Austins in the Press
Greatest ever student prank? (June 08)
Greatest ever student prank?
I guess then we'll have to change the text under 'Interesting Facts involving Austin Sevens' as this article from the Daily Mail (28 June 2008) tells a different story! Our 'Interesting Facts' text below states that the "Austin Seven delivery van was taken apart and reassembled on the roof of the Senate House" but the Daily Mail article shows that it was moved via a crane! (Click on the second picture for a larger, readable image of the article.)
Fearless foursome planning to drive from Peking to Paris
in Austin Sevens
In 1959 John Coleman set out in his 1925 Austin Seven from Buenos Aires en route to New York. That he made it to New York, against almost overwhelming odds, is in part a testament to the remarkable qualities of the amazing Austin Seven.
Introduced in 1922, it was one of the first proper small cars, as opposed to the crude cyclecars that preceded it. Designed in absolute secrecy by Sir Herbert Austin and Stanley Edge, the Seven proved unbelievably popular and by 1939 some 290,000 were in use. It was exported around the world and built under licence in France and Germany, where it became the first-ever BMW. It has also provided the basis for many an intrepid journey, including that of the lovely Mrs Algernon Stitch, heroine of Evelyn Waugh's Scoop, who drove her Seven down the stairs of the gentlemen's public lavatory in Sloane Street.
None of which explains why we are standing in a Chertsey courtyard with two 1930 four-seater Austin Seven "Chummy" models and an unbelievable amount of stuff: spare parts, tents, sleeping bags, boxes of food, a toy monkey and a set of bagpipes.
A better explanation might be found in the fact that this year is the centenary of the infamous 1907 Peking to Paris race, a motor extravaganza prompted by an appeal in the pages of Le Matin newspaper that year: "Will anyone agree to go, this summer, from Peking to Paris by motor car?" Luigi Barzini's book Peking to Paris sits between The Riddle of the Sands and Rogue Male in any standard library of schoolboy literature. The exploits of this Daily Telegraph journalist, who accompanied Prince Scipione Borghese and his chauffeur, Ettore, in their massive Itala as they faced the perils of collapsing wheels, Mongolian river crossings, revolting coolies and Sakhalin highwaymen, are gripping stuff indeed – enough to have inspired 134 participants in the Peking to Paris Motor Challenge, which will be flagged away from Tiananmen Square on May 27.
Raising the stakes by a couple of shark-infested lagoons and a bottomless pit are four people who will quietly leave Tiananmen Square some 10 days earlier, with a great deal less fuss, in two 77-year-old Austin Seven Chummys. In the red car will be Sebastian Welch and Annabel Jones; in the blue car will be the husband and wife team of Kip and Carmen Waistell. But why?
"I've been wanting to do this trip for 25 years," explains Kip, the instigator of the adventure. "Back then we couldn't get sponsorship; it was the same when I tried again in 1987. In 2005 Carmen and I rode two scooters back from Kazakhstan and I started to plan a trip for this year." In a complicated arrangement, the journey is sponsored by DHL on the proviso that all money raised will go to Unicef – they hope to raise enough to buy more than 3,000 mosquito nets for children in Kenya. And the bagpipes? "I've piped all over the world and even piped a cobra out of a basket in India, so this will be another tick in the box," says Kip.
The two crews and cars have an intriguing mix of competences - although, happily, only one plays the bagpipes. Annabel is one of the best navigators you could wish for; as a friend once remarked, "she can navigate you to a win in the worst car on the event". Sebastian is an experienced trials competitor and his Austin Seven is suitably modified with a pressure-fed crankshaft and shell bearings.
Kip's car is much more original, and slower, but has the advantage of plodding reliability – although its lovely patina is unlikely to survive the rigours of Chinese roads. Unlike their fellows, he and Carmen have experienced the sort of roads they are likely to encounter. "We will not be driving after dark," he says before recounting a horrific collision with an open manhole that Carmen survived in 2005: "You cannot avoid what you cannot see." Annabel and Sebastian have attended the Royal Geographical Society's Far From Help first-aid course and their medical supplies are impressive, especially the emergency dentistry kit. Annabel has allowed two months for the journey, aiming to arrive in France for Bastille day on July 14, but freely admits they have taken enough time off for the trip to last three months.
