Austin Seven ownership has led to many adventures and journeys for so many people. Read some of their stories!
The Dunford family
As children, my sister and I travelled all around Europe each summer in the back of my parents 1929 Austin Seven, to us it was normal and when I had children myself I was keen for them to experience the delights of open top vintage motoring.
When our eldest daughter was born we adapted the rear of our Chummy to take a car seat and took her from our Glasgow home to Cornwall for the local Club’s 10th anniversary rally. It took us four days to navigate the minor roads down and five to come back. On this trip I used the trailer my father built to tow behind his Chummy when I was a boy, it carried all of our camping equipment plus the paraphernalia related to a new born child.
A few years later we were shocked to learn that twins were on the way and I wondered if I would be able to fit three children into the back of a Seven. An intensive rebuild of the Family Pearl ensued and, with some ingenuity, I was able to fit three car seats into it and construct a lightweight trailer to carry our camping luggage. This car took us on our first five-week Continental tour to Switzerland and back.
Last summer it became clear that three growing daughters would not fit in the back of a 1928 Chummy forever and we undertook an amazing adventure trip from the north of Spain, up over the Pyrenees and back home through France in it. The trailer was further lightened and we invested in some specialist camping equipment to ensure everything fitted in.
I doubt that we shall all be able to travel in the Chummy again but the Pearl and then perhaps our Austin Twelve will offer some family holidays yet.
Ever heard the expression “that’s not original mate!”? I have and the answer is always the same. Yes it is, that’s an original Gosling shed part. People buy Austin 7s for different reasons, the ultimate show car, the fastest racer, the best mud plugger or a family run around. Ours is all of the above and much more. Pre Austin ownership, the closest I had come to car maintenance was sitting in the garage having a cup of tea whilst somebody else changed the oil in my van. This all changed the day I met my wife. ˜You don’t work on your own cars? she said with a puzzled look on her face. This came from a girl that had only known her dad to work on a multitude of old cars including the inevitable Austin 7. Austin ownership for us came in the form of a 1937 Ruby chassis. Like all people with a young family the car was built up over the course of several years when funds and crying babies would allow. You really can say that our two boys have been involved with the car since day one sitting in the corner of the shed watching dad learn about all the intricacies of the Austin 7. Since completion Austin ownership has been more than just building a car. The fact that we trial it, first with two very enthusiastic supporters watching mum and dad struggle up the hills. Progressing through son number one first pushing mum out of the passenger seat, then eventually pushing dad out of the driver’s seat. Not bad going considering he is still only sixteen, and now number two son has started in the passenger seat who knows what will lay ahead?
I have grown up around Austin 7s. They have always been in my life starting with my grandad having one and then dad started getting an urge to get one and he eventually did. This however, did not last long as he blew the engine up in the first year of him having it! This lead to him re-building it and me learning how to do certain things that I never knew before, starting with the basics like where the engine was. Since then dad and I have taken the Austin 7 everywhere and done lots of different things in it. For example, we have taken it to Beaulieu motor museum for the last 4 years and have camped overnight; we have also taken it all over the country trialling and meeting new people. I have been steering Austin 7s since the age of 3 or 4 years old and started driving them on my own by the time I was 8 and ever since then it has not all been about speed and doing wheel spins but actually having full control over the car and feeling comfortable in the knowledge that I could actually fix it one day if it went wrong. And with that I hope that someday in the future I will hopefully have my very own Austin 7.
Last word from Dad:
Like all great things, we are only the custodian of these great little cars and they deserve to be driven and shared with all.
They say that life is an adventure and the Austin 7 is a great place to start.
Guy Butcher and Eunice Kratky
The bespk (Bringing Extra to Special Kids) drive was a charity event which saw Guy and Eunice take a 1928 Austin Seven Chummy and cover a staggering 22,000 miles from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego over 9 months. Over such a great distance some mechanical issues were to be expected; they broke a total of 30 spokes, a wheel bearing broke up as they climbed into Alaska, and the crankshaft timing gear broke two teeth. Over £10,000 has been raised as a result of this journey.
