The ex-Laurence Pomeroy Jnr.,1914 Vauxhall 25hp 'Prince Henry' Sports Torpedo  Chassis no. C97

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Lot 6
1914 Vauxhall 25hp 'Prince Henry' Sports Torpedo

Sold for £ 516,700 (US$ 653,320) inc. premium
The ex-Laurence Pomeroy Jnr.
1914 Vauxhall 25hp 'Prince Henry' Sports Torpedo
Coachwork by Hoskison Ltd. of Aston Cross, Birmingham.

Registration no. 0I 2467
Chassis no. C97
*The first true Sports-Car
*Continuous history from new
*Outstanding provenance
*One owner for the last 46 years

Footnotes

  • Laurence Pomeroy joined Vauxhall in 1905 at the same time as racing driver A J Hancock who was later to become General Manager and a strong influence in Vauxhall's participation in motor sport. Pomeroy himself was destined to become Chief Engineer and proved his mettle in the design of the 12/16hp four-cylinder car of 1906. Reliability trials were not only the perfect test bed for new models but also a source of great publicity for manufacturers as the general media as well as the motoring press took a real interest in the relatively new-fangled motor sport. The 20hp car entered in the RAC 2,000 mile 13 day Reliability Trial of 1908 was a design from Pomeroy's drawing board and Kidner's entry in that event took first place honours, beating the Rolls-Royce entry and all-comers. A developed version of this 20hp car became the first car to exceed 100mph at Brooklands later that year. In 1910 a Works Team of three 20hp A-type Vauxhalls successfully completed the challenging Tour of Prussia, instigated by Prince Henry. Vauxhall launched the new 20hp C-Type model in 1911, adopting the v- shaped radiator and fluted bonnet as used by the Works cars in the Tour of Prussia. The 'Prince Henry', as the C-type became known, was offered first in 20hp guise, shortly to be uplifted in capacity to the four-litre 25hp model shown at the Olympia Exhibition of 1912. Space here prevents the telling of the success of the 'Prince Henry' in trials, races, hillclimbs etc., suffice it to say that the arrival of the Vauxhall teams or privateers caused consternation among the marque's competitors. (for detailed history refer to Nic Portway's standard reference work Vauxhall Cars 1903-1918 ISBN 0-95-269007-1-3). Many of the world's most respected and pre-eminent motoring historians have acclaimed the 'Prince Henry' Vauxhall as the first true sports car and we can only concur, being careful to define that narrow line between a racing car and a sports car.

    T.W. Badgery, the first of only four owners of this 25hp car, was a keen cyclist, being a founder member of the Worcester St. Johns Cycling Club and its first and long term captain. He was also a passionate motorist and had his own place in motoring history. His prime business interests were in the leather industry in Worcester, however his motoring interests saw him taking a stake in The James Cycle Company of Birmingham and also in Dunlop Tyres.

    When choosing his new car in 1914 Badgery had considered the best offerings from Sunbeam, Talbot and others but recognised immediately the sheer brilliance of the Pomeroy-designed 'Prince Henry' Vauxhall. Gleaning from the makers that the 'Prince Henry' engine developed 86bhp at 3,300rpm and that, in chassis form, the 'Prince Henry' had lapped Brooklands at over 80mph, he placed his order. C97 was delivered in chassis trim in March 1914. Presumably his business or family connections in the Midlands influenced Badgery's choice of coachbuilder, Messrs Hoskison Ltd. of Aston Cross, Birmingham, who were commissioned to build an elegant sports torpedo body, panelled in aluminium with a fold flat one-piece windscreen, a tonneau cover and no hood. It was in this form that the 'Prince Henry' and Mr. and Mrs. Badgery completed many motor tours, the car remaining in service until 1931, by which time C97, driven by Badgery or his chauffeur 'Witts', had clocked up some 140,000 miles.