"People have been incredibly helpful," says Sebastian. "When you tell them what you are about to do, they help out in the most generous ways, almost as if they want to be part of it." According to Annabel, they will cover 7,500 miles in total, and the route will takes them into the southern part of Asia's largest desert, the Gobi. I once flew over this chilling wilderness in a jumbo jet.
At 37,000ft, there were no visible signs of life for about two-and-a-half hours: no towns, no villages, no farms, no roads… nothing. It was very beautiful but as barren as a piece of shoe leather. Thinking about this, I say farewell and walk down the long Chertsey driveway. Looking back, the two Sevens seem too tiny and too flimsy to attempt a crossing of such an inhospitable ocean of sand. As I walk on, they get ever smaller and more gossamer-like, until they are hardly there at all. It seems a mighty task for such fragile motor cars, but no doubt that's what John Coleman thought, too.
You can donate to the Unicef appeal and follow the team's exploits via their website: www.pekingparis.co.uk. As we went to press we received news of yet another attempt to drive from Peking to Paris in an Austin Seven, although as Vince Leak claims his 9,500-mile itinerary will follow the original route through Mongolia and Siberia, the Chinese shouldn't be too confused. He and his two colleagues will leave Peking in their three Austin Seven box saloons on May 10. Watch this space for news of their progress.
Telegraph, 5 May 2007
This article explains the artistic background to our bright yellow 1929 Austin Seven RK 'YC 6669'. On the rear panel there is a cartoon painted by Rowland Emett. Way back in 1957, a young 17-year-old John Sellick became the owner of this car, so he could learn to drive. I believe it was purchased for £17 and 10 shillings, which was a lot of money then. The bodywork at the time was the normal boring factory dual grey scheme, so John decided to brighten it up and hand painted it in a bright yellow. His uncle was the Frederick Rowland Emett, who was known to him as Uncle Frederick and Emett decided to paint one of his whimsical cartoons on the rear panel and named it 'Meppacrin'. The cartoon as seen in the pictures depicts a fun interpretation of an early chain driven car. This painting appears to be the only example on a vehicle by Emett.
Rowland Emett with Meppacrin
Meppacrin in colour
Here are a few lines on Frederick Rowland Emett OBE. Emett was known as a cartoonist, illustrator and inventor, who earned international fame and a decent living from creating elegantly outlandish machines which served no useful purpose other than make people laugh, he was first and foremost a brilliant comic artist. He was a master of British eccentricity and Emett's central creation was the 'Far Tottering and Oyster Creek railway' set in the Battersea Gardens in London for the 1951 Festival of Britain. It is believed this whimsical train carried more than two million passengers during its operational life. His work always involved this unique style whether in cartoons in the Punch magazine of the day or with many commissioned advertising projects. He was responsible for creating the eight elaborate inventions featured in the 1968 film 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang' and the 'Nottingham Water Clock' in the Victoria Shopping Mall. Two years before he died in November 1990, the most important exhibition of his career was staged at the Chris Beetles Gallery in London followed by another at the Air and Space Museum in Washington, USA.
John Sellick and Uncle Frederick
Running from May through to September 2014, the biggest ever exhibition of Emett's work was put on in Birmingham, organised by The Rowland Emett Society in partnership with the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and Millennium Point. Our yellow Austin Seven was invited to take part on the day they unveiled a blue plaque for Rowland Emett on the 6th of September at the museum. This involved Emett's daughter Claire with the Mayor of Birmingham to unveil the plaque and John Sellick who was reunited with this Austin Seven after 57 years when he first owned it. Over the years it has been restored, but has retained the Emett cartoon untouched bar the weather. I purchased this Austin Seven for my wife Carla in September 2009 and we are keen to preserve this interesting and fun little car we refer to as 'Emett'.
