Reminiscences of Nippy AAR 810

Bill Sheehan in Australia suggested chasing up the history of AAR 810 as what he remembers was probably an early Nippy.

David Howe remembered the car, owning it 1974-5. He got it from a chap who lived in a flat virtually opposite Coopers in Surbiton. “I seem to remember I saw it in his front garden and knocked on his door, we got chatting and he came to see my WW2 Ford V8 lorry; we agreed a swap.” David was rather pleased to see the back of the lorry as it did about 10mpg, and because it was not taxed or insured was left parked in a side road up Richmond Hill, out of sight.

It was, with hindsight, perhaps a Type 65 with its correct solid mounted Sports engine and he remembers an alloy body. He rebuilt the engine, refitted the correct front wings and resprayed it black with turquoise wheels as a homage to the Bugatti Black Bess which at that time was that colour scheme. It proved to be a very reliable car being used for travel to work and holidays in France; never very fast but great fun. At the time it was still quite original apart from the headlights (which were not even Lucas). It still had the small piece of original carpet in the glove compartment, original seats and upholstery, hood and frame. It was eventually sold it to a dealer for £145 to help finance a first house purchase.

“At was at the time I had it just a second hand car, never rebuilt, just used. It was in fairly good condition, both mechanically and bodily. In those days I used to get through Sevens fairly rapidly but it stayed with me for about 2 years.”

“We squeezed all our luggage into the car including a tent which was stowed under my legs, for a two week holiday. Finding these pictures from a Normandy trip, I see it has the solid centre wheels (from my Chummy at the time, because we wanted to be sure we had no wheel problems in France; the Chummy ones had been rebuilt but the others hadn’t been). I notice that it had Bowdenex even then, and something I’d completely forgotten about, it had side screens. If you had asked me if I had ever had a Seven with Bowdenex I would have said no, can’t remember ever adjusting them! Pity I didn’t take pictures of the engine, but I know it remained oil tight all the time I had it after the rebuild. Also at that time I seemed to have called it a Nippy – I later changed my mind.”

Years later, it was sent to Canada and here are photos from its then owner Ed Hendee in 2007-ish:

“I bought the Nippy from a fellow just north of London and had it airlifted to Victoria. The body, upholstery and general mechanical were pretty dismal. When I bought it, it did not have an aluminum body. Someone had also replaced the high compression head with the standard one and changed the downdraught Zenith carburettor with a SU. The engine block, however was the original one with the high lift cam. The rear end also sounded like it was on its last legs. The body and upholstery were in sad shape but the top bows remained. The driver and passenger seats were not the inflatable “inner tube” seats. The frames were original but someone had put foam-filled seats in it. I guess that means she was significantly changed when I got her, and it was quite a job to get her back into her original configuration.

All was rectified with a new high compression head, proper Zenith downdraught, a new ring and pinion and a full body off body restoration. All the gauges were restored.

The attached picture is of it at the ‘super exclusive, invitation only’ car show in Gastown, Vancouver, the Canadian equivalent to Pebble Beach. It was featured in the brochure for that show.

It was pretty immaculate and proper when I sold her a few years ago. There were only a few things which weren’t; the headlight lenses and the front bar of the top.

I did extensive research on her and all the numbers matched for a 1935 steel car. The body numbers (which I believe to be absolutely original) and engine numbers and other markings lead me to believe this was the original AAR 810 body and it was steel. I KNOW the vehicle I had was AAR 810; if the identification plate had been changed it would probably have been done more cleverly than it was done.

It was sold to a retired doctor on Quadra Island, British Columbia about 7 or 8 years ago then advertised for sale again a couple of years after that.”

Anyone know where it is now, or remember any of its history from the 1980/90s which may throw light on the reminiscences here?

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