1938 Austin Seven
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1938 Austin Big Seven Forelite Saloon
Registration no. FO 3723
Chassis no. 13792
Ruggedly built, economical, and easily maintained by the home mechanic, the Austin Seven brought motoring within the financial reach of the man in the street. A huge success from the moment deliveries commenced in January 1923, the Seven remained in production until 1939. Its introduction helped save the ailing Austin concern, and by the mid-1920s the Seven dominated the light car market in Britain. The sole version available when production commenced was the 'Chummy' tourer, but by 1927, saloon, fabric saloon, and coupé versions were on offer. A stronger, lengthened (81" wheelbase) chassis was standardised from 1932, and the Seven range received a much-needed four-speed gearbox the following year, a rear-mounted fuel tank and mechanical pump being adopted at the same time.
In 1938 the Big Seven joined the range, the new model filling a perceived gap between the Seven and the Ten. The newcomer's four-door, six-light saloon body offered greater spaciousness than before and featured 'modern' styling touches in the form of a smoothly swept tail enclosing the spare wheel, and an absence of running boards. A new 8hp (900cc) sidevalve engine producing 25bhp ensured that the weightier coachwork did not impose any performance penalty, while Girling rod-operated brakes and all-round hydraulic shock absorbers improved the road manners. The Big Seven was superseded by the redesigned and restyled Eight in 1939.
Boasting the Forlite model's two-door coachwork, this Big Seven was found on a Shropshire farm in 1983 by one of its previous owners, who proceeded to restore the interior before selling the car, which had been dismantled, to the immediately preceding owner in 1997. The subsequent restoration encompassed the chassis, gearbox, axles, bodywork, and engine, the latter being re-linered and fitted with new standard pistons. In addition, the crankshaft was reground, the bearing shells replaced, and hardened exhaust valve seats installed. The body and its sliding roof were restored and repainted, the interior re-carpeted, and the brightwork refitted, and by April 2008 the Seven was ready for its first MoT in many years. We are advised that, ten years on, the car goes, stops, and looks as good as it did in 2008. Indeed, it has garnered more than a dozen concours awards since then. Accompanying documentation consists of sundry restoration bills and photographs, an old-style logbook, and a V5C Registration Certificate.