1932 Austin Seven in Hong Kong in the 1960/70's | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

1932 Austin Seven in Hong Kong in the 1960/70's

I recently bought a 1932 Austin Seven AG tourer which at one time was registered in Hong Kong AP 9057 (1970/71from the Tax disc)

A brief history of the car is that it got out to Hong Kong somehow by 1970., where it was owned (allegedly) by a British ex-pat Hong Kong policeman who sold it at auction (when returning to UK) to an American (Gerald R Stockton) who was working in HK at that time. Subsequently he took it to California , registered it as "Chitty!" kept it for a number of years until selling it in 1982 to a friend in Ohio where it was sold on again until it languished in a rodent filled barn until I rescued it last year & shipped it to the UK!.

I am keen to find out anything about the car in HK, I know it was Blue & Black and was competantly modified from standard into a (relatively!) sporting little car. For those who know Sevens it has a "Nippy" cylinder head & manifolds, a 4 speed "sports" gearbox, a Hardy Spicer prop shat, Morris Minor Hydraulic brakes and 17" wheels! All these are "period" modifications & were probably done in the UK before the car went out....but not necessarily!

It could be a pre -war survivor, modified by an enthusiast in HK.

It is quite possible that the unknown policeman was a member of the Hong Kong Motor Sprts Club (still going!)

Does ANYONE have any memories of the car?  I have pictures of it in a sad state in Ohio, but nothing from HK...if I can find out how to put them here

Best wishes

David

 

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I was interested to read that you have recently purchased this particular car. I lived in Hong Kong in the early 1970's and remember seeing this charming little car driving around. It was in superb condition, with black wings and wheels, mid-blue bodywork and chrome grill.

During my three years stay in Hong Kong I made a collection of newspaper cuttings of subjects that I found of interest. Fortunately your car was amongst that collection. ( I knew those cuttings might be useful one day! )

I wish you well with the cars restoration, and I hope that it once again brings a smile to peoples faces as it did to mine all those years ago.

Austin Seven Reg; AP 9057
Austin Seven Reg; AP 9057, by Adrian.F

 

Austin Seven Reg; AP 9057
Austin Seven Reg; AP 9057, by Adrian.F

 

Austin Seven Reg; AP 9057
Austin Seven Reg; AP 9057, by Adrian.F

Adrian

Thank you so much for keeping those cuttings!

That fills in a lot of history for me. I had contacted Gerald Stockton, but he was a bit hazy about prior history!
I am well on the way with restoration ....dark blue & black (close!) and will try & put some before & after pictures on this site. I will, if you dont mind, try & put your cuttings on the appropriate Autin Seven website.

I dont know if there is a "Private Message" service on this site, but if not I am quite happy to share my email address with the site(!) and perhaps you could email me copies of your cuttings. I & the car - now with a UK "period" registration allocated by the DVLA -live near Stratford upon Avon. Sadly I was not able to find the original UK number .

Incidentally the car,from it's chassis number, was probably first registered in March 1932!

Thanks again

David

The internet is wonderful when it works like this!

There is a proverb " What goes around comes around" !

Yes it's confession time. 

"Chinarail " admits that is now time to face that 'the consequences of one's actions will have to be dealt with eventually'.

I bought this car for £130 in 1969 while staying at my parents home in Cheshire during my first long-leave (of six months) following a three and a half years tour as a Hong Kong Inspector of Police.  I had from a very young age been  a natural-born exhibitionist , a trait which first manifested itself when I turned up at a primary school in Huddersfield ,without permission, wearing a cowboy outfit given to me by my parents as a sixth birthday present. This is when I learned what the function of a wooden ruler was really for.

 

Austin-7 shipped to Hong Kong in 1969
Austin-7 shipped to Hong Kong in 1969, by Chinarail - at Statue Square

At the end of my leave , the car was shipped to Hong Kong from Liverpool Docks and thereafter used for a two year period driving around Hong Kong island and Kowloon bringing the attention which I so craved.

