July 19th, 2011

This blog will be about my restoration of an Austin 7 special, a vintage car. The Austin 7 was a small car produced in Britain from 1922 till 1939. It came in many forms from 2 seaters to 4 seat saloons and was powered by a 747CC engine putting out somewhere around 10HP. Yes, as I have had mentioned to me several times already, some people have lawnmowers more powerful than that!

An Austin 7 special is a car that’s been build using Austin 7 chassis and parts but with a one off body. Typically specials are built for racing. The Austin 7 is a very popular car for vintage racing and because of this there is a huge amount of knowledge and also parts available for these little cars.

I became interested in Austin 7s after finishing (more or less) restoring my MGB.

IMG_8478_2 Restored MGB.

That was my first full car restoration (I previously did partial repairs to my first car, a 1970 MGB GT) and was a great learning experience. But it gave me a taste for doing another car. I fancied something older and also something a bit more special. My idea was to get a suitable chassis and make my own body to put on top of it. I am not planning on building a race car but want something that will handle and move well. It has to be drivable in normal traffic since I like to use a car not just look at it!

My dream car would have been a 1930s MG Midget. These are rather rare and hard to come by. I almost found one but it turned out to be a 1930s Morris Minor chassis and engine (they are very similar to the MG). A nice car but a little too rare for me. Instead I settled on the Austin 7. Mainly because they are common, relatively cheap, small and easy to work on. Parts are readily available either second hand or new, re-manufactured ones. And there is a lot of information available on them in books and online. Finding experts isn’t too difficult either so getting help when needed should be too difficult.

Next was the problem of finding one. What I really wanted, and this is usually the complete opposite advice you get when looking to buy an old car, was a total basket case or a car completely in bits. I suffer from an unfortunate affliction – I am a perfectionist. I won’t be happy unless the car I get is totally rebuilt by me. The only way to really be sure everything is done right is to do it myself. So anything I get would first be completely stripped for inspection and rebuilding.  Might as well start with a pile of bits!

You do often see complete A7s come up on TradeMe, the local auction site. They seem to range from about NZ$5000 to NZ$10000 for complete saloon cars. Definitely buying a saloon and removing the body is a way to go but it seems a shame to destroy what could be a nice, restorable body. What I was looking for was a project where someone had all the parts but never quite finished it off.

Eventually one appeared!

trademe TradeMe advertisement.

Basically it is just what I was wanting. A car mostly done but still in pieces.  It already has a body on it and I think I will probably end up replacing this with one of my own. I have several ideas of how I want this car to look and the thing with specials is you make them exactly how you want them!

The car ended up costing me $NZ2200 including delivery from Raglan which is handy since I myself have no way to transport such a collection. The delivery has been delayed for some weeks until the current owner is able to get it to me. This has worked out well since I myself have needed to do some preparation for it’s arrival. I am currently (literally right now) awaiting the arrival of it so while I am waiting I will describe what I have been doing in the mean time.


2 Responses to “Beginnings.”

  1. Adrian Reedy Says:

    For some reason your new feed (Austin 7 Special)
    only shows the news starting with “Buying Tools”
    in 2 different newsreaders (RSSowl and Sharp Reader).
    Paging backward with Firefox5 all articles show up ok.

    Just FYI in case the problem is on your end. The feed
    does validate ok.


  2. admin Says:

    I have an RSS feed?!?! Must be built into the blog.

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