The basic spec’ of the 1933 Austin 7

This is a very small car,  the track is just 3ft 4″ and the width o/a is just 4ft 3″ the original sales pitch offered a 4 seater for 4 adults or two adults with three children. Of course ‘seat belts’ were never fitted.

The 750cc 4 cylinder side valve engine developed only 10.5 Brake Horse Power at 2400 rpm.  A top speed of just 55 mph was attainable but hardly with a full complement of 4 adults – especially climbing hills.  Although the engine has pumped ‘Castrol’ oil at around 2psi the big ends are lubricated by what was termed ‘spit & hope’ because the webs of the crankshaft scooped dropping oil (not directly to the big end bearings), so when traversing steep hills – up or down-  the drops would be way off the catchment within the crankshaft and big-end knocks were common.

The spec’ offers a “Electric starter” and also a fixed crank handle. The very low compression made starting fairly easy but at just 6 volt with a simple distributor, the engine was a horrible patience tester in very cold weather. if you didn’t hold the handle correctly, a backfire would dislocate your shoulder or your thumb………. One common trait is the tinkling of the brass sleeve over the starting handle

Around the end of 1933 the 3 speed crash-gate gearbox was upgraded to 4 speed  with the new fangled syncromesh (it still crunched…..). The clutch was always fierce. Kangarooing was not uncommon and on early 3 speed gearboxes you had to be an expert at ‘Double-de-Clutching’

Braking was and still is – abysmal, but at least it was combined on all 4 wheels along with a long hand-brake lever which added much needed force.

3.50 cross-ply tyres on 19″ spoked wheels were dreadfully lightweight – almost like motorcycle tyres – and the suspension is weird, as it employs wooden disks which slip under pressure. Imagine a beer mat between your palms – that is the suspension.  19″ diameter wheels are very common now, but it wasn’t pot holes that were the worry then – it was getting stuck in the rut of tram lines…….

The steering wheel in this RP still gas two levers which control the petrol mixture and the advance and retard of the spark plugs. Being fixed rigid, the positioning is average. Seat height adjustment is not possible by lever – however, blowing up the seat rubber bladder helped, though slight movement backward or forward also helped smaller girls – who would struggle to depress a vicious clutch and work the narrow pedals. It is almost impossible for girls to drive wearing ‘heels’ of any kind, and watch out men who may have worn hob nailed boots………..

I laugh now at the 5 gallon petrol tank capacity. The range offered from the vastly inefficient engine was only about 30-35 miles per gallon.  Around 150-175 miles if you were lucky to even have a local petrol pump in your village.

The sales pitch proffers……. “Special Insurance has been arranged…….£10 pounds, one shilling and three old pence per annum.



This 1933 RP version of the world famous Austin 7 (I think) is perfect for ‘electrification’.  The original 1933 engine has at some time in its life been changed for a 1937 three bearing more ‘modern’ 750cc engine – probably from a Ruby.

This would also lean towards accommodating a matching 4 speed gearbox with synchro’ and a forward facing starter. In 1933, the norm’ probably would be a two bearing crank engine and a three speed crash-gate gearbox with a starter mounted into the cab’

The current state of the 750cc, 7hp engine is “healthy” having been checked out by my friends before purchase. However with a “clutch problem” it will have to come out and be repaired.  Rated at just 10 brake HP at 2400 rpm [I think] a 10 – 15 HP DC electric motor fitted right onto the flange of the ‘T’ rear axle would be a sound option. 
So, assuming the said electric motor can be accommodated and fitted right onto the flange replacing the prop shaft, this leaves all the power train and accessories to be removed, along with the prop’ shaft, silencer, petrol tank, radiator, old battery and old electrics.

Remember – I am NOT destroying any option to completely re-install all the removed original engine and drive components. However, I would like to justify the reasoning behind the idea of 100% electric drive.

  • The existing 1937 Ruby engine and gearbox is not original
  • The ‘spit & hope’ 2 psi oil lubrication of the A7 engine is horrible.
  • The carburettor leaves a lot to be desired
  • The simple dynamics of the engines power is crude technology
  • Starting when cold either by crank or electric is troublesome
  • Engine timing and converting to modern contactless spark is weird.
  • Engine cooling is un-pumped and prone to leaks
  • Despite a hot engine, no heater is fitted.
  • The gearbox is just-about synchro’
  • The clutch is single plate, vicious and hard for ‘girls’
  • 6 volt electrics leave a lot to be desired
  • 6 volt filament lamps are inefficient
  • A 6 volt dynamo is part of the engine running gear
  • The top speed of the car is only around 55 mph
  • The 10 BHP is abysmal in the shadow of todays high-tech engines.
  • The range on a full tank of 5 gallons is only around 175 miles
  • The renovation costs of the existing power train could be expensive.
  • Narrow 18″ tyres work well with a lower drag factor.
  • The leaking sliding roof-well could accommodate solar panels***
  • The small period dashboard could be exchanged for relevant meters

Electrics……….. (I’m not looking for 0 – 60 in 3 seconds!!!!!)

