Although introduced in 1939, production of the Austin Eight was barely under way when it was halted by the outbreak of World War II. The Austin Eight was the first Austin product which benefitted greatly from the production expertise of Leonard Lord. Lord had been appointed from rival Morris by Lord Austin and he immediately set to work to revolutionise production methods at the Longbridge plant. The Austin Eight was his attempt to challenge the market-leading Morris Eight.
The Austin 8 was the first of the range of Dick Burzi-designed Austins that introduced what were commonly known as alligator bonnets in which the bonnet top was hinged at the rear and lifted from the front. The chrome radiator grille also utilised a new revolutionary Wilmot Breeden process of die casting in Mazak which enabled more delicate chrome embellishments to be applied to vehicles , but would cause subsequent car restorers quite a headache!
Using a part-welded monocoque-style chassis, and having a 900cc side-valve engine, derived from the ‘Big Seven’, the Eight came in two and four-door versions, as a Tourer, and also as a Van. It was the last Austin to use six-volt electrics – production ended in 1948.