I’T was impossible to count how many pre-war Austin 7s attended this popular event, organised by the Austin 7 Register of the 750 M.C. When we arrived, mid-morning, Beaulieu’s rally field was full of them. When we left by mid-afternoon they were still converging on the Montagu Motor Museum. Perhaps they numbered 400….
Certainly 187, of which 57 were vintage, entered officially, and they were backed up by spectators’ cars outside the arena. It was a happy thought of the organisers to have a special display of contemporary economy vehicles at the top of the field, presided over by Mike Eyre’s immaculate 1930 ex-works orange Ulster Austin and comprising a 1926 model-R Triumph combination, the Museum’s 1927 7-h.p. Jowett “Long Four” tourer, their 1927 Aero Morgan and M-type M.G. Midget, a 1928 Triumph Super Seven tourer with oversize back wheels, reminder that these Triumphs ousted the Austin 7 in the matter of hydraulic f.w.b. and a 3-bearing crankshaft, a 1932 Singer Nine saloon, a 1934 model-Y Ford Eight saloon with disc wheels, a 1935-series-I Morris 8 tourer, and a 1937 Fiat 500.
In addition, a tent contained a jumble sale of A7 parts, another was devoted to 750 M.C. appertenances. Altogether, this was the best day yet for restorers of these typically English car’s and even the rain held off until it was almost over.
Over lunch at Palace House it was interesting to hear Charles Goodacre, ex-racing driver, the Guest of Honour and one of the Judges, recalling Austin history. How the L-head Austin 20 engine was based on the Hudson, how the Austin 7 of 1922 was a bopy of its big brother but with a ball and roller crankshaft based on the little Peugeot, its own patented jet big-end lubrication system and torque-tube-cum-open shaft transmission, a ball gearchange beneath a dummy gate, and a chassis inspired by that of the Willys-Overland (which had trailing transverse front springing), Herbert Austin being very friendly with Sir William Letts, who handled these American cars in this country. The Seven was raced almost immediately to prove it was no motorised pram but a real motor car. Goodacre, in answer to a question, said about 100 were made with a pull-up manual starter operated from within the car.
Back at the rally field a I.h.d. yellow Chummy had arrived from Frankfurt (perhaps its steering-wheel muff was permissible under the circumstances!) and we counted nine Nippy or 65 sports models but only a couple of Ulters, one of them Nice’s mainly original example, the other Tiedeman’s less original but regularly raced version.
There were four Swallows, three saloons, one egg-like 2-seater, with another in the car park. Only two “boy’s racer” highly-modified saloons were present, one very shabby. The standard of presentation on the whole was extremely creditable, although too many Seven owners still cannot resist polished brass where black paint is correct and some still slap on the bright yellow paint. Most of the Austins were very presentable, and original, however. The oldest one present was J. A. Harris’ 1923 tourer from Salisbury, but four Chummies dated from 1925. In judging them, Goodacre had the engines started and listened to them intently. …
Interesting variants were a 1928 coil-ignition B.M.W.-Dixi, very smooth 1938 Bantam tourer, examples of Arrow, Mulliner, Gordon England and Australian bodywork and, of course, almost all the Austin Motor Co.’s own variants, while the Club van was present. It is impractical to refer to every car present, so we present the accompanying photographic coverage and some appended notes. It was a splendid gathering, which must be done again in 1967.