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Austin 7 Tuning Specialists in the fifties
Austin 7 Special body[Back to Period tuning conversions main page]
In the fifties many practically-minded DIY motorists were buying up cranky old Austin 7s and using the running gear and chassis to build something altogether more spirited to drive. Some used the Austin chassis, whereas others with deeper pockets would splash out on bespoke tubular affairs, into which Austin (or Ford if preferred) mechanical bits could be fitted.
Super Accessories, of Bromley in Kent, were one of the leading exponents of this matter in the 1950s. Not only did they produce a variety of bodyshells for both Pop or Austin 7 powered cars, they also sold a wide variety of bolt-on enhancements to pep up the car's performance.
The catalogue from years ago expands on the mouthwatering array of tuning parts that were available for these almost-vintage machines. Sports suspensions kits could be purchased, as could new bodyshells (see below), uprated headlamps, revised axles and chassis, telescopic shock absorbers, back axles of different ratios, refurbished engines (2 bearing and 3 bearing engines catered for), 'aero' valve springs, tasty exhausts and manifolds, plus some very nice Superide and Superlite wheels for a real indulgence.
On this page is information on the parts that Super Accessories produced for the Seven 50+ years ago, taken from a number of period publications that were produced by this small company. Included is a write-up on the two bodyshells that they were selling for the A7 chassis back then, namely the 'Cadet' (also known as the Hamblin Cadet after its manufacturer) and the 'Super' models, in addition to optional accessories and spare parts.
The following is taken from a Super Accessories information sheet:
Suitable for 6ft 3in or 6ft 9in Austin 7 chassis.
This body has been designed for the enthusiast who wants a good looking body for his special, but who, like most enthusiasts is working on a limited budget.
The shell is moulded in one piece and is reinforced with an extra layer of material around all edges. A steel frame is bonded into the front of the shell and this bolts directly to the old radiator mounting and forms the front fixing for the body as well as forming a suitable radiator and light bar mounting. Plates are laid up in the side of the body opposite the chassis cross members to reinforce the fixing at these points. The rear end can be bolted directly to the existing extensions on a Ruby chassis or to your own extensions to an earlier chassis. To facilitate the fitting of the bulkhead and floorboards, three brackets are bonded to the inside of the shell under the scuttle. The glass reinforced plastic wings can be fitted with simple brackets bolted to the body. These bodies can be supplied in a number of colours and although a better finish can be obtained by painting this is not essential. For cars fitted with down draught carburettors we can supply a blister which will give greater clearance over the carburettor.
To avoid extra cost the body is normally supplied with edges untrimmed, as this can easily be done with a hacksaw.
Full mounting and trimming instructions and recommendations are supplied with each body. Most simple to fit.
Overall Length of body: 9' 11"
Length of cockpit: 32"
Width of cockpit 36"
Height of scuttle from road (400/15 tyres front, 500/15 rear): 32.5"
Weight (with front mounting and wings): approx 55lbs.
Bodyshell (with untrimmed edges): £37.10.0
Bodyshell (with untrimmed edges and without front mounting or bulkhead brackets): £34.10.0
Wing (with untrimmed edges): £1.0.0
Blister, for downdraught carburettors: £0.19.6
Trimming all edges on bodyshell: £6.0.0
Cutting, trimming bonnet and lip: £7.10.0
The following details were taken from the orange covered Super Accessories catalogue at the top of this page:
The "Super" 2-seater body-shell for the Austin 7 chassis is made from prime, dry, 2"x1" ash, panelled in 20g aluminium. It is purposefully made doorless to give it maximum strength, bearing in mind the flexibility of the A.7 chassis, and is reinforced on the inside with steel plates at strategic points. The back panel is made very rigid in order to carry the spare wheel, which may be mounted on an old brake drum that has been drilled around the perimeter and bolted to this back panel.
The bodyshell is extremely attractive, and weighs only approx. 40 lbs for 6'9" wheelbase chassis, and 35lbs for the 6'3" model. It is easy to fit (no welding required) and existing radiator and headlamps can be used, thus reducing cost of your car.
It is not possible to supply a readymade bonnet, as it depends on the height of the radiator used (for there are several heights of A7 radiator) and the position in which the bodyshell is mounted according to the amount of legroom required. We can, however, supply 2 top bonnet panels already pre-formed to the approximate shape required. These panels can be overlapped in the centre, marked, and cut to size - then either hinged in the middle or 'dummy' hinged by joining with rivets and covering with a piece of halfround aluminium moulding. These panels are also made longer than necessary, so that you may trim them to fit any desired length bonnet.
It is essential that before fitting the 'Super' bodyshell, the chassis be lowered with a Sports Suspension Kit, and the steering column (unless it is the late type with the STEEL steering box) raked with a wedge. Special offset wheels are NOT essential.
Price of bodyshell: £25 (includes no internal or external fittings).
Bonnet top panels: 52/6d per pair.
The catalogue then goes into extensive detail on the myriad of other accessories you could buy (inc seat cushions, black hoods, full width windscreen, cycle type mudguards, V windscreen - for the Cadet, sports suspension kits, reconditioned engines, low lying radiators and loads more).
A further supplementary leaflet focuses on an ultra close ratio gear conversion suitable for 1934 - 1939 4-speed synchromesh gearboxes, giving a higher 1st, 2nd and 3rd gear (aimed at 750MC racers more than the road going driver it seems).
More information on a similar theme can be found in this tuning section, including a page on Speedex, and a look at literature posted out in 1958 by Cambridge Engineering relating to their Austin 7 upgrades. A photo of an Austin 7 special at a circuit in South Africa can be found on this page of the vintage gallery.
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