It seems reasonable that after 80 years, the surviving cars should give a good basis for extrapolation and comparison to the perceived total production figures, without much knowledge of anything else. Statements made in respected Austin Seven texts can be tested using the statistics available. It seems that the number of Nippies producted was massively over-estimated.
1. Production (Sports) 1933: 234 cars
The 23rd June Light Car Magazine report announced prices ‘to be’… thus it is reasonable that Jul-Dec 1933 is the sales period; ‘234 EB65 cars were sold in the first six months’ according to Wyatt.
As the first registrations are in January 1933, it seems sensible that all these early cars are going to be part of those sold – demonstrators or show cars – post-‘new car launch’. The 1933 registrations are incredibly variable – there are lots of 1934 registrations within the top half of the ascending chassis number table on the Register… and a few 1933 registrations in the lower half. That, however, all feels common sense, and the approximate division between the overall masses of 1933 and 34 registrations seems to be at about a figure which, from the body numbers recorded, could equate to 234 cars. The purple dividing line (left) must be set at the lower end of the majority of the 1933 registrations as we can assume that by the end of December, they are firmly linked to new car sales rather than pre-registrations.
2. Production (Sports) 1934: 228 cars; 462 over 2 years
The figures are easier to test than the individual models as we spill into the Nippy ascending chassis number records. But, the production figures are going to precede the registration dates we have (variation between build and registering for all sorts of reasons), and indeed are easier to predict as we have Mills quoting Wyatt’s ‘chassis number just over 210000 by the end of 1934’. The Nippy Survivors register is remarkably well populated with concurrent body numbers around this end of 1934 production, and we see an approximate body number of 506 after the two years; giving a 1934 total of, say, between 255 and 245 EB65/Nippy bodies depending on the 1933 total. However, there is the added complication of half the 75/Speedy production – 55% of survivors register cars occur before the end of 1934 production, c.210000 chassis number. Allowing some 65/Nippy bodies to be supplying replacements for accident damaged cars, it suggests we are very near to the statement figure of 228, but perhaps slightly underestimated.
3. ‘75/Speedy production may total 60 cars’
I’d question whether production was as much as 60, especially with the high figures seen in point 2 total Sports production giving no slack for the 75 total. It seems likely that the more prestigious car will have a higher rate of survival. It is unusual that no higher body number than 36 (a spare body hybrid?) still exists when the spread prior to body 36 is relatively even/consistent. Unless there are undiscovered cars to emerge, I am going to suggest that there were only 32 total 75/Speedy registered cars. That would give a survival rate of 15/32 = 46.8%, which sites well with the figures for the more common cars.
4. Production (Sports) 1935: 220 cars; 682 over 3 years
Mills/Wyatt suggests chassis numbers up to around 237000 by the end of 1935, and that yields an EB65/Nippy body total at around 675, plus say 40 Speedy, being all the production. Allowing some bodies for accident damaged cars, we are once again near statement figures.
5. 20 alloy bodies left at end of EB65 production (Chris Gould/Jack French)
This perhaps explains the higher body total than production statement figures at the end of 1934.
6. total EB65 production of 400 (A7CA, 1985) or 275 (Mills)
If we know that numbering continued on directly from alloy to steel, AND that some Nippys continued to have alloy bodies to use up stock AND that there were few obvious bodily differences in the cars apart from hoods and front wing lights, then it makes it difficult to determine the cut off date if Buff log books do not actually record the vehicle name. It seems that body type has variously been recorded as ‘2 seater’, ‘2 seater Sports’… but on more than one observed occasion, ‘tourer’.
The youngest EB65 register car (on chassis no.) with enough distinguishing numbers to give some consistency is about body number 337. With some bodies being supplied for accident damaged cars, that might mean 320 cars.
The oldest Nippy register car (on chassis no.) is about body number 350.
So we aren’t far away in suggesting it might be about 340/345 EB65 cars total production, but that hybrid Nippy/EB65s could extend that to 355 or more where specifications were wholly of the earlier car with the exception of the heavier body. What other factors/characteristics have been missed here, that might allow definitive identification of the hybrids?
7. ‘a total Nippy production of 800′ (all sources, presumably originally from Wyatt)
All we have to determine this is the breadth of the surviving cars, and it might be that it is reasonable to expect that there is very slightly better survival of later cars than earlier ones, just on the basis of liability over time. There are about 10 consistent Nippy records with newer chassis numbers than the car with the highest body number of 974. So perhaps 980 total alloy/steel cars.
Allowing the EB65 total of 340 cars, that makes a total of only 640 Nippys.
The survival rates are thus presently (on end of 2014 survivor figures):
EB65 (115ish/340ish) 33.8%
Nippy (239ish/640ish) 37.3%
8. 20 steel bodies sold off at the end of the Nippy production run (Chris Gould/Jack French?)
These could account for the slightly higher estimate of production than was actually the case, if any appear in the extant register and affect the guesstimate extrapolation such as made here.
9. What about the special body builders; the supplied Sports chassis for Gordon England, Arrow and others? Were they included in the totals?
Obviously not; I was amazed to read in Wyatt that (for 1935) ‘Special body builders began to take an interest in the sports chassis and the number of chassis sold was almost double that of the previous year with a total of 1,392’. That is still an ambiguous statement to be further tested, but the scale of the figures means they certainly have no place in the figures discussed above.
Thanks to the A7CA Registers and those who judiciously maintain them, for both the information and its general accessibility to all. Fabulous resource!
Wyatt, R.J (1968/1994) The Austin Seven – The Motor for the Million
Mills, Rinsey (1996/2008) Original Austin Seven; The Restorer’s Guide to all passenger car and sports models 1922-1939