Making an Austin Seven Special
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