Mak­ing an Austin Seven Spe­cial

Classic Driver - - LETTERS -

I read with some in­ter­est the ar­ti­cle on build­ing a midget rac­ing car and this re­minded me of my own ex­pe­ri­ence of build­ing an Austin Seven Spe­cial. How about the hum­ble Austin Seven? This car has an amaz­ing his­tory, so many of the top rac­ing driv­ers learnt their trade com­pet­ing in these cars, Bruce McLaren and Peter Brock to name just a cou­ple.

Build­ing an Austin Seven Spe­cial re­quires only a mod­est work­shop, and a very ba­sic skill level, it’s an ex­cel­lent fa­ther and son project, with books such as the Austin Seven Spe­cials by L M (Bill) Wil­liams, all the in­for­ma­tion you need to make a com­pet­i­tive car is at hand, plus the Waitem­ata branch of the VCC has mem­bers with prac­ti­cal ex­pe­ri­ence on build­ing and rac­ing A7s and are only too happy to give ad­vice and en­cour­age the builder.

The first A7 car I built took me two years of pot­ter­ing and I’m still tin­ker­ing with her now, but I have built one in 6 weeks. It’s up to the in­di­vid­ual on how much time and money you want to spend, A7 Spe­cials come in all shapes and sizes, some look stun­ning, oth­ers not so but it’s all down to your own styling.

As for at­tract­ing younger mem­bers to old car clubs it’s an ex­cel­lent way of get­ting them in­volved, the en­gi­neer­ing is very sim­ple and easy to do, all the parts (en­gine, chas­sis gear­box) can be lifted by one per­son. You have to ac­tu­ally mod­ify the en­gine to squeeze any ex­tra power out of it, not just change the chip.

As a mem­ber of the Waitem­ata Branch of the VCC my son has had the chance to ex­pe­ri­ence the thrill and ex­cite­ment of hill climbs and mo­tor rac­ing; it’s very sat­is­fy­ing to see a car you have built rac­ing around a race track. Martin Cooper Auck­land TH My feel­ings to­ward Sir Her­bert’s 750cc mas­ter­piece were some­what jaun­diced by my first “be­hind the wheel” con­tact with one. Fresh out of school in my first job, AA Wan­ganui had a mid-30s Austin Seven Ruby painted in the AA colours of the day, al­though if they did use them as ser­vice cars, I would hate to think what they used it for, it wouldn’t be much use tow­ing any­thing much big­ger than a small boy’s trol­ley. This car was, with­out doubt at the time, the worst thing I had ever had the mis­for­tune of driv­ing (only re­cently over­taken for first place in the God-aw­ful car list by an Austin Seven Spe­cial which was built with a driv­ing po­si­tion suited only to mis­shapen dwarves and was prac­ti­cally un­drive­able) and its habit of cor­ner­ing in a se­ries of un­con­trol­lable lurches al­most caused me to up-end the poxy lit­tle thing.

Since that un­for­tu­nate episode, I have con­ducted a cou­ple of Austin Seven Chum­mys which do what they were in­tended to do amaz­ingly well, but the high­light was a re­cent earnest thrash in Jan­uary in Steve Alder­s­ley’s Seven Spe­cial which has been im­proved im­mea­sur­ably by the ad­di­tion of a su­per­charger run­ning 8 lbs boost and 8500 revs! There is a car I would hap­pily take home.

Martin Cooper’s diminu­tive Austin Seven Spe­cial at speed at the Roy­croft Tro­phy, driven by son Keith. If you are build­ing a spe­cial, it has all been done and doc­u­mented be­fore

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