My First Car: finding love in an Austin Seven

My First Car - Ken Cooke

My First Car - Ken Cooke - Credit: Archant

My first car was a 1927 Austin Seven. I bought it while in the air force at RAF Wartling in Sussex.

I was browsing the local paper in the billet one day when I spotted a car for £29.19/6. At this time, 1952, you couldn’t buy any car for under £100. I read it out to the other layabouts. Someone asked: “What is it?”

“It’s an Austin Seven - my dad always ran these before the war.”

“Why don’t you buy it?” said another.

“I’ve got no money.”

“I’ll lend it to you.”

He did and my father came and drove it home to Welling in Kent. After an engine rebuild and passing my driving test in it, I drove it back to camp only to find I’d overstayed my leave. I was comfined to camp for two weeks except when an Austin Seven owning sergeant wanted a lift into town to get a spare for his car.

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During my demob leave, I removed the original body and made a sports two-seater body on the chassis (sacralige now). Its first run was to Leysdown, where my Dad had a caravan, with a friend. Driving round the Isle of Sheppey we came across a young lady trying to get her bicycle over a style. We stopped and helped her. We were married within a year and are still together 63 years on. We ran this car for seven years including a honeymoon in Cornwall and a picnic in Boxhill, Surrey (pictured).

In 1965 we bought another Austin Seven which we completely restored (making amends for our earlier action) finishing it in 1976. Since then, we have covered more than 150,000 miles. This includes several rallies to Europe with the club and going coast to coast in the US, including Route 66 (also pictured), in 2006. It is still going strong, as indeed are we.

Ken Cooke

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