A stage Austin 7


I wonder how many of the older generation of Austin 7 enthusiasts remember the great comedian George Clark? Clark, who flourished in the middle ‘twenties, and who was the monocled “dude” type, was famous for the exciting stage act which he used to perform with a very early Chummy. He used to put over quite unbelievable feats with the little car. Dashing on from the wings, he would come tearing towards the footlights. Half the house would be on its feet yelling (or getting ready to run!) as the incredible car would stop, with a great squealing of tyres, just as it seemed certain it must come hurtling across the footlights and into the orchestra pit. Sometimes he would start the car with a push, and then leap in just as it was plunging across the stage by itself and threatening to demolish the scenery. I never saw a man do so many tricks with a little car; it was funnier, and more thrilling too, than anything the notable Harry Tate ever thought up in the early days of music-hall. Whatever magic device Clark had for making the brakes really effective (he had a 1925 Chummy, with only the 6 1/2 in. drums) we shall never know. Perhaps many a “7” enthusiast and special owner would still like to know the secret.

I don’t suppose the authorities, who frown on any real thrills from stage (except at the Windmill?) would allow Clark’s act now, even if there were any music-halls left for him to have appeared in. Anyway, in those days I used to feel that his wonderful little car act did a great deal to popularise the Austin 7 and counter the real blasts of ridicule which were directed at the little car when it first came on the scene.

These things I remember almost in my boyhood. The great comic must have long passed on. So to comedian Clark, in the shades now, and maybe riding on to Valhalla in his powder-blue Chummy, “Thanks for the memory, George.”

Jack Marshall.