John Sellick and Meppacrin reunited
This car was featured in an article in the Nov.2009 issue of 'The Automobile'.
To find out more about Rowland Emett's works see www.rowlandemett.com
Can anyone help Ian Nelson to identify the drivers, ages and makes of the cars outside the Weller Garage in Cobham (courtesy of David Taylor) that used to stand where the current Esso Garage is in Stoke Road? Click on the thumbnails below for a close-up of each of the cars.
On May 27th 2009 Ken Cooke, Howard Annett, and I, on behalf of the Austin Seven Clubs Association, went to see Mrs Julie Cox, who presented us with a very important collection of silver trophies won by Arthur Waite at Brooklands. Mrs Cox, with her husband, looked after Colonel Waite for the last 15 years of his life and when he died he left the trophies to Mr Cox, who in turn left them to Julie when he died five years ago. Phil Baildon, the A7CA archivist, is now custodian of these trophies and they are kept for posterity by the A7CA on behalf of the entire Austin movement.
Arthur Waite (1894 - 1991) was born in Adelaide Australia, and served in Gallipoli where he met Herbert Austin's daughter who he subsequently married. After the war he worked for Austin and achieved racing success, firstly with the Austin 20 and then with the Sevens. He went to Australia in January 1927 to set up Austin Distributors in Melbourne, and whilst there continued racing an won the first Australian GrandPrix in 1928. He returned to England in 1930 and resumed racing here. He crashed in the 1930 Ulster TT which put an end to his racing driving but continued to supervise the Austin racing activity. He was instrumental in recruiting Murray Jameison, designer of the twin OHC racer.
I learnt about the trophies from Maureen Marchant, widow of David Marchant who used to trial his Chummy at the 750MC Cobham Trial and compete in VSCC events. Some years ago she mentioned to me that she had had tea at the Ritz with Arthur Waite when her sister was his Personal Assistant. I was impressed at the time but thought no more of it until Maureen contacted me earlier this year to say her sister knew that Mrs Cox was looking for a suitable home for some trophies that Arthur Waite had won. All Maureen knew was that there were some 2nd and 3rd prize trophies won at Brooklands in 1921 through to 1930. It just so happened that the Austin Seven Clubs Association, A7CA, had just acquired a permanent archive room at Lubenham near the home of A7CA archivist Phil Baildon and I thought this might be a suitable home for the trophies. After approaching Phil about the possibility of the A7CA obtaining these from Mrs Cox I went to see her.
After a cup of tea and a pleasant chat she took me through to the dining room where the trophies were set out on the table. She wasn't sure whether they would be of interest to the Austin movement as most of the trophies didn't have the make of car named on them. Without knowing yet exactly what the trophies were, I assured her that the Brooklands race cards would reveal the car with its bore/stroke/capacity and colours along with the driver. I knew there was a good chance that there would be at least one trophy relating to OK 7095, the 1923 fabric racer, and the 1921/22 trophies would have been won with the Austin 20 racer. Once I had listed the trophies I intended to seek the help of friend John Tarring who is a librarian at Brooklands Museum. He reckoned he could supply copies of all the relevant race cards.
I examined the trophies and they all carried the BARC (Brooklands Automobile Racing Club) logo on one side and on the other side was engraved the race, date, and placing. Having expected 2nds and 3rds, imagine my delight when one of the trophies I picked up was engraved "Easter Small Car Handicap, 1st Prize, 2nd April 1923"! This was the very first race for an Austin Seven, where Arthur Waite drove OK 7095 from Longbridge, entered and won the race, and drove back to Longbridge. In Bryan Purves' A7 Source Book he has a chapter on the Fabric Bodied Racer 1923, and on page 58 is reproduced the race card for the Small Car Handicap of 2nd April 1923 (not 19th March as given in the caption to Picture 104 of the car – that was the closing date for entries). It is wonderful to think that the trophy that goes with that race card is now in the possession of the A7CA!
