Austin 7 Around the Americas
Why in heaven’s name would anyone in their right mind consider attempting to drive a 85 year old Austin 7 the equivalent of traveling around the world (24,860 mi/40,007km)?
Beats me! Having spent a lifetime being a busy specialist orthodontist in the Hospital Service of the NHS; I approached retirement wondering how I would fill the void when I retired in 2009.
Dentistry was always my career of choice. I come from a medically affected family. It has been a wonderful way of providing care, earning a living and being able to enjoy life. In 2003 one of my colleagues introduced me to Eunice Kratky and I knew from the moment she walked into my office that my life was about to change for the better, forever. After sharing a number of wonderful adventures, plans for a bigger project involving a vintage Austin 7 began to take shape. We planned to undertake the journey during the 90th anniversary year of the first Austin 7 being produced (1922), and as a bonus the route we chose would create the shape of a reverse “7”when viewed on a map. There was also the possibility of following part of the route taken by John Coleman, an English school teacher, who wished to follow the route taken by Aimee Tschifelly, who, in 1925, rode a pair of horses from Buenos Aires to New York. John Coleman drove a 1925 Austin 7 mostly along the route in 1959/60. (Tschiffely’s Ride, 1933; Coleman’s Drive, 1962)
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The main body of this text, apart from the Introduction and Afterthoughts!, is largely based on the website entries (www.bespk.com) which were written by Eunice, and a Facebook diary (bespk) that was mostly written by Guy, with minimal editing for clarity. We assembled the book whilst the world was in lockdown in 2020/21. This means that the text may occasionally move between tenses but we have tried, as far as possible, to maintain the integrity of the content as we wrote it at the time, warts and all. The book is more than an account of our adventure. It’s a chance for us to share with you some of the wonderful and fascinating people and things that we encountered whilst we were undertaking the journey and later researching a variety of topics for the book. If you’d like to explore these, you can look through the endnotes and appendices in the interactive version of the text on the website at http://www.bespk.com which you can access for free with the purchase of this book.
My favourite type of reading is about a stranger in a strange land,
and what could be stranger to the English than America and what’s
stranger to Americans than an Austin 7? Put all this together and you
have a charming read about the adventures of seeing the America’s on
7 horsepower (30bhp). In a Cadillac you would waft by everything at 75
mph while looking at your cell phone blissfully unaware of where you’ve
just been. In an 85 year old Austin 7 you miss nothing because you are
holding on for dear life at 45 mph as Americans scream by in giant SUVs
while drinking soda from a 44 ounce big gulp. It is said that the English
are a nation of scribes and this little book does nothing to refute that.
They have written it all down like a modern Lewis and Clark. When I saw
them pull up to my gate I just assumed some golf cart had gotten lost and
wandered off. My staff were stunned that they were traveling 25000 miles
in that and you will too.
Great fun and all for a good cause.
Jay Leno - American comedian and writer