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Why I Love the Austin 7

Updated on May 21, 2020
Pat Davis profile image

I have always had a love of machinery: wheels connecting to rods, pulleys connected to shafts, engines connected to wheels.

A Little Prestige

My brother Bob was very proud of his 1927 Austin Seven. He was very much intent of creating some prestige to bestow on his little car.

The reason for this was quite straightforward. Comments like "Why are you driving around in a gutless, pathetic, cardboard box on wheels," and comments even worse than that were becoming commonplace.

Agreed the 'Seven' was not unlike a motorised box on bicycle wheels. Riding in the Austin Seven felt akin to riding an old, wobbly trolley-cart.

The Austin did not feel as if they had any suspension. When I was a passenger, the overpowering sensation was feeling my body shake. The engine and road vibrations were horrific compared with modern vehicles. These grindings were severely felt through what I recall seemed like canvas seats.

I was about fifteen years old when Bob and his Girlfriend Mary (later Wife) Took me for a drive in their little car.

I do not recall where we went, but I do remember a trip to Mudeford near Christchurch in England, and I always associate the two memories as one.

Bob decided A speeding ticket was the sort of prestige a little Austin 7 Could achieve, and be proud of.

As luck would have it one afternoon on remote Dorset road, he noticed a police car lurking at the bottom of a downhill stretch of road. The Police car was partially hidden by an Oak tree at the bottom of the hill, Cunningly awaiting an unsuspecting speedster, this was all the temptation bob required.

It was quite exciting doing a U-Turn at the top of the hill and then accelerating wildly back down the mountain. The tiny car quickly gathered momentum. Racing crazily at a breakneck speed the seven screamed past the waiting Police car. Bob waved frantically at the lawman at the same time peep-peeping wildly on the horn button. He seemed to be suffering some form of Schizophrenic wildness. It was the wildest attempt at getting some attention.

The policeman merely lifted his arm, Waved, shouted.

"Good Morning"

The Nissan company of Japan informally used the Austin 7 as the basis for their initial car design.

-------------- Boys Toys & Girls Toys ------------

       This photo was taken By Pat (Tubby) Davis at the            OZ 2000 International rally In Brisbane 2000 Entrant number 14  and it was driven by Christine Stevens
This photo was taken By Pat (Tubby) Davis at the OZ 2000 International rally In Brisbane 2000 Entrant number 14 and it was driven by Christine Stevens

------------Austin Seven’s racing history----------

The Austin Seven’s racing history has been a storied one as well. The cars were designed with a power-to-weight ratio formulated to maximize speed. Weighing less than 6-1/2 CWT and furnishing approximately 24 BHP, the Sevens earned a very respectable place in the annals of auto racing.

1929 Austin Seven Chummy

Entry number 14   Greg and Christine Stevens                  AUS 2000 Rally  photo by Pat (tubby) Davis
Entry number 14 Greg and Christine Stevens AUS 2000 Rally photo by Pat (tubby) Davis

BMWs First Model – The Dixie – Was Actually an Austin Seven Built Under License

Herbert Austin’s namesake Motor Car Company which had been established before World War I found itself in financial difficulties during the early postwar period. The saviour of the company was the Austin Seven which came about from a collaboration between the company’s founder, Herbert Austin, and an innovative young designer in the employ of Austin named Stanley Edge.

The idea of the project was to design a small, reliable and economical car to compete with the cyclecar and motorcycle combinations popular at the time.

The Austin would offer greater comfort and superior roadability as well as the low cost to purchase and operate.

The prototypes were completed and on the road in 1922, and the little cars were produced in consecutive years after that until 1939, in July of 1935. Austin debuted a Seven Model AAL type open road tourer. Multiple sports models were produced featuring a wide variety of body styles. Sevens were not known for speed, yet the sports models looked the part and were raced extensively after some upgrading of the engines.

The Austin Seven design was well thought of by competitors. For example, BMWs first model – the Dixie – was an Austin Seven built under license. The Seven which was built for the United States auto market eventually developed into the first Jeep and the Land Rover design, in turn, was based on the Jeep.

