19 September 2015

Sportiness Against All Odds – Austin Big 7 1938 by Ulster

30s � after one of the worst depressions in the world economy, a race for modernity starts, a race to all that is dynamic, crazy, charming and so cars racing begin to take shape, going from being a sort of picturesque challenges, pioneering ventures, into proper and real races.

Races governed by precise rules, that involves following more or less permanent circuits and in which drivers begin to compete with cars specifically designed for racing or derived from standard models, but still characterized by targeted and competitive solutions.

The air we breathe is handcrafted in England and you live that fervor (still not dormant) leading to edit/ modify almost every car on the market. Every model can thus be a potential �race car�, no matter how high performance it has, the important thing is that it is able to give emotions.

And so mechanics and body shops starts to indulge themselves, also using quiet family cars as a starting project, as long as easily transformable, easily serviceable and relatively inexpensive. In this way, the Austin Seven and Big Seven manage to tread the competition fields (car which for years kept competing � Bruce McLaren scored his first victory at the wheel of a Seven Ulster, at the age of 15), changing from being clumsy all-rounder and transforming themselves into agile sports cars.

In our case we talk about a Big Seven, born in 1938 (chassis number 1910, as certified from �The Austin Seven Club Association�, in which its registered under n�55) and transformed, according to the dictates of the Ulster body, in a racing torpedo. Yep, a torpedo, since the empirical aerodynamic knowledge code imposed elusive and pointed shapes.

The compact chassis (just over 2 meters) and the proportionally long wheelbase provided a flexible starting point and, at the same time, a good stability. �Ihe simplicity of its drum brakes and of the leaf springs, guarantees sturdiness and at the same time easy maintenance when dealing with interventions.

The engine had instead some limitations, with its mere 900cc (outputting about 25 hp, in �street legal� configuration), but at the same time its compactness allowed to place it as back as possible, so as to targeting the weight balance relatively in the middle of the body. To overcome the lack of horses they try to lighten the whole thing here, by streamlining the body (made of aluminum), eliminating all the doors (in addition to the bonnet hinges) and leaving the interior as simple as possible (which moreover should not have finishes that absorb water).

Driving this car you immediately feel that it is in good shape, responsive, sincere, obviously with the limitations due to the characteristics of the tires and the efficiency of the brakes, limits which never reach worrying levels though.

The available cavalry and the handling of the gearbox thwart a little �any sporty ambition of the driver, but the involvement is amazing, starting already from the required clothing (not advisable, but necessary! Style is style and this imposes jacket, cap and aeronautical goggles of the era), through the feeling of an almost straight contact with the asphalt and passing through the satisfaction coming from its sound and the light caress of the wind (the two small windscreens efficiently do their job).

Obviously this is not exactly a car suitable for everyday driving, but Marco (the owner, avid cars collector and rally driver) can enjoy it throughout the year, even taking part in commemorative historic races (as evidenced by the many stickers all over the body of this Big Seven). It�s not hard to see him cruising on a trip through Tuscany, with a little �of luggage in the rear and a bit� in the backpack hanging on the external spare wheel, 4 spare candles, the compulsory bag of tools and a proper hunger for driving .. ..in the true sense of the word, like a bit �rude vehicle like this requires.

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