Herbert Austin was born on the 8th November 1866 in rural England. His father was a farmer.
The young Austin went to Melbourne, Australia in 1882 with his uncle, and served an apprenticeship as an engineer at Langlands foundry. During the following eleven years to 1893, he worked for six other engineering firms. In 1893, Herbert was working for the Wolseley Sheep Shearing Company, where he soon became manager. He was asked to return to Birmingham by Frederick Wolseley to supervise a sheep shearing equipment facility, which also made bicycle components and small machine parts.
Austin was also interested in the motorcar, and, in 1895, he built his first experimental three-wheeler. Later, he convinced the board of Wolseley to set up an automobile department. Consequently, he became the general manager of Wolseley Tool and Motor Co until 1905.
In 1905 he quit Wolseley and established his own automobile company. The company produced 120 cars in 1906, and by 1914, when the firm went into public ownership capitalised at £250,000, it was employing a staff of 2,000 and had an annual output of 1,000 cars. His best known car is the small Austin 7 which was one of the first people’s cars and was produced between the two World Wars.
He died of a heart attack in Birmingham on May 23, 1941.