Tuesday, 16 February 2010

BXE 599, where are you!...

My Uncle recently scanned in and sent me some marvellous old Box Brownie shots of his Special as it grew, back in the late 50s/early 60s.
BXE 599 started life as an Austin Seven Ruby. Stripped of her bodywork she would have looked like this.
My Uncle was only 16 when he started this project and in fact, only 21 when he sold it, having used it for getting to work and for a long journey to Bristol. Here he is in our Bristol aunt's driveway.My Dad had built specials earlier and was obviously a good help-at-hand for my Uncle, since we lived over the road from where the car was being built.
Here he gives invaluable advice on steering geometry!
Behind them in that photo, all sorts of magic happened. My Granddad made his own paints and stains in the shed in the background for his work as a grainer and marbler and off to the right was where my Nan made her own wines and repaired all the family's bikes and resoled our shoes! Beyond both was a large garden in which grew most of the ingredients of the wine making. Remarkably my Nan never touched a drop of any of the hundreds of wines she ever made. I recall her parsnip to have been my favourite. Her rosehip was delicious, but gave me nightmares!

Unique as far as I know among specials, BXE had a hardtop. A removable accessory for the winter months which my Uncle made.
The eagle-eyed Special Builders among you will recognize some nice touches of the times amongst the goodies on this car.
A finned Aluminium cylinder head, but I'm not sure of which make. A four branch exhaust manifold and a nice twin SU side-draught inlet set up.
There's also an independent front suspension set up, possibly by Super Accessories or Bowndenex. My Uncle made many of his own parts including the header tank for the then quite rare crossflow radiator.
The very professional looking double hump scuttle always sets a special apart, I think, and BXE was no exception. It always makes for an attractive dashboard shape.

The lovely old spring-spoke steering wheel sets off a nice cockpit and never better than the Brooklands Bluemell's.
I'm delighted to learn that a spare one of these which hung in my Grandad's garage for years after BXE was sold is now in my Uncle's basement and he's promised it for my Cambridge Special.
That's a very special thing for me as I used to look longingly at that old wheel every time I was in my Grandad's workshop!

If anyone knows of the whereabouts or fate of this lovely special, please let me know.

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