The Austin Seven became a cornerstone moment in the motor automobile industry when it was released in 1922, encouraging the usage and ownership of personal transportation. The fundamental allure of making the car accessible to the masses was to put it within reach of the average working family.
Furthermore, because of its simplicity, it formed the backbone of the automobile industry, with its chassis and running gear serving as the foundation for innumerable specialist coach builders while also establishing Austin as a prominent exporter. The Seven, which came in a variety of body shells, can be divided into three distinct eras based on the three main chassis designs.
This June 1932 Seven is a two-seater open-top Tourer with what is considered to be a genuine Boat Tail constructed on a short chassis with uprated mechanics, finished in an appealing burgundy and black finish. The Boat Tail, one of the rarer varieties of the Seven, has a distinctive semi-fabric style as part of its shapely rump, which also forms part of a handy baggage capacity. It was a low-cost alternative for individuals seeking a little elegance and style while remaining useable and practical.
The History and Paperwork
Chassis number matches up to body
Original frame and body
The V5 states that the car was first registered in 1983 - possibly due to a re-registering process, but there is an acknowledgement that it is a 1932 build. Another anomaly suggests that the car is a saloon, but it has been proven to be a genuine period built Boat Tail Tourer. Another clue to verify that this is indeed the more desirable Boat Tail model is the correct factory stamped body number on the transmission tunnel which states it as PC25, also identifying the car as a later example.
Although it lacks the side screen pegs that would ordinarily hold the top screen cloth roof in place, its short scuttle, straight dashboard, slanted packing plate in between the windshield pillar and the side of the scuttle, and its unique bonnet design all help to identify it. According to the owner, it could be listed as a Special as it has seen a conferrable amount of mechanical upgrades but the body is said to be 100% correct.
The current owner obtained the car from an Austin Seven specialist in Kent, having originally spotted it at the Beaulieu Autojumble. It had originally been based in Clacton-on-Sea for around 30 years and treated to occasional use. The car's unusual charm grabbed the present owner, who describes it as "Lethally brilliant." Its energetic drive and body style with the enclosed boot make it a surprisingly practical concept. Aside from the V5, the Boat Tail's history and prior exploits are unfortunately lost to time, but thanks to the multiple potential paths of discovery, there may be more information on this Boat Tail out there.
The cabin is very much a down to basics approach, with no frivolous fittings and only the bare minimum of furnishings, but it has seen signs of renewal throughout the years. The seats are thought to be from a later model and have been well preserved, with no significant damage or wear visible, but they do have a sticky gloss to the surface.
The cushioning remains firm and is surprisingly comfortable. The carpets are likely to have been a retrofitted item, they’re in good shape with no signs of dampness noted. The pedals, gearstick and core instruments have a wonderful age-related patina, with the main controls looking very much like their 90 years of age. All are said to function.
The dashboard appears to have had a hastily installed wooden facia panel at some stage, and it will be a satisfying undertaking for the next owner to restore. As to be expected the steering wheel, gear lever and handbrake show their age but don’t take anything away from the charm of the car. The centre hub controls are not used in the current operation of the car. The door cards are good, with a few marks. The boot has a well worn Michelin tyre in place and is trimmed with a decent leatherette material and cabin carpet.
Metalwork in good condition
A fair summary would be to describe it as an extremely simple car with a positively solid chassis and body structure. The car has likely to have been subject to some restoration in the past, the A-shaped chassis frame is believed to be original. The axle assembly, side and cross members along with the floorpan are in good shape. The aluminium body panels are well mounted to the chassis with an even fit.
The overall finish of the metalwork is acceptable for a 90-year-old car, there is a handful of fractures noted, with a small crack noted on the top of the off-side rear panel. Lower sections show slight pockmarking but appear to be superficial. The wings are in good shape, with minor signs of age but are securely mounted to the car with decent fitting beading.
The doors open and close with no issues, the passenger door catches occasionally needs a little encouragement but operate well within their remit. The bonnet hinges move freely with their rubber seal in good shape and both bonnet catches secure the panels tightly. The boot lid opens and closes cleanly. The paint is consistent, with an even matched hue. The finish is slightly flat and thin in places with a slight origin peel effect noted on the doors but still maintains a positive presentation with no significant damage in terms of chips or blemishes.
The chrome work has lasted well, the radiator shows typical age-related wear but has not tarnished too badly and still stands proud. Other fittings such as the door handles, bonnet hooks and headlamps chrome are fit for purpose, with some wear noted on the headlamp bowls. The headlamps and single rear lamp are all functional and in good condition.
The windscreen frame is in good shape with some wear, with a small crack noted on the nearside bottom corner of the windscreen. The boot lid and rear trim are finished in a black leatherette finish, both coverings are in good shape with no signs of wear. The black painted wire-spoked wheels are generally in good shape, with no significant damage noted on the spokes, they have had a heavy application of paint, so it is fairly difficult to access their true condition but appear to be mostly tight and complete. The car has a set of recent cross-ply 4.00 x 17" Armstrong tyres, which are all in very good shape with no signs of deterioration.
Upgraded 2 bearing engine
Four-speed gearbox and silent differential
The mechanical aspect of the car has been subject to a fair amount of modification over the years, but the good news is that much of it has been beneficial to the practicality of the car. The 747cc engine presents well with evidence of good maintenance and lack of grime. It uses the preferable 2 bearing crankshaft engine is believed to have come from a later car and is fitted with a full-sized fuel tank along with a mechanical fuel pump but still utilises a gravity-fed fuel system, which makes it a usable prospect. Fitted with a decent four-speed gearbox, in lieu of the original 3-speed crash gearbox, the owner has reported no issues with the clutch or gearbox, although as to be expected on a Seven, the clutch has narrow travel. The differential is reported to be near silent.
The starting process is actioned by a manual contact from the cut-out box to the dynamo but there happens to be a spare dynamo ready to be fitted just in case. Once started, however, the engine runs sweetly, with an even pulse and idles with no hesitation or excessive smoke. The car drives well and the owner has said that the braking is adequate for the size and power of the car. The braking set-up is now linked, so is an upgrade from the original set-up where it used the hand brake for the front wheels. The owner has pointed out that the rear springs are somewhat saggy so come with a pair of spare items too. The ride cannot be compared to a modern level of acceptability in terms of complexity, as it bounces down the road but stays well within the car's remit - it's always worth remembering that the Seven comes with its fair share of strange noises and smells too!
This charmingly eye-catching example has the benefits of linked brakes, a four-speed gearbox and seen a level of engine upgrades to allow the car to maintain its mechanical integrity with a touch of usability. Its simplicity, relative cheap parts availability and the active club have gone some way into making the Seven as one of the few pre-war cars that still maintain a popular appeal. Part of that irresistible charm of these cars is that it continues to give their owners, and the general public, much pleasure.
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1932 Austin Seven Boat Tail
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