"There's a special place in my garage, and it needs to be filled," says Port

| 3 Sep 2014

In my defence, I’ve not had an obsession for a while. Okay, so those that know me may argue that I am constantly obsessed with anything old, has wheels and uses fuel, but I’m talking more about the sort of ‘particular’ obsession that means you suddenly find yourself trawling through books and photo archives, drooling over out-of-date classified ads for cars that sold months ago and dreaming of days out and road trips in a new-found love.

It’s happened with every car I’ve bought in the past and it’s now happening again – even more worrying considering I have no funds with which to buy a car, little time to actually work on it, and goodness knows what I would use it for.

Austin Seven Special

So, what is it this time? Well, after my last ‘official’ obsession and subsequent flirtation, there is no glass-fibre, no brown vinyl and no rocker switchgear – so no, there isn’t another Scimitar in my mind’s garage – or anything else from the 1970s for that matter. Nope, this one is unchartered territory for me: I’m thinking pre-war.

Austin Seven Special

I’m well aware that we already have one of these in the C&SC global stable thanks to our man in France, Jon Pressnell, yet even that isn’t doing much to quell my ambition to buy… an Austin Seven Special!

Why? Well you really only need to look at the pictures on this page. The chap below in AXO 862 sums everything up really: sitting with your bum practically on the ground, elbow out the side as you see-saw the steering wheel and feeling every bit the racer. Despite only doing 50mph!

Austin Seven Special

But apart from the driving experience and challenges that something like a Special involves, there is another large appeal. The whole premise of constructing a special back in period wasn’t necessarily that you just went and bought a body and plonked it on a stripped out saloon chassis. Instead, you could be as inventive as you wanted – if you fancied a boat-tail, ally-bodied job, then you built it. If you wanted to knock something up out of ply-wood then so be it. In short, pretty much anything went, and although the more ‘individual’ concoctions might have raised the odd eyebrow in the paddock at Silverstone, it is fair to say that there probably wasn’t too much derision because you’d used the wrong screws or rivets to hold your car together. 

And that is an approach that appeals hugely to me.

Austin Seven Special

So, despite having no money, no time and no space, what am I looking for? Well, as much as I may not actually need another one, I want a restoration project. I’ll take it in as many boxes as it comes in; I don’t care if it runs, how much of a body it has or if it’s a short or long-chassis (which apparently matters where the VSCC is concerned). You might say that I’m not fussy and you’d be right. When it’s a totally irrational, impractical and poorly-funded obsession, I think that’s probably my only approach!

Now… what have you got in your lock-ups?