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Rare and very useable Vermorel touring car For Sale (1913)Given that there are only three Vermorel cars listed in the VCC Members Handbook it is quite possible that you have never heard of them let alone seen one; nor had I until I was introduced to this lovely motor car.
Georgano’s excellent encyclopaedia tells us that Etablissements V. Vermorel opened in 1850 as manufacturers of woodworking machinery at Villefranche near Lyon in France and that they were experimenting with cars in 1903, finally going into production in 1908. By 1913 their catalogue shows that were offering 8 and 12 hp cars with a variety of body styles ranging from two and four seat tourers through to landaulets and berlines. In addition they offered light truck and fire engine bodies on their chassis. This particular 12/16hp car with its original four place torpedo coachwork by Henri Gauthier of Lyons, is on chassis L1414 with engine L914 and body number 170.
The magneto ignition engine is a four cylinder (cast in pairs) T head of 2064cc with an RAC rating of 13.58 hp. It is connected by a leather-faced cone clutch to a conventional four speed and reverse gearbox which is connected to the differential by a Cardan shaft with the rear axle being located by three-quarter elliptic springs to give a comfortable ride.
The current owner has been very meticulous about documenting both the car and the work done on it by himself and specialist engineers and suppliers since he bought it in 1990. More detailed information is available but in summary mechanical work has been carried out on the engine, clutch, hub bearings, steering box, kingpins, track rod ends, spring shackles, brakes, rear axle, carburettor and magneto.
The result of all this activity combined with regular use over the years is a car which is very robust, looks good and goes as well as it looks. The bodywork is sound and rattle free, the carpets and upholstery are smartly turned out, the general brasswork, detail fittings and lights are in lovely condition and the engine compartment is very clean as is the underside of the car.
The engine starts readily and the car drives very well indeed having a smooth clutch, an easy to use gear box, good steering and decent brakes. Whilst it is obviously not a sports car it bowls along very nicely and whilst no hundred year old car can be guaranteed never to let you down this one feels like it should be capable of covering a fair number of miles on any trip without undue upsets. To demonstrate the point the owner cheerfully drove it the fifty five or so miles from his home to my place in a fraction over two hours without he or the Vermorel seeming in the slightest bit troubled by the journey which I suppose is really not too surprising as in his ownership he has driven the car over 13,000 miles!
As well as an original Vermorel catalogue from 1913 there are photo copies of period French and English sales literature, a photo copy of a 1913 road test from “The Motor” and a handbook for the Bosch magneto. As well as his very detailed notebook the owner has written a useful set of instructions on starting and use of the car and it comes with some very handy spares as well as special tools you will need for general maintenance. The file includes a 1969 green card logbook dating from soon after it came into the UK.
All in all this is a very presentable, well engineered and highly useable light Edwardian car which represents good value. It is ready to drive away and I am happy to recommend that you come and look at it for yourself but be prepared to be very tempted by it!