Tag Archives: 7

Belchfire Runabout – American Bantam 60 Convertible

In 1935 former American Austin Car Company salesman Roy Evans bought the American Austin Company assets after they had manufactured 20,000 American Austins and filed for bankruptcy.

American Bantam, The Little Car Show, City of Marina

He had the 819cc / 50 cui Austin 7 derived 4 cylinder motor upgraded to produce 23 hp by none other than Harry Miller builder of multiple Indy 500 winning cars and father to the famous line of Offenhauser racing motors.

American Bantam, The Little Car Show, City of Marina

The original American Austin Car Company products Austin 7 derived body was completely restyled by Russian Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky who also styled the contemporaneous Cords and Auburns of the day and later post war Tucker.

American Bantam, The Little Car Show, City of Marina

Production of the American Bantam 60 got underway in 1937 with; Coupé, Roadster, Convertible, Speedster, Woodie Station Wagon and pick up variants, the 1940 American Bantam 60 Convertible Coupé seen here is thought to be one of just 60 that were built.

American Bantam, The Little Car Show, City of Marina

Between 7 and 8,000 Bantam 60’s of all type were produced up until 1941 when the company switched production to the original run of 2,765 Jeeps designed by Karl Probst designated BRC (Bantam Reconnaissance Car) 40. Austin Bantam lost the really big contract for further Jeeps due to fears their production facility at Butler, Pennsylvania did not have sufficient capacity. As a result Ford and Willys Overland were given the biggest Jeep contracts and the original American BRC 40 designs were passed on as required while American Battam productuction switched to Jeep T3 trailers.

American Bantam, The Little Car Show, City of Marina

It is said that the drawings for the 1934 Belchfire Runabout driven by Donald Duck and first seen in 1937 were inspired by the American Bantam 60, despite the Belchfire being known to have been built by Donald using a 1920 Mixwell engine, ’22 Dudge body, ’23 Paclac axles with wheels off a lawn mower!

My thanks to Geoffrey Horton for sharing these photographs taken at The Little Car Show in the City of Marina earlier this year.

Thanks for joining me on this “Belchfire Runabout” edition of ‘Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again for “Ferrari Friday” tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


Metricated Austin 7 – BMW “Dixi” DA2 3/15 #14187

Fahrzeugfabrik Eisenach was founded in in 1896 to manufacture motorcycles and motorcars under the Wartburg brand. The Wartburg brand was discontinued in 1904 and replaced with the Dixi brand.

BMW Dixi DA2 3/15, Silverstone Classic

In 1927 Fabrik Eisenach bought a license to manufacture a Left Hand Drive version of the Austin 7.

The following year BMW wishing to enter the motor manufacture bought Fahrzeugfabrik Eisenach which was experiencing financial difficulties.

Over the ensuing years the car was metricated and the engine was updated and upgraded by BMW, the Austin 7 motor’s ancestry can be traced through a range of BMW and later still Bristol six cylinder motor’s.

The 1929 model, seen here at Silverstone Classic, has an all steel body built by Ambi-Budd of Berlin.

This car spent most of it’s life in East Germany near the Polish border and had been off the road for 15 years before a restoration was started with the replacement of the kingpins, starter ring gear, wiring, fan pulleys, belt and blades, brake shoes, propshaft coupling, battery, windscreen and tyres.

Thanks for joining me on this “Metricated Austin 7” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres”, I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


Big Block Pagoda – Iso Grifo Super 7 Litri Series I

Iso Rivolta was the brainchild of Italian Engineer Renzo Rivolta who had been responsible for Isothermos refrigeration units prior to World War 2.

Iso Griffo Super 7, Silverstone Classic

Wishing to move into motorised transport markets Rivolta developed a range of expensive but well built durable motorcycles from 1948 to 1961.

Iso Griffo Super 7, Silverstone Classic

In 1950’s Renzo developed his best known vehicle the Isetta Bubble Car that was manufactured by Iso in Italy and under licence by Velam in France, Romi in Brazil and most successfully by BMW in Germany.

Iso Griffo Super 7, Silverstone Classic

After leaving Ferrari in 1961, where he had been responsible for the fabled Ferrari 250 GTO, Giotto Bizzarrini set up his own design studio and in 1963 designed the mechanical architecture of the Iso Griffo A3/L. The Grifo,launched in 1963, featured a blueprinted, a process of disassembling a motor then rebuilding it with all the engine parts matching the exact original engine blueprint design specifications for optimal performance, 400 horsepower small block Chevrolet motor.