After I finished cataloguing and photographing the trophies, Mrs Cox had one final surprise for me. She took me back into the lounge and asked me to study a rather lovely bronze sculpture situated on the hearth of the fireplace. I had noticed this out of the corner of my eye when we were having tea earlier. It was of a naked lady with flowing hair sitting on a black marble plinth, the whole thing standing about 3 feet tall. (Howard subsequently discovered the bronze is by Amadeo Gennarelli 1881 - 1943). I needed no second bidding to examine her at close quarters so crouched down and looked at the plaque on the plinth. Amazingly the whole thing was a trophy won at the JCC Double-Twelve at Brooklands on the 9th and 10th May 1930 and the engraving states:
JUNIOR CAR CLUB
BRITISH DOUBLE-TWELVE HOUR
The Autocar Trophy
For the Best
Performance on Price
Car No. 91 Sir Herbert Austin (AUSTIN)
Speed 64.97 mph
Driven by A C R Waite & The Earl of March
WOW! Although they only came 7th overall (out of 59 starters) covering 1559 miles, they were class winners and this was their prize for driving such a "cheap" car; as Canning Brown states in the impressive "Austin Seven Competition History 1922 - 1939", the price for an Ulster rolling chassis plus engine was quoted as £190. The Earl of March, of course, with SCH (Sammy) Davis went on famously to win the BRDC 500-mile race later in the year. (Arthur Waite was injured in that year's TT race; otherwise he would have driven with Freddy March.)
Having assured Mrs Cox that these trophies were very important to the Austin Movement I arranged a return visit with Howard Annett and Ken & Eileen Cooke to hand over the trophies to the A7CA. Mrs Cox remembered Ken from the days when she and her husband used to accompany Colonel Waite to events like 750MC Beaulieu and was able to fill in some information on the Austin family for Howard. We had a very convivial time with Mrs Cox and I think she is very relieved that the trophies have gone to such a good home.
The handover of the trophies. In the picture from the left: Nigel Coulter, Ken Cooke, Mrs Cox, and Howard Annett. Photo by Eileen Cooke.
The following table lists the BARC trophies with notes and vehicle information taken from the Brooklands race cards.
|26th 100 MPH Long Handicap
24th September 1921
Won by Captain Waite's Austin Twenty
|Driver L. Kings||Austin 20, Black, with White radiator cowl. No. 10|
|2nd 90 MPH Long Handicap
24th September 1921
Won by Mrs Waite's Austin Twenty
|Entrant Mrs Irene Waite, Driver A. Waite||Austin 20, Grey, Black wheels. No. 7|
|4th 90 MPH Long Handicap
13th May 1922
|Driver L. Kings||Austin 20, Black, with White radiator cowl. No. 2|
|Easter Small Car Handicap
2nd April 1923
|Driver A. Waite||Black, White cowl, Black wheels. No. 10|
|23rd 75 MPH Short Handicap
21st May 1923
|Driver A. Waite||Black, White radiator cowl, Black wheels. No. 17|
|11th 90 MPH Long Handicap
6th August 1923
|Driver H. Cutler||Austin "Dingo", Azure Blue, Black wheels. No. 18|
|August Small Car Handicap
6th August 1923
|Driver H. Cutler||Austin "Dingo", Azure Blue, Black wheels. No. 4|
|18th 90 MPH Long Handicap
13th April 1925
|Driver A. Depper||Austin II Green, Black wheels. No. 7|
|35th 75 MPH Short Handicap
3rd August 1925
|Driver A. Depper||Green, Black wheels. No. 12|
|35th 75 MPH Long Handicap
3rd August 1925
|Driver A. Waite||Green, Black band. No.15|
|44th 100 MPH Long Handicap
3rd August 1925
|Driver A. Depper||Green, Black wheels. No. 14|
|Cambridge's students are famous for their stunts. On two occasions, students have suspended cars under the Bridge of Sighs at St John's College – in 1963, an Austin Seven (manoeuvred into position on four punts) and in 1968, a Bond Bug. In the Fifties, an Austin Seven delivery van was taken apart and reassembled on the roof of the Senate House.|
|Sir John Mortimer, English barrister turned prolific writer and dramatist (creator of 'Rumpole of the Bailey'), once proved adultery in a divorce case with reference to a pair of footprints, upside down, on the dashboard of an Austin 7.|
