Mechanics Dream: Austin 7 Special

Restoration or New Creation?

Austin 7 Special - Built by Anto Heneghan with help form son Paul

The 1936 Austin 7 wreck has gone through some heavy auto-surgery to become an open body Austin 7 Special, designed and built by Anto Heneghan. This was Anto's first design and build of his own body for a vintage car. Creating the shape and under frame was the challenging part. He does admit that using metal to construct the frame was not the traditional method to use but as this was the first build, he stuck to what he knows best.

Anto is a long time classic and vintage car restoration hobbyist but realistically is a specialist at this stage. He has restored MG's, Rileys, Jowetts and has even dabbled in the kit car scene. He is now focusing his talents on creating these wonderful sporting specials, from the ground up.

Austin chassis ready to be stripped, degreased, cleaned and Powder coated

As you can see the chassis is actually in good shape, unfortunately I cannot say the same for the petrol tank. We dismantled every single part of the car, every  bolt, washer and split pin, taken out, documented, de-greased, clean and polished or powder coated.

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If you ever wanted the most basic form of mechanics. A marvel in it's own right, simple mechanics work so well. As you can see each part has been dismantled, only to leave a very small and simple chassis.

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We cleaned and powder coated each part where possible. All other parts were soaked in thinners or petrol and cleaned for a fresh start.

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The body. As this was our first time building a body from scratch, and Anto being a metal worker by trade, we decided to build the frame from metal, just this once. Everything was created as we went, rolling, bending and welding where necessary to achieve the design Anto had in his head. 'Nearly there' must be the famous words of every builder as it is never right until it is perfect.

We started with the base, rolling out long curves to create the outer shape of the body. Building vertically up and around from there and matching both sides.

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The body begins to take shape. You can see the flat steel we are using to get an idea of the line of the car. The aluminium, shaped, molded and cut to for a seamless body.

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The frame is certainly strong, no doubt about that. Powder coated and the aluminium body work re applied. To create the round fish tail end we cut an aluminum hollow sphere in 4 and used two quaters as the top and bottom of the tail. Fixed them in place, rolled aluminium around there circumfrence and welded it all together.

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The body really took shape with the rear end finished, which led us to focus on the bonnet. We used the original bonnet as reference and had our radiator grill as a finishing point. From there we shaped and rolled the aluminium where required to get the finished shape. The louvers were custom built using a jig we welded up with a male and female die. we use a pump jack for pressure as the dies cut and pressed the louvers into shape.

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The body finished and sprayed, time to rebuild the engine.

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The finished product turned out better than we hoped. It is the small details that complete the car. Switching the hand brake to the outside of the car took some hokery pokery but it makes all the difference and looks spectacular.

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The small but Mighty Austin 7 Special, designed and built by Anto Heneghan.

If you found this article interesting, please sign up to our newsletter and share with your colleagues and friends. We will be releasing more car builds throughout the year, hopefully with some race days thrown as well. Also have a look at our other blog topics like 'Featured Maker' and 'Build with the Gents' for behind the scenes builds on woodwork, metal work and auto projects.