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1935 Pre-series Eight

This was my first restoration and, although I was originally looking for an Austin Seven, I liked the shape of its two door sliding head body. When I bought it the receipt and the number plates said that its original number was CKX501 but there was no other documentation to support this. As a result I knew nothing of the early history of this car until recently apart from the fact that it had been stripped down some years before the previous owner bought it. The picture shows the newly restored and painted rolling chassis which represented several months work as the chassis needed welding. However, the axles and steering gear were found to be in good condition and only needed cleaning and reassembly. Other body panels can be seen as a rusty pile in the background - they had been stripped down to bare metal and left unprotected so they had a thick layer of rust. The rest of the running gear soon followed, the view of the rear axle shows the propshaft with its fabric couplings which were carried over from the Minor. The engine had reputedly been overhauled so the gearbox and radiator were checked, cleaned and painted. I found traces of the blue paint on the engine when it was cleaned so it was painted that colour (it was my first mistake). With the chassis in its renovated state it was time to fit the body and restore it and discover my second mistake. I should have started with the body before getting the chassis to its final finish. Not only did I have to be careful not to mess up the chassis during cleaning and painting the body but I found that the previous owner's chassis repairs had raised the sweep over the back axle too much. After considerable thought and calculation I decided that the proper shape could be restored by a single cut through the bottom rail and side members each side to allow the chassis to bend under its own weight to match the body. Thick steel plates were then welded inside this area to make an effective repair.

 

Once the body matched the chassis the hard work of getting the body panels back to bare metal started. There were some areas of paint left in the area of the bonnet and careful rubbing down of the paint at the forward edge of the driver's door showed the colour schemes through the car's history. I had thought that the original colours were black and red as most of the remaining paint at the bottom was red. The layers showed that underneath the top coat the car had been bright red all over and before that it had been black and red. The surprise was that the bottom layer was black and blue so this was the colour that it had to be. This was a shame as the seats had been beautifully recovered in red!

A leaking rear window had allowed water to run down behind the back seat so a new seat support was welded in. Apart from patches on the rear of the front wings and the front of the running boards the rest of the body panels were in good condition as shown by these pictures of the body before priming.

After painting with many coats of primer and cellulose top coats that were as close to the original colours as possible the car was ready for the the wiring and ancillaries to be fitted. A new sliding roof had to be made up as the original was missing. At that time I didn't know that it was a simple wooden frame so I made up one based on part of a Mini roof panel which had the same curvature. The car was then ready for the road and this picture shows it on return from its first MOT test in many years. The lack of number plate reflects the loss of the original number as numbers are only allocated when the car is roadworthy.

Once the car was roadworthy the interior was finished with new door casings made up to match the originals. The picture shows the dashboard with the pre-series ribbon type speedometer and a dark blue carpet (the flash seems to have reflected from the carpet). The first run was in 1990 with the new registration DSK743 and was to a local gathering of old cars. The Easiclene wheels that came with the car have been painted and I remember that on the way home it reached a giddy 65mph down hill with four people aboard. Since that time it has had three different engines and now has one that is not only the right colour but also retains some oil pressure when hot.

As it now lives with my father in Norfolk it regularly goes to the Morris Register National Rally at Thoresby and has been on the last two Mannekin Pis rallies. The picture on the left shows it at Waterloo now wearing the correct wire wheels and town and country tyres which were appropriate for the muddy car park.

It is still the best of my three cars that are on the road in terms of handling and performance until I can sort out the handling of the Ten.

A recent discovery that CKX501 was known to the Morris Register in 1966 means that it may be possible to reclaim its original number. If anyone has further information on this car please contact me at the email address below.