A modsports sAloon before its time, this radical lightweight was created in 1960 by RAF officer Michael Forrest. It’s dripping with ingenuity: the engine is used as a stressed member to stiffen the chassis and the steering box is mounted centrally between the track rods, eliminating the drag link. The body, flushglazed in Perspex, is chopped and sectioned so the roof is almost 2ft lower than it was in 1932, and the steering column is almost horizontal. It has never been on a weighbridge but it feels lighter than a Caterham to push.
It’s got ‘impecunious men in sheds’ running all the way through it – except that it sports expensive cast-alloy Speedex wheels and a Speedex bucket seat, and Forrest used to tow it to events behind a Rolls-Royce 20hp.
Long-time A7 enthusiast and racer Henry Harris acquired it 30 years ago but he’s only just resurrected it, ready for the 750 Motor Club test day at Curborough in March. ‘Forrest ran it in the 750 Formula and came third in the championship,’ says the former film art director. ‘The next name in the logbook is DA Brodie.’
Dave Brodie went on to saloon-racing fame in his ‘Run Baby Run’ Escorts and founded Brodie Brittain Racing, still operating as BBR GTi. The windows and rear structure aren’t riveted but are secured by hundreds of 6BA screws and locknuts. ‘Probably from the Air Ministry. I think he built the car on a base – he was an RAF officer at a Thor missile site during the Cold War and nothing much had been happening. ‘He wrote up all his developments for the club magazines, such as the twin-SU manifold and the rear damper mounts, all still on the car. He got rid of the dynamo and ran the distributor straight off the nose of the camshaft.
‘The steering box ended up in front of the split axle – it moved all over the place when he was developing the car. The dampers are Morris 8 – they cost 2/6 each – and he experimented with different oils to alter their characteristics, from 10 to 140-weight. The engine is a bit of an unknown, with a Dante alloy head which bolts back to the bulkhead. It’s still a two-bearing crank with Forrest’s own camshaft and followers. He balanced everything on knifeedges, but I’ve only used 4000rpm so far.’
Harris has no shortage of Sevens. His daily driver is a saloon he’s owned since the ’60s, but the Forrest special had been out of sight for 40 years. ‘Austin Seven racing recommenced around 1978 and people were getting all sorts of stuff out of the woodwork. A friend had bought this and did nothing with it, so I bought it. I’ve only done three laps of Donington with it so far, in a 750 Motor Club demonstration. It’s incredibly noisy inside, with the open side exhaust, and it has very direct steering.’