Herbert Austin’s namesake Motor Car Company which had been established prior to World War I found itself in financial difficulties during the early postwar period. The saviour of the company was the Austin Seven which came about from a collaboration between the company’s founder, Herbert Austin, and an innovative young designer in the employ of Austin named Stanley Edge.
The idea of the project was to design a small, reliable and economical car to compete with the cycle car and motorcycle combinations popular at the time.
The Austin would offer greater comfort and superior roadability as well as the low cost to purchase and operate.
The first prototypes were completed and on the road in 1922 and the little cars were produced in consecutive years thereafter until 1939. In July of 1935, Austin debuted a Seven Model AAL type open road tourer. Multiple sports models were produced featuring a wide variety of body styles. Sevens were never known for speed yet the sports models looked the part and were raced extensively after some upgrading of the engines.
The Austin Seven design was well thought of by competitors. For example, BMWs first model – the Dixie – was actually an Austin Seven built under license. The Seven which was built for the United States auto market eventually developed into the first Jeep and the Land Rover design, in turn, was based on the Jeep.
The Austin Seven’s racing history has been a storied one as well. The cars were designed with a power-to-weight ratio formulated to maximize speed. Weighing less than 6-1/2 CWT and furnishing approximately 24 BHP, the Sevens earned a very respectable place in the annals of auto racing.
Austin sevens were great competition vehicles and Austin supported many factory sponsored specials for many events. The results were great and would seem to be well out of proportion for a little car that in its basic form was comfortable at not a lot more than 35 miles per hour. But the enthusiasm to race these little cars to the limit was huge. Austin Sevens were fun and affordable,
With the host of sporting victories and records, it was not hard for owners to associate with the sevens success and little Austins were regularly seen hurtling along narrow and slippery country roads with reckless abandon with drivers at the wheel with hat and goggles in racing mode. At speeds in excess of 30 miles, an hour.
Country police were mostly limited to pedal power and there are many stories that can be heard by Older folk. The time an Austin Seven came hurtling out of the blue when a Farmer was moving his cattle or sheep from one location to another, when the road was covered in wet leaves and manure and the driver had lost control as he saw the animals a bit late as the seven was coming around the corner at ‘breakneck ‘speeds,
Enthusiast still race these Austin Sevens cars today!
The Austin seven proved to be extremely popular in Europe, Its diminutive size was not considered a disadvantage, it was affordable and 40 miles per gallon economy made it a car that was available to more and more owners.
Different configurations were constantly being created. Doctors were using them to do home visits. It was not unusual to see a ‘seven’ parked in the middle of a country field while the local vet attended a farmers sick animals.
It was a very light vehicle and with large wheels it was highly suited for negotiating even a ploughed field, it sailed through fords and river crossings and this talent did not go unnoticed.
In 19321 a Supercharged seven set a class H record of of 102 miles per hour, and Austin sevens took first place in around over 200 hill climb, touring, and other races.America mightater sneer at small vehicles. But this car made the baby car an acceptable format for Europe.. .
Greg and Christine had multiple entries at this rally
1938 Austin big seven (fitted with milano fibreglass body.)
1935 Austin Seven Sports. and an 1927 Indian motorcycle
The Austin Seven made its debut in 1922. A product of the Austin Motor Company, the 7 horsepower prodigy had been designed in its entirety by none other than company founder and president Sir Herbert Austin – who was knighted in 1917. Initially, there were those who thought the automobile was odd-looking and would not prove successful. But despite this, Sir Henry was sure he had a winner and he was right!
Despite a slow start, sales soon began to pick up and the “Chummy”, as the car was soon called, grew in popularity. Two years later, the Austin Seven sported a larger engine and the addition of an electric starter.
By 1926, Austin Motors was producing over 14,000 Austin Sevens each year. The project had obviously become a success story for the company.
Popular with families, the Austin Seven incorporated big car characteristics in a small design. The auto could reach speeds up to 50 miles per hour. The front-engine, rear-drive model averaged 40 miles per gallon of gasoline using a four-cylinder side valve design, 10.5 horsepower engine and three-speed transmission.
The front wheels were stopped by a hand brake and the rear wheel brakes were controlled by a conventional foot pedal. In 1928, the Austin Seven was sold as an open two-seater with an additional hard top. Austin Seven enthusiasts have formed many organisations throughout England, Scotland, Australia and Germany – proving that the old “Chummy” retains its popularity to this day!
Austin 7 Roadster Owned by Hugh Goetz
Hugh sent me these photos, with a message saying "This is a USA car’ I do not have any knowledge of differences between UK and USA models."
1938 Austin Big Seven
( with Milano Fiberglass body)
Entrant number 14, Driver Christine Steven’s
Also entered the 1929 Austin Seven Chummy (above)
I met Frank at the Oz 2000 rally. I took a photo of the Austin and got copies of the three photos below that Frank had taken during the restoration process,
Restoring these cars is a lot of work and a quick look at the images below will give an indication of what is required.
These little Austins were hugely popular in their day, and for lovers of classic cars are still hugely popular, There are plenty Of Austin seven Clubs around the world where parts are still obtainable or information for conversions can be found – so we shall be able to continue to see these great little cars for many years to come
1929 Austin Seven Sports Entry
Number 57 Owners Keith & Noela Collins
This Brilliant little baby car was first designed and built by Sir Herbert Austin in 1922. It was probably a huge surprise that it proved so popular, but It would seem that the timing for this economical little jewel was perfect for England and the rest of Europe. Early attempts to sell the car In the USA proved to be a little more difficult, in 1927 an attempt was made to introduce this British success. It was not until 1929 that any headway was made and at this time The American Austin Car Company was formed.
Having a proven British success on their hands did not prove to be a guarantee of winning over the market, Americans in general thought this was a funny little car that could be carried away by four men, It was a joke and Austin sevens ended up in peculiar places. An embarrassing experience was almost certain for any owner that attempted to use one in the city, The little Austin was totally unsuitable for US country or interstate motoring so A huge problem confronted the Newly formed, American Austin Car Company. –
1936 Austin Seven Ruby Saloon
Entry no 47 Owners – Ross & Rhonda Guthrie .
WELL WORTH LOOKING AT
If you have ever wondered why the Austin Sevens popularity
has never waned
These two photos Below were taken at A Capricornia Club Rally
The Austin 7 can safely be regarded as the Model T of the British car market, as it was the Austin Motor Company’s response to increasing public demand for an affordable, easy-to-maintain, stylish car. The 7 was manufactured between 1922 and 1939 with 290,000 7s made in this time period. The 7 came in many varying forms under many, often whimsical names including the Ruby, the Swallow, the Speedy, the Opal, the Pearl, the Chummy, and the Nippy. In addition to being identified by their names, the Austin 7 cars were also divided into several body types according to their various suitabilities—the Tourer, the Saloon, the Sport, the Cabriolet, and the Coupe.
The Yellow car featured here fits into the Sport category, with its boat-tail and 2-person capacity, and may be an Australian coachbuilt model. The Austin 7 Sport cars were designed to echo the appeal of a racing car while providing enough practicality to be used as an everyday driving car—though probably not for anyone with a large family! The uniform engine for the 7, regardless of model, was a four cylinder 747 cc, 56 mm bore by 76 mm stroke.
The Austin 7s were manufactured mainly in Britain, but were also made in Germany, France, and America. It has been noted that the Nissan company of Japan informally used the Austin 7 as the basis for their initial car design.