My dad had his first Austin 7 when he was 17 and so I have been privileged to grow up with these fantastic cars. I now have 2 of my own, both open tourers, one of which I have had since I was 22, and I am on the Bristol Austin Seven Club Committee supporting my local club to continue supporting the Austin 7. A big part of the club is the social aspect incorporating the use of all Austin 7s. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you are, there is always someone to talk to, help with technical advice or just to hold a spanner! The club itself also provides a link of communication to other clubs and what they are getting up to. There are many events, driving or static, you can go to. I prefer to be driving around the country over a static rally but there is something for everyone to enjoy.
My most accomplished drives so far have been to complete the John O’Groats to Land’s End trip with my Dad in 21 hours in 2012 and to drive back from Yorkshire to the South West on my own with no backup, I was fortunate enough not to have any mechanical failures. I have been lucky enough to have someone to show me the mechanical side of the car so am quite happy tinkering away in the garage to make sure the cars are ready for the open road. I have even rebuilt an engine; yes I get those unfortunate breakdowns as well but it all adds to the experience. The world of pre and post-war motoring is getting older. The Austin 7 community needs younger people to continue enjoying these cars that have survived the years and keep them on our roads long into the future.
With thanks to Louise Randall, Vice Chair Bristol Austin 7 Club, May 2017
“There are many ways to spend a weekend, but there is nothing quite like screaming up a hill at 7500rpm+ in a car from the 1920s!”
My car was built between 2009 and 2014 from a rolling chassis found in the back of a shed in NW Wales. It weighs 325kg and the engine is 48bhp naturally aspirated, so its power to weight ratio is pretty impressive. Going fast in an Austin Seven is so much more exciting than going faster in bigger more modern cars. Britain has an amazing series of hill climbs and sprint courses, and it’s been great fun getting involved trying them all out over the last couple of years. Some courses are twisty, some narrow, some steep, some in woodland, some in parkland, some flat, and some even start downhill.
The Bert Hadley is one of the many events run by the Pre-war Austin 7 Club, which currently has a membership of over 1,000 across 13 countries. The championship is run over 12 rounds of sprints and hill climbs at various locations around the country. The Sevens run in two classes, Road and Track.
The Championship is open to any Austin 7 1922-39 whether it is production or a special and as long as it incorporates main Austin 7 parts – engine/gearbox/rear axle chassis and rear springs and looks ‘in period’.
My car, which competes in the Track class, is a 1931 single seat race special semi replica of the works racer, which I finished building in 2000. I have competed in the Bert Hadley every year since, and in 2011 I entered eight events and won all of them. I also set four new class records.
The car has been continuously developed over the last twelve years to stay in front of the competition, the engine now producing 50bhp at 5500rpm. This equates to a quarter mile sprint time of 17.08 secs and top speed of over 80 mph.
Dave Williams is one of the country’s most experienced and appreciated Austin Seven engineers. He has been responsible for the maintenance and restoration of hundreds of Austin Sevens over his lifetime and is happy to share his thoughts on the success of the Seven, “The development of the Seven was one of adaption over time with everything really being sorted out by the late 1920s after which bodies became a little heavier and perhaps less suitable for the mechanics. My first involvement with the Austin Seven began almost fifty years ago in London and it has remained the mainstay of my professional and personal life. I often wonder why I did not start earlier! Of the many memories I have, stitching the side screens on a not quite completed re-build whilst waiting for a ferry for a 2,000 mile drive to Monte Carlo is still up there. I believe the continued interest in the Seven may be put down to the fact it can be readily worked on by anyone with the readily available support of engineers, restorers and suppliers. Alternatively perhaps it is because Austin Seven ownership is a bit like having a puppy that everyone admires and appreciates but always needs to be cared for. This is further supported by the very reasonable costs involved as an entry into the Vintage car world with such a great vehicle that can be used for such a wide range of activities and competitions.”
With thanks to Dave Williams of the Austineers, Bradford on Avon, May 2017