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The Austin Automobile Co.
Grand Rapids, Michigan
The Austin also known as “The Highway King” was an American Automobile produced by The Austin Automobile Co. in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Produced from 1901 to 1921 the Austin had a long history. The Austin automobile and company was founded by James E. Austin and his son Walter Austin. Only about 1,000 units were made.
Austin automobiles were considerably larger than most other makes in the early 1900s. A good example was the side entrance Tonneau 1905 Austin shown below. It’s wheel base was 116 inches and weighed 3,300 pounds. It took a 60 horsepower engine just to move the Austin forward.
1905 Austin Side Entrance Tonneau
By 1911, the Austin continued making large American Automobiles. The 1911 model line up included there models of different horsepower, wheel base, seating and price.
- Model 45 – five passenger 126 inch wheel base, priced at $3,000.00 with a 45 horsepower six cylinder engine and a seven passenger 132 inch wheel base, priced at $3,250.00 with a 60 horsepower six cylinder engine.
- Model 50 – five passenger 135 inch wheel base, priced at $3,750.00 with a 50 horsepower six cylinder engine and a seven passenger 135 inch wheel base, priced at $3,850.00 with a 75 horsepower six cylinder engine.
- Model 60 – five passenger 141 inch wheel base, priced at $5,750.00 with a 60 horsepower six cylinder engine and a seven passenger 147 inch wheel base, priced at $6,000.00 with a 90 horsepower six cylinder engine.
The 1912 Austin “77” was equipped with six cylinder 77 horsepower engines that had a 7 inch stroke and was started by air pressure. Transmission was the selective type with four speeds forward and reverse. A Leece-Neville generator furnished 20 amps at moderate speed for head lights, side lights, tail lights. A reliable Edison Storage Battery was used. This model 77 sold for $6,000. Additional models built in 1912 included a Model 45 priced at $3,600.00 and a Model 50 priced at $4,400.00.
The Austin automobiles were available in 1913 with very little change except for their new two speed axles. This axle provided two different ratios both on direct drive and in combination with a three speed transmission gives six speeds forward and two reverse.
After 1915, the company tried to market smaller, cheaper automobiles. In the 1916 Austin advertisement included a Model 48-66 priced at $3,600.00 and Model 36-66 priced at $2,800.00. However, in 1917 a 12 cylinder engine was offered until production operations ceased in 1921.