This is a story about BOB 240, a ’35 Austin Seven Nippy that has been in my family for 60-plus years.
My first memory of the Nippy was of a rather sorry-looking car sitting in my parents’ garden.
Prior to being banished to climbing frame and sandpit status, the Nippy had provided sterling service as a student’s car in Cambridge.
My father was last in line to have the honour of owning it, and his reluctance to sell meant that BOB 240 has stayed in our family.
Thankfully he removed and stored many of its parts, including wings, seats, lights and steering wheel.
In the early 1980s my father started what became a lengthy restoration.
First up the chassis, body and engine.
The car was moved to a garage in Deptford, where the mechanics slowly put it back together in their spare time.
When the garage closed and work ground to a halt, I offered to take it on, but that wasn’t such a great idea with a young family in tow.
I started by removing the grease and grime that had built up in Deptford.
I was then able to paint the interior, fit the seats, make new door cards and source missing parts such as gauges.
The engine was treated to a coat of paint and a new wiring loom was installed, and I had a dashboard made by a furniture restorer friend using a lovely piece of ash and only old photos as a guide.
However, the restoration stalled again until lockdown, when in stepped my eldest son – and the car’s namesake – Austin, who had just finished at university and needed something to keep himself occupied.
Having always been intrigued by the little Nippy, he suggested giving the body a new coat of paint.
Once the panels were sanded and primed, he chose a beautiful mulberry colour and BOB 240 now looks amazing, with contrasting black wheels – all achieved using self-taught painting skills.
This was then finished off with a new hood and handbrake gaiter, beautifully made by Austin’s younger brother, Sydney.
With the paint left to harden, Austin then turned his attention to the mechanicals.
We took the plunge and bought a 6V battery, then decided to start the car for the first time in 60 years.
After just a few adjustments had been made – with the help of our neighbour, Colin – the car fired up and ran beautifully.
The only major issue was the discovery of a rotten fuel tank, but a quick search online resulted in a new one.
Next on the list was to restore the electrics, which included rebuilding the ignition switch, horn and lights, and checking all of the connections.
It also made sense to replace all the gaskets and fluids, and the brakes were treated to a complete rebuild.
Finally, with the addition of four new tyres and a restored dynamo, BOB 240 is almost complete.
What I love about the car now is that it doesn’t look over-restored; it has kept a lovely patina, as if it’s just been lovingly maintained.
The most amazing part of this story is how someone with no experience in car restoration used their time in lockdown to learn to rebuild a vintage car.
I would never have guessed a year ago that BOB 240 would now be almost ready to go back on the road.
So enormous thanks to Austin, his wingman Sydney and our neighbour Colin for this amazing achievement.
Also a big thanks to Austin’s friend Jack for taking the beautiful photos you see here.
Thanks to: jackbeasleyphotography.squarespace.com
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- Owned by Chris Burnand
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