Iso Griffo Super 7, Silverstone Classic

In 1968 the Grifo was made available with a 435 hp Chevrolet 427 big block motor, requiring the pagoda like air scoop on the bonnet to accommodate the extra height of the larger engine,

Iso Griffo Super 7, Silverstone Classic

along with extra ventilation in the front wings to keep the motor cool, seen on this vehicle which was built in 1969.

Iso Griffo Super 7, Silverstone Classic

The Grifo 7 Litri was said to be capable of 186 mph.

Iso Griffo Super 7, Silverstone Classic

It would appear that just 67 of the 7 Litri Series I vehicles were produced from 1968 to 1970 when the rarer Series II Grifo’s with pop up head light covers were introduced.

Iso Griffo Super 7, Silverstone Classic

The combination of rarity, Bertone styled beauty and mechanical simplicity, a result of using many proprietary parts including the engine and gearbox, makes the Grifo a relatively easy to maintain collectible car.

Thanks for joining me on this 7 Litri edition of ‘Gettin’ a lil psycho on tyres, I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t for get to come back now !


The father of BMW, Jaguar, Bristol and Lotus cars – Austin 7 Part 2/2.

Today I’ll be looking at the legacy left by the humble little Austin 7 on the European Automotive industry, if you missed my introduction to the Austin 7 here is a link to yesterdays post.

The Austin 7 deserves it’s place in British automotive history simply for being it’s first mass produced car, but it’s real standing becomes clear when one considers the Austin 7 was manufactured under licence by the Automobilwerk Eisenbach car factory.

Above Joe Tisdall, 1930, Austin 7 Ulster, VSCC Prescott,

Their Dixi variant of the Austin 7 supplied in kit form initially in 1927 was so successful that within a year BMW bought the company after its own primogenitor vehicles proved less than viable. So the Ausitn 7 saved BMW from ruin as its aeroplane engine manufacturing business began to fail after shady dealings with the USSR came to light.

Above Mark Groves, 1930, Austin 7 Ulster, VSCC Loton Park.

This next bit traces the development of engines if you stick with it you’ll see the blood line from Austin 7 through BMW to Bristol.

In 1932 BMW used the 4 cylinder 747 cc / 45 cui Austin 7/ Dixi engine as the starting point for their own 4 cylinder 788cc / 48 cui motor used in their first all in house designed BMW 3/20

By 1933 BMW built a 1182 cc / 72 cui six cylinder version of the 3/20 engine called the M78 for their 303 model.

In 1934 a larger 1,490 cc 90.9 CUI six cylinder engine was developed from the M78 for use in the BMW 315/319 series of vehicles, which was superseded in 1936 by the hemi head 1971 cc / 120.3 cui six cylinder engine for the 328 model of 1936.

Above Miss Katherine Everett, 1930, Austin 7 Ulster, Prescott.

The plans for the 328’s engine first built in 1936 were appropriated as war reparations by HJ Adlington who was both in the British Army and Managing director of BAC Cars in 1947. The 328 engines designer Fritz Fiedler was also persuaded to move to England where he continued to develop the engine for the Bristol Aeroplane Company cars sold under the new ‘Bristol’ brand, thus the Austin 7 747 cc / 45 cui engine can be seen to be of the great, great, grand father of the Bristol marque which used hemi head 6 cylinder engines derived from the 1936 BMW 328 from 1947 to 1961.

I hope that wasn’t too convoluted or painful.

Above Edward Williams, 1930 Austin 7 Rolt Ulster, Supercharged, VSCC Prescott.

Rewinding back to 1927, Sir William Lyons took the basic Austin 7 and made a high end body for it which sold as the Austin Seven Swallow, moving the Swallow Sidecar Company from side car manufacture into motor car manufacture. In 1945 the Swallow Sidecar Company was renamed the Jaguar Car Company.

Mark Lance, 1930 Austin 7 Ulster TT Replica, VSCC Loton Park.

After WW2 many Austin 7’s were converted into specials as there were not enough new cars to meet demand in England. One of those converting an Austin 7 into a special was Colin Chapman who gave his special a now popular and familiar name Lotus Mk1.

Above Ms Penny Jones, 1931, Austin 7 Ulster Replica, VSCC Loton Park.

The Austin 7 leant it’s name to another influential vehicle the original Austin Mini in 1959 which was originally marketed as the ‘Austin Seven’ and ‘Morris Mini Minor’.