|The first BMW, Nissan and Lotus cars were based on, or licensed reproductions of, the Austin 7.|
Please email us if you have an interesting fact we can add to this section
Running an Austin Seven on 12 Volts
Conversion to 12V is an attractive solution to providing enough power to provide adequate lighting, indicators etc on an Austin Seven if it is to be used actively on today’s roads. There are several methods that can be adopted to provide a charging mechanism in a 12V set-up, namely: 1. Fit an alternator; 2. Use a 2-brush dynamo with a constant voltage regulator; 3. Retain the existing 3-brush dynamo. Looking at the pros and cons of each of these methods:
This is the most efficient way of doing it, but physically the alternator is difficult to fit, looks non-original (unless hidden under the floor and driven from the propshaft), and is not accepted by the VSCC (at present).
2) 2-Brush Dynamo
This is the most often used conversion method. The dynamo is converted to 2 brush and sometimes the field coils are rewound to make them suitable for 12V. A voltage regulator must be used in conjunction, either the electromechanical variety found on most 50s and 60s cars, or a solid-state regulator. This set up supplies as much current (and thence power) that is required by the car’s demands. This can be a disadvantage as the dynamo can be overstressed, and if the solid-state unit is used it can be destroyed if too much current is demanded of it. Furthermore, if connexions to earth at the control box are not perfect the entire electrical system can run at well over 12V and this is usually shown up by blackened or blown light bulbs. The most dangerous situation is if the battery is flat and here again the system runs at a voltage much higher than the nominal 12V while the battery is charging up. In my experience the average Austin is not used regularly throughout the year and when it is dragged out for seasonal use the battery, having been neglected for 6 months, is invariably flat.
3) 3-Brush Dynamo
The existing 3-brush Lucas C35A or M dynamo can generate well in excess of 12V and if the field current is limited and the output current kept to a reasonable level (say 8A) it will not overheat, especially if the cover is left off. After all it lives just behind the fan and benefits greatly from this forced draft. For years I ran the 6V system with the dynamo set to give 15A and the dynamo lasted for 20 years before a major overhaul was needed. For 12V operation a solid state cutout (a silicon diode) is used, and NO MODIFICATION is required to the dynamo.
I favour the option 3 above and have produced the box of tricks which is the solid state cut-out together with some current limiting resistors, a fuse and a terminal block.
In use it can completely replace the normal 6V cut-out box, or, for appearances’ sake the existing cut-out can be left in situ, the new box hidden from site and connected to the old with a four way cable.
The dynamo is used unmodified, apart from perhaps adjusting the third brush.
Nigel Coulter – Brooklands Centre
Please email Nigel if you wish to discuss any of the above with him.
Club member Roger Horsfield bought an old camera and decided to develop the film inside it and guess what… out came three photos taken in the mid 70s showing an Austin meet outside The Cricketers Pub in Chobham. Some of the members then took the bus (photo 2) to Hyde Park where they were going to marshal for a veteran car club.
If you recognise someone and/or their car, please email me and I'll start putting the puzzle together!
Ron (deceased) and Veronica Garside with Dave Reilly's dog.
Photo 2: Graham Buck
First car – MV 2557 – Brian Wilson, great pal of Brian Studley
Second car – AMD 318 – Dan Belton (deceased)
Third car – KR 9277 – Dave Reilly, now lives in the states
Fifth car – PJ 7569 – Ron and Veronica Garside