The Danks family are the second owners of this very special car. It is understood the original owner was still alive when he bought it from her octogenarian daughter in 2008. She remembered the family car known as the ‘baby’ – and learned to drive in it, but sadly no one in her family wanted it. She was happy that it was going to a new family to be cherished, looked after and conserved.
The car was a special order by her father for her mother as she didn’t enjoy driving his larger cars, hence the runabout! The car was ordered red and black, à la mode at the time, which is confirmed by the original buff logbook. It is believed the car has still only covered 3700 miles from new and spent all of its life in a garage. It was used from 1929 through to the war when the family then moved to outer London where it stayed largely untouched until the mid 1960s.
In 1967 John Heath was asked to conserve the car, replacing the damaged scuttle skin and window glass which had become heavily yellowed. (The scuttle fabric is in much ‘newer’ condition; tub and door fabric lacks shine or top coat in places but the grain match is very good whilst the fold between new scuttle and original body fabric quite rudimentary). After a few outings in the ‘baby’ it went back in the garage until 2008 when it was unearthed it from under old carpets. The front seats and door cards were in a very poor state but the rear seat and headlining remained untouched since it had been replaced in 1933 on a ‘factory recall’ to remove the smoker’s hood. (which is still with the car). According to receipts the engine hadn’t been dismantled from new. When dismantled the engine oil had set, jelly-like, in the sump. When stripped, the flywheel was found to be still ‘painted on’ to the crankshaft. The engine has been rebuilt with a Phoenix 1 1/8″ crank and rods to protect any fatigue to the original. All parts removed are still with the car and according to records have only covered 3400 miles. There was minimal wear to the crank. Currently the owners have not touched the gearbox which still runs fine albeit a little noisy on the speedometer gear. The rear axle was dismantled and checked for wear with new seals fitted on reassembly. Brakes were relined and the wiring system replaced. The vacuum wiper hasn’t been touched except for a replacement vacuum hose. The Zenith carb was simply cleaned and still retains its original jets and float. Distributor and coil were working and only required new points.
Nowadays the car only comes out on high days and holidays and doesn’t ever get wet, for risk of damaging the headlining. Its first outing with its ‘new family’ was to the 2011 International Festival of Motoring in Jersey where it took pride of place as Number 1 at the weekend event.
A very close match Rexine was sourced in Birmingham for the front seats and door cards. All screws and bolts on the car were re-used in the same locations in order to keep it entirely original where possible. All parts match up including the numbered door hinges.
Fortunately Gaydon also has the build record of this A9 series car, chassis 91145. The date of build was 8th July. It was then registered on 15th July at a cost of £4.2s 0d It went to the body shop on 16th July, being taxed just to take it across the road to fit the fabric body. Most cars (150) that day went to Gordon England. It left the factory on 22nd July for Evans and Evans where the family paid the princely sum of £168.0.0d. In the Austin records there is also a notification date of 10th July. This might be a notification to body shop that this was a special order, or a notification to road traffic or tax authorities. Notification dates also appear on Gordon England cars so the latter seems to be the best explanation.
Austin released a photo on 26th June 1929 to celebrate the 100,000th car. Yet this car came out of the factory just after this and is in the low 90000s. Can anyone add information as to why this anomoly?
Note the ‘before and after conservation’ pictures below. The only additions are the fuel filter, wrapping the (original) exhaust and new water inlet and outlets. The current owner always mounts his engines on rubber mounts to protect the crankcase and wire locks the rear bolts on, 1/4 turn loose. The original 1 1/8″crankshaft is with the car but has been similarly replaced with a Phoenix unit for crankcase protection.
The car is plainly one of the important cars which has heritage value for conservers. Denis Jenkinson outlined several categories of vintage sporting cars, suggesting that “totally original” was almost impossible to achieve because of the changing of fluids and service items over time, even if the car was largely undisturbed. This car has such low mileage and its rejeuventation so well documented that it plainly warrants Jenkinson’s category of “genuine” – its character has not changed and its continuous history is known and documented, thanks to its present guardians.
An appeal for RK winder mechanisms
The old door cards were removed to show that the winder mechanisms and chain on both doors were very rusty and not serviceable. Currently the rear half of the door window slides but the front is temporarily fixed until new serviceable continuous winder mechanisms can be found. They operate on a continuous chain mechanism simply turn clockwise and the window rises and falls – quite clever. Please make contact if you can help.