For two stalwarts of the Austin 7 fraternity this rally will also mark their own very special anniversary. Ken & Eileen Cooke, from Stevenage in Hertfordshire, will have attended every one of the fifty National Austin 7 Rallies at Beaulieu since they began in 1963.
Ken’s early purchase of an Austin Seven not only gave him a lifelong interest – it directly led to him meeting his wife!
“In 1950 I bought my first Austin Seven for just under £30. It was a 1927 Chummy and pretty rough but I heard that the 750 Motor Club catered for these funny little cars and that some members were converting them to sports specials. In 1952 I built a two-seater body for it and for its first outing I drove down to the Isle of Sheppey with a friend. We came across a young girl struggling to get her bike over a style and stopped to give her a hand. My friend took her address, but it was me who followed it up. By the end of 1953 I had joined the 750 Motor Club and married Eileen, the young lady from Sheppey!”
“In 1965 we bought the bones of an open top Austin Seven Chummy and worked on it over the next 9 years. We got it on the road by Easter ’76 and called it Dingo – after a famous Austin Seven racing car. Dingo has taken us to 9 European countries as well as from coast to coast in the USA, on the 3,500 miles of the famous Route 66. It has done over 140,000 miles in our hands and through it, and the 750 Club, we have made firm friends all over the world.”
Organised by the 750 Motor Club, the National Austin Seven Rally will attract hundreds of Austin 7s from all over the United Kingdom and Europe to the picturesque setting of the Beaulieu estate. Beaulieu visitors are invited to come along to see the display and meet the owners and their cars including Ken & Eileen Cooke and, of course, Dingo.