Two of the more prized booklets in my collection of old motor car catalogues are those issued by the Austin Motor Co. Ltd. of Longbridge, Birmingham and by Leyland Motors Ltd. of Kingston-on-Thames, at a time when both these Industrial giants were making economy cars for the new band of motorists that had emerged after the war. Having referred to these little publicity items last month, I felt I must take another look at them.
The Austin Seven booklet is called “The Motor for the Millions”. It runs to 20 7½” x 5″ pages not counting the covers and on its front cover has a colour photograph of a lady loading her golf-bag into the space behind the front seats of a very early Chummy. The 10½ b.h.p. Austin 7 cost £165 “at works”, and workmanship and materials were described simply as “Austin quality”. There was no mention of a self-starter. Special insurance was available for £8 10/- (£8.50) a year.
That this advertising booklet was aimed at those new to the delights of motoring is obvious, for it speaks of the vastly widened interest ownership of an Austin 7 would bring, which could not be measured in terms of money — “fresh air, new scenes and an interest”. After telling of running one for one penny a mile, it was suggested that in many cases the purchase price could show a profit. Although the text of this book is divided into that directed at women drivers and commercial travellers, the bias was towards the lady motorist, seven out of ten photographs showing a girl either driving or with her Seven, the car used for most of the shots being OK 3537 although in one of them two Chummies are depicted. There is a semi-fictitious story from the Grimsby Daily Telegraph called “The Conversion Of Jinks”, praising the Seven; two pages are devoted to competition successes in races and trials, with a paragraph about being “Victor of Italian Grand Prix”, and two pages to testimonials, some from the Press, an owner writing of averages of over 23 m.p.h. from Liverpool to Birkenhead, at 52 m.p.g. This must be about the earliest piece of Austin Seven advertising — the book’s back cover shows a Chummy, hood up, driving into the night, past a drawn-in fir tree, but the artist has flooded the road with light that is clearly not coming from the scuttle-mounted headlamps! It is claimed in the business section that there were agents all over the World but only the one in Brussels is given. . . .
The Trojan booklet is called “Side Lights” and tuns to 15 slightly smaller pages. The cover carries an artist’s colour impression by Roland Turner of a solid-tyred Trojan tourer coming down a leafy lane with its headlamps on — mounted in this case on top of the front mudguards. Thirteen real photographs illustrate the inside pages and the book is sub-divided into imagined testimonials written respectively by The Doctor, The Daughter of the House, The Business Man, The Vicar, The Bachelor (who travelled, with his brother it says, the off-duty driver sleeping in the back of the Trojan “Wagon-lit”), and another section is devoted to The Family Holiday — all written, one guesses, by the same person. The Trojans photographed include PH 6829, PC 7195, DA 739 and TB 675, all solid-tyred tourers, and the car’s many virtues are expounded, like the ease of driving, no flat tyres, seat-starting, the enclosed rear lamp, washing it by leaving it out in the rain, there being no plated parts, the supple springing, etc., and the estate-owner was supposed to have saved his farm by fighting a fire with a Leyland Portable Pump towed behind his Trojan! Again, the “penny-a-mile” theme is there, and Leyland outdid Austin by listing 28 British agents, and enclosing a post-card (½p stamp) with which to apply for a trial run.
Both these publicity booklets seem to have been issued around 1922/23 and one probably inspired the other, but I wonder which appeared first? — W.B.