After 43 years in a barn, 12/4 proves Austin really is ‘Britain’s dependable car’

After 43 years in a barn, 12/4 proves Austin really is ‘Britain’s dependable car’

An Austin Light 12/4, which was owned from new by the same family for 90 years, is working once again despite having spent the last 43 years stored in an overgrown timber garage. Purchased new on 22nd July 1931 by Fred Woodhall, the Austin 12/4 travelled many thousands of miles in the UK as well as throughout Europe. In 1961 the car was passed first to the original owner’s son and then to his great grandson, Charles Clarkson, who has now donated it to the Great British Car Journey in Derbyshire. Despite being forgotten about for more than 40 years, the engine started with only minor attention and the electrics worked. Additionally, the car’s brakes work, it pulls strongly in all gears, the dynamo charges, the radiator still holds water and all major functions are fine – living up to Austin's claim in the 1930s that their car was ‘Britain’s Dependable Car.’


Richard Usher, Chief Executive of Great British Car Journey, said: 'I was absolutely flabbergasted when the car started, given the storage conditions. The garage was so overgrown with ivy we couldn’t open the doors, so had to physically remove them in order to get at the car. Once we got the car out and lifted the bonnet, it looked like the engine had completely seized.'

The car retains all its original features and is in remarkable condition given its years of neglect. Now on display at the classic car visitor attraction, there are no plans to restore the Austin 12/4. As Richard explained: 'We’ve given it a clean and a polish, but that’s it. Great British Car Journey is all about preserving the history of vehicles, and part of that is showing how they’ve been used and the life they have led. The fact this car has survived being driven many thousands of miles and is driveable after more than 40 years off the road is testimony to Austin’s build quality and Britain’s motoring heritage. I am delighted that we have been able to add this remarkable example to the Great British Car Journey collection.'

Great British Car Journey is located at Derwent Works, Ambergate, Derbyshire DE56 2HE. The Drive Dad’s Car feature allows visitors to take a test drive with an instructor in a selection of over 30 iconic British cars from the Austin Seven to a Rolls Royce Silver Spirit, while the GBCJ museum itself takes visitors through a nine-stage story of the rise and demise of the British motor industry using a unique interactive device which has been created by event technology specialists, Imagineear. Find out more about what's on offer at www. It is also worth noting that in 2021, Great British Car Journey launched the Great British Car Club, a club for all classic enthusiasts. As well as unlimited access to the Great British Car Journey, membership offers a wide range of benefits including discounts and regular member events. You can discover more on this at www.

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