If you think that modifying cars is a relatively new phenomenon, then think again.
For years, enthusiasts have been trying their best to make cars look different and go faster - and one of the first cars to be popular on the modifying scene was the humble Austin Seven. The little car that first put Britain on wheels was also one of the first to be turned into home-built racers or trials cars, thanks to their wide availability and low purchase cost.
Indeed, the whole cult of modifying Austin Sevens has continued and it's still a popular part of automotive culture today, with the little cars still hugely popular with trials drivers, and also in organised circuit racing via the 750 Motor Club. The cars may be old, but a lot of the enthusiasts are youngsters, which is great news for the future of vintage motorsport.
This example was built by its previous owner as a trials car and has been modified by its current keeper to 750 Motor Club race standards, but unfortunately he's unable to finish the project so is looking for a new home for what is a highly cherished Seven.
As it stands, this Austin Seven hasn't been on the road, or certainly not for a very long time.
The owner has the chassis number and also the engine number which relate to an Austin Seven touring car manufactured in 1929. It has clearly been a Seven Special for quite some time, though.
The vendor bought the car a few years ago from a chap who had built an Austin Seven trials car and decided that he wanted to convert it and turn it into a 750 Motor Club circuit racer.
He got quite a long way through the project, but events of recent months have stunted his progress and there are still a few jobs to do. He's very keen that the car finds a home where it once again see some circuit action.
As this isn't a road car, it is supplied with very little in the way of paperwork. However, it does have the necessary certification from the Owners’ Club for the new owner to apply for a V5C and, should he or she wish, register the car on the road.
Unsurprisingly, as Austin Seven based, this is a tiny car and one that's incredibly cute. The body is finished in bare polished aluminium with yellow wheels and minimal chrome trim.
What chrome there is has a deliberately aged look as part of the style that the owner was going for, though the headlights have been modified to incorporate side lights and the old side lights converted to electronic indicators.
The custom alloy body features a desirable Super Swallow radiator surround, while behind the driver's seat is an MG TA slab tank with an Aston filler cap. At the rear, it has pork pie tail lights which incorporate the rear lights, brake lights and indicators. The electrical system has been converted to 12 Volt to accommodate these changes.
Supplied with the vehicle is a specially constructed Austin Seven trailer, complete with load straps so it can be taken from one event to another. Trailers alone go for between £1-2,000 and this one is included in the sale. There's also a selection of 12 wheels supplied with the car, both in a taller road profile and a lower racing profile, along with boxes of assorted spare parts which are all included.
The chassis of the car was completely stripped down when the owner first acquired it and, having been blasted, was then treated to a coat of anti-rust paint, two coats of primer and two coats of gloss black.
As you might expect from a race car, the cabin of the Austin is pretty basic. It's also a bit of a squeeze. The owner recommends that tall drivers need not apply!
The seats are actually alloy helicopter seats which have been reupholstered in Morris Minor green. Other than those, the steering wheel, the pedals and the dials there isn't much else to report but what is there is in great working order.
There's also a period Saint Christopher medallion on the dashboard, which is a nice traditional touch.
Here's where things get really interesting. The engine was professionally machined by Cambridge Rebores and is +60 thou in its bore. It has a phoenix billet crank, bespoke con rods and pistons.
It has bigger inlet valves and an alloy inlet manifold, double valve springs and flat followers along with a gas-flowed head, rounded at the top of the cylinder bores to allow undisturbed air into the cylinders.
The inlet and exhaust ports were machined to match the inlet manifold, whilst it has a deep alloy finned oil sump with an oversized oil pump and a high-compression head. The fuel system is fed by an SU pump and 1.25-in SU carburettor.
The radiator, meanwhile, was recorded by Anglia Radiators in Cambridge, who look after all the Battle of Britain aircraft at Duxford, and the exhaust is an Ulster unit with a Brooklands side exit silencer.
The vendor estimates the power output to be around 40hp, or more than double the engine’s original power, fed to the rear wheels via a four-speed close ratio gearbox with remote lever.
The car has also just had its rear axle completely rebuilt, but this needs to be properly reinstalled by its next owner.
Even today, the humble Austin Seven is one of the most affordable and appealing ways into grassroots motorsport.
This example has been properly built and should be a real flyer. The work needed to finish it off isn't huge and, once completed, the new owner will have the perfect vehicle with which to compete in 750 Motor Club events, or even register it and use it as a quirky and entertaining road car.
Most of the hard work has been done - indeed, the vendor has records totalling almost £10,000 covering work done on the car so far. A few weekends' work will have it ready to compete once again.
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