March 9

The basic spec’ of the 1933 Austin 7


This is a very small car,  the track is just 3ft 4″ and the width o/a is just 4ft 3″ the original sales pitch offered a 4 seater for 4 adults or two adults with three children. Of course ‘seat belts’ were never fitted.

The 750cc 4 cylinder side valve engine developed only 10.5 Brake Horse Power at 2400 rpm.  A top speed of just 55 mph was attainable but hardly with a full complement of 4 adults – especially climbing hills.  Although the engine has pumped ‘Castrol’ oil at around 2psi the big ends are lubricated by what was termed ‘spit & hope’ because the webs of the crankshaft scooped dropping oil (not directly to the big end bearings), so when traversing steep hills – up or down-  the drops would be way off the catchment within the crankshaft and big-end knocks were common.

The spec’ offers a “Electric starter” and also a fixed crank handle. The very low compression made starting fairly easy but at just 6 volt with a simple distributor, the engine was a horrible patience tester in very cold weather. if you didn’t hold the handle correctly, a backfire would dislocate your shoulder or your thumb………. One common trait is the tinkling of the brass sleeve over the starting handle

Around the end of 1933 the 3 speed crash-gate gearbox was upgraded to 4 speed  with the new fangled syncromesh (it still crunched…..). The clutch was always fierce. Kangarooing was not uncommon and on early 3 speed gearboxes you had to be an expert at ‘Double-de-Clutching’

Braking was and still is – abysmal, but at least it was combined on all 4 wheels along with a long hand-brake lever which added much needed force.

3.50 cross-ply tyres on 19″ spoked wheels were dreadfully lightweight – almost like motorcycle tyres – and the suspension is weird, as it employs wooden disks which slip under pressure. Imagine a beer mat between your palms – that is the suspension.  19″ diameter wheels are very common now, but it wasn’t pot holes that were the worry then – it was getting stuck in the rut of tram lines…….

The steering wheel in this RP still gas two levers which control the petrol mixture and the advance and retard of the spark plugs. Being fixed rigid, the positioning is average. Seat height adjustment is not possible by lever – however, blowing up the seat rubber bladder helped, though slight movement backward or forward also helped smaller girls – who would struggle to depress a vicious clutch and work the narrow pedals. It is almost impossible for girls to drive wearing ‘heels’ of any kind, and watch out men who may have worn hob nailed boots………..

I laugh now at the 5 gallon petrol tank capacity. The range offered from the vastly inefficient engine was only about 30-35 miles per gallon.  Around 150-175 miles if you were lucky to even have a local petrol pump in your village.

The sales pitch proffers……. “Special Insurance has been arranged…….£10 pounds, one shilling and three old pence per annum.




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