This particular car started as a 1938 Austin Big Seven, chassis number 7339. The only known history of the car, is that it was built at the RAAF Amberley Air Base in the late 70's, early 80's. The, then, owner of the car was transferred to the UK.  He, in turn, sold the project to a friend, Jeffery Graham, also working at the base.

   It was not until December 1998 that Jeffery read my advertisement, "Wanted Austin Seven parts", in the Trading Post that he contacted me. Initially I was not keen to extend myself outside my "Austin comfort zone": that is Austin Sevens only!

   It was not until fellow Austin enthusiast Ted Bale said, I quote: "It pushes all the right buttons with me!", that I decided there must be something in this! I struck up a partnership with Ted. We both bought the car for a total of $1,800.00.

   It happened that Ted was unable to contribute both the time and money to the project because of family commitments. I bought him out and continued with the project.


   Jeffery, initially told us, that the motor had been completely reconditioned.  He had been starting it "a couple of times a year". On closer inspection, we could not remove the side water manifold, without it crumbling. This did not look promising!

   It turns out that the engine had been full of water for 15 years. This had created lots of severe rust and scale throughout the water jackets. It was decided the engine would be removed, for a good look and check.

   The engine, number 1A6625, is of the later type, cast iron block and crankcase unlike the Austin Seven, standard at 900cc. This engine measured up to be 40 thou over size. Three bearing, counter-weighted and pressure fed crank.

   The bottom end was in sound condition. Todd Hobson of Motor Overhauls, agreed that the block needed lots of descaling, soaking and, finally, blasting to remove the offending rust.

   The cam and followers were reground and valves tricked up a bit. The pistons were lightly scored, but were not bad enough to throw away.

    We managed to find some rings, which after some major modifications to the pistons, we were able to use. The valves and springs were unusable so, with some searching on the net, I found some in New Zealand.


   With all the necessary components now to hand, I reassembled the engine. Todd had fitted the cam, bottom end and timing chain. While the engine was away, I had made (exhaust) extractors with integral inlet manifold, complete with balance pipe. The primary pipes being 1 ¼" into a 1½" system.

   The extractor plate had been matched to the heavily ported block and  locked in place by dowels, prior to having being welded together. The extractors, when finished and proven, were sprayed in aluminium.

   The carbie is a single 1¼" SU fitted with a No. 3 needle.


   The cooling system, designed and built by myself, consists of an aluminium low flow radiator and a Davies Craig Electric Water Pump controlled by their EWP Controller.  The air flow handled by an 11" electric fan, controlled by a thermo switch in the radiator.


   The gear box was extensively reconditioned by my engineer friend, Geoff Battersby. We found we had to modify the selector rail detent grooves, as they did not allow the selectors to fully engage 3rd & top gear. It appears 3rd and 4th only engaged on the dog clutches by about 40 percent from the initial setup in the factory!

   The back end has been left, to see how it shapes up. It sounds reasonable, a bit of a rumble, but not bad!  The entire diff housing has had massive reinforcement plates welded to it, obviously built with some “rough work” in mind.


   The body, known as a “Milano”, is a fibreglass copy of either a '57 Testa Rosa or, if you prefer,  an early Jaguar. I have had lots of differing opinions. It was made by JWF Fibreglass in Sydney. Some research highlights the fact that the body was made as a “Coupe” and an open “Sports”. Some 125 bodies were made between 1959 & 1962.

   This body was made to suit a wheelbase of 7 foot 3 inches (Big Seven). There were a couple of sizes. A smaller one to suit the Austin Seven Ruby was known to be available. Opinions are that there are not many existing bodies known to exist. I know of a possible four.


  This totally unknown exercise to me, was carried out by fellow club member Ian Smith, of Mobile Vinyl & Plastic Repairs. The body was in a fairly poor state, cracks, attempted repairs and the doors, which used to swing down, were crudely glassed into place permanently.

   The body was repaired as required and extras were carried out, such as the screen mount modifications. Whilst this was happening, I fabricated the roll bar and mounts, which are bolted to the upswept section of the chassis, rising above the back axle.

    The fuel tank was removed, cleaned, tested and a new filler neck was fabricated. This filler was used in conjunction with a “Monza” style flip-up fuel cap actually from a Valiant Charger of 70's vintage.


   The chassis had been plated. This, now that it is drive able, makes the entire car very resistant to twisting. The original engine mounts were not useable. I thought that instead of the old vulcansied type, I would remake both the front and rear engine mounts, using modem machinery mounts.

   I was able to spread the rear ones out, to spread the load of the rear over a greater area. The result is a very stable engine, sitting flat on mounts rather than on inclined mounts.

   The chassis was fitted with modern shock absorbers all round. Once again, the car handles very well even though when I tried to replace them, as I thought they had been on the car for some twenty years, no one could match them up to anything! This is a problem for later.


   The floor when I bought the car was of builders ply of about ¾" thick. I have thrown out all the above plus the half made glass and aluminium firewall.

   New aluminium seats were made by Joe Holland, of Backyard Motorsports. I fabricated an entire aluminium floor and firewall system, with removable centre and side panels. This floor sits below the chassis level, raising up and around the rails as required.

   I will thank Mark Lucas, whilst not being a "metal fabricating" type guy, his assistance was needed and appreciated, whilst the difficult floor and firewall fabricating was carried out.


   This complex task was completed with endless assistance from Tony Hadley from Foy's Auto Electrical. I decided that due to the load of EWP, controller, fan, headlights etc and the fact that I was going 12 volt on this car, I would opt for the compact option of a late model alternator.  This fits in very neatly on the drivers side of the engine, using the existing generator mount points.

   I did away with the heavy crankshaft pulley and I am using a light weight alloy pulley, as only the alternator is driven from this pulley.

   The headlights presented a challenge, only a hole existed in the body, no mounts at all! I found after considerable research, that I could use rubber mounted tractor lights. They are 12 volts, high and low beam and built in park lights.

   The rear lights are mounted on a powder-coated rolled 2" aluminium tube, which was rolled to a pattern. An MG type Lucas number plate light is used and motor cycle indicators.

   A solid state 12 volt electric fuel pump is used.


    The original screen was fitted via an ugly curved bracket arrangement. This bracket was fastened to the body using 6 x 3/16" metal threads. I had this bracket glassed into the line of the car prior to painting. The result is a lot easier on the eye, as the line "flows".

   The small perspex screen caused a bit of worry until I spoke to Tony Neal at All Plastics and Signs. He simply took a cardboard pattern of the base of the screen and created a shape similar to one half of an Easter egg, using what I would describe as a blow moulding process. With some careful work on the bandsaw, I was able to cut two screens from this section.


   I intend to use the car to enjoy some mildly competitive driving, regularity racing, hillclimbs, as well as on road rallying in general.

   The “Milano” was registered on the 23rd February 2000, and is in regular use.

Greg Stevens, Queensland, Austral