THE 54th National Austin 7 Rally takes place at Beaulieu on Sunday July 3 and holds one of the longest unbroken runs for a one-marque club using the same venue for its annual event.
For one enthusiast the event will mark a particularly significant milestone. Bertie Fowler (pictured), who bought his first Austin 7 in 1966, will be attending his 50th rally.
He purchased the 1936 ‘Nippy’ (one of the relatively few production sports models that Austin made) at the age of 19, negotiating the £90 deal in darkness by the Derby Grandstand at Epsom racecourse. It was, he says, ‘the best buy I ever made’.
Years of happy motoring followed, even in the face of what Bertie describes as ‘the usual Nippyisms’ of the doors flying open when negotiating fast corners.
The car was taken off the road in 1976 and lay under sheets in his garden shed for decades, but in recent times has been expertly restored by Robert Foreman and Chris Gould (who is a living legend in the world of sporty Austin 7s).
Bertie will proudly display the end result at the rally and will join many other ‘Austin 7 Sports and Racers’ which are the theme for this year’s special display.
Several rare and famous Austin 7s will also be attending, including Graham Beckett’s ‘Simplicity’, the Tony Hutchings-built OK7095 works racer replica, and several of the Bert Hadley Championship cars being brought along by the Pre-War Austin 7 Club.
The display is expected to be one of the largest seen in recent years and is open to all Austin 7 owners from the UK or Europe.
Austins form the core of the event but pre-1975 vehicles of all makes are invited to attend and will have a designated parking area on the rally field.
The National Austin 7 Rally is an ideal day out for enthusiasts and families. Entrance includes access to the whole of the Beaulieu attraction, including the National Motor Museum, Palace House which has been home to the Montagu family since 1538 and the 13th century Beaulieu Abbey and gardens.