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Austin 7 Special body[Back to Period tuning conversions main page]
Speedex were one of a number of companies offering racey 750 sportscar bodyshells for Austin 7 based specials in the 1950s. In the fifties many souped-up cars were built using either Austin, or Ford sidevalve, powered chassis, clothed with one of many sleek bodyshells that were available.
The old leaflet reproduced here introduces the Speedex body shell, which we're told was suitable for the Austin Ruby chassis, itself a late development of the original 1920s A7.
The car shown here, registration VJ 9343, looks like it has all the period tuning goodies fitted - notice however just a single front lamp, and minimal rear lighting. Most of the budget I bet went on the tasty wheel rims.
The leaflet reads as follows:
The Speedex Complete Body Shell
This has been developed for the Special builder who wishes to mount a body with the least possible trouble. It is designed to bolt on to a Ruby chassis to the normal mounting points.
body is that it is complete.
Specifications of the Body Shell
Steel tubular sub-frame.
Stressed aluminium panels.
Seven chassis mounting points.
Aluminium under-tray (No road dirt or water on your brake parts and axles).
Throttle linkage lugs to take normal A7 throttle bar.
Mudguard stays front and rear.
Radiator mounting brackets fitted in shell.
Aluminium supplies for fire-proof bulkhead.
The body-shell will take the standard Ruby tank.
This body has been developed in the light of personal Special building experience, and it will be noted that there are no extras required.
The design of the engine compartment is such that the engine and gear-box can be removed in one unit in less that thirty minutes. All engine components are easily accessible, ie carburettor tuning, etc.
Although this shell is designed for the Ruby chassis, there is no reason whatsoever why it cannot be mounted on the normal 6 foot 9ins Austin 7 chassis.
Full-width windscreen weather equipment can be supplied as optional extras.
Are there many of these Austin 7-based specials still around? I'll feature any photos of survivors on this page if so.
Other Speedex accessories and tuning mods
The company, owned by Jem Marsh, was located at 33 Jubilee Street, Luton, in Bedfordshire according to a period parts price list, part of which is reproduced here too ..
"The proprietor of Speedex (Castings and Accessories) has had ten years of driving, building, and racing Austin 7 Specials. From this experience we have placed on the market all parts that are required for the Special Builder. Bearing in mind the limited means of the average Austin 7 owner, we have managed to keep our prices down to the absolute minimum. We always welcome you to come and discuss your problems with us, and with the experience we have gained through the years much can be passed on to your goodselves."
Packed in this simple typewritten price list leaflet are some very mouthwatering upgrades for the go-faster A7 driver of the day. Pictured on the back cover are the two conversions shown alongside. First is for their Independent Front Suspension kit, ready to fit on an Austin 7 chassis. Below is the finned high compression cylinder head, which raised the compression ration to 7.2. Other temptations included Stage One, Two, Three and Four engine conversions, quick-fit Bowdenex Brake Kits, telescopic shock absorber mountings, modified axles, standard engine overhaul parts, big valves, race camshafts, and the desirable Speedex light alloy road wheels. New SU carbs and 4 branch manifold could be purchased to replace the unsporting originals fitted to the A7 engine. Other nice-to-haves listed are the Speedex three-bladed dummy hubcaps, speed coil, double valve springs, and gearbox remote control. The final option featured is the Speedex Revolution Counter registering 0-8500 rpm.
I'm presently researching the history of an Austin 7 Ulster/special that I bought, so if anyone recognises the car - reg. LKL 513 - please get in touch. Information on other firms that could supply uprated Austin 7 parts can be found elsewhere in the period tuning companies section, for example, this page on Cambridge Engineering in Surrey.
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