    Badgery recalled, when talking to motoring journalist Marcus Chambers many years later, that he ran C97 on 'Castor Oil, second pressings' that he got from his own leather works. He recalled also that the car had needed very few repairs, although new shackle pins had been fitted. Badgery had also converted the car to run on 5.25 x 22inch wellbase wheels and tyres.

    It was in this very original form, having been laid up by Badgery for fourteen years since 1931, that Laurence Pomeroy Jnr. was introduced to the car by his friend, Sunbeam historian and early VSCC stalwart, the late Antony Heal, in 1945. The fascinating tale of acquisition and collection of this car by Pomeroy that year is well recorded by Marcus Chambers in 'The Automobile' magazine of May 1993 – a tale recording much fine eating and alcohol consumption!

    Pomeroy had long wished to own a car designed by his father – and surely the 'Prince Henry' model, and this car in particular, was the ultimate car on his wish list – he had as a child shared with his sister Amanda a pedal car version of the 'Prince Henry', built for him by his father. Pomeroy Jnr. was a Vice President of the 500 Club the third President of The Vintage Sports-Car Club and a notable motoring writer and historian - in short a motor car connoisseur. He was to own C97 and compete in it regularly during the 21 years of his ownership. Following his death in 1966 his executors recognised the importance of C97 passing into the right hands within the veteran and vintage 'fraternity' and it was another VSCC stalwart and Past President, 'Sam' Clutton, who was instrumental in ensuring that the car passed to Nick Ridley, enthusiastic driver of Edwardian performance cars and later to become President of the Veteran Car Club of Great Britain. Ridley was to campaign the car in veteran and vintage events until 1970 when it changed hands for the last time into the ownership of the late Reg Long, a Lincolnshire garage proprietor and long time veteran car enthusiast.

    During the next 46 years of Long's ownership C97, ('Henry' as he became known), saw extensive use – first owner Badgery would have been thrilled to read of the many Continental tours undertaken by his trusty Vauxhall – always driven with care by its time-served engineer owner. 'Henry' was the flagship car on so many tours organised by its owner and its strikingly attractive styling and presentation always drew the largest admiring crowds. Continental tours embraced Denmark, Holland, Germany, Ireland and Turkey where many awards were collected, but the car's most memorable adventures were to the Loire Valley, where its owner relished the open roads and fine wines. C97 was always driven from its home in Lincolnshire to these overseas events, covering a vast mileage in the process. During Long's Presidential years of the Veteran Car Club - (1987-1989) - 'Henry' took part in every one of the Club's Main Events, winning, jointly with its driver, the Club's premier award – The Lord Trophy. C97 has been featured in many motoring publications, was invited to the opening of The National Motor Museum at Beaulieu in 1972 and 'starred' in the 1973 film 'An Aspidistra in Babylon' where it was driven by Jeremy Brett.

    C97 is now presented with a delightful patina acquired through its 102 years – during much of which time it has been in regular use. It comes with a good history file recording regular maintenance during the present ownership, including work carried out by engine specialists some years ago, some of which, including cylinder block repairs, will benefit now from re-visiting. Inspection of this file is recommended. Although little used in more recent years because of its late owner's advancing years, C97 was started and run in July this year, covering about 30 miles and reportedly running well. Much originality has been carefully preserved, including we believe the leather upholstery (perhaps supplied by Badgery's own leather company). There is provision for hood mounting although it appears none of the previous owners have used that facility. The car was returned to 895x135mm beaded edge wheels some years ago, enhancing appearance and handling, although the Badgery-fitted well base wheels are also offered with the car. Original mechanical specification has been carefully retained although a disc brake modification is noted to the transmission brake and there is evidence that Andre Telecontrol dampers have been fitted some time ago. C97 is well equipped for fast touring with CAV lighting and switch panel, gaitered springs, two piece tonneau cover, running board mounted electric klaxon, dashboard-mounted Bosch starting magneto and air pump, Smiths 8 day clock and oil and water gauges. Fuel supply is by a White & Poppe Ltd. No.40 carburettor and spark is provided by a Bosch ZU4 magneto. A wealth of paperwork with the car contains much correspondence, records and mementos of events attended and details of work carried out and related expenditure. 'Henry' is offered with a Duplicate Copy of the Veteran Car Club Dating Certificate No. 546 issued by that club in 1955 and signed by dating authority, the late Dennis Field.

