22 Aug 1934 Austin Nippy
Our 1934 Austin Nippy is a member of the Austin 7 family of cars. “7’s” were produced between 1922 and 1939. The Nippy was a model built between 1934 and 1937. There were only 682 Nippys produced! 7’s in general were the most popular car in Great Britain at the time and they affected the market in a manner similar to the Model T, literally wiping out most of the other small cars and cyclecars produced in England. It was also licenced and copied by car companies all over the world. The first BMW car, the BMW Dixi was a licenced Austin 7, as were the original American Austins. In France they were made and sold as Rosengarts. In Japan Nissan also used the 7 design as the basis for their original cars, although not under licence. Many Austin 7s were rebuilt as “specials” after the Second World War, including the first Lotus, the Lotus Mk1, which was based on an Austin 7. When production finally ended, 290,000 cars and vans had been made (and only 682 were Nippys!) We acquired the car in 1977 along with documentation including the “Registration Book” – more or less, the car’s history.
The car is unique. Only the 1934 Nippy was manufactured using steel for all body components, unlike all other Austin 7’s, which were aluminium. Few examples of these steel bodied cars exist today.
My wife and I tore it down to the frame. All body parts and frame were blasted and prepared for paint. Considering the car is steel, there was little rust. The seats were re-upholstered and the engine rebuilt. After acquiring the proper pistons and other engine parts, we carried the little 4 cylinder engine, head and block, into the machine shop! I don’t think any of the staff had seen two people carrying a motor under their arms!
This car is historically significant because of its rarity, especially in Canada and the impact it had on the market in Britain. The Austin Seven was the first mass-market car to be fitted with a “conventional” control layout, as found on modern cars. Its 747 cc side-valve engine was quite capable with a modest 10 hp output. It has four wheel brakes; cast iron block with aluminium heads; and the crankshaft is splash-lubricated The 4 speed transmission is syncromesh on 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. gear.
I hope the car will remain in the family for years to come.