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Friday, April 5, 2013

National Motor Museum: Vintage Cars, Part 1


Not a lot of civilian vehicles were built during the two world wars, but the history of motoring at the National Motor Museum in Beaulieu, UK, continues with its collection of vintage cars, those built between World War I and World War II. I only have photos of six, while there are 20 listed on the Museum’s trust site. While I may have missed a couple or not been able to get photos due to their positioning, not everything the Museum owns is on display at any given time. Trust me, I would have noticed the 1927 Morgan Aero-Sports!

1923 Austin Seven Tourer
by Kate Tompkins

Today, I’ll be covering a pair of Austins, a company I’m partial to as my parents owned a series of them when I was a kid. Not as old as these, however. First up is a 1923 Austin Seven Tourer. According to the plaque beside it at the museum, the Austin Seven or “baby” Austin was originally produced in 1922 by the Austin Motor Co. Ltd., and became quite popular as it had features until then generally only found in larger cars, but was priced like the small car it was. Little things like brakes on all four wheels. There’s a 747 cc, 4-cylinder engine under its hood, giving it a top speed of 50 mph. Original price? £165. Note the badge on the hood; a similar badge is sported by today’s MINI, even though the company has changed hands many times since then.
1931 Austin Seven Swallow
by Kate Tompkins

Next is a 1931 Austin Seven Swallow. I felt sorry for it, wedged in between a post and a wall, but better than not being on display at all. Like the earlier Austin Seven Tourer, it had a 747 cc, 4-cylinder engine, and was still priced at £165. According to the Museum’s website, this particular model was the “last known two-seater made by the Swallow company.” Wikipedia says Swallow, founded by designer William Lyons and William Walmsley, had originally built sidecars for motorcycles, later expanding into coachwork for cars, with the Austin Seven being their first. Eventually they started building their own cars, first called SS, and renamed for obvious reasons after the Second World War to Jaguar. The history of British car companies is indeed convoluted.
1931 Austin Seven Swallow
by Kate Tompkins

In addition to these two beauties, the museum also has a 1928 Austin Clifton 12/4, and another Austin Seven Tourer, also from 1928.

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