31 January 2020
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This is an Austin 7 – see it at FAST Live!

Stung by the success of MG in all kinds of motor racing, Sir Herbert Austin decided to encourage a factory racing team. So he persuaded Murray Jamieson to join the team, with a simple brief: design the ultimate Austin Seven.

Jamieson’s first design was a record car which resembled, in miniature, Campbell’s Bluebird. He added a high pressure Roots-type supercharger to the Seven’s basic side-valve 747cc engine, boosting it so much that a total of 32 studs were needed to hold the cylinder head down!

The engine and transmission of the record car were fitted in a new frame and a body not unlike the shape of American sprint cars of the time, which were considered fashionable. The car was state-of-the-art for its time and also very light, weighing only 8½ cwt (431kg).To accommodate the driver in the narrow single seat body, the transmission was offset to the left.

The car made its debut in 1934 and two new cars were built to the same design in 1935.One of them crashed spectacularly at Brooklands in 1937, when Kay Petre was tipped into a spin by Reg Parnell’s MG, an incident which effectively ended her racing career. The car displayed here is the survivor, a sprint car often driven by Bert Hadley and which can be seen at FAST Live on March 12th thanks to a free British Motor Museum ticket courtesy of the event organisers.

Tom Austin-Morgan

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