Austin A110/120 - 125/135

Austin A110 Sherline

Austin A125 Sheerline

Design of the Sheerline began in 1942, Leonard Lord wanted a traditional British look, the vehicle was amined at giving a luxurious car in the vogue of a Rolls-Royce or Bentley with 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.

Wooden Mock-Up

This all came to fruition in 1947 when the Austin A110 Sheerline was annoounced. But only 12 were actually made when a decision was made to increase the engine size from 3460 cc to 3993 The model which was produced at Longbridge remained in production till 1954. It could also be purchased in chassis form as a Hearse or Ambulance. The year before 1946 Vanden Plas a coach building company who were based in Kingsbury London had been bought by the Austin Motor Company. So when the Sheerline was launched as a A125 the Vandan Plas version was called the Austin A135 Princess Mk I using the same chassis and running gear as the Sheerline it had a streamline body with the headlamps blending into the wings.

Model (A110)
Date when launched 1947
Total produced 12

3,460cc Power RAC rating 26.9hp.
Length 15ft 11.5ins Width 6ft 1ins Height 5ft 7ins
Wheelbase 9ft 11.3ins Track front 4ft 10ins rear 5ft 0ins
Price ex Works Aug 1947 £1277

Austin A125 Ambulance

Model A125 Sheerline

Date when launched 1947 Discontinued in 1954

Total produced 11,605 including chassis for use with other bodies
Engine 3995cc 130bhp at 3,700 rpm Max torque 150 lbs/ft at 2,000 rpm
Length 15ft 11.5ins Width 6ft 1ins Height 5ft 7ins
Wheelbase 9ft 11.3ins Track front 4ft 10ins rear 5ft 0ins

Price ex Works September 1948 £1277 Suitcases £21

Colours in 1948 for A125 & A135 . . Metallic Grey with Grey upholstery.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Portland Grey with Beige upholstery.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Black with Beige upholstery.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Or to Order

In 1950 the Austin A135 Princess Mk II was announced and was available as a saloon on the normal chassis with a limousine on a long wheelbase chassis. The Mk III version arrived in 1953 and had a more flowing radiator grill.

Sheerline in Olympia, Washington, USA

1952 Austin Sheerline New Zealand

Sheerline Replacement

Leonard Lord decided that in early 1950s Austin should look at a replacement for the Sheerline. So to try and keep the cost down as you can see it used the doors from the Somerset-Hereford, along with other components. I'm sure that if this replacement had been given the go ahead, sales of the Sheerline would have dried up.

Vanden Plas were ask to design an all new body to replace the ageing Sheerline using the long wheelbase chassis. It was unveiled at the Earls Court motor show later that year, and became known as the Austin Princess 4-Litre. In 1956 the Mk IV was announced, but in August 1957 the Austin name was dropped and it became known as the Princess 4-Litre. Not long after it was once again renamed the Vanden Plas 4-litre which continued in production until 1959.


A135 Princess MkIII

Model A135 Princess MkII, MkIII, MkIV versions

Date when launched 1950 Discontinued in 1959

Total produced MkII 760 MkIII 350 MkIV 200 SWB

Total production for all versions of the Princess including Chassis only was 3,515

Engine 3995 cc 130bhp at 3,700rpm Max torque 212lbs/ft at 2,200 rpm

Length 16ft 4.5ins Width 6ft 2.5ins Height 5ft 6ins
Wheelbase 9ft 11.3ins Track front 4ft 10ins rear 5ft 0 ins

Price ex Works
Nov 1953 Mk III £2,183
Feb 1957 MkIV LWB Saloon £3,376

Austin 135 Princess long-wheelbase Limo

Princess MkIV 4-litre LWB

Date when launched 1952 Discontinued in 1968

Total produced see above on SWB

Engine 3995 cc 120 bhp at 4,000 rpm Max torque 185 lbs/ft at 2,000 rpm

Length 17ft 11ins Width 6ft 2.5ins Height 5ft 10ins
Wheelbase 11ft 0ins Track front 4ft 10.5ins rear 5ft 2.5ins

Touring Limousine Auto gearbox
Price ex Works Feb 1957 £3,541incl £1181 Purchase Tax

Princess Mk IV

Austin Sheerline Road Test August 1949

Few of the new cars tested since the war have been more typically British in appearance and Performance than the Austin Sheerline. This is all the more interesting because in engine size and general dimensions it approximates to the average American car and yet it retains the handling qualities long associated with cars made in 'this country.

The big Austin conveys an impression of solidity and strength. The steering, although light and by no means high geared, is firm and accurate, and the springing absorbs road shocks without permitting the heavy saloon to sway or pitch. The brakes are strong and smooth and are light to operate at all speeds. These attributes, coupled with exceptional top-gear acceleration up to a comfortable cruising speed of 65 mph. where conditions allow, enable long journeys to be accomplished quickly and safely. The car will reach 80 mph. but as the maximum speed is approached the 4-litre, 6-cylinder engine loses some of its smoothness.

Upholstery and furnishings are of high quality. This is all the more remarkable when the moderate basic price is considered. The double purchase tax unhappily puts it into a much higher price range. An admirable luxury car could only be criticized for the stiffness of the steering column gear lever when changing from second to third gear.