Fabric Saloon

By the time a car reaches  90 years old it usually has a story to tell. This little fabric saloon body was full of character but on the brink of collapse when it arrived at the workshop. It’s relative rarity even in Austin Seven terms means it has more historical significance than later cars and is full of quirky little features typical of a car from a transition phase of production. Thankfully my client shared my preference for preservation and repair rather than complete replacement, even though the latter may have been a more straightforward option.

Restoring a car of this type brings with it some responsibility; unrestored cars are becoming increasingly rare so the opportunity to record original finishes and fixings  may not happen again. For this reason copious photos were taken for reference.

As we began to measure and disassemble the structure the process of archaeology began. The owner discovered broken chassis rails and I found a crushed sill and broken A-pillar, suggesting it had been rolled onto its side at some point. The repairs were crude to say the least (a replacement window glass was 2 inches too small)  and we began to believe that the car had been used for off-road trials, probably in the 1960s.

Rampant woodworm and ill-conceived repairs meant much of the timber was beyond saving but we were able to retain most of the rear panel and much of the floor. The seat boxes were repaired and strengthened and the tunnel was retained along with the all-important body number. The doors were so poor the only parts worth re-using were the locks and winders but many of the other aluminium panels were re-used.

Once the wings and running boards had been trial fitted the owner took over the task of treating and painting the shell ready for another 90 years of adventures.