Barn Find 1929 Austin Seven Cambridge Sports Special

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The story goes that this 1929 Austin “special” was put up on blocks to avoid some decades-ago flood that never came. The seller has taken it off the blocks and cleaned it slightly, but has not tried to start it. The little car is located in Tampa, Florida and is listed for sale here on eBay, where the opening bid is $9,000 but there’s no reserve.

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The seller has cleaned the car up but hasn’t done anything else, although I wonder where the rally placard on the front came from for this picture (it does look great, though). The seller did some research with some UK enthusiasts and found out something about the body conversion from a company called Cambridge: Cambridge Engineering, founded and owned by Bill Williams in the 1930’s, offered race tuning options for Austin Seven owners desiring to turn their standard models into sports cars and increase their performance a well. These light weight aluminum over ash frame bodies were offered by Cambridge Engineering along with other accessories in kit form. The company remained in business into the 1960’s. Cambridge offered 2 different bodies; this 2-seater body for fitting to a Sports chassis.

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All I know is it’s gorgeous, and it has just the right amount of, yes, the p-word, patina for me. With a car like this that has been modified anyway, to me the idea is to keep it in the general era, but I would possibly add some period speed accessories. There are plenty available for Sevens.

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What a great interior, and the period fire extinguisher (at least that’s what I think it is?) is the perfect touch. I’d hope to sympathetically repair the red upholstery, which I hope is leather.

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There’s the little four cylinder! And look at the engine turned firewall! In case you haven’t guessed, this little car pushes a lot of my buttons! Does it push any of yours?

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Comments

  1. Rick

    Want. What a gorgeous little car! Wouldn’t do anything but get it running and enjoy the back roads on a fall afternoon!

    Like 1
  2. 68 custom

    pretty cool!

  3. gord

    if i read the ad right, the “clean” pix are BEFORE pix from prior years, then the car was stored possibly to avoid a flood, so the dirty pic is the current pic
    bit too much cross posting with BaT these days but… different people too

    • Jack

      This is a quote directly from the eBay ad about the pictures.

      “Photographs : The photographs show the car as it was found in the barn, as well as, some after the cleanup. Also shown are a few very old photos, (approximately 30 years ago) of the car when it was driven and shown extensively”

  4. RayT Member

    Yum! I’d get it running and make sure everything — like brakes — work as well as possible, then drive it. Any cosmetic items can wait.

    Granted, there’s a temptation to start checking the UK for “speed” — a relative term, of course — parts, which were once plentiful. Heads, cams, manifolds to take an SU or two, even (if I remember correctly) supercharger kits were popular Ford 1172 hop-up items. For the sake of “originality” and not testing repairs made to the existing engine, I’d probably source a short-block to modify as well.

    But that’s just frosting on the cake. This comes close to perfection the way it is. Thank goodness it’s too spindly for anyone to consider going the SBC route!

    I want it, even if it will go for more money than my budget could stand.

  5. Matt Tritt

    Droooool… What a car! Not so sure I’d want it going TOO fast though. Just right for choosing off those Singers and TA’s just like it is.

    • Dave Wright

      Those brakes look pretty tiny……..and you will need a bicycle mechanic to tune the wheels……..very cool.

  6. Dolphin Member

    Yes, definitely a little gem. It has all kinds of charm, especially that brass rad and the aluminum body.

    These are small. Driver & passenger elbow to elbow, and no worry about going too fast, since IIRC these Austin 7s are 747cc, with a flathead configuration and an RAC rating of 7.2 HP, which I just looked up. I’m sure someone knows the conversion to the SAE HP equivalent, but I’d guess maybe 22.

    I knew someone who had this engine in a boat and it’s small enough that you think you would just about be able pick it up and work on it with it sitting across your legs.

    Like 1
  7. Van

    I love this thing. Clean and Polish, rebuild mechanicals, enjoy the hell out of it.

  8. Peter

    (1) Look at the photo of the engine bay and note that the 750cc engine is about the same size as the 6-volt battery.
    (2) I think the engine was 2-main bearing only, however, the factory produced a proper racing engine which I think had twin overhead camshafts and a supercharger nearly as big as the engine block. If my memory is correct, it developed about 160 bhp but with some extra main bearings (the only similarity was the engine capacity). I also think the boost was something like 20 or 30 psi.
    (3) There is no conversion from rac power to sae power. Any conversion is just a guess that an equivalent power output is based on similar engine capacities. The rac rating was an engine tax and the longer the crankshaft stroke the lower the registration charge because the calculation was divided by the stroke and the numerator (number on the top) was the bore squared. This is why British engines were under-square long stroke.

  9. Ross W. Lovell

    Greetings All,

    Have seen a lot of these over the years but this is the first I’ve seen from a kit, most have been built this way by some clever and handy owners with tin snips and access to a louvre press.

    The more basic the motoring the more fun. A roller skate with brakes.

    Clean it, get a twin carb setup. Do not add a bigger engine the brakes are not up to it.

  10. Howard A Member

    I think it’s amazing the headlights still work so well as found,,,,and when they put it up on blocks, it went way up on blocks. ( doesn’t look too safe). Cute little car, for puttin’ around the back streets of London, but I’d be a little nervous in modern traffic. I’m sure it does all of 40 mph. Cool find though.

  11. Glen

    Looks like an Austin Healy beside it, very nice.

  12. jimbosidecar

    I have more love for the big Healey alongside it

  13. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    how cool is this….like….

    • Jack

      @stillrunners
      I agree, this thing is bad ass!
      Thanks Jamie for pushing the right buttons!

  14. Bruce

    It must be a fast car…It even has an Oh S**T handle attached to the passenger side dash !!!!

    • SamM

      Bruce, I think that’s a carry handle, for parking assist.

  15. Scotty Staff

    $4,500 each, Jamie? I’ll take it from May through October..

  16. Bob Dyke

    I had a very well built Cambridge special in the 1960’s in London as a medical student. It had been raced and had been built with the usual engine mods -a light flywheel, high compression head etc. and also hydraulic brakes which were good. It cost me £15 but it had a blown head gasket which I diagnosed before purchase. When I picked it up, I drove it around the corner on two cylinders and fitted a new head gasket beside the road. We then set off with a bit of wheel spin! I drove the London to Cornwall one night -about 230 miles in 4 1/2 hours. One could chuck it into the bends and it would stick well on the road! It was the best Austin out of several that I had.

  17. Juan Plaul

    Hi Jamie, is this austin seven for sale yet available?

    • Brock

      Long long gone. As I recall it sold for $11000 or $15000….something like that

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