Austin Sevens in Hong Kong (post war)
I very much enjoyed reading the postings on Gwulo connected with Peter Crush's old Austin 7. I remember Peter driving the car around Hong Kong, the publicity generated when he put it up for auction and also when it featured in the parade of old cars involved in the opening of the first cross-harbour tunnel. It is good to know that it has been restored by David Harrison and I wish him many years of happy motoring in it
Up until leaving Hong Kong in 1997, I only ever recall seeing a total of three Austin 7's on, or in one case off, the roads. The first one was a rusting, war damaged saloon version (Ruby?) which was sitting amongst some rocks next to a stream two thirds of the way up the single track road that leads from Quarry Bay to Tai Tam. The wreck, along with the remains (futher down the valley) of what looked like a bren gun carrier, were both there for years right up until the mid to late 50's.The second Austin was, of course Peter and now David's. I came across the third 7, also a convertible, when it was placed next to my Morgan at the rear of the grid of the Classic Car Race in 1978. The 6 lap event was organized as part of the celebrations to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the first Macau GP in 1954.
Initially, given the scarcity of '7''s on Hong Kong roads post war and the fact that the dates seem to fit, I thought that the Austin at Macau might possibly have been the same car as Peter and David's but, from the later additions to the Gwulo thread, that now seems unlikely. The thing that would have proved it, one way or another, would have been to know the Hong Kong registration number of the Macau Austin, so I set about digging through my old records. The only thing I could find was a photograph (attached) taken just before the start of the race but sadly the Austin's registration number is obscured by Michael Kadoorie's 3 litre Bentley (race number 5).
In respect of the Macau Austin, I do remember that the car belonged to William (Bill) LO. Bill (said to still be in Hong Kong) was one of the small Hong Kong contingent of old car owners that the race organisers had contacted inviting them to take part. There were so few appropriate cars in the Territory at that time that an invitation to participate had been extended to the Classic Car Club of Japan and they fielded a bewildering array of superb vintage vehicles that included amongst them two Bugattis, a 12 cylinder Lagonda, a Jaguar SS, a modified early Riley racer as well as a fabulous twin-supercharged, straight-eight Alpha Romeo P3 Monoposto (race number 10) belonging to Mr Hayashi.
The Hong Kong contingent comprised of two Bentleys, the other of which was one of the famous 4.5 litre "Blower" versions belonging to Bill Wylie.......and a 1953 Morgan +4 owned by myself. It was actually a stroke of luck (or perhaps providence) that led to my car, called "Betsy", being invited to take part in the first place as it was just a few days before the event that Phil Taylor, Clerk of the Course, heard that Betsy, the only survivor from the first Grand Prix in 1954, was still in Hong Kong and got in contact. There was one other late entrant in the race and that was actually from Macau in the form of a Triumph TR3A (race number 23). As I recall the car belonged to a Portuguese gentleman working with the Government Dockyard. Note: That TR3A has since been turned into a replica of Eddie Carvalho's first GP's winning TR2 and is on permanent display in the race museum in Macau.
Back to the Macau Austin. Bill LO obviously reaslised that his little 7 would not be competitive which probably explaines why his car was the only one on the starting grid with a passenger in it! Bill's passenger was actually his very attractive girlfriend and the combination of both her and the tiny car proved to be a real crown pleaser as they 'proceeded' around the track with the young lady smiling and waving at the spectators whilst the other vehicles in the race roared past. The race was eventually won by Mr Hayashi in his beautiful Alpha with myself in "Betsy" (race number 16) in second place.
In an effort to obtain the registration of the Macau Austin I have trawled the internet and also been in touch with some old old pals who either have connections with the Macau museum and/or Hong Kong classic car circles. Sadly nothing has surfaced.
To go with this missive, here's another photograph showing the start of the first Macau GP in 1954.
Once again, happy Austineering David