Couple celebrates 50 years of Austin Seven rallies

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When Ken and Eileen Cooke roll up at Beaulieu on 1 July in their Austin Seven for the annual national rally, it will be the 50th year in succession that they will have attended.

The remarkable achievement from the Stevenage couple means that they will have been at every one of the 50 National Austin Seven Rallies at Beaulieu since 1963, most of them in the same car – Dingo – that they have owned since 1965 and travelled the globe in.

Ken’s early purchase of an Austin Seven not only gave him a lifelong interest – it even led to him meeting his wife.

He explained: "In 1950 I bought my first Austin Seven for just under £30. It was a 1927 Chummy and pretty rough but I heard that the 750 Motor Club catered for these funny little cars and that some members were converting them to sports specials.

"In 1952 I built a two-seater body for it and for its first outing I drove down to the Isle of Sheppey with a friend. We came across a young girl struggling to get her bike over a stile and stopped to give her a hand.

"My friend took her address, but it was me who followed it up. By the end of 1953 I had joined the 750 Motor Club and married Eileen, the young lady from Sheppey!

"In 1965 we bought the bones of an open top Austin Seven Chummy and worked on it over the next nine years. We got it on the road by Easter '76 and called it Dingo – after a famous Austin Seven racing car.

"Dingo has taken us to nine European countries as well as from coast to coast in the USA, on the 3500 miles of the famous Route 66. It has done over 140,000 miles in our hands and through it, and the 750 Club, we have made firm friends all over the world."

Organised by the 750 Motor Club, the National Austin Seven Rally will attract hundreds of Austin Sevens from all over the United Kingdom and Europe.
A particularly large turn-out is expected this year as the people's car celebrates its 90th birthday.

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