    Original 'Prince Henry' Vauxhalls are scarce indeed – the 25hp model even scarcer - and highly prized by their knowledgeable owners. This car, with its outstanding provenance, unchallengeable continuous history and connection with such 'establishment' figures in the veteran motoring world as Pomeroys Senior and Junior, Heal, Chambers, Clutton, Ridley and Long is indeed unique and of significant stature. With its high waistline, narrow torpedo coachwork and raked windscreen it is arguably the most handsome by far of all the surviving cars and, with the required recommissioning which it undoubtedly now deserves following 102 years of enthusiastic use, it will worthily take its place high on the stage of the Worlds Great Cars – not only on the concours d'elegance lawns but in long distance motoring events where it will surely prove its Edwardian sporting credentials.

Saleroom notices

  • Please be advised that the registration number in the catalogue is incorrect and should read 'OI 2467'.
Contacts
The ex-Laurence Pomeroy Jnr.,1914 Vauxhall 25hp 'Prince Henry' Sports Torpedo  Chassis no. C97
The ex-Laurence Pomeroy Jnr.,1914 Vauxhall 25hp 'Prince Henry' Sports Torpedo  Chassis no. C97
The ex-Laurence Pomeroy Jnr.,1914 Vauxhall 25hp 'Prince Henry' Sports Torpedo  Chassis no. C97
The ex-Laurence Pomeroy Jnr.,1914 Vauxhall 25hp 'Prince Henry' Sports Torpedo  Chassis no. C97
The ex-Laurence Pomeroy Jnr.,1914 Vauxhall 25hp 'Prince Henry' Sports Torpedo  Chassis no. C97
The ex-Laurence Pomeroy Jnr.,1914 Vauxhall 25hp 'Prince Henry' Sports Torpedo  Chassis no. C97
The ex-Laurence Pomeroy Jnr.,1914 Vauxhall 25hp 'Prince Henry' Sports Torpedo  Chassis no. C97
The ex-Laurence Pomeroy Jnr.,1914 Vauxhall 25hp 'Prince Henry' Sports Torpedo  Chassis no. C97
The ex-Laurence Pomeroy Jnr.,1914 Vauxhall 25hp 'Prince Henry' Sports Torpedo  Chassis no. C97
The ex-Laurence Pomeroy Jnr.,1914 Vauxhall 25hp 'Prince Henry' Sports Torpedo  Chassis no. C97
The ex-Laurence Pomeroy Jnr.,1914 Vauxhall 25hp 'Prince Henry' Sports Torpedo  Chassis no. C97
The ex-Laurence Pomeroy Jnr.,1914 Vauxhall 25hp 'Prince Henry' Sports Torpedo  Chassis no. C97
The ex-Laurence Pomeroy Jnr.,1914 Vauxhall 25hp 'Prince Henry' Sports Torpedo  Chassis no. C97
The ex-Laurence Pomeroy Jnr.,1914 Vauxhall 25hp 'Prince Henry' Sports Torpedo  Chassis no. C97
The ex-Laurence Pomeroy Jnr.,1914 Vauxhall 25hp 'Prince Henry' Sports Torpedo  Chassis no. C97
The ex-Laurence Pomeroy Jnr.,1914 Vauxhall 25hp 'Prince Henry' Sports Torpedo  Chassis no. C97
The ex-Laurence Pomeroy Jnr.,1914 Vauxhall 25hp 'Prince Henry' Sports Torpedo  Chassis no. C97
The ex-Laurence Pomeroy Jnr.,1914 Vauxhall 25hp 'Prince Henry' Sports Torpedo  Chassis no. C97
The ex-Laurence Pomeroy Jnr.,1914 Vauxhall 25hp 'Prince Henry' Sports Torpedo  Chassis no. C97
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