1926 Vauxhall 25/70hp Ormonde Sporting Saloon  Chassis no. S31 Engine no. S31
Lot 363
1926 Vauxhall 25/70hp Ormonde Sporting Saloon Chassis no. S31 Engine no. S31
Sold for £27,600 (US$ 46,390) inc. premium
Lot Details
1926 Vauxhall 25/70hp Ormonde Sporting Saloon
Coachwork by Arthur Mulliner

Registration no. CA 9756
Chassis no. S31
Engine no. S31

Footnotes

  • Closely related to the contemporary 30/98, although far less familiar, the 25/70 was the first six-cylinder Vauxhall model to appear in the 1920s and replaced the 23/60, the four-cylinder engine of which lacked the smoothness and silence increasingly demanded by its intended clientele. The sleeve valve-engined 25/70 was the last new car to be designed at Vauxhall prior to the company’s takeover in 1925 by General Motors, which somewhat surprisingly saw it through to production. In the event, the 25/70 appeared in time for the October 1925 Olympia Show and continued to be listed for the following three years.
    Deeper in section and of 11’ 4” wheelbase, the 25/70’s chassis frame was considerably longer than that of the 30/98. The weight of the 30/98 (OE) chassis was 26cwt compared with 31.5cwt for the 25/70, and on average the cost of the sleeve valve model, both for the chassis and comparable body, was 15% more than the 30/98, and that was an expensive car. The fascination of the 25/70 lies in its engine, the valve-gear being of the Burt-McCollum, single-sleeve type. With six cylinders of 81.5x124mm bore and stroke (3,881cc), it features a built-up crankshaft with central flywheel. Road testers in 1927 found that the 2½-ton 25/70 limousine would just attain 70 mph and that the hydraulic brakes, shared with the OE 30/98, were ‘exceptionally good’.
    Its sales brochure described the 25/70 as a ‘full-sized motor carriage of the most stately kind’ and six body styles were illustrated: two open touring cars, two saloons - the boxy ‘Normanton’ and stylish ‘Ormonde’ - and two formal cars, a landaulet and a limousine. The number of examples made is not known, but a maximum of 50 seems likely, and the fact that many parts such as the gearbox, clutch, steering and some axle parts were common to later 30/98s only served to accelerate the breaking up of the few produced.
    Only one complete example of the 25/70 is known to exist today, that offered here, which retains its original ‘Ormonde’ Sporting Saloon coachwork by Arthur Mulliner, the most dashing standard style listed for the model. Chassis number ‘31’ was discovered 40 years ago by noted Vauxhall authority, Nic Portway, following a reference in Motor Sport magazine to a ‘blower’ Bentley and ‘sv’ Vauxhall abandoned in a field near Derby. Eventually, the owner, Julian Chatterley, was located but he did not want to sell.
    Some time later a deal was struck, in which the late Eric Allsop, who ran the Vauxhall dealership in Derby and had a good collection of Vintage and Veteran Vauxhalls, recovered both cars and stored them. In due course, Allsop retired and the 25/70 passed to Harold Impey, his right-hand man in the business. It was from him that the current owner acquired the 25/70 in October 1972, but only on the clear understanding that the dilapidated Ormonde saloon would be properly restored and not used as the basis for something else.
    With the 25/70 came its original logbook, which revealed that its first owner was Godfrey Watkinson-Melland, of Min-y-don Hall, Old Colwyn, North Wales, and that the original colour scheme was 'suede & chocolate'. Traces of these colours were later found in hidden spots, enabling an exact match to be made. All major components are stamped ‘31’ with the exception of the gearbox, which was replaced by the factory under warranty after one year’s use. The car had suffered from its abandonment: the interior was in a terrible state and some windows were either missing or broken, but amazingly nothing of importance had gone, with the exception of the dashboard clock.
    Its new owner’s first step was to get the engine running; this was achieved without difficulty after the usual cheeks and it ran ‘beautifully’. He worked steadily through the car, finding that nothing more than routine maintenance and adjustment was called for. Much more time was taken up with the cosmetic restoration of the Vauxhall: re-plating the bright metal fittings, re-trimming the sumptuous interior, re-polishing the inlaid wood of the dashboard and door trims, and coach painting the exterior, plus all the small jobs necessary to repair the ravages of long-term neglect. Modern seals and hydraulic fluid have been used to update the braking system, which now works well. The engine has never been stripped, although the sump and other parts have been removed from time to time to facilitate inspection.
    It is unusual to find a Vintage saloon with such attractive styling as the ‘Ormonde’. The expected instruments are collected within a small panel, an early example of what was soon to become commonplace, and most unusually, a disappearing roller shutter can be pulled down to hide all the dash controls, just like an American roll-top desk. A Ki-gass hand pump is fitted, which is used to pressurise the fluid in the braking system.
    The 25/70 is a deceptively large car, which on the road rides well, performs better than most cars of its time and size, and has the marvellous Vauxhall gearbox. One might view the regular use of a car with such a relatively complex engine with apprehension, but such fears in this case have proved groundless. The Vauxhall 25/70 has been a model of reliability, has frequently towed the vendor’s caravan and been loaded with all the impedimenta of a young family in its time. In all, well in excess of 30,000 miles have been covered without any repairs beyond routine replacements and regular maintenance.
    Well known in Vintage car circles, ‘CA 9756’ is featured in Peter Hull’s Vintage Car Casebook, and was borrowed by Vauxhall Motors for the company’s 75th Anniversary celebrations. It also featured in the VSCC Bulletin (Spring 2005) in an article by John Warburton, to whom Bonhams wishes to extend its thanks for permitting its use in the preparation of this description.
    A miraculous and fascinating survivor that reflects much credit on its present owner, this unique Vintage Vauxhall is offered with original logbook, sales brochure, handbook and catalogue; assorted road tests; current road fund licence; MoT to August 2009; and Swansea V5. An almost complete spare engine is included in the sale also.

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