Return of my Austin 7 Opal
|In 1953 after passing my
Driving Test, I purchased a 1936 Austin 7 Opal Tourer, Reg.
No. EMT 853 This was my first association with Pre War
The car was in my ownership
from 1953 until 1955, when it was replaced with a new Ford
Popular, (Not a good move) this was followed by an A30 and
many other modern cars.
years passed I still had a great affection to my little
seven, and in 1976 when our children were a little older and
not quite so demanding on our financial resources a 1929
Chummy Reg. No. PO 776 was purchased which is still in my
ownership this car has always been great fun to drive.
this I got the bug again for old cars, and carried out a
full restoration of a 1935 Ruby Saloon, I then purchased a
1928 Heavy 12/4 Windsor Saloon Reg. No. RA 5406, this was in
Yellow and Black and was affectionately called Bumble. This
car was well liked by the family. It was eventually sold to
enable me to purchase a Derby Bentley.
recent times an Austin 7 Nippy Reg. No. CDH 511, was
purchased and was eventually sold due it being found
difficult for some one of my age to get in and out of. About
2 years ago a 1929 Austin Heavy 12/4 Burnham Saloon, was
bought, this one is named Norman after the man who carried
out its re-build in the 1960’s. It now lives alongside the
Chummy, they are both painted in the same colour and make a
nice matching pair.
many years of being an Austin Enthusiast, I have always
hoped that I could one day be reunited with my first Austin
Opal EMT 853. Enquiries and adverts were made with the Pre
War A7 Club and Classic Car Weekly, No response was received
I more or less concluded that the little 7 had gone to the
November 2011 the Classic Show at the NEC was attended,
after spending several hours viewing many of the splendid
exhibits, the Available Austins stand, was in the corner of
one of the Halls. I noticed a little Austin 7 Opal painted
Bright Orange and Black in awful condition with Toy Teddy
Bear’s placed on the Bonnet.
to my friend who was attending the Show with me that I must
go and have a look at the car, as I owned one such vehicle
at the age of 17. To my amazement it was EMT 853. I duly
negotiated with the dealer and purchased the car on the
The car arrives at home.
A week later the car was
collected and brought home. At my age I would not have
undertaken such a major project if it had been any other
car. The front end had been in a collision at some stage
rendering the Front Wings and Radiator Cowl beyond
repair. The rear Wings and Wheel Arch’s were rotted away
as was the back half of the Body and Sill’s. The Floor
was reasonable. The Chassis was in good condition apart
from the O/S King pin Eye in the Front Axle.
|It was decided to tackle
the engine, as the first part of the restoration. The
cylinder head was removed and it was found that the Valves
on Cylinders 3 and 4 were rusted solid into their Guides,
but the good news was that the Bores were good and the
engine turned freely. The valves were duly replaced as were
some broken cylinder head and manifold studs.
After this the Sump was
removed and the Big End’s were also in good condition. The
worst aspect was that most of the threads holding the Sump
Pan on were stripped, these were duly re-tapped a size
larger to resolve the problem. The engine was re assembled
and fitted with a 1” SU Carburettor and an SU Fuel Pump.
The Exhaust System was
also replaced. A New Wiring Harness, Side and Tail Lamps
Moving on to
the Body, I decided to tackle one side at a time.
removed the Wings and Running Boards, new Sills and Wheel Arch’s
were made out of 1mm Steel, and carefully fitted, also the rear
half of the body was repaired.
of second hand Ruby Front Wings, and a Radiator Cowl, were
purchased from County Austin’s. also Keith Marriner of Metal
Work Developments made a new pair of rear Wings. New Running
Boards and covers were also bought.
completed the restoration of the body work. The wings etc
were assembled to check and adjust the fit of the various
was then taken to Autotec at Lichfield for painting. It was
taken to pieces again and each panel was painted prior to
being re-assembled. The colour chosen was Dark Red for the
body with Black mudguards. Whilst this work was being
carried out all the Chrome parts were sent away for
|With regard to the interior
of the car the Seats were re-trimmed by David Haden, of Walsall
Wood, in a Dark Red leather, as were the Door Trims to the
Hood was painted and whilst not perfect it will be serviceable
for the time being. Further to this new side screens and a spare
wheel cover were made. I had an amount of Wilton carpet, and
decided to make the carpets myself, Red leather was used to bind
body and interior were finished. My attention was then turned to
the running gear. The following parts were fitted a replacement
used Front Axle, Stub Axles, and new Brake Cables. The Brakes,
Wheel Bearings were stripped and cleaned and found to be in good
order. The Gearbox, Rear Axle, and Transmission needed only oil
changes and greasing.
work has taken me just under 12 months to complete. The car was
put back on the Road on 4th November 2012, Initially a number of
short runs were undertaken, the car ran very smoothly and
everything worked other than the petrol gauge, a replacement was
bought off ebay.
initial run a set back came in December with a blown Cylinder
Head Gasket. I have since had the head skimmed, this has cured
|When I originally owned the
car between 1953 and 1955, on a return journey from Bournemouth.
I had the Crankshaft break. It was hardly surprising that this
happened being a young lad I had a tendency to drive it as fast
as it would go, our destination on that occasion was reached in
record time. Despite this Crankshaft break, I managed to get it
home under its own steam as the break was in the middle of the
centre bearing, the two halves were knuckling together. The
engine was rebuilt which included a New Crankcase, Re Bore and
Crank etc. The car has not been on the Road for the past 40
years, it may not have done many miles after the re-build in
1954. As a matter of interest it still has a 3 Bearing Engine.
conclusion it is very pleasing have found and to be driving this
lovely old car after a break of 56 years I thought I would never
find the car again.
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