The Not so Nippy, Nippy

Picture of By Craig Ranson
By Craig Ranson

Managing Director – Bridge Classic Cars

We’ve just welcomed this beautiful 1934 Austin Seven Nippy into the workshop for some engine repairs. The current diagnosis is that it needs an engine rebuild as there seem to be some oil issues. Our aim is to troubleshoot the engine, identify the exact faults and advise the customer on what to do next.

The Austin Seven Nippy was the brainchild of Herbert Austin and Stanley Edge than run from 1922 to 1937. Despite only 682 models being made, the Austin Seven Nippy was responsible for helping motorise Britain, with the car providing the same footprint as a motorcycle and sidecar whilst still offering all the advantages of an automobile.

The Nippy clever abut simple engineering is based around an ‘A-frame’ chassis which is equipped with an all-round leaf-sprung suspension. The earlier models were fitted with just a three-speed manual gearbox whereas the later models, including ours, has a four-speed gearbox. This small and brisk sports car benefits from a lowered centre of gravity making it an amusing and ‘nippy’ drive.

It’s fun to see a car with a cranking handle such as what this Austin Nippy has. Although it was commonplace for cars at the time, it’s always interesting when we get one in the workshop. The cranking handle manually turns over the engine acted as a backup. It functioned much in the same way as bump starting the car. Cranking handles slowly phased out of car designs, often with the levers ending up in the toolbox as a last resort.

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