Austin ‘kit car’ sported head-turning style

Peter Bedingfield and his father working on his Austin Seven-based first car. Picture: supplied

Peter Bedingfield and his father working on his Austin Seven-based first car. Picture: supplied - Credit: Peter Bedingfield supplied

Peter Bedingfield

Peter Bedingfield's Austin Seven-based first car with the gang at the youth club. Picture: supplied

Peter Bedingfield's Austin Seven-based first car with the gang at the youth club. Picture: supplied - Credit: Peter Bedingfield supplied

My first car was, I believe, on a 1936 Austin Seven chassis, with a side-valve engine, and a glass fibre sport-like body, affectionately known as 'the bomb'.

I purchased it for £55 having got an allowance of £5 for my Francis Barnett motorcycle – my mother being more than relieved at the bike going.

This was in February 1963, the day after passing the test on my 17th birthday.

I learned very quickly not to brake too hard while cornering – if you didn't keep the rods well greased, one side would brake hard and the other not at all. The electrical wiring consisted of a dozen or more flick switches – one for each bulb – and one for all the other bits and pieces.

I was glad that my father's mechanical knowledge taught me how to solve many problems and we spent many hours tinkering with the engine.

Behind the two bucket seats the glass fibre body came up to support your head with an enormous filler cap with a pipe leading to the small tank – the pipe holding as much petrol as the tank.

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I never went any great distance because the engine didn't like to run too long but did get admiring glances and laughter.

When caught out in the rain there was no place for a car screen wash so I had a washing-up bottle and leaned over the front and squeezed some on to the windscreen before using the wipers.

When the time came to sell the car I purchased an Austin A30. Anyone of my generation will know a sticking needle valve on a carburettor, which it suffered from on numerous occasions, causes havoc. Thank goodness this was before MOT tests were thought of.

Do you have some tales to tell about your first car? The adventures, scrapes, breakdowns, mishaps and maintenance just to keep it on the road. Email your motoring memories with a picture of the car to motoring@archant.co.uk or post it to Andy Russell, motoring editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RE.

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