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Lot 081: Vauxhall E-Type 30-98

Classic Vintage Cars & Motorcycles, Brightwells Auctioneers and Valuers (27 November 2013)

Lord Hovenden detached from his motor car was an entirely different being from Lord Hovenden who lounged with such a deceptive air of languor behind the steering wheel of the Vauxhall Velox&.The fierce wind blew away his diffidence: the speed intoxicated him out of his self-consciousness'  wrote Aldous Huxley in 1925. Such was the reputation of the car in period, that the 30-98 was the obvious car of choice amongst the 'high society' in his brilliant satirical novel 'Those Barren Leaves'. Now in its Centenary year, the first Vauxhall 30-98 was ordered by a wealthy Northern businessman as a special model in late 1912. Joseph Higginson (who owned the Auto-Vac company) was already an established driver, competing regularly at Shelsley Walsh in his 80hp La Buire, but figured that something lighter and with more horse power was really what he needed. Vauxhall's chief engineer Lawrence Pomeroy came up with the winning formula, using the lightweight chassis and axle from the C-Type (better known as the Prince Henry) fitted with Vauxhall's thumping 4 �-litre four-cylinder engine used for record attempts in power boats. Incredibly, the work on the new car was completed by early May 1913, Higginson immediately achieving FTD at the Waddington Fell Hill Climb on the day it was delivered. His next outing was at Shelsley Walsh where again it won the day, taking the hill record which was to stand for 10 years. Built to special order, only a handful of 30-98s left the works prior to WW1, production recommencing in 1919 with more commodious, if equally elegant bodywork dubbed the 'Velox'. This car, the post-war E-Type, featured the same 98mm bore and 150mm stroke fixed-head side-valve engine that had established itself at Shelsley Walsh 6 years before. Famed for its rugged power and reliability, Vauxhall guaranteed that stripped of wings, lights and windscreen, the 30-98 would top 100mph, making it the worlds fastest production car. Some 275 E-Types were produced, selling for a whopping �1,675 in 1920, at a time when the Bentley 3-litre chassis sold for �1,050. These Vauxhalls are often referred to as the first 'Sporting Car' and would literally have been 'king of the road'. By 1923 the 30-98 had gained overhead valves becoming the OE 30-98. In a bid to keep abreast of the smoother and more sophisticated competition, the slightly smaller capacity, shorter stroke engine revved harder and whilst ultimately produced more power, lost some of the low down grunt in the process. This, coupled with a lower final drive makes an OE quite different to drive, owners of either model swearing that theirs is best! Although officially sold as the 30-98, it is often referred to as the 30/98 - you can take your pick. The history of this example picks up when it was sold as part of the 'Chris Shorrock' (of supercharger fame) estate. A comprehensive collection of original parts were sold to well respected collector Tony Mitchell, who in turn passed them to Mel Cale. At some point a new chassis was acquired, before the part assembled car was passed onto Bert Smith of London in 1986. Bert, well known in Twin Cam Sunbeam circles, had always wanted an E-Type and proceeded to build the car up over the ensuing years. Back in the 1980s it was still relatively easy to acquire any missing components, such as the correct instruments, lights and engine ancillaries, all of which adorn this example. The beautiful Velox body was the work of Derek Diffey, whilst the vendor is unsure of who did the trimming, suffice it to say that it has been done to a very high standard in black button back leather. Sadly, Bert was to have the car running just once before he passed away, the car moving into the hands of the vendor in 2006. In his care, it has seen continual improvement, including a fully rebuilt steering box by Trevor Hulks Engineering and a top end engine overhaul including a re-bore, new Arias forged aluminium pistons and replacement exhaust valve guides. Brewster Mudie snubber springs were fitted to the tappet blocks along with new rollers for the camshaft whilst the starter motor was also overhauled, the engine proving to have been most reliable and powerful since. The car sits on the correct 820x120 beaded edge wheels, the front tyres being several years old and having covered around 2,000 miles, whilst the rears were replaced in 2012 and have covered less than half of that distance. The 30-98 register lists the car as RE24-E364. The engine is numbered E364 and consists of an original crankcase and block. The clutch and operating system is original, whilst the gearbox is number E375. The back axle (E237) houses the correct 3.0:1 ratio, the brakes being to original specification, the hand brake operating the rear shoes whilst the foot pedal applying the transmission brake. The front axle is from a D-Type Vauxhall which has been narrowed to the correct specification, whilst the car has original steering components and controls. The vendor believes that the radiator and possibly the bulk head are also original components. The car has competed at Prescott Hill Climb, where it made the front cover of the programme the following year and also featured in Octane Magazine in an article on VSCC members. More recently it has taken part in the 30-98 Centenary celebrations this year. Used regularly, the last respectable journey covered a distance of over 100 miles in 2 hours 10 minutes using only A and B roads. This included negotiating several town centres, a feat which the vendor has been singularly unable to repeat in his modern car. It is for this very reason that the 30-98 has always been so highly respected, its legendary ability to eat miles coming down to the prodigious torque and 32mph/1,000 rpm gearing. 'The Motor' quoted in 1922 that One only has to drive a 30-98 Vauxhall once to want very much to own one of these super cars. A sentiment with which we can only agree. This fine E-Type is very reluctantly being offered for sale to help fund a new and exciting project and is sure to bring as much pleasure to its new owner as it has to its current 7-year custodian.

Lot Details
Auction Classic Vintage Cars & Motorcycles
Brightwells Auctioneers and Valuers, Herefordshire
TypeCar
Lot Number081
Outcome NOT SOLD
Hammer Price-
Hammer Price (inc premium)-
Year1921
Condition rating3
Registration numberAK 9359
Mileage-
Chassis number
Engine numberE364
Engine capacity (cc)4500
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors2