DEC 05th 2014

Classifieds Combo: Austin 'Noddy Van' and Ashley 750 Austin Special

There’s no denying that this week’s combo is going to need a bit of work. In fact it’s probably more accurate to say that both subjects will require varying degrees of restoration. However, once completed it could represent a rather cool way go historic racing.

Let’s begin with the racey part and THIS Ashley/Austin 750 Special. The underpinnings are all 1936 Austin 7, with a body which was built by Ashley probably some time in the Fifties. Back then the body shell would have cost around £78, with a further £25 needed if you also wanted a hard top. Apparently, early versions of the Ashley hard top had ‘gull wing’ doors although sadly none are thought to have survived.

Most of the bits needed to finish it would appear to be there, although a browse of the pictures suggests that perhaps the best way to go (especially if you were thinking of racing it) would be to do a full rebuild. The 750cc, sidevalve Austin motor would appear to be in decent fettle and the front end even features such technological advances as independent suspension and hydraulic brakes!

It sounds like a fun project, but aside from that I think it looks rather pretty, with a touch of MGA to the rear half of the body, and as for those ultra-rare Speedex wheels … True, it probably wouldn’t be able to drag the skin off a rice pudding, but that’s beside the point; I reckon it would be a riot to drive.  

Of course the Ashley is a very small car, which means it would easily fit inside THIS beastie. Known to many as a ‘Noddy Van’, its officially known as ‘Austin VAK’ and it’s rather rare to see one which looks like it’s all-there. Like so many old commercials it can be very hard to arrange undercover storage, so they tend to sit and rot somewhere before finally being weighed-in as little more than a frame with a few greasy bits attached to it.

Not so, this one. Although the vendor has been somewhat economic with the description, they claim that all the electrics are working and that they’ll ‘take it for a drive…’ Mind you, the fact that it apparently failed an MOT four years ago on ‘one front spring’ might suggest that the drive in question will be little more than a chug around the yard where it’s stored. But still, the signs are that it might not be too far off road-worthiness.

So, restore the Ashley, renovate the Noddy Van including some modest living quarters at the front end of the body and you’re in business! You might need a calendar instead of a watch if you’re thinking of taking this combo to mainland Europe, but think of all the thumbs-ups you’d get on the way! 




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