The Austin Automobile Company of Grand Rapids, Michigan was in business from 1903 through 1920 and was the work of James E. Austin and his son Walter S. James was a lumberman who purchased the Michigan Iron Works in 1900 as an investment. It also served as a place for his mechanically-talented son to experiment with the evolving automobile. His first car was created by December of 1902; over a dozen examples were sold the following year. These vehicles rested on a 90-inch wheelbase and powered by a large two-cylinder engine. As the years progressed, the vehicles became better and better; larger and larger. By the mid-1900s, the company offered both four- and six-cylinder models of 60 and 90 horsepower.
By 1911, the Austin vehicles could be purchased with electric lights and left-hand steering. In 1913, a two-speed axle provided two gear ratios to accommodate both city and country driving. The wheelbase had grown to 141-inches which meant the vehicles were both large and stately.
the mid-1910s, the company offered vehicles that rested on a 141-inch wheelbase and powered by a six-cylinder engine offering 66- and 77 horsepower. By 1917, a 12-cylinder engine was introduced.
After World War I, the company fell victim to the post-War depression. It is estimated that around a thousand Austin vehicles were produced by the company during its lifespan.
Model 60 This vehicle is a 1909 Austin Model 60 Touring powered by an F-head six-cylinder engine displacing 784 cubic-inches and offering 90 horsepower. The engine features fully pressurized lubrication, and it turned smoothly on seven large bearings. There is a four-speed transmission, rear-wheel mechanical drums, and a wheelbase size of 141 inches. It is the only surviving example of the Model 60. It is also the car that sat on the floor of the 1909 Chicago Auto Show.
This car was purchased by Charles Herbst from Lima, Ohio for $5,000 from Walter Austin. It was driven out of Chicago after its show appearance and to its new home in Lima, where its owner cared for the car for the next 38 years. The next owner was Barney Pollard who purchased it in 1946. Mr. Pollard used the car in the 1947 and 1953 Glidden Tours. It later became an exhibit in Frederick Crawford's automotive museum in Cleveland, Ohio, on loan from Pollard, and shown for 30 years.
In 1983, the Pollard family parted with the Austin. The third caretaker is also the present owner who retrieved the Austin from the Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum. In the 1990s or early 2000s, the car was treated to a restoration. It still has its original engine, frame, and body. Nearly everything on the vehicle is original, including the wood (with the exception of the dashboard), the wheels, and even the pistons.
The car was featured in George Ferris's history, 'Austin: 'The Highway King,'' published in the March-April 1978 issue of Antique Automobile. It was also in a cover feature of the January-March 1984 issue of The Bulb Horn.
At RM Auction's upcoming Amelia Island sale, the vehicle will have the opportunity to claim its fourth owner. The estimated value of this historically important car is listed at $500,000 - $750,000.
Information about the sale can be found here: http://www.rmauctions.com/lots/lot.cfm?lot_id=1056754Also photographed at :