Austin Seven heaven as Parsnip takes to the road at last

Nearly 60 years ago Ken Evans put his first car, an Austin Seven, in the garage at his Shropshire hillside home intending to do it up one day – but never got round to it.

Dave with the gleaming, revamped, 1932 Austin Seven.
Dave with the gleaming, revamped, 1932 Austin Seven.

But now son Dave has triumphantly completed the project, and this piece of Evans family motoring history has taken to the road for the first time, gleaming, resplendent, revamped, and with a low mileage for the year – 1932.

And while Ken did not live to see the rebirth of YY 4971, his spirit is living on as the vintage mechanical marvel has been named "Parsnip" in his honour.

Dave, 59, who lives on Pontesbury Hill and has spent around £13,000 on the restoration, said: "I gave it a couple of test rides at the weekend around Pontesbury village. It went very well. I had a few waves."

Looking over the lovingly restored interior.

Those jaunts, with son Ryan passenger in one, and other son Ashley and his dog Bear enjoying the ride in the other, were the first time it had run on the road in well over half a century, adding about a mile or so to the 19,581 miles on the clock.

It was not new when Dave's dad bought it in 1958, but he says: “I know it was his first car. He and my granddad Jack Young bought it between them, paying £5 each.”

The car has the date 1932 on the engine block, and the last tax disc was for 1963. It is presumed it went off the road at renewal time.

The parsnip emblem is a nod to Ken.

Ken, a mechanic, put it in the garage and upgraded to an Austin Ten. He ran the Austin Seven's engine occasionally, but that was it.

He died aged 81 in 2007, after which Dave vowed to take on the project.

"It just got put on the back burner, but I was determined to do it. It was only in a little shed, and Ryan built me a bigger shed."

What it was like inside before Dave set to work.

Dave started work in October 2019, and when put on furlough he was really able to crack on.

"A few years ago I went to a funeral and met a woman who asked me if I had done the car up. She said it had been her father's car. That was another reason which spurred me on – I want to take her for a ride in it. Her name is Geraldine Heath and she lives in Snailbeach or the Stiperstones."

Although the engine was not seized it was sent to a specialist in Scotland and totally rebuilt. Other work has included a new ash timber frame, new fuel tank, and fixing the headlamps.

"There was a lot more work than I thought. I think it's worth it.

Flashback to 2008 when Dave vowed to restore his dad's car.

"My wife Cheryl has been very patient. I have had a new roof lining and she used her sewing skills."

There were one or two surprises. Dave, a commercial body builder at Bulkrite Truck Bodies in Dorrington, had always thought the car was black.

"When I started to rub it down the doors were blue. I bought an Austin Seven book and apparently they did not make one black, they were always a two tone colour. It is black and cobalt blue.

The engine block, pictured in 2008, bearing the date 12.9.32. The engine has been completely rebuilt.

"We are just going to have fun in it, but I'm going to leave it until the weather gets better. We have got a picture when my dad was at the Cheddar Gorge in it in the 1950s and would like to go there."

A special touch is a parsnip emblem on the back.

"When I was starting doing it my sister asked what I was going to call it. I was not going to call it anything. Then I thought I used to call my dad pa, and the grandkids stretched that to parsnip, so I thought I will call it Parsnip as a little nod to my dad.

Ken with wife Ethel and his sister Mary on a trip in YY 4971 to the Cheddar Gorge in the 1950s – son Dave is aiming to go back there to recreate this picture.

"When he died we put parsnips on the coffin."

And what would his dad think of the completed car?

"He would love it."

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