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The Beaulieu Sale / 1925 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer Chassis no. OE195

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Lot 553
1925 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer
Coachwork by Vauxhall Motors
2 September 2017, 14:30 BST
Beaulieu, National Motor Museum

Sold for £214,300 inc. premium

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1925 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer
Coachwork by Vauxhall Motors

Registration no. BL 9381
Chassis no. OE195

*Imported from Australia
*Previously owned by ex-President of the VSCC, Barry Clarke
*First restored by Arthur Archer in the 1970s
*Most recent restoration by Blakeney Motorsport (2016/2017)
*Extensive history file

Footnotes

Offered here is a very well-known example of what is considered by many knowledgeable enthusiasts to be the finest British sporting car of the Vintage period. Vauxhall 30/98 adherents will maintain that while Bentley generated greater publicity - thanks largely to their victories at Le Mans - the Vauxhall company (which raced at both Grand Prix and Tourist Trophy level before the Great War) had produced a car that could run rings around 3-Litre Bentleys 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 at the behest of car dealer and motor sport competitor, Joseph Higginson, in 1913. 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 was 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.

This particular OE model was imported by Cameron Miller from Australia, where the big Vauxhall was deservedly popular, and sold to ex-President of the VSCC, Barry Clarke, the Vauxhall Motors Velox tourer 'long scuttle' body being fitted at that time. The car passed through the hands of three owners before being acquired in 1979 by Ted Watts for £19,500 (receipt on file). The extensive history file contains records of a complete restoration carried out in the 1970s by Arthur Archer, who restored the Vauxhall for a second time while it belonged to Ted Watts.

Purchased by the current vendor in 2012, 'OE195' by this time required a complete restoration once more, which on this occasion was carried out by Patrick Blakeney Edwards (Blakeney Motorsport) during 2016/2017 (see bills totalling over £50,000 on file). Works undertaken include a full rebuild of the engine and all ancillaries; overhauling the transmission with new clutch plates and new half-shafts; repainting the body; and overhauling the magneto, dynamo, and starter motor. Huke Trimmers had re-trimmed the interior to correct pattern in 2013. The only notified deviations from factory specification are coupled brakes (foot operated), flashing indicators, and later reed bezel instruments.

Delightful and ready to use, this fine example of Vauxhall's definitive sports car of the Vintage period is offered with a (reprint) instruction book, FIVA Identity Card, old/current V5/V5C registration documents, and the aforementioned history file of invoices and other documents.

Additional information