Martin Grinrod's Austin Seven

Austin had been a manufacturer of the finest cars prior to the announcement of the Seven. The post WWI period had been a disaster for everyone, prices had gone through the roof and then dropped to about double pre war ones, likewise demand had risen initially then almost disappeared. Herbert Austin was undoubtedly Britain’s best motor manufacturer and he’d introduced two cars during this period and, although they (the 20HP and the Heavy 12) were two of the finest ever made, they had not prevented the company going into receivership by the early nineteen twenties.

As we all know now the Austin 7 was the stroke of genius that saved the company and kept his 30,000 employees in work in difficult times. He’d promised them jobs for life if they’d work for no pay through the worst of the crisis, they did, he kept his word and some remained there until they were well past retirement age.

The little Seven was not an immediate success, in fact it was not taken seriously at first, either by the Press or the staff so, on the advice of Gordon England, Herbert decided to go racing and had some small torpedo shaped cars built that took many speed and endurance awards at Brooklands. Ultimately Gordon England prepared his own cars and they were often more successful than the factory’s.

The Gordon England Cup was the road going version of the Brooklands Supersports, the first car sold with a certificate that it would do 80mph.

Marque Specialists, Austineers of Bradford on Avon built this car to an exceptional standard using genuine (as supplied to Gordon England) 1927 chassis, and components including special steering box, close ratio 3-speed gearbox, axles, brakes and wheels. The body is an exact replica of the original and built by Tom Abernethy as are all the fixtures and fittings. This is an exact replica made almost entirely from original Gordon England specification parts and it is in near Concours condition.

  

The engine has a Phoenix crankshaft with balanced rods and pistons, bigger inlet valves, raised compression ration, Dante 4 branch exhaust manifold and single 1.25” SU. The car has recently been on a rolling road where it produced 28 BHP at the rear wheels, or as much as the works ever managed without supercharging. Over 70 mph is possible with a realistic cruise speed of around 50mph.

The car came with full weather kit including hood tonneau and side screens and a VSCC passport that entitles it to run in any VSCC event. Needless to say parts are available anywhere and for surprisingly modest prices.

This car was the price of about 1/10th of a WO 3L, a quarter of a 20HP Rolls and performance much better than the latter. It would be hard to find more fun or better looks for the money, and I was sad to have to sell it recently.

martin grindrod