Patsy Figg posted on Austin Classic Cars Facebook group “Thanks for accepting me to your group! This is my late father in his first car – an “aluminium prototype Austin Nippy”. Does anyone have anything like this? My mother passed her driving test in it back in the 50’s. I would love to let her sit in one once more”.
Luckily, the number plate had been clearly visible as AKN 625 and present owners Ceri Poole and Gary Richards have gone on to further research the history. Hopefully through some of these details being in the digital public domain for posterity will encourage some of the remaining gaps to somehow be filled.
Ceri accounts: Part of the joy of owning an “old car” is its history and to this end, I have always been an advocate for historic car owners retaining the original registration number for their vehicles. My viewpoint was reinforced recently when earlier this year, whilst reading through an article in the Austin Seven Association Magazine (issue 2020B), I noticed a photograph of a rather sorry looking maroon coloured Austin Seven Type 65 which had been taken many years ago in professional restorer John Heath’s garden in Hertfordshire.
My father Terry Poole instantly recognised the car as my partner Gary Richards’ 65. He knew that it was Gary’s car because the then owner and friend, Charles Rees of Pembrokeshire, had sent it to John for restoration during the late 1970’s and due to a misunderstanding as to what was required, subsequently collected it in the late 1980’s and gave it to my father (then living in Bristol) to provide a chassis up restoration which was completed in 1990 and included the reconditioned original engine comprising a new Phoenix crank. The car was then driven from Bristol back to Pembrokeshire for its maiden voyage and delivery back to Charles.
After this, Charles enjoyed many years of ownership and made many memorable journeys including the infamous “pasty run” when he and Dad floored it from Lynmouth to Padstow and back in record time after fancying a proper Cornish pasty whist on the Bristol Austin Seven Club’s annual North Devon run.
Charles eventually sold the car in 2014 to a gentleman from Pendine in Carmarthenshire and we all lost touch with it for a while.
Gary had always liked Charles’ car and had began to make noises about finding a basket case Nippy or Type 65 to “do up”. During 2015, news came via the Austin Seven grapevine that the gentleman from Pendine has sadly passed away and that AKN 625 might be available for purchase. Could it be fate?
Although far from a “basket case” owing to Dad’s superb 25 year old restoration AKN 625 was a little tired looking but still in good shape and roadworthy. After some deliberation, the purchase was made and the car driven back from Pendine to Milford Haven on the 17th October 2015. Since then the car has been used regularly and most recently took part in the Bristol Austin Seven Club’s run to Crickhowell which entailed a 300 mile round trip.
The subsequent appearance of a message and two old photographs of a white car on the Austin Nippy Facebook group have added a further layer of history. It was purchased in 1950 by Keith Jarrett and sold in about 1958 before daughter Patsy’s brother was born. Her mother Maggy (née Bell) passed her driving test in it, on a rainy day in Slough. It started to rain at the very start of the test. The examiner asked her to put the roof up but she didn’t have it with her (and she said you couldn’t see anything out of it when it was up anyway!) So the examiner pulled up his coat collar and dipped his hat down – and passed her very quickly so they could get back to the test centre!
Patsy accounts that her mother and father had owned the car when they first married and kept it on the street outside their one-room rented accommodation in London. The car had to be sold eventually to allow them to pay a deposit on their first house.
The first pictures could be in an original colour from 1933, but white/black is unlikely to be the original colour. This image below is slightly later (but still before 1958), with sidelights having been added to the aluminium ’65’ body number 92:
Here Patsy’s mother Maggy Jarrett – and the 1955 invitation for the car’s 21st birthday:
Charles Rees of Haverfordwest owned it from 1972 and had taken the body for restoration with John Heath in Essex.
There was some uncertainty over Charles’ intention to restore the body; John Heath was considering he wanted a new one made. Thus, the body was collected and was taken over by his friend Terry Poole to put back together properly. This photo of the car is in Terry’s garage in Bristol, mid restoration during the 1980’s:
Charles managed to find some photographs of the car from the early 2000s taking part in a Bristol Austin Seven Club run:
He also found an old buff coloured logbook with several previous owners names from the 1960’s listed and engine number M180433 listed which we have checked and is still in the car!
It is now in the hands of Terry’s son-in-law Gary and daughter Ceri:
They have agreed that it would be fantastic if Patsy’s mother could again sit in AKN 625. The Covid 19 pandemic has somewhat dampened their excitement for this event but once things are back to normal arrangements will be made and the little car reunited with one of its original owners.
The fact that the car has always retained its original registration number has enabled a timeline of her life but there are still some blanks missing. Can anyone help fill these gaps?
TIMELINE – AKN 625 Austin Seven ’65’
1933 First registered. Original logbook presently lost
1933-1950: History unknown
1950-58 Keith/Fred Jarrett: Only known name on original logbook. Traced via P. Figg. Colour known to be white at this time
Replacement logbook issued by Hertfordshire County Council. Colour noted as change from white to maroon. Engine number noted as: M.180433
“2nd logbook” keepers:
Michael William Humphrey (Boxmoor, Hertfordshire)
Ernest Stanley Bateman (Boxmoor, Hertfordshire)
John Murray McDonald (Hemel Hampstread)
John Harold Range (Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire)
Ronald James Morrison (Droitwich, Worcester)
1968-1972: HISTORY UNKNOWN
1972: Car re-appears in Surrey for sale
1972: Charles William Rees (Pembrokeshire)
1978: Sent to John Heath for potential restoration
1987: Sent to Terry Poole (Bristol at that time) for full chassis-up restoration. Phoenix crank fitted into original engine
1990: Returned to Charles Rees fully restored. Colour changed to green
2011: New style logbook issued (red V5C); Charles William Rees (Pembrokeshire)
2014: Pauline Yvonne Cousins (Carmarthenshire)
2015: Third owner on V5C; Gary Christopher Richards (Pembrokeshire)
By Ceri Poole with contributions from Gary Richards, Charles Rees, Terry Poole and Patsy Figg