As winners of the 2017 Cotswold Classic Run we were asked to fill the center pages of the 2018 brochure. Quite an honor.
This was us arriving at the venue, Grittleton Hall.
AUSTIN RUBY DELUX: MODEL ARR
BBM69 is a 1937 Austin Seven Ruby Saloon, originally owned by Rupert Owen of Banbury. Dianne’s father, Monty, bought the car in 1944 for £75. Dianne first drove BBM on her 17th birthday. In 1961 BBM was sold to Mr Hodgkinson from Tostock for £120, then in 1963 Dianne bought her back into the family for £25. BBM was given a respray and was back on the road and in daily use. At the time Dianne was working in her father’s garage as a car mechanic and receptionist, Edwin joined the RAF in 1969 as an armourer, he now takes responsibility for keeping BBM road worthy, under Dianne’s knowledgeable eye of course. BBM has had three colour schemes, grey, black and now maroon, all with black wings and silver radiator grill.
In 1964 they went on their honeymoon in BBM and ran her until the engine gave up the ghost. In 1998 they handed BBM over to Ian Bancroft for a full restoration. Much of the preparatory work being done by Ed. She was back in time for their anniversary on 28th March 1999. Now, nineteen years and 34,000 miles later the car is still in excellent condition.
The car is set up for continental touring and for reliability a modern crankshaft is fitted, the original cranks were fragile, two cranks have failed in service, one catastrophically! A comprehensive list of spare parts, tools and consumables are carried. Ed even carries a rear axle half shaft, another weak point in Austin Sevens. Twice BBM has been rescued by recovery services, once for a split bearing in the dynamo and once for an exhaust blocked with carbon deposits. There is a two-bearing engine installed at the moment that has been bored out to plus eighty thou. with a high compression head fitted. Other improvements include double front shock absorber, flashing indicators and a 12v supply for the sat nav.
Places visited have included Spain, France, The Netherlands, Brittany, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. In 2017 they visited the Isle of Man to drive the TT Mountain course. They completed the thirty-six miles in one hour, eighteen minutes and twenty-six seconds. In the two tours of Ireland, north and south no rain was encountered, some sort of a record
During the holiday in France the chance was taken to climb up the Col de Aspin, one of the cols used by the Tour de France. The idea came to Ed when he watched the Spanish tour climb the Col. The climb was not difficult but the car did overheat on the way up, not enough air through the radiator when climbing in third gear. Having no water pump to help cool the engine big hills do lead to the cooling water boiling. The steepest hills encountered so far were 33% so one in three! Both these were in Yorkshire.
Driving any Austin Seven is an experience in itself, having driven them all their driving lives it is second nature to Ed and Dianne. Due allowance has to be made for the lack of acceleration and retardation, with only seventeen or so horse power and cable brakes defensive driving is the order of the day.
Touring in an Austin Seven is great fun, while driving from Biarritz to Santander on the motorway they were escorted by a modern car with his hazard lights on for 12 miles. When stopped at the border, armed police asked them to step out of the car. Nothing wrong they said we just want your lovely car.
When in Norfolk Dianne and Ed were asked to interview Ken Wallace, of Bond film autogyro fame, for the Pre-War Austin Seven Club magazine. Ken had been an Austin Seven owner before the second world war. At the second meeting Ken sat in BBM “it is very modern” he said. Parked at a public house in Lincolnshire, a passer-by asked if he could sit in the car, he did, then burst into tears! The experience had brought back happy childhood memories of holidays taken in an Austin Ruby.
Austin Sevens are to be found all over the world and have been used for some extraordinary journeys, England to Australia, Argentina to New York and recently a trip from Alaska to the tip of South America, around 18,000 miles.
BBM69 was honoured to be awarded First Place on the inaugural Roger Cook Cotswold Classic Run in 2017.