The advancement of modern high power magnets and DC motors is a solution looking for a problem to solve.  One single compact 10 – 15 hp reversible motor on the prop shaft is almost a perfect marriage (to be researched**).

Removing the total weight of the engine, gearbox, silencer, prop’, radiator, petrol tank and 6 volt battery.  Removing all that gear also leaves space for (perhaps) 2 stage batteries [Ni-MH along with Deep Cycle traction batteries????].  Only requiring 10 -15 hp offers good efficiency, reasonable range and reasonable charging.  Converting to 12 volt nominal offers efficient lights, power and perhaps heating, along with SOLAR charging from panels on the roof***

The existing brakes could well be assisted by reverse power capture (in some way?) from the hard connection to the prop’s axle shaft rotation.  The existing accelerator pedal can be accommodated along with the steering two levers for adjustments of various elements.  The existing clutch could (perhaps?) be used to REVERSE the motive power for actually reversing the car.

Could you tell if this car was electric??

With all the running gear and ancillaries removed, surely renovating the remaining shell is easier??

If outwardly the car LOOKS original and that it could be reversed, has a monstrous crime been committed??

If the car can be charged (as most all-electric cars can) overnight and the range is around (say) 175 miles, could it not be perceived as an improvement on diminishing and becoming expensive petrol and also better for the environment. It would be quieter, easier to accommodate LED lights, easier to hide MODERN signalling, simpler to maintain – perhaps MORE valuable.



Gallery of photos before the project starts

I’ve hidden my friends faces, as they didn’t agree to be photo’d nor do they know my secret plans to investigate ‘electrification’ – even though NO destruction of the originality or visual appeal will be evident.
I think you can judge just how small the RP version of the famous Austin Seven is – by my friend.

This 1933 Austin was originally all black, and someone has ‘hand-painted’ the light blue lower panels. Obviously over the last 85 years, many drivers have simply used and abused it – perhaps as a plaything, perhaps children have played in it.  The years have not been kind to the interior, the leather has weathered, the floor pan has suffered some rot, but generally, all the important items are still in tact. 

The 1933 RP version is a classic. The vertical windscreen (unlike the sloping Ruby) and the chrome radiator – is very appealing. The car is simple, basic and uncomplicated. It has no heater, a crude windscreen wiper, 18″ spoked wheels with very thin tyres. A spare wheel attached to the rear on a hub (unlike the Ruby’s, which is covered). There are no bumpers front or rear, no turn indicators or fancy lights. The steering wheel still has the advance & retard leverage. The ‘Glove Box’ for some reason is blacked off??

This is a very tiny car, although it does have two forward bucket seats which tilt to allow two small adults in the rear, it really is very cramped. The blow-up innards of the seats have a labyrinth rubber bladder. Not one has survived. (but then they didn’t have synthetic foam we have now).

I left the purchased car to arrange collection by trailer or flat-back, but the winter closed in for quite some time before my friend offered to deliver it to Cheshire.


The agreed delivery date came and went, weather, logistics, timing – after all it was a very very long way away……..

Wednesday 7th of March, a white van arrives – but no car in tow??? I enquire and my friend opens the rear doors – HOLY CRAP – the A7 fits neatly right inside with some tight room to spare (but no height….). I notice my cunning friend has temporarily changed the rear spoked and tired wheels for two scrap ones less the tyres to lower the roof height….👍🏻  Two planks duly slotted into the vans rear bumper and all the ties were released to begin gingerly pulling the A7 out.

Now I fully realise just how tiny the A7 is. I’m delighted by the appearance, I just love this RP version for its simplicity.

The old rear wheels served well. My friend changed then over and amazingly all 4 still hold all their pressures. The 4-5mm of tread is suspect, but Avon Side-Car cross-ply tyres are readily available at around £60

Although the engine does run well, there is some problem with the clutch, so we decided to pull & push it from the Transit up our drive.

It is surprisingly very very lightweight and very manoeuvrable.

It’s going to be a short while before I get it tucked into a dry garage, so under a cover it will stay until warmer days come to have a play…….

The flagstones on the drive are 2ft square, I believe the A7 is just 4ft 6″ wide by 9ft 7″ end to end.

To be continued…………

The first view in the shed……

Peeping from the shed……

When you first see something that’s been hidden away for years, your heart takes over your head. It’s 85 years old!!!! It’s bound to be a wreck surely?

Hidden car

Some people – whilst watching ‘American Pickers’ dream of finding a long tucked away vintage car