An Irish Assembly of Austins?

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It seems ages ago I became intrigued by an article in Irish Vintage Scene – a publication here that covers interest in anything ’vintage’ (peculiarly in Republic of Ireland terms, any stationary engine, tractor, veteran or vintage car, commercial and now even embraces post war so-called ‘classic’ vehicles up to 1984).

This piece, written by the RIAC archivist Bob Montgomery, featured the activities of a Dublin firm LINCOLN & NOLAN LIMITED who were the importers and distributors of Austin Cars. Previously I’d only heard them mentioned as the ‘named entrant’ of  Cooke’s and Bradley’s blown TT replica Sevens in the 1930/’31 ‘Irish Grand Prix’ meetings at Phoenix Park (was this just a way of getting round the limit on ‘factory entered’ cars in these events?).

Founded late in 1923, shortly after the Austin Seven had appeared on the motoring scene, this Company, an amalgamation of a previously Buick concessionaire ’Andrew Nolan’ and ‘Robinson & Archer’of Lincoln Place, Dublin (there was never a MR Lincoln!) was appointed in 1927 to handle the franchise for the Austin Motor Company within the young Irish Free State.

No doubt they did nicely out of this as the Seven sold particularly well and, of course, larger Austins were much better value than the relatively expensive Buicks etc.  Also, the Ford Company with their plant in Cork had yet to fully establish their dominance of the Irish car market.

All went well until, in 1933, the Irish Government banned the importation of all but the the most expensive luxury cars. All others would have to be brought into this country as parts and assembled here. Lincoln & Nolan Ltd. had little alternative (and maybe were very happy to take advantage of the situation) but to set up an assembly operation and fairly quickly sent personnel to Longbridge for training as well as acquiring more extensive premises.

All this took a couple of years but by the end of May 1936 the new plant was up and running. Over the next 7 months 217 vehicles were completed. Thus Lincoln & Nolan became one of the first firms anywhere to assemble imported “CKD” – Completely-Knocked-Down – kits of ‘production’ cars. Shortly before the Second World War was declared L&N had also taken on the concession for Rover cars but the war years – in neutral Ireland ‘the emergency’- brought about the closure of the assembly plant for the duration.

This takes our Company story out of our ‘Seven’ period but they survived and ultimately went on to greater things with Austins and Rovers and worked with the Austin Competition Department to gain victories with  the  A30/A35 Teams in the ‘Circuit of Ireland events.

As always, with these things queries are left unanswered. Doubtless Austin Sevens exist in Ireland – possibly elsewhere as well, that were sold by Lincoln & Nolan between 1927 and 1939 BUT – can they be identified? Did L&N Sevens have a ‘suppliers plate’ or transfer attached? More interestingly, although necessarily limited to ARR (Mark 2) Rubies and Big Sevens, can CKD assembled ‘our type’ cars by Lincoln & Nolan be identified?

Austin Factory records for this period apparently no longer exist and I’ve drawn a blank with the A7 Clubs’ Association Archivist, the Irish National Records Dept in Dublin and The Royal Irish Automobile Club so – “over to you” Austin Historians – can you help or advise on this and provide us with any more details?

Ian Clayton

Cairde an Seacht bhig

Trawlebane, Bantry, County Cork, Ireland

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A one marque organisation, catering for the Austin Seven, is what makes The Irish Austin Seven Club unique. Prospective owners are always welcome to make contact with our membership who will be pleased to present and demonstrate the Seven’s special characteristics and driving experience.

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