Above Benjamin MARCHANT, 1928 Austin 7 Chummy, supercharged, VSCC Loton Park.

I respectfully suggest that the humble little Austin Seven, which the Austin board only reluctantly agreed to back, became, through it’s role in the development of four prestige automotive manufacturers, one of the most influential vehicles of all time.

Thanks to Roger French and Julian Hunt at TNF for their help identifying a couple of these vehicles, to Tim Murray for his assistance identifying the Chummy and to everyone else for their time and patience, tomorrow I have the first instalment of another two part blog about an absolutely stunning replica of a vehicle which shines in one of my favourite stories about Le Mans, debutantes & underdogs, wishing everyone a fabulous Friday, don’t forget to come back now ! Class Dismissed 🙂


The father of BMW, Jaguar, Bristol and Lotus cars – Austin 7 Part 1/2.

The father of BMW, Jaguar, Bristol and Lotus cars – Austin 7 Part 1/2.

Above, Chris Smith, 1925 Austin Brooklands Replica, Loton Park.

Today I’d like to introduce a very special little vehicle, the Austin 7 in my humble opinion the influence of this vehicle is so far reaching that I am going to make this my very first two part blog, I hope you’ll bear with me and consider the time and space I have dedicated to this model well spent. I’ll start today by introducing the model and tomorrow I’ll consider it’s bewilderingly far reaching legacy on European automotive history

Above, Ms Hannah Enticknap, 1928, Austin 7 Ulster Special, Loton Park.

The truth is so much stranger than fiction. Consider the humble little Austin 7 with a 6’ft 3″ wheel base and track of 3’6″ powered by a 10hp 747 cc / 45 cui sidevalve engine that complete weighed less than half that of a Model T Ford when it hit the streets in 1922 with rear brakes operated by foot and front brakes operated by hand !

Above, Frank Hernandez, 1928 Austin 7 Brooklands Streamline, Loton Park.

Sir Herbert Austin acting against the wishes of his own board threatened to take the ‘7’ concept to rivals Wolseley before putting his own money into the development of the ‘7’ which was completed with draughts man Stanley Edge at Sir Herberts home Lickey Grange.

Above Matt Johnson, 1928, Austin 7 Ulster Supercharged Special, Loton Park, 2010.

Investment repayments and royalties on Sir Austin’s patents arising from the Austin 7’s innovations amounted to £ 2.10 on every vehicle sold on what emerged to be Britain’s first mass production car.

Above Doug Bukin, 1929 – 1932, Austin 7 Ulster Special, Prescott, 2010.

Over the 14 years the Austin 7 was in production 40 different body styles were introduced including 2 and 4 seaters using aluminium, fabric and steel in tourer, saloon, cabriolet. sports, vans and a Coupe style.

Above Tom Hardman, 1929, Austin 7 Ulster B & Q Special, Loton Park, 2010.

In 1923 2500 Austin 7’s were built, small fry in terms of the numbers of Model T’s built and when production ceased in 1939 the 290,000 units built was hardly hot potatoes in terms of numbers against Detroit’s finest yet the Austin 7 deserves it’s place in British motoring history for being Britain’s first mass production car.

Above Gary Bishop, 1929, Austin 7, Blaue Maus Special, Prescott, 2010.

Thanks for popping by, look forward to sharing Part 2 on the Austin 7’s legacy and it’s tomorrow, don’t forget to come back now !


Adding Lightness 50 years on – Caterham 7 Superlight

The Caterham 7 Superlight comes in two sizes regular S3 as the original Lotus 7 and the SV which is 4.3″ wider to accomodate those of us who were not born with jockey size hips.

Colin Chapman’s guiding principle when conceiving his vehicles including the Lotus 7 of which the Caterham 7 is the direct descendent was to add lightness, which in his day meant extensive use of aluminium and on the Superlight shown here means extensive use of carbon fibre including the mudguards and dashboard.

Engine options for the Superlight are 150 hp Ford Sigma, 210 hp or 263 hp Ford Cosworth Duratec. The latter option should be able to propel you from 0 – 60 in 2.88 seconds and if your head is still attached to the rest of your body on to 150 mph.

I’d like to finish by wishing my fellow ‘The Prisoner‘ fan and ‘Rowdy‘ buddy from Brevard, North Carolina, Steve Arnaudin a very Happy Birthday.

Thanks for dropping by, don’t forget to come back now ! BSY !