Click here to go to the Viva Lewes homepage

Austin 7 Car Display – Newhaven Fort

The Austin 7, which first went on the market in 1922, was Britain’s answer to the Model T Ford, a reliable motor car that was affordable to the middle classes as well as the rich. Smaller than the Model T, it was an immediate success: by the time production stopped in 1939, over 290,000 had been produced in the UK. ‘The Big Car in Miniature’, as it was nicknamed, was the idea of Sir Herbert Austin, founder of the company, who had so much trouble getting the idea through his board of directors, he threatened to take it to his competitors Wolsely.
Austin himself worked on the designs with a young draughtsman plucked from the Longbridge floor, Stanley Edge. He drove the prototype models out of the workshop himself – one of the early ones famously bucked like a mule. But perseverance paid off and the Seven became perhaps the most important car design of the era.

The Austin was built under licence in a number of countries. In the States it was called the Bantam, and was the pre-cursor of the Jeep. In Germany a fledgling company called BMW started off by selling a version of the Seven, called The Dixi. Nowadays there are Austin Seven enthusiasts all over the world, who came together in 1997 for the 75th anniversary of the launch of the car, when, amongst other events, they organised a John-O-Groats to Lands End run. 116 cars set off in convoy in the North East of Scotland. It says a lot for the brilliant design of the car that 101 managed to cross the finish line, 874 miles later. They don’t make ‘em like that any more, as they say.

The Austin 7: Britain’s answer to the Model T Ford

Newhaven Fort
How Much?