedes badge on their bonnets.