Norfolk link to Ruby the Austin 7

Robert Horner in Austin 7 Ruby.
Robert Horner in Austin 7 Ruby.
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An appeal’s been made for the public’s help revealing the history of a beautiful Austin 7 Ruby that began its life in Norfolk.

The classic car is to go under the hammer in an auction later this month after turning up during a property clearance in the village of Goxhill, in North Lincolnshire.

Robert Horner, a consultant with auctioneers CJM Asset Management, said: “I had been called in to help the executors dealing with the estate of an 85 year old pensioner.

“The property was covered with dilapidated tractor sheds and workshops full of old farmmachinery, tools and other fairly run-of- the-mill stuff – but in a garage sat this beautiful, fullyrestored, 1936 Austin 7 Ruby.

“The BNG number plate tells us that the car was first registered in Norfolk and we know from paperwork that the vehicle has had seven owners but who they were and when it left Norfolk is a blank.

“We would just love to know its early history and we would be delighted to hear from anyone who knows anything about it. The Austin 7 was the car that ushered in the age of mass motoring in this country, so the Ruby would be memorable, quite likely one of the first cars that a family owned, perhaps even the very first.”

Robert added: “The Austin 7 was a brilliant design but amazingly it very nearly failed to get off the drawing board; indeed it very nearly failed to get on to the drawing board.

“In 1922 Austin was in serious financial trouble and there were members of the board who thought Sir Herbert Austin’s idea of putting scarce resources into manufacturing an affordable small car for the masses would sink the company completely.

“The hostility to the idea was so great that Sir Herbert did the early design work away from the factory – on the billiard table at his home – aided by just Stanley Edge, an 18-year- old Longbridge draughtsman.

“Far from sinking the company the Austin 7 saved it. The ‘Baby Austin’ was a huge success that, with a price tag of £118-£125, brought car ownership within the reach of many people for the first time.

“It was also much admired around the world. Believe it or not the first BMW, the BMW Dixi, was an Austin 7 produced under license.

“The first Nissan car was a ripped-off Austin 7 copy. The first McLaren racing car was a souped-up Austin 7, as was the first Lotus.

“The Ruby was an updated 7 model - with a more streamlined body, a more luxurious interior and a dashboard with ‘proper instruments’ – that was introduced to the range in 1934.”

The car is to go under the hammer in an online auction based at the CJM Auction Centre in Scunthorpe that is to close at 6pm on Tuesday February 28 th .

The sale viewing sessions are on Friday, February 24, 1pm-4.30pm and on Monday, February 27, 10am-5pm.

Meanwhile Robert had one word of advice for anyone of a mind to take BNG 108 back home to Norfolk: “Bring a packed lunch!’ The car is in running order ... and it was driven down to Lincoln last autumn, so well on the way ... but bear in mind that the top speed of the Austin 7 Ruby was 52 miles an hour and that was in 1936! It is going to take a little time to get home.”