65s and Nippies have always been available in cherry red as a stock colour. But what exactly was cherry red? It’s not a simple answer, as when the 65 was released, there were no colour cards in the 1932 Belco swatch of Austin colours which listed it, despite the 1933 stock colours publication listing Cherry for the new Austin Seven 2 seater sports.
The Austin Ten Drivers Club (ATDC) scored a lucky find with a set of the fabled 1932 colour cards recently and they have been working on a publication for their members – on colours and the nearest available choices we have today through BS, RAL and car manufacturers’ existing colour ranges. Tony Mealing has been instrumental in guiding this and has come up against two issues with finding how to produce a modern equivalent for 80 year old paint. Firstly, the colour cards are not completely reliable, as despite storage in the dark conditions of a cardboard wallet, some darken, some lighten or some react with neighbouring detail and fine line paints on the same card. Saying this, other evidence from protected areas (such as under hinges on very original cars) can corroborate the stability of paint cards. Secondly, publicity printed material that displays Austin colours is not reliable for its dependence on a print process as well as the possibility of print or paper fading or darkening.
So, back to Cherry Red. One recent car being restored, the early 65 of Nick Boorman, had remains of the presumed factory colour underneath the wooden dashboard panel. when polished, this gave a sample which was colour matched for his own refinishing which used a Rover colour, Brigade Red 69-72. If we go back to the ATDC 1932 Austin colour cards, we discover a swatch for the Austin 10 Deluxe, presumably then a special colour as it is not listed in the stock colours in the 1932 publication. Is Mitcham Red, here with a “yellow” (sic) detail, a possible match? It could have been renamed to supply the first years of Sports production, as a new stock colour?This panel below is digitally sampled from areas of the photographic image above, but remember the limitations of working with these digital images and your own viewing screens.
The above has a purple or blue-ish element to it.
Here are some presumed original samples from cars, all on 1933 cars when – perhaps – the cars, and most importantly, the stock colour range – would have been seen as “new”? But are they cherry, or are they something else?
Cherry red is listed in 1936 in the cards available to view on the Austin 7 Clubs Association archive here.
There are three cards, this one below for the 65/Nippy, and two others with associated colours for detail and fine lining. You can see the degradation of this particular card, and until more samples of original paint from 1936/7 Nippies comes about, we do not really know if there is darkening here or whether the paint shade has subtly changed since 1932 in response to factory wishes. Again, unless you are looking at the two physical samples next to each other in daylight, scanner and digital image limitations may also change the hue to the viewer. The three website samples are darker than the original Mitcham source.
So perhaps the real question is what named colour is this car in publicity literature in 1936 for the 1937 year? This seems lighter than any of the Cherry shades. Perhaps it is artistic licence, or perhaps it was a suggested brighter red by Austin to attract buyers to what was then a run out model.
As all cars were available in any colour you like for an appropriate charge, then unless cars have a colour noted on the new purchase receipt, forensic analysis is practically impossible. Earlier Seven cars from 1928/9 and 1930/31 benefit from surviving production ledger listings which can confirm or deny what might be deemed “original paint”.