1931 Austin Seven Swallow

National Motor Museum
Beaulieu, Hampshire

I don’t have a story about this one, I just love photographing Vintage cars… you can see me paying homage, reflected in the chrome detailing. The sad irony about the automobile is that something so aesthetically pleasing and genuinely ‘liberating’ has created so many problems for our planet.

In 1927, William Lyons, co-founder of the Swallow Sidecar Company, saw the commercial potential of producing a re-bodied Austin 7. Buying a chassis from dealer Parkers of Bolton Lyons commissioned Swallow’s talented employee, coachbuilder Cyril Holland, to produce a distinctive open tourer: the Austin Seven Swallow. Holland (1895- ) who joined Swallow in late 1926 had served his apprenticeship with Lanchester and would become chief body engineer. The height of saloon car fashion of the day was to have the back of the body fully rounded, this was called “dome” shaped.

With its bright two-tone colour scheme and a style befitting more expensive cars of the time, together with its low cost (£175), the Swallow proved popular and was followed in 1928 by a saloon version: the Austin Seven Swallow Saloon.

Approximately 3,500 bodies of various styles were produced up until 1932.


1938 Hillman Minx Magnificent at Beaulieu motor museum
1938 Hillman Minx Magnificent at Beaulieu motor museum

A pastel blue Hillman Minx 66 Deluxe was my first car, and I remember I spent a couple of days painting the headlight surround -and other perforated areas – with bright red anti-rust paint. It cost £100, but the engine had problems; a pall of thick black smoke coming from the exhaust shrouded any cars following us. I later discovered that the lovely individual who sold it to me had poured a well-known additive into the engine to hide the existence of a cracked block. I replaced the engine with a reconditioned unit and the car was off the road for 3 weeks. But I loved that car. It had a very smooth ride, tan leather seats, and I removed the rotor arm each night to stop short sighted opportunists from stealing it. In retrospect, I had absolutely nothing to worry about.

The Minx was one of the most popular saloon cars of the 1930s and the most famous Hillman model. It was first introduced in 1932 and underwent several updates before the larger, more modern ‘Minx Magnificent’ was launched in August 1935. 10,000 of the new model were sold before the end of that year. This car features the new style of grille and opening boot lid first seen in mid-1937.