1924 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer

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Lot 3
Ordered new by Hari Singh, Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir,
1924 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer
Coachwork by Vauxhall Motors

Sold for £ 437,000 (US$ 529,793) inc. premium
1924 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer
Coachwork by Vauxhall Motors
Ordered new by Hari Singh, Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir
Coachwork by Vauxhall Motors
Registration no. EL 1063
Chassis no. OE115

*Ordered with unique features
*Matching chassis and engine
*Highly original
*Well documented
*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. Possessing unique features and a fascinating history, 'OE115' is an important Vauxhall 30/98 and widely recognised as one of the best that still exists.

    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 4½-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. Total production of OEs numbered 312 cars.

    This particular OE model was ordered new by Hari Singh, last ruling Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir. Born on 23rd September 1895 in Jammu, India, Hari Singh enjoyed a military education under the patronage of the ruling British and in 1925 acceded to the throne of Jammu and Kashmir following the death of his uncle. He was a progressive ruler: making primary education compulsory in the state, banning child marriage, and allowing the lower castes access to places of worship. Following the end of British rule and the division of the subcontinent into India and Pakistan in 1947, Hari Singh acceded to India despite the majority of Jammu and Kashmir's population being Muslim, a move that provoked the first Indo-Pakistan war. He remained titular Maharaja until the monarchy was abolished in 1952, and died in Bombay on 26th April 1961.

    Unusually, the Maharajah wanted his 30/98 to be completely symmetrical; why is not known. To this end he ordered a handbrake on the passenger's side and a door on the driver's side (which was non-standard), though both of these features were non-functioning. Also ordered with a split windscreen and two 'ship's ventilators' on the scuttle, 'OE115' is the only Vauxhall to have the aforementioned peculiarities.

    In 1947, Lt Colonel R Byrne of Peshawar (then in India, now in Pakistan) acquired the Vauxhall from the Maharajah and wrote to Autocar magazine about his recent acquisition, which had 'been laid up for practically all the time and has done to date less than 7,000 miles' (press cutting on file). Byrne stated that he paid less than £150 for the car, and commented on the difficulty of finding suitable beaded-edge tyres. Unable to return the 30/98 to India after partition, the Colonel reputedly sold it to an artist in Pakistan. It is said that the car remained on blocks in a garage in Lahore before passing to an American, one Samuel E Woods, in 1954. In 1956, Mr Woods had the Vauxhall shipped from Karachi to Boston, USA c/o his brother-in-law, Clarence B Petty, who would be its next owner. The relevant shipping paperwork is on file, recording the car's Pakistan registration, 'KAA 3685'.

    Clarence Petty did not keep 'OE115' for very long, selling it in 1958 to well respected collector, Edgar L Roy of West Roxbury, Boston, President of the Vintage Sports Car Club of America (see letter on file). Ed Roy restored the Vauxhall and used it for meetings, tours, and the occasional Vintage sports car race, as detailed by articles and photographs in the history file. During this period, 'OE115' was loaned to the Ford Motor Company for display as part of their 'Sports Cars in Review' exhibition at the company's museum in Greenfield Village, Michigan. From 1966 onwards the car remained mostly in storage until its purchase by George Gentsch of Amherst, Massachusetts in the summer of 1971. A letter on file dated February 1972 from the Larz Andersen Museum of Transportation, Brookline thanks Mr Gentsch for the loan of his 30/98 for their sports car show.

    In 1980, George Gentsch sold 'OE115' and the car returned to the UK in the ownership of Gerald Batt. Mr Batt kept the Vauxhall for some eleven years, selling it to Mrs Judy Daniels, wife of master watchmaker and noted car collector, the late George Daniels, in 1991. During the Daniels' ownership, 'OE115' participated in many VSCC events and was a regular visitor to Prescott, Shelsley Walsh and many other venues. In 2005, Mrs Daniels sold the car to Mark Stimson of London W2, who promptly dispatched it to Vauxhall 30/98 specialists Templeton Engineering and Vintage Motor Sport (Phil Hill) for a full engine rebuild and various other works (see bills on file dated February/March 2006). The current vendor, a respected UK collector, purchased 'OE115' from Mark Stimson later that same year and has maintained the car to the highest of standards during his custodianship.

    Delightful and ready to use, this unique and well documented example of Vauxhall's definitive sports car of the Vintage period is offered with a UK V5C Registration Certificate and a quite remarkable history file containing correspondence from previous owners, magazine articles, period photographs, 30/98 Register extract, etc. Quite simply, this is the finest 30-98 ever to be offered by Bonhams and worthy of the closest inspection.
Contacts
1924 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer
1924 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer
1924 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer
1924 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer
1924 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer
1924 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer
1924 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer
1924 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer
1924 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer
1924 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer
1924 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer
1924 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer
1924 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer
1924 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer
1924 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer
1924 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer
1924 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer
1924 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer
1924 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer
1924 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer
1924 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer
1924 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer
1924 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer
1924 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer
1924 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer
1924 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer
1924 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer
1924 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer
1924 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer
1924 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer
1924 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer
1924 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer
1924 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer
1924 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer
1924 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer
1924 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer
1924 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer
1924 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer
1924 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer
1924 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer
1924 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer
1924 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer
1924 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer
1924 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer
1924 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer
1924 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer
1924 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer
1924 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer
1924 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer
1924 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer
1924 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer
1924 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer
1924 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer
1924 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer
1924 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer
1924 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer
1924 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer
1924 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox Tourer
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