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						Austin 7 Special

1932 Austin 7 Special

By Dean Larson

Photos: Seller, BringaTrailer.com

Even a casual American auto enthusiast understands the impact Ford Model T had on the history of the automobile. A revolutionary approach at the time, Ford mass-produced the T in affordable configurations with standardized parts and streamlined manufacturing processes, ensuring a rock-bottom price that reshaped the auto industry in America. The impact of the Model T far surpassed its time in production, as it continued to be used as cheap transportation for decades and was quickly adopted by speed-hungry young men, eager to transform the T into expressions of style and speed. But why the expansive Ford history when we’re looking at a British Austin? Well, it’s really a matter of impact, and like the mass-produced T, the Austin 7 transformed the auto industry in Britain and beyond, paving the way for affordable sports specials like this Austin 7 on BringaTrailer.com.

Recognizing the need for a small affordable car in Britain, Sir Herbert Austin broke off from the company’s traditional offerings and designed a small four-cylinder economy platform now known as the Austin 7. It was powered initially by a 696 cc side-valve four-cylinder with an output of just 7.2 hp. By 1923, cylinder volume was up to 747 cc and the engine produced 10.5 hp. The chassis was designed in an A shape and the running gear was very basic.

The Austin 7 blew up after a few years in production, with over 290,000 examples built in car and van configurations. The booming cyclecar industry was destroyed by the 7, making it the new standard in cheap transportation in the pre-war era. And like the Model T, the 7 proved influential long after Austin stopped producing them in 1939 as well. Easy and cheap to come by, the Austin 7 would form the basis for countless sports specials after the war, constructed by lightening and streamlining old 7s with revised bodywork and simple hop ups. These cars were most often fit with more aerodynamic grilles and streamlined tail sections, and often Brooklands screens in lieu of the primitive Austin windshields. Like pre-war Fords in America, the Austin 7 was the go-to platform for building something cheap and fun, and 7-based cars saw extensive competition history in Britain in the post-war years.

This 1932 Austin special on BringaTrailer.com celebrates the history of iconic British sports specials with a bit of competition history of its own. The bones of the car were put together by a fellow named Don Rawson, who appears to be the authority on these machines. The riveted alloy bodywork is credited to David Gregson, who also appears to be known for these types of builds. While the body exhibits a number of small paint flaws, it has the perfect look befitting a car of this style, and is in damn good shape for a race car.

A couple issues do need to be addressed under the hood in the Don Rawson-built four-cylinder engine. Its been upgraded with alloy pistons, upgraded crank and camshafts and an equal-length header, but the seller notes that the engine has a misfire, some scoring in one cylinder and cracks between a head stud and cylinder liner.

Valuing a car such as this one is not a straightforward affair, but thankfully a comparable car sold on BaT in early 2019 — a 1935 Austin 7 Sports special. That car was in much better condition, and sold for $50,000 even, setting the car for this car somewhere around $10,000 cheaper I’d imagine.

Check out the Austin Seven special here on BringaTrailer.com.

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Austin Sports Special