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June 8th 2013

Mrs. Ogilvy’s Austin 10

Austin 10

Austin 10

Through Don Walker we get this from Robert Barrell:

I am the owner of a 1936 Austin 10 Sherbourne. This left hand drive, made for Canada and sold in Quebec, car is in original condition; paint and interior are original and it has 32,000 original miles. It has been storage for the past 20 years and has a unique story and history.

Before the second world war, in the early and middle thirties, the importer of Austin was a well-known Canadian icon, James A. Ogilvy, the owner of Ogilvy's department store in Montreal.

My Grandfather, William Barrell, came to Canada in 1912 and my father, Leslie Barrell, was born that same year as a new Canadian. My Grandfather became a well-known blacksmith in Montreal served and looked after the horses of Elmhurst Dairy and POM Bakery. As a young boy going to school and growing up my father's job at the Blacksmith shop after school was to deliver the horses back to the clients of the shop.

As the demise of the horse and buggy was in sight and with the new mode of transportation, the automobile, on the horizon my Grandfather insisted that my father forget about the horse business and become a mechanic and machinist, which he did. One day, while riding his motorcycle to work, a CPR (Canadian Pacific Railway) truck went through a stop sign and ran into my father. The injuries to his leg were extensive and his leg had to be amputated. A settlement was offered, a job for life at the CPR or $12,000, my Grandfather told him to take the money.

After about a year of recovery and learning to walk with an artificial leg my dad was on the job hunt as a mechanic. After applying at a few places, with no luck, he saw an advertisement, went to the address and was informed that the job had already been taken. But they needed a mechanic upstairs. My Dad went upstairs and the man he met and was hired by was Mr. Olgilvy. Mr. Olgilvy had Baby Austin Sevens in the department store windows with mannequins sitting in them. A fleet of Austin Ten vans were used to deliver department store parcels. The job was to maintain these vans overnight. In time my father became the shop foreman and Mr. Ogilvy’s right hand man at the shop.

When rumours of the war surfaced and the reality of war became apparent Mr. Ogilvy told my father he was giving up importing the Austin, "We will never get parts, how will I keep the cars going." etc.etc. My Dad saw an opportunity and asked Mr. Ogilvy to sell the import business to him. Mr. Ogilvy agreed to $18,000 for the whole works. My father had the $12,000 from the accident and made an agreement with Mr. Ogilvy to repay the balance over three years. During the war, by father being a mechanic and machinist, all the cars were kept operating. This was the beginning of Austin Sales and Service, with the first location being on Mountain Street just before Dorchester.

After the war Austin Sales and Service became the distributor of Austin products for Quebec, the Ottawa valley and the Maritimes.



Canada being a commonwealth country, the only imported cars were British. Business boomed with Cooke Toledo Motors on St Catherine Street selling Morris and MG, while Austin Sales and Service was selling Austin, Austin Healey, and Austin commercial vehicles.

My father’s Dealer Network grew to around forty dealers and in 1947 he built a brand new retail dealership a four story building on the right hand side going up the Atwater Hill which in the sixties was torn down to make room for the overhead expressway to downtown Montreal.

At the cost of $347,000 it was a major investment at that time, business grew to annual sales of 3500 cars in the early fifties with 52 mechanics and 105 employees and a net profit of $250,000 per year which enabled him to pay off the building in three years.

Business was too good, the Austin Motor Company wanted to buy him out and squeezed him into saying yes. They began the dirty tricks of big business by not supplying him with enough vehicles. In 1960 my father regretfully sold the business to the Austin Motor Company and kept the building with a long term lease to the Austin Motor Company at $6,500 per month and at 50 years old life was still good but not for long.

Squeezed again in 1962, he received an expropriation notice from the provincial government, At that time once notice was given rent went to the government until the acceptance of the offer. A ploy to make you accept the offer. The good life suddenly came crashing down.

The government's settlement offer was less than the cost in 1947 and after a ten year battle with lawyers at great cost he walked away with less than $200,000.

My father ended up going back to work for Triumph. I became a Triumph, Rover, Land Rover, Hillman, Humber dealer in 1966.

This vehicle, above, Mrs. Ogilvy’s Austin 10 was traded in at Austin Sales and Service in 1950 for an A50. My Father brought the car home and put it in storage at that time driving it only on a few occasions.

Thank you for your time, consideration and listening to my Austin story.

Sincerely

Robert Barrell

This Austin 10 Sherbourne, and an Austin Predator Pedal race car, is for sale. More info is on our Facebook site and on our Yahoo Groups site.



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David E. Wood
bsccocwebguy@hotmail.com
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