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My First Car: Soft spot for Austin 7 ‘boat tail’ soft-top

PUBLISHED: 14:14 14 November 2015 | UPDATED: 12:34 16 November 2015

Alan Cugnoni's first car was a  a rare ‘boat tail’ version Austin 7,  two-seater soft-top.

Alan Cugnoni's first car was a a rare ‘boat tail’ version Austin 7, two-seater soft-top.

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Alan Cugnoni’s first car – a rare ‘boat tail’ Austin 7, two-seater soft-top – was not an easy car to drive.

I always enjoy your My First Car feature so decided to send you mine.

It was an early – around 1932 – red Austin 7, two-seater soft-top, a rare ‘boat tail’ version with three-speed crash gearbox, gravity-fed petrol, clutch movement of about two inches and, as for the brakes, what brakes! By today’s standards it was a difficult car to drive.

I was about halfway through my 17th year in 1956 and paid £55 for it in the Barnet area of north London.

Road tax was around £3 8s 9p per quarter and insurance £22 – very expensive as my weekly wage was around £7.

With the help of friends, relatives and the odd trip out on my own, I passed my driving test with the final comment from the examiner “Well done young man, not an easy car to drive, you drove it well”.

Well, that was it. I was off everywhere. At that time I was a semi professional banjo player for a local jazz band – and still am – and often one of the other guys and girlfriend would be passenger with me to various gigs. As you can imagine, there were many incidents en route which we won’t go in to.

After a couple of years I sold it, as reliability was not its strongpoint, and moved up to a 1946 Austin 8 Saloon.

Here is the interesting end to the story. About five years ago I discovered on Google the website for the Austin Seven Owners Club and, looking through the pages, there was one listing registration numbers and, yes, there it was.

GPD 729 was listed as still running so I sent the same picture with details of my ownership to the club secretary. Many weeks later I received a telephone call from the current owner who, being the secretary of the ‘boat tail’ log, was delighted to have received another chapter to add to the car’s history.

It has been completely restored to full original specification – green with black duck hood – and is used regularly and loved by his family. Its value today is around £7,000.

At one of the gigs I used to do when I had the Austin Seven, I met my wife and we have been married for nearly 52 years – I wish I still had the car as well!

Tell us about your first car – bright spots, breakdowns, delights and disasters. Email your first car memories, with a picture if you have one, to motoring@archant.co.uk

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