1904/05 Vauxhall 7/9hp Phaeton  Chassis no. 3CM31

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Lot 614
1904/05 Vauxhall 7/9hp Phaeton
Registration no. to be advised Chassis no. 3CM31

Sold for £ 28,750 (US$ 39,510) inc. premium
1904/05 Vauxhall 7/9hp Phaeton
Coachwork by Abraham Meier, Redhill

Registration no. to be advised
Chassis no. 3CM31
This unique three-cylinder Vauxhall, one of only a tiny handful of the company’s earliest cars that survive, was painstakingly restored over a three-and-a-half-year period in the late 1960s/early 1970s by noted veteran/vintage car collector and restorer, the late Jack Wakely of Selsey, Sussex. An accompanying (copy) article first published in The Vauxhall Motorist (March 1971 edition) records that Mr Wakely acquired the car, which was in a deteriorated state but original in most details, from a London scrap yard, presumably at some time during the 1960s. Mr Wakely bought the car for his wife Helen to drive, and with Mrs Wakely at the wheel the Vauxhall bagged a host of concours awards immediately after its completion.
Cars manufactured at around the end of 1904 (the Veteran Car Club’s cut-off date for ‘veteran’ eligibility) and the beginning of 1905 are notoriously difficult to date accurately, particularly in the case of this Vauxhall, as the factory’s records were destroyed in an incendiary fire in WW2. Famous at the turn of the 19th Century for its marine engines, Vauxhall Ironworks Ltd built its first automobile, a single-cylinder, tiller-steered runabout, in 1903. A range of three-cylinder cars with wheel steering followed, the first of which – the 12/14hp – was seen in 1904. A 7/9hp model was in production in 1905, but a rolling-chassis prototype had been pictured in The Autocar of 14th January 1905 and was displayed wearing phaeton coachwork at the London Motor Show in February that same year.
Jack Wakely went to great lengths in researching the history of his car and was convinced that it was the one displayed at the 1905 Motor Show. Vauxhall was engaged in transferring production from its old Lambeth, South London works to a new factory in Luton at around this time, leading Jack Wakely to conclude that his must have been manufactured towards the end of 1904 at Lambeth. A number of facts would appear to support this car’s claims to be a 1904 prototype: it is very different from the production 7/9 in the Vauxhall Museum; the bore and stroke are different from the 1905 production model’s and unique to this engine; the unnumbered chassis carries no factory plate; and the phaeton body is unlike that of the production 7/9. Depicted in The Autocar’s Motor Show photograph, this unique phaeton coachwork was built by Abraham Meier of Redhill, Sussex, unlike the other four surviving Vauxhall ‘veterans’, which have bodies built at the Lambeth factory. Did Vauxhall commission an outside local coachbuilder because their in-house facility was in the process of transferring to Luton? Presumably Jack Wakely thought so.
On completion, the Wakely Vauxhall was assigned a provisional manufacturing date of 1904 by the Veteran Car Club and took part in several major rallies including two London-Brighton Runs with Mrs Wakely driving. Subsequently it was re-dated by the VCC as a 1905 model and assigned a chassis number from that year’s production sequence - ‘3CM31’. After Mr Wakely’s death in 1984 the car was laid up until it was acquired by the current owner in 1991 and re-commissioned. The latter work involved replacing the rear phaeton coachwork, which was faithfully replicated by James Pearce of Wisborough Green, Surrey and replacing the cylinders’ interconnecting hoses and gaskets. While in the current ownership the car, which the vendor reports is a smooth and easy runner, has taken part in the Tour Lac Le Man, Switzerland in 1994 and the London-Brighton Run in 2002 when ‘1905s’ were granted temporary access.
Offered with an extensive history file, old-style logbook, current MoT/road fund licence and Swansea V5, this unique early Vauxhall comes complete with fitted car cover and bespoke trailer. Although not (presently) allowed on the London-Brighton Run, it remains eligible for numerous other prestigious ‘veteran’ events throughout Europe and elsewhere.

Saleroom notices

  • We are advised that Vauxhall's London Order Book came to light at Luton in comparatively recent years, having survived the WW2 incendiary fire. Chassis no.3CM31, the number assigned to this car, is recorded therein as ordered by J.L.White of the the Isle of Wight on 19th March 1905. It is known to have been on the mainland in 1910, then carrying a Surrey registration no. and in 1937 was owned by Vauxhall dealers Anna Valley Motors of Salisbury. A photograph survives showing this car with its Surrey registration no. in their showrooms in 1953. It is believed that Wakeley bought the car from AVM and subsequently the car acquired the registration no. A 317. This registration no. is being retained by the vendor.
1904/05 Vauxhall 7/9hp Phaeton  Chassis no. 3CM31
1904/05 Vauxhall 7/9hp Phaeton  Chassis no. 3CM31
1904/05 Vauxhall 7/9hp Phaeton  Chassis no. 3CM31
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