Practical Classics (UK)
A cover recreated and ‘Pru’, Kim’s A30, joins in this time
The cover photograph for the July 1992 issue of Practical Classics highlighted a buying guide within, that I had suggested to the magazine, covering the Austin A40 Devon, Dorset and Somerset models, plus the A70 Hampshires and Herefords. At that time I had been freelancing for the magazine for four years, producing a variety of ‘buying’ and other articles for the title. With the great help of the Austin Counties Car Club, a photograph session was arranged in Hampshire and the article, entitled ‘The County Set’, duly appeared. I have just re-read it and thankfully it still seems appropriate in most respects (apart from prices!). Fast forward 30 years, and I was contacted by Peter Ridgway, who suggested that it would be a terrific to bring together the cars used in that original feature.
Remarkably, Peter still owns the same A40 Somerset that he had brought along to the original shoot, and the other three Austins that appeared in that cover shot are still on the road. The A70 Hampshire, owned by Roger Best in 1992, is still in his hands too. The A40 Devon has changed hands twice and is now with Eddie Parsley. The A70 Hereford, owned at the time of our photo session in 1992 by Derek Goddard, has been in the hands of Colin Shales ever since acquiring it from Derek a few months later.
From various directions around the country we assembled at Blackbushe Aerodrome in Hampshire in order to record the cars being brought together once more. I took along my old faithful four-door Austin A30 saloon, ‘Pru’, as I had driven this car to the original photo shoot, also I wanted to photograph the car along with its larger Austin A40 and A70 ‘family members’.
All these ‘Austin of England’ models sharing similar design cues fine-tuned by Ricardo (‘Dick’) Burzi. Incidentally, although the styling of the A30 had close similarities with that of the A40 Somerset and the A70 Hereford, both of which had arrived before it, these two larger models still featured a separate chassis, whereas the
'It was time to get the cars back together again – 30 years later'
A30 was the first Austin to be built with fully unitary ‘chassis-less’ construction.
The 2022 photo session took place 70 years after a very significant year (1952) for Austin and the British Motor Corporation. Among other important anniversaries for the organisation, it signified the start of full production of the A30 ‘Seven’ in Britain (although the car was launched at the London Motor Show in October 1951), the introduction of the A40 Somerset, replacing the well-respected Devon, also the arrival of the Austin Champ and the Healey 100/4, plus of course the start of the British Motor Corporation (BMC) following the merger of the Austin and Morris concerns.
It is interesting that from 1952 to 1954 the A30, A40 Somerset and A70 Hereford saloons were all in production together. Respectively, the prices in June 1954 were £504 for a four door A30, £637 for a Somerset and £845 for a Hereford. The A30 continued until 1956 when replaced by the A35, whereas saloon versions of the Somerset and Hereford were discontinued in 1954, by which time the unitary construction A40/A50 Cambridge and A90 Westminster saloons had arrived.
The cars that were all at our photo sessions in 1992 and 2022 were neatly lined up and snapped again… 30 years on from the first shoot which, back in 1992 was only 40 years from the significant year, 1952.
How time flies.