GERRY BIRRELL – Lost Before His Time

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Aspects of Motoring History # 18

Published July 2022. 126 pages, 92 black & white illustrations and charts and 24 full-colour images, softbound. Articles: Craig...

Aspects of Motoring History # 17

Published June 2021. 109 pages, nearly 40 black & white illustrations and charts and 32 full-colour images, softbound. Articles:...

Snapshot 215: Austin 7 ‘Boat’

It was low tide in Vicarage Gardens, W8, when this sad little craft caught the photographer’s eye. But fame, if not fortune, awaited YX6686, as, spruced-up, not to say ship-shape, it featured widely in full-page advertisements for Ferodo brake lining material, this at a guess in the 1960s. Whether its creator built the boat body to suit the chassis, or whether a small motor-boat body, maybe obtained from a seaside pleasure-ground attraction, was grafted into place, isn’t known. It is said that this ‘marine conversion’ was carried out during WW2, and by one Bill Rose.

But the chassis was – and is – a 1928 Austin 7: today it again is a standard ‘Chummy’ and a very smart one too, much-loved by Sarah Pennington, its current owner. In 2004, Sarah acquired the car in its present configuration: a previous owner must have returned the car to standard specification. Even more remarkable – the boat body not only also survived but was transferred to a 1937 Austin 7 ‘Ruby’ chassis. Looking much as it did in those heady ‘Ferodo’ days, it is on display in Sweden’s Motala Motor Museum, some 80 miles WSW of Stockholm.

A gunwale ladder fixed on the nearside gives cockpit access; the hood, which contributed little to the ensemble visually, is long gone, and the six inches of extra wheelbase gained by the Austin 7s between 1928 and 1937 results in the rear axle being that much further back… sorry; aft.

2 responses to “Snapshot 215: Austin 7 ‘Boat’”

  1. Robert Olive says:

    I remember this car well from my time in Kensington, West London circa 1967 – when I worked up there. It was often to be seen buzzing about. It was I believe featured in The early editions of Veteran and Vintage when there was a monthly column ‘seen around town’.. or something similar.

    Great piece of Austin history!

  2. Andrew Minney says:

    This image “surfaced” today on Facebook!

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