Eighty years of Austin heaven

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THE car may have survived a world war and has only had five owners since it was delivered in 1932 to an historic house near Scarborough, which boasts links to William Wordsworth, but – almost 80 years later – the shiny black Austin 10 is still trundling its way around North Yorkshire.

Now, the much-loved vehicle is to go on display at a family-owned motor museum.

Complete with its original paperwork, the vehicle is the latest addition to David Mathewson’s vast collection of classic motors.

Mr Mathewson’s family has been in the classic car business for almost 40 years, with 22 years spent trading at the DT Mathewson garage at Thornton-le-Dale. The family currently owns about 200 cars.

He said: “We are the fifth set of Yorkshire owners since 1932. There’s a lot of history with it including a letter that says the car was taken off the road for around two years during World War Two due to fuel shortages.

“Other than that it has been regularly chugging around North Yorkshire’s roads for almost 80 years which is quite an achievement.

“It has still got the original VN registration plate, which was the number issued in this area.

“The late Lord Downes, from Wykeham Abbey, who was very interested in classic cars, owned a lot of cars with VN plates.”

Documents reveal the car was delivered new on September 25, 1932 to Evelyn Elizabeth Catherine Maxwell at Gallows Hill, Brompton. The building was once home to the Wordsworth Gallery until it closed in 2002 following the owners’ retirement – just months before the village celebrated the bicentenary of the poet’s wedding at the parish church.

“For a lady to take delivery for a new car in the 1930s was highly unusual as it was very much a male thing, even up until the 1950s and 1960s,” said Mr Mathewson.

Mrs Maxwell kept the car for several years until it passed into the hands of the Herbert family, firstly to the father Robert and then onto the son James. The Herbert family lived in Harley Street, Scarborough.

Owned by just a handful of people, the car stayed in the area until moving on to Leeds in January 1973, when the Austin was purchased by Kenneth Elliott. The car then remained in his ownership until it was bought by the Mathewson family.

Mr Mathewson said: “The car is going into our museum in Thornton-le-Dale so it’s come home almost really, obviously with Brompton only being a handful of miles down the road. We will use it like we do our other cars and it will be out and about around the villages.

“We have put it away in the museum over winter because they don’t like the salt on the roads as it really does eat away at them, however it will be back on the road in spring.

“It’s pretty unusual that it is still on the road. There are a number of 1920s and 1930s cars still chugging around but compared to the number that were manufactured, there are only a fraction remaining.

“They are really nice little motors. It can keep up very well with modern day traffic and can do up to 50mph, which is all you can do on the roads around here anyway.

“It embodies everybody’s idea of a classic car with its big wings, headlamps and running boards, so they are fairly iconic.”

The Austin is fast emerging as one of the most enduring makes of cars in British motoring history,

In September the Yorkshire Post revealed how Whitby pensioner Pete Thomson had been reunited with his 1934 Austin 10 after discovering it was being housed in a garage just over 20 miles away,

Mr Thomson said: “Herbert Austin’s ideas were fairly futuristic in their day and Austin and Morris were in competition like Vauxhall and Ford were for years. In my opinion Austin always seemed to be regarded as making the better car and they do seem to have stood the test of time very well. They are very much a collectors piece, all the way down to the little Austin 7.”