As part of their plan to produce a car to match the demands of every sector of the UK population, Austin also developed a range of luxury cars designed to target the upper echelons of society.
One of these cars was the Austin Sheerline which, in actual fact, was in its design and development stages during the Second World War, although production did not get under way till after hostilities ceased, with the first Sheerlines rolling off the production lines at Loughborough in 1947, because of the national commitment to war production.
Austin didn’t stretch their design imagination too far, giving the Sheerline a traditional British look, with a vertical grille, large and impressive headlights, distinctive knife-edge styling with separate but flowing wings and traditionally mounted side lights. The interior also needed to give a feel of opulence with walnut veneer, leather upholstery and luxury carpets.
In 1946, the year before Austin launched the Sheerline and the Princess, the company acquired Vanden Plas an esteemed coachbuilding company, based in Kingsbury London had been bought by the Austin Motor Company.
When the Sheerline was launched the following year, Austin also launched an A125 the Vanden Plas version, the Austin A135 Princess Mark One using the same chassis and running gear as the Sheerline.
The Princess Mark One had a more streamlined body than the Sheerline with headlamps that blended into the wings.
The Sheerline was a luxurious car which Austin designed and produced to compete with acknowledged market leaders, Rolls-Royce and Bentley. Not far behind in engineering style, design and finish Austin could market the Sheerline and its sister car at a much lower price, around two-thirds of what a Rolls or Bentley of the Fifties would cost.
Instead, the Sheerline found its niche in the business sector, transporting executives to and from meetings, civil figures in the public sector or even members of the public to weddings and funerals.
The truth was that although the Austin Sheerline might have looked the part, it lacked the class and style of the equivalent Rolls-Royce or Bentley.
The Austin Sheerline was produced by Austin in the United Kingdom from 1947 to 1954, with around 8,000 coming off the production line during that time.
Austin's attempts to capture the luxury car market was then limited to the A135 Austin Princess.