                              AUSTIN SEVEN     Also from the OZ 2000 Brisbane Vintage Auto club Rally                         Driven by Cam McCulloch                         Navigator Judy McCulloch                    Photo taken by Pat (Tubby) Davis
AUSTIN SEVEN Also from the OZ 2000 Brisbane Vintage Auto club Rally Driven by Cam McCulloch Navigator Judy McCulloch Photo taken by Pat (Tubby) Davis

Austin Sevens Were Great Competition Vehicles

Austin sevens were great competition vehicles and Austin supported many factory-sponsored specials for many events. The results were great and would seem to be well out of proportion for a little car that in its basic form, was comfortable at not a lot more than 35 miles per hour. But the enthusiasm to race these small cars to the limit was huge. Austin Sevens were fun and affordable,

With the host of sporting victories and records, it was not hard for owners to associate with the sevens success. Little Austins were regularly seen hurtling along narrow and slippery country roads with reckless abandon with drivers at the wheel with hat and goggles in racing mode, at speeds more than 30 miles, an hour.

Country police were mostly limited to pedal power, and there are many stories that can be heard by older folk. The time an Austin Seven came hurtling out of the blue when a Farmer was moving his cattle or sheep from one location to another when the road was covered in wet leaves, and manure and the driver had lost control as he saw the animals a bit late as the seven was coming around the corner at ‘breakneck ‘speeds,

Enthusiast still race these Austin Sevens cars today!

1938 Austin Big Seven Fitted with Milano Fiberglass body

.................................Entrant number 14, Driver Christine Steven’s......................

   These photos was taken By Pat (Tubby) Davis at the            OZ 2000 International rally In Brisbane 2000
These photos was taken By Pat (Tubby) Davis at the OZ 2000 International rally In Brisbane 2000
1938 Austin Big Seven (fitted with Milano Fiberglass body)  Entrant number 14, Driver Christine Steven’s
1938 Austin Big Seven (fitted with Milano Fiberglass body) Entrant number 14, Driver Christine Steven’s

Size Was Not Considered a Disadvantage,

The Austin Seven proved to be extremely popular in Europe, Its tiny size was not considered a disadvantage, it was affordable, and 40 miles per gallon economy made it a car that was available to more and more owners.

Different configurations were continually being created. Doctors were using them to do home visits. It was not unusual to see a ‘Seven’ parked in the middle of a country field while the local vet attended farmers sick animals.

It was a very light vehicle, and with large wheels, The car was well suited for negotiating even a ploughed field, it sailed through fords, and river crossings and this talent did not go unnoticed.

In 19321 a Supercharged seven set a class H record of 102 miles per hour, and Austin sevens took first place in around over 200 hill climb, touring, and other races. America might later sneer at small vehicles. But this car made the baby car an acceptable format for Europe.

Greg and ChristineStevens had multiple entries at this rally

1938 Austin big seven (fitted with Milano fibreglass body.)

1935 Austin Seven Sports. and a 1927 Indian motorcycle

1929 Austin Seven Chummy

 Chummy Entrant number 11 Driver – Peter Longden                  Navigator Tanya Longden Owners – Trevor & Bev McCulloch
Chummy Entrant number 11 Driver – Peter Longden Navigator Tanya Longden Owners – Trevor & Bev McCulloch

...............1929 Austin Seven Sports .................

The bot tail was very popular
The bot tail was very popular
Aluminium, Looks good unpainted.
Aluminium, Looks good unpainted.
Uncomplicated dash board and steering wheel
Uncomplicated dash board and steering wheel

The “Chummy” Retains its Popularity to this Day!

Initially, some thought the Austin Sevens were odd-looking and would not prove successful. But despite this, Sir Henry was sure he had a winner, and he was right!

Despite a slow start, sales soon began to pick up and the “Chummy”, as the car was quickly called, grew in popularity. Two years later, the Austin Seven sported a larger engine and the addition of an electric starter.

By 1926, Austin Motors was producing over 14,000 Austin Sevens each year. The project had become a success story for the company.

Popular with families, the Austin Seven incorporated significant car characteristics in a small design. The auto could reach speeds up to 50 miles per hour. The front-engine, rear-drive model-averaged 40 miles per gallon of gasoline using a four-cylinder side-valve design, 10.5 horsepower engine and three-speed transmission.

The front wheels were stopped by a hand brake and the rear wheel brakes were controlled by a conventional foot pedal. In 1928, the Austin Seven was sold as an open two-seater with a new hardtop. Austin Seven enthusiasts have formed many organisations throughout England, Scotland, Australia and Germany – proving that the old “Chummy” retains its popularity to this day!

USA Austin 7 Roadster.

