1924 VAUXHALL 30-98 OE-TYPE VELOX TOURER For Sale by Auction
Bonhams is delighted to bring to auction a fine selection of motor cars spanning The Golden Age of Motoring. 34 motor cars will be offered in the auction on Friday 30th October, in addition to over 180 lots of automobilia and cycles. For more information please click the link.
PROPERTY OF A DISTINGUISHED GENTLEMAN
1924 VAUXHALL 30-98 OE-TYