1923 Vauxhall 30-98 Velox Tourer
Registration no. Not Registered
Chassis no. OE56
Engine no. OE56
This is a most handsome example of what is considered by many knowledgeable enthusiasts to be the finest British sporting car of the Vintage period. Vauxhall had raced at both Grand Prix and Tourist Trophy level before The Great War and with the 30-98 had produced a car which could run rings around almost all of its contemporaries on cross-country journeys.
The 'big engine/lightweight car' formula has been repeated to good effect many times throughout the history of the sporting motor car, and Vauxhall's famous 30-98 was one of its earliest successful applications. As has so often been the case, the spur behind this particular combination was the desire for competition success; the first 30-98 being constructed in 1913 at the behest of car dealer and motor sport competitor, Joseph Higginson. Higginson's first objective was victory in the Shelsley Walsh hill-climb in June of that year, and the Laurence Pomeroy-designed 30-98 duly obliged, setting a hill record in the process which was to stand for 15 years.
Laurence Pomeroy's tenure as Vauxhall's Chief Engineer saw the Luton-based concern produce some of the truly outstanding designs of the Edwardian period, commencing with the 20hp Prince Henry in 1910. A larger version of the Prince Henry's four-cylinder side-valve engine was developed for its successor, the D-Type, which, with some 70bhp on tap, was good for 70mph-plus when not overburdened by formal coachwork. Pomeroy's 30-98 was powered by a 4.5-litre, four-cylinder, side-valve engine - in effect a stretched version of the Prince Henry/D-Type's - mounted in a conventional but lightweight chassis; suspension being by beam axle at the front and live axle at the rear, with semi-elliptic springs all round. Power was transmitted via a multi-plate clutch to a robust four-speed gearbox, and thence via a short prop-shaft to the straight-cut bevel rear axle. The braking system consisted of a foot-operated transmission brake and a handbrake operating on the two rear drums, the front wheels being un-braked.
At first glance this unremarkable specification seems an unlikely one for a performance car - even an Edwardian example - but the 30-98's 90bhp-plus power output, combined with a weight of only 24cwt (with the factory-built, four-seater 'Velox' tourer coachwork) gave it a formidable power-to-weight ratio for the time. A fully road-equipped 30-98 was capable of around 85mph, and when stripped for racing the company guaranteed a top-speed in excess of 100mph for the later overhead-valve models, a capability demonstrated at Brooklands on numerous occasions.
Only a handful of cars were sold before the outbreak of WWI interrupted production, and when manufacture resumed in 1919, the model was given the designation 'E-Type' - its Prince Henry predecessor having been the 'C' and the 25hp Tourer the 'D'. Manufacture of the E-type ceased in September 1922 after 287 cars had been constructed, there then being a slight hiatus in production before its successor, the overhead-valve 'OE', commenced delivery to customers in early 1923. Despite a reduction in capacity to 4.2 litres, the power of the ohv motor went up to 110bhp-plus, although this increase made little difference to the car's performance.
The OE was not to gain front-wheel brakes until late 1923, when a cable system was introduced. This was operated, along with the transmission brake, by the foot pedal, with the linkages and compensating mechanism - the inaccurately termed 'kidney box' - mounted somewhat untidily in front of the radiator. Hydraulic actuation of the front-wheel and transmission brakes was adopted in 1926. By the time the final batch of OE chassis had been completed in early 1927, there were few customers for the 30-98, the antiquity of the design telling against it when compared to the more refined competition from Bentley and Sunbeam. Total production of OEs numbered 312 cars, a large proportion of which was exported to Australia.
Believed to have spent all of its life in Australia, this splendid early 'OE' has retained all of its original features and is a fine example of this famous and much desired Vintage sports car. The earliest known owners were the McSweeney family, of Canowindra, NSW, who owned the car from 1945 to 1955 when it passed to Barry Ford (photograph on file). Its next owner, Norm Joseph, sold the Vauxhall to Jim Cuthbert in 1958 (photographs on file) and Jim in turn passed it on to Barry Burnett in 1961. The Rainsford family acquired the car from Barry in 1968, since when it has been beautifully restored while retaining its authenticity and original character. We are advised that road performance is fully up to expectations.
'OE56' was fitted with a D-Type crankcase when purchased by the Rainsfords. The original crankcase was located and purchased from a Vauxhall enthusiast, and the process of restoration completed in 2003. All major components, including the engine, gearbox, clutch cone, differential and front axle, are stamped and correct for this vehicle.
Finished in Royal Blue with matching leather interior, 'OE56' represents a wonderful opportunity to acquire a most handsome example of what is considered by many knowledgeable enthusiasts to be the finest British sporting car of the Vintage period.