                Austin 7 Roadster  Owned by Hugh Goetz   Hugh sent me these photos,  with a message saying   "This is a USA car’  I do not have any knowledge of differences between UK and USA models."
Austin 7 Roadster Owned by Hugh Goetz Hugh sent me these photos, with a message saying "This is a USA car’ I do not have any knowledge of differences between UK and USA models."

Differences Between UK and USA Models?

Owned by Hugh Goetz Hugh sent me these photos, with a message saying "This is a USA car’ I do not have any knowledge of differences between UK and USA models. unfortunately, I do not have any information on USA models.
If you have information feel free to add to the comments below.

I met Frank at the Oz 2000 rally. I took a photo of the Austin and got copies of the three photos below that Frank had taken during the restoration process,

Restoring these cars is a lot of work and a quick look at the images below will give an indication of what is required.

These images indicate the amount of work involved in restoring these cars.

1936 Austin Seven Roadster, a Restoration.

1936 Austin Seven Roadster   Entry number 55  Driver Frank Pilgrim Navigator Marion Pilgrim  I met Frank at the Oz 2000 rally. I took a photo of the Austin and got copies of the three photos below that Frank had taken during the restoration process,
1936 Austin Seven Roadster Entry number 55 Driver Frank Pilgrim Navigator Marion Pilgrim I met Frank at the Oz 2000 rally. I took a photo of the Austin and got copies of the three photos below that Frank had taken during the restoration process,

There are plenty Of Austin seven Clubs

These little Austins were hugely popular in their day, and for lovers of classic cars are still hugely popular, There are plenty Of Austin Seven Clubs around the world where parts are still obtainable or information for conversions can be found – so we shall be able to continue to see these great little cars for many years to come

1929 Austin Seven Sports Entry Number 57 Owners Keith & Noela Collins

It was not until 1929 The American Austin Car Company was formed.

This Brilliant baby car was first designed and built by Sir Herbert Austin in 1922.

It was probably a huge surprise that it proved so popular, but It would seem that the timing for this economical little jewel was perfect for England and the rest of Europe.

Early attempts to sell the car In the USA proved to be a bit more complicated, in 1927 an attempt was made to introduce this British success. It was not until 1929 that any headway was achieved, and at this time The American Austin Car Company was formed.

Having a proven British success on their hands did not prove to be a guarantee of winning over the market,

Americans in general thought this was a fun little car that could be carried away by four men. It was a joke and Austin sevens ended up in peculiar places.

An embarrassing experience was almost guaranteed for any owner that attempted to use one in the city; The little Austin was totally unsuitable for US country or interstate motoring, so A huge problem confronted the Newly formed, American Austin Car Company.

1936 Austin Seven Ruby Saloon Entry no 47 Owners – Ross & Rhonda Guthrie .

The Boat Tail, always a crowd puller

Entry number 57 Owners Doug & Robyn Clark This Boat-tailed Austin Seven Was photographed at a Capricornia historical motor Club Rally.

One of the few cars that seem perfectly matched to a bright yellow paint job
One of the few cars that seem perfectly matched to a bright yellow paint job
Red cars always seem to go faster.
Red cars always seem to go faster.

Photos Above were Taken at a Capricornia Club Rally

The Austin 7 can safely be regarded as the Model T of the British car market, as it was the Austin Motor Company’s response to increasing public demand for an affordable, easy-to-maintain, stylish car. The Austin Sevens were manufactured between 1922 and 1939 with 290,000 Sevens made in this period. The seven came in many varying forms under many, often whimsical names including the Ruby, the Swallow, the Speedy, the Opal, the Pearl, the Chummy, and the Nippy. In addition to being identified by their names, the Austin 7 cars were divided into several body types according to their various suitabilities. The Tourer, the Saloon, the Sport, the Cabriolet, and the Coupe.

The Yellow car featured here fits into the Sports category, with its boat-tail and 2-person capacity, and maybe an Australian coachbuilt model. The Austin 7 Sports cars were designed to echo the appeal of a racing car while providing enough practicality to be used as an everyday driving car—though probably not for anyone with a large family! The uniform engine for the 7, regardless of model, was a four-cylinder 747 cc, 56 mm bore by 76 mm stroke.

The Austin 7s were manufactured mainly in Britain but were also made in Germany, France, and America.

The Nissan company of Japan informally used the Austin 7 as the basis for their initial car design.


A Restorers or Collectors Dream Car

Due to the many thousands of Austin Seven enthusiasts throughout the world, including restorers and collectors, Parts for these cars are still being produced by many enthusiasts.and can be found throughout the world.

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