The Austin Seven cast a long shadow on the motor industry, and Jaguar is one of several marques that arguably owes its existence in part to the miniature pre-war saloon car. Swallow Sidecars made a small luxury car based on the Seven chassis, demand for which proved so strong that company founder William Lyons had to relocate his operation from Blackpool to Coventry where he would find a large enough workforce with the relevant skills.

This Austin Seven paved the way for Jaguar, Revival, Revival 2022, Austin 7

Cyril Holland was instrumental in the Austin Seven-Swallow’s inception. He was a coachbuilder, and it was his job to interpret Lyons’ sketches and bring them into reality, effectively tooling and productionising each model. Alongside the Seven, Swallow also rebodied chassis from Fiat, Morris and others.

But it was the Seven that proved most popular, and an order of twenty cars per week from Henlys was the catalyst for the move to Coventry. At that time, Swallow’s Seven was offered in tourer form, but Henlys also had a requirement for a saloon, which became the most popular model, accounting for around 1,700 of the 2,500 cars built between 1927 and 1932. 

Much of Swallow’s workforce made the move to Coventry, but Holland wasn’t among the number having stayed behind in Lancashire and found employment elsewhere. Pretty soon, the company ran into production difficulties that Lyons was struggling to address. He tempted Holland to make the move with a three-fold salary increase and Holland soon got the production line moving. What’s more, he had increased production volume and saved costs in one fell swoop.

This Austin Seven paved the way for Jaguar, Revival, Revival 2022, Austin 7
This Austin Seven paved the way for Jaguar, Revival, Revival 2022, Austin 7
This Austin Seven paved the way for Jaguar, Revival, Revival 2022, Austin 7

This success laid the foundations for Swallow to create its first ground-up design, the SS1. World War Two would intervene, but the organisation returned after the conflict. By then, the SS initials had somewhat negative connotations, so the Jaguar brand was introduced. Chances are that, without Cyril Holland and the Austin Seven, it wouldn’t have had the solid foundations on which to build.

Greg and Jackie Hopkins have owned this Swallow Tourer since 2007, and brought it to the Goodwood Revival to be part of our Austin Seven centenary celebrations. It has been in their family since the 1940s. “My father bought it from his uncle in the mid ’50s,” says Greg. “It was fairly derelict so he restored it bit by bit but he never put it on the road. Sadly he died in 2007 and I inherited the car, finished it off and put it on the road.”

Having been in storage for so long, its originality has been preserved. Mechanically, it’s a matching-numbers car and as much of the original bodywork as possible was retained. Where replacement panels were needed, Greg kept the period panels in storage. It’s easy to keep running, too. “You can get all the service parts and there’s a great club. If you need second-hand parts someone will find them for you,” says Greg. 

So what’s it like to drive an Austin Seven among modern traffic? “There’s no sychromesh, so you have to double declutch,” says Greg. Braking requires more thought than it does in a modern car, too. “It’s one of the last uncoupled brakes, so the foot brake is for the rear and the handbrake is for the front. You have to be careful where and when you take it, and look a long way ahead to anticipate. Motorways or anything like that are best avoided. It cruises at about 40mph and most people respect it and give you some space because it’s so small.”

Photography by Peter Summers.

This Austin Seven paved the way for Jaguar, Revival, Revival 2022, Austin 7

This Austin Seven paved the way for Jaguar, Revival, Revival 2022, Austin 7

This Austin Seven paved the way for Jaguar, Revival, Revival 2022, Austin 7

This Austin Seven paved the way for Jaguar, Revival, Revival 2022, Austin 7

This Austin Seven paved the way for Jaguar, Revival, Revival 2022, Austin 7

This Austin Seven paved the way for Jaguar, Revival, Revival 2022, Austin 7

This Austin Seven paved the way for Jaguar, Revival, Revival 2022, Austin 7

TECH NEWS RELATED

New DAF steered pusher axle for even greater efficiency

For even better fuel efficiency, higher payloads and enhanced maneuverability, DAF is introducing an Electric Hydraulic Steering (EHS) system on 6x2 tractor and rigid vehicles with a steered pusher axle

View more: New DAF steered pusher axle for even greater efficiency

2023 Vancouver auto show cancelled over supply-chain issues

The Vancouver International Auto Show has been cancelled for 2023, organizers announced December 6, over issues tied to supply chain problems in the automotive industry. “For the last several months, we have been working with vehicle manufacturers and other partners in anticipating of returning in-person to celebrate the 100th edition ...

View more: 2023 Vancouver auto show cancelled over supply-chain issues

Driving By Numbers: The Honda Civic will not end 2022 as Canada’s best-selling car

For the first time since 1997, the Honda Civic will not finish the year as Canada’s most popular passenger car. A 24-year run that began in 1997 and stretched through 2021 is destined to come to an end. However, it’s not due to a serious shortfall in demand or the ...

View more: Driving By Numbers: The Honda Civic will not end 2022 as Canada’s best-selling car

Boeing 747 ends production after 54 years as an aviation legend

Boeing has closed a significant chapter in aviation history. The firm announced that it built the final 747 in its Everett, Washington, facility. Production of the 747 started in 1967, and the two-story plane had a major impact on air travel. It stood out as the first twin-aisle aircraft, ...

View more: Boeing 747 ends production after 54 years as an aviation legend

Shocker! Amazon & Hyundai are Giving Away an Ioniq 5

One lucky winner will drive away in the hottest new EV on the market; enter before midnight on December 31.

View more: Shocker! Amazon & Hyundai are Giving Away an Ioniq 5

This Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Is Electrified, Goes For A Test Ride

Rich's Rebuilds finds out how their latest project does on public roads.

View more: This Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Is Electrified, Goes For A Test Ride

Elon Musk loses crown as Forbes’ Richest Person

Elon Musk has officially lost his position as the richest person in the world. Musk’s net worth officially dropped to $185.7 billion today, forcing him to relinquish his spot as the wealthiest person in the world. Musk was overtaken by Bernard Arnault and Family, responsible for Moet Hennessy Louis ...

View more: Elon Musk loses crown as Forbes’ Richest Person

Volkswagen invests €460 million in Wolfsburg plant

Volkswagen is investing around 460 million euros in the transformation of its main plant in Wolfsburg as a first step until the beginning of 2025. The investments will mainly go towards preparations for the recently confirmed production of the new ID.3 – but also a possible ID.3 X compact ...

View more: Volkswagen invests €460 million in Wolfsburg plant

Introducing the Px8 McLaren Edition headphone

Mercedes' most powerful S-Class ever can hit 100kph in 3.3 seconds

Formula E secures IndyCar venue as New York replacement

The 2023 Vancouver Auto Show Has Been Cancelled

Drive too fast and we will seize your car, say Austrian police

Racing gamers driving up auction prices of Japanese classic cars

NHTSA opens investigation into Hondas over reported loss of power

ABF lands in Arizona for its first LFP Gigafactory in the U.S.

F3 runner-up Maloney joins Red Bull junior team

Ram Revolution electric concept previewed ahead of CES reveal

Drivers paid more for insurance in 2022, and 2023 is looking even worse

Volvo receives the largest order for electric trucks in Australia

OTHER TECH NEWS

Top Car News Car News