Couple drive Austin Seven 18,300 miles on charity epic

| 31 Jul 2013

The National Austin Seven Rally held earlier this month in the grounds of the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu welcomed one of the world’s most-travelled Austin Sevens.

The car, belonging to Guy Butcher and Eunice Kratky, recently completed an 18,300-mile, eight-and-a-half-month trip from New York to Alaska, before heading south to Punta Arenas, the capital of Chile, to raise money for children and young people with special or additional needs.

“I needed something to keep me out of mischief and doing it for charity seemed like the ideal way to get it past Eunice [his partner] as an adventure worth doing,” joked Butcher. “When we started off we had no idea what we were letting ourselves in for.”

Like the journey tackled by the three Sevens that we reported on last month, the couple were inspired by the book Coleman’s Drive. Unlike the trio, though, Guy and Eunice would embark on the journey alone and cover nearly double the mileage.

Their car – a 1928 Ruby four-seater tourer, with an RTC Chummy body and a shortened chassis – was specially prepared for the trip.

Its adaptations included 17in (rather than 19in) wheels to soak up the punishing bumps, an engine with a 10-stud cylinder block and a modified cam increasing power to around 25bhp, courtesy of Pigsty Racing. The mechanical fan, meanwhile, was replaced with an electric Kenlowe item.

The pair set off on 24 July 2012 from Baltimore, north east of New York, before travelling to Regina in Canada, and heading back down the West Coast of the United States via Seattle, Los Angeles and San Diego. By November, the adventurers had reached La Paz, Mexico, visiting other parts of South America including Panama City, Lima in Peru and Los Andes, Chile, just prior to reaching Punta Arenas on 26 March.

Thorough preparation meant that mechanical problems were by and large limited to broken spokes and a bearing failure until, 170 miles north of Santiago, the Austin’s crankshaft timing gear broke. But the car’s tiny proportions meant that it could be loaded onto the back of a local’s crew-cab truck and ferried to a workshop.

One of the many highlights of the trip was a visit to the LeMay Museum in Tacoma, near Washington, which houses one of the world’s largest private collections of cars.

It features everything from a Messerschmitt microcar and a Citroën 2CV to a Ferrari Dino.That visit would lead to a meeting with American TV presenter and car nut Jay Leno, who was using a Bugatti Atlantique as his daily driver at the time and gave the travellers a tour around his amazing collection of 350 cars.To help the pair reach their £1million, goal you can make a donation via the fund’s website.

Pictures: Guy Butcher