The car, was originally a dull olive green, ironically now my favourite clothing colour. As the present owner surmises, various modifications had been done to this car over the years long before I acquired it. I am not an expert on car modifications but I do recall the following about this car:

a) The originally cable-brakes had been removed and fitted with a hydraulic system. Whether this was a "Morris Minor" system, I know not.

b)  I know nothing about " Nippy cylinder heads & manifolds" or "Hardy Spice" prop shafts. I doubt very much whether these had been fitted in UK because these "bits" of the car were very old and had rust. I remember a leaking cylinder head gasket for which I bought a replacement and then had the gravest of difficulties in loosening the long burned-paint and rust-encrusted nuts. I seem recall one whole bolt coming out from the block which I never quite succeeded in getting fully tight again. My memory is fuzzy as to question of whether the gearbox had three or four speeds. Probably four.

c)  Before it was shipped to Hong Kong I ground off much of the original paintwork  which had some rust patches ( but no holes and not too deep) , taking the surface back to clean metal. Unable to perform a proper re-spraying  job , I bought cans of aerosol paint from a discount hardware shop and at least covered up the bare metal surface to protect it. I also sourced four remoulded tyres  ... I think 17" ... but definitely the same size as those already on the car. The best of the original tyres  became the rear-mounted spare .

d) I ordered a set of brass-bushed king-pins for the somewhat loose steering wheel mechanism, but lacking the necessary tools to extract the old ones, this job was left until the car reached Hong Kong. Somebody also suggested I should buy a new "big-end" but looking at the price tag for a replacement  together with the fact  that few people were likely to crawl under the car to have a look at it,  I decided I would leave it rattling nicely unless it fell apart.

e) and while still in England, I ordered the most important replacement item of for exhibitionists  ... a brand new and absolutely deafening Klaxon horn of the type associated with much earlier 1920s lorries and large cars.  A weak low- toned "beep beep" was not good enough for my rash intentions. The new Klaxon what about five times the size of the original horn.

Austin-7-Shipped to HK 1969
Austin 7 in Statue Square - Front of car

Upon arrival in Hong Kong the car was deposited in a car repair shop down in the back streets of Hung Hom near to the dockyard for about two months. Here the car was re-sprayed to my own blue and black specification. The steering mechanism and brakes were overhauled (new shoes) , using the parts brought out from England and a new black folding hood stitched up in a Reclamation Street shop out of fake black leather. The seats were also recovered in red leatherette, and the remaining very thin and dull patches of chromium  plate on the headlamps and windscreen frame sanded off with emery cloth to reveal a nice shiny polished brass finish, which thereafter, kept me forever busy with a tin of 'Brasso" each weekend. 

The Klaxon horn was the car's greatest asset. A part of my "personality disorder" encouraged me instinctively to drive slowly up behind rickshaw runners, whom I  had witnessed ignoring traffic lights. I would next sound a long loud burst on the Klaxon. Usually the shock would cause the puller to lose his stride and stop rapidly almost ejecting the rickshaw' s passengers.  I would drive away much satisfied that I was helping to enforce traffic regulations.... but conveniently ignoring the fact that I myself was breaking another regulation which prohibited unduly loud and shrill motor horns with the exception of emergency vehicles.

Vintage Austin-7 shipped to Hong Kong in 1969 -image 3
Vintage Austin-7 - Rear view

I sold the car in early 1972 having decided to leave Hong Kong and go off to the depths of the steamy Sabah jungle for a new career in ripping up aging rubber plantations and replanting them with palm oil   ......a career which lasted less than five weeks having discovered that my new boss had omitted to inform me during an earlier interview that in order to secure a Malaysian work permit , I had to convert to the Muslim faith , go to Mecca on the hajj and then change my name to Haji Peter Crush. My passport indicates I was  back from Sabah in Hong Kong by 16 May 1972, still technically a Hong Kong civil servant on pre-resignation leave.

The car was sold by Ken Watson , then managing partner of Lammert Bros. Auctioneers. Approximately monthly antique auctions were then held in the basement premises of still-standing Pedder Building . Ken succeeded before the auction in getting a lot of publicity in the local newspapers about the car being entered for auction and this included press interviews with its well-known and notorious owner  ... well... known among the richshaw pullers ! We managed to lower the car into the basement by placing wooden planks on the staircase and then slowly lowering the car by a half dozen "coolies" and two "gueilos"  straining on a thick rope secured to the front bumper. The hammer price exceeded all expectations and I recall receiving the equivalent of about £850 , six times what I had paid for the car in England two years previously  and, I think,  a world record price for an Austin 7. In England at that time an absolutely pristine car in concours condition could be purchased from dealers for about £300-350.  The car by the way was driven up those steep basement steps the day after the auction without any manual assistance , testifying to the Austin Seven's renowned mountain climbing abilities.

Austin-7 shipped to Hong Kong in 1969
Austin 7 - parked outside Homantin Govt. Service Quarters in 1971

The first and last time I saw the car in Hong Kong following its sale, was its appearance on TVB News on 2 August 1972 when it had participated in a vehicle convoy celebrating the official opening of Hong Kong's first Cross-Harbour tunnel. By co-incidence this newsreel clip has been shown recently this year on some of the between-schedule time fill-ins on Hong Kong's TVB Pearl channel. I tried to record it but regrettably could not hit the "Record" button fast enough.  

Austin - 7 shipped to HK 1969 - side view
Austin - 7 shipped to Hong Kong in 1969 - side view , by Chinarail

Dear 'David h' 

Lovely to hear that my former car,"deported" from Britain back in 1969,  has now been recognzied as a true British national and permitted to be repatriated to Britain and (hopefully) settle permanently after it's worldwide adventures.

It would have been fitting tribute if it had been shipped back as a steerage "passenger"  on the rear deck of the "Empire Windrush".wink

I apoligize to the car for subjecting it to all sorts of Oriental  (and later American) indignities...... Is the Klaxon still on the car? 

regards,

 

Peter Crush

(email : petera.crush@yahoocom

Thank you Adrian for posting those interesting press cuttings. I have kept a few myself but not all of those which you have scanned.

 

regards,

 

Chinarail ( Peter Crush) 

Well, well, well!

Thank you "Chinarail" for filling in so many gaps! You don't recall the original UK Registration Number by any chance? I doubt I could recover it from the DVLA unless you have any of the export paperwork, but it would be interesting to know.You certainly did well with the car....difficult to "turn a profit" on old cars back then! I had a1966 Ford CortinaGT in 1969 & it cost me over £600! My first cars were Austin Sevens back in 1958/9 when a cadet at Sandhurst...a decent Seven cost about £30, but I only earned £3.50 a week (before stoppages!) I never made it to HK, spending most of my Army careeer glaring at the Russians. I did manage to talk my way into a works Ford Twin Cam Cortina for the 1968 London to Sydney Marathon (1000 miles a day for 10 days!) and the closest I got to the Far East was an overnight stage in Singapore during the flight home from Sydney in an RAF Hercules (it took SIX days).

I am restoring the car at home, near Stratford upon Avon & if you are ever in the area do get in touch.

David

Just seen the other post from you Peter. Yes there is a large Klaxon horn hanging from the centre stay of the bonnet....and it works! harrisonsbearley@gmail.com

David

100_1272.JPG
100_1272.JPG, by David.H

 

100_1284.JPG
100_1284.JPG, by David.H

 

100_1288.JPG
100_1288.JPG, by David.H

Looking rather sad compared to its time in Hong Kong. 

Amazing to see that the Vehicle Road Tax label survived (well almost !) over 45 years of rain and sun. Without that , I guess,  you would  have never discovered that the car had ever  been in Hong Kong. 

I  look forward to seeing  the results  of  your restoration. 

Coincidentally, this is the second unusual "moving conveyance"  which I shipped out from England to Hong Kong in my younger days ......... and also after lingering  unmoved for many years has recently been rescued and taken back to U.K.

This  was a miniature 7.25 inch gauge steam locomotive named  "HOLMSIDE", which after being used as an attraction  at school fairs and fetes  during the mid 1980's then stood plinthed  in a pub in Tai Wai until 2015.

But that is a story for another day .  I will work on it !