The “Ulster” Austin Seven
THE ART of producing “reproduction” furniture is a very skilled one and supports a thriving industry, so that purveyors of antiques and sale and auction personnel have to be very wide awake and on their guard not to let reproduction stuff become confused with the real thing. The same skilled art is being applied on an ever increasing scale to “reproduction” motor cars and one avenue that is thrilling is the Austin Seven “Ulster” model.
While the Austin Motor Company Ltd. built various open versions of their ubiquitous “7” and numerous body-building specialists worked in conjunction with the factory to produce sports Austin Sevens, it was the factory’s own sports model that was most successful. In “works” form these pointed-tail two-seaters did well in competitions in the years around 1930, both in mad-equipped sports form, as in the Tourist Trophy in Northern Ireland, and in stripped racing form in events at Brooklands Track. In the 500 mile race at Brooklands in 1930 the Duke of Richmond 8c Gordon (then the Earl of March) and Sammy Davis drove a stripped two-seater sports “7” in supercharged form and won at 83.41 m.p.h, after sharing the driving for 5 hrs. miss. 13 sec. Earlier in she year a fully-equipped version, with mudguards, lamps, etc. averaged 64.97 m.p.h. in the Brooklands Double-Twelve event, which as the some implies was two 12 hour races, and won the Autocar trophy for the best performance on price.
Somewhere along the way the little side-valve 747 c.c. sports Austin acquired the model name “Ulster”, from the successes gained in the Tourist Trophy races on the Ards circuit in Ulster, though it was always referred to in advertising in 1930 as the Austin Seven Sports Model. In supercharged form it cost £225 and in unsupercharged formic cost £185, and was a very competitive little car for the amateur clubman. All the components originated from the Austin Seven Production line, with modifications, and naturally their were numerous special bits for special customers, but nothing deviated very far from the standard Austin Seven.
Consequently the making of reproduction “Ulster,’ is not too difficult and the 750 Motor Club support the activity whole-heartedly. One club member, Chris Gould, has produced a book entitled “A guide to building Replica Austin illsters” which can be purchased for a mere £2.50. He offers for sale GRP (Glass Reinforced ritistic,) bodies and details how to modify a standard Aus. Seven chassis frame, tutl, engine etc. to make your own reproduction Austin Ulster. He calls them Replicas, but the true definition of replica is “a similar work done bY the original artist”; as the original artists were employees of the Austin Motor Company Ltd. these fibreglass specials of Chris Gould cannot be Replicas, but they are Reproductions in the same sense as Reproduction furniture and naturally cannot demand the same price as a car built in 1930 or 1931 at Longbridge. Earlier this year one of these reproductions was advertised for sale by a well-known dealer under the mistaken impresion that it was a real one. An interested customer for “the real thing” went inner it and soon discoverer.’ it was a reproduction, so offered half the asking price of around £5,000. The dealer got very huffy because he had bought it unseen from a private individual for a lot more than £2,500, on the assumption it was a genuine Ulster,
This Austin Seven Sports Model, which is now so desirable that it is being made again in numbers, first appeared in racing in 1929 and on the open market in 1930 so that any Ulster model dated earlier than that has to be suspect. Some builders are using the registration number and chassis components from 1927,28 Austin Seven tourers and then entering them for VSCC events as 1927/28 Ulster, Equally, others are entering “1930 Ulster Austin” with a 1927 registration number.
It can be very confusing. — D.S. J.