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Engine Needed: 1929 Austin 7 Special


This charming little special is just begging for someone to finish it – engine needed! Reader Robert R sent us this find, which is physically located in Albuquerque, New Mexico and listed for sale here on eBay. There’s a buy-it-now of $23,500, while bidding has yet to meet the reserve at just below $10,000. Many of these specials have been built over the years, mostly in the UK. For example, Colin Chapman’s first Lotus cars were based on the 7, and entire classes of British racing have existed for these little specials. In the US, I have seen them used mostly in vintage racing, although if this were mine I’d have to license it for the street and use it occasionally for short jaunts just to surprise my neighbors. No history for the car is listed in the ad, although the seller invites phone calls and seems knowledgeable about the car. Is this too high a price to pay for a car that weighs well under 1,000 pounds without an engine and can fit in the back of most pickups? Or is it a bargain for a hand-crafted evocative piece of history? Tell us what you think!


  1. Avatar photo Dolphin Member

    This looks like the kind of ‘special’ that might have been built in the UK decades ago. There are a couple of plaques screwed to the dash but they seem to reference Germany and Switzerland instead of the UK, so unless the seller or someone comes up with some history for the car, who knows whether it has any significance or real value? The difference between knowing the history / significance vs. not can be huge when it comes to valuing something like this.

    I don’t know enough about the Austin 7 to say whether the parts on this car were derived from one, but the friction shocks, transverse leaf springs and tiny drum brakes look right. I do know that the 7’s flathead-4 engine made very modest power at best, and I think these cars were often just used for ‘trials’—-getting up small hills on bad roads, or no roads at all, done at slow speeds.

    It looks to have been done well, with pretty good aluminium bodywork, but the seller and potential buyers need more information on it.

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  2. Avatar photo Mark E

    Lower the price to 10% of the buy-it-now and I’d buy it, put in a more modern ’60s-’70s austin mini engine and make a street rod out of it…kind of like BF’s Singer! ^_^

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  3. Avatar photo jim s

    from the photos it looks like a lot more work, then just finding and fitting the motor, is needed. nice find

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  4. Avatar photo Tirefriar

    Wouldn’t it be possible to get some sort of history on this model through one of the british clubs and to authenticate this car as well? Me likey very much – a cool simple project. I with Mark E – drop a more modern running gear. With 1000 lb weight not much hp will be needed to give you a spirited ride while respecting the limits of brakes and the suspension.

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    • Avatar photo rusty

      Tim ….ummmmmm brakes and suspension…certainly not up to anything more than it’s original motor could dish out…seriously seat of the pants driving for a person not accustomed to this type of motoring…sure they race them…but thats not on rough roads that drivers are subjected to…Aussie roads are a bastard affair even in Sydney proper…its total white knuckle driving in modern traffic. Pommy small cars didnt mature till the Morris Minor of 48.. a car capable of modern driving although underpowered.

      Think of A7’s as sunday afternoon driving around your local heritage town.

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  5. Avatar photo rusty

    I had seven Austin Sevens in the 80’s and was involved heavily in the Sydney [Australia] club.

    Specials were a way of life for both Pommy & Aussie Austin Sevens and you would find many specials built in the 80’s out of bits & pieces many looking like bitzas but many looking authentic to the 50s say when specials were the poms/aussies form of hotrodding…. building these were still common in the 80’s so many specials exist In England and the colonies today…many are indeed not from the day or the 50’s but in the mad restoration period of the 70/80s.

    This looks a nice style and example and normally I’d say no worries finding a motor but you are in the states so I figure not easy [guessing a lot fewer A7’s came to states especially as the Bantam took over I always wanted a Bantam though, where as A7’s came here in large numbers in comparison]. Prices here have always been low for Austin sevens due to the fact they were plentiful and small to rebuild [although I always think thats a poor reason to not pay much for a good restoration] but I havent seen prices change much in recent times…

    looks as good as any from the photos…but I wouldnt think about changing from the original range of motors [up to late ruby motor] as the chassis forms a tight V at the front..fitting motors in between the V is a challenge..[the chassis is A large V shape] besides this car looks the part and deserves its dignity. It doesnt look a bitza as many can look. Even an Austin A30 or Morris minor motor would be too long for the compartment by the looks.

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  6. Avatar photo Peter Rossi

    I have a complete running chassis for that Austin 7

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  7. Avatar photo john

    interesting special , loads of mods and still plenty to do , shame the Austin 7 chassis was not used so you wont be using this feller in any uk se7en racing.

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  8. Avatar photo HAB

    I’d do an EV build out of it if it were priced 50% below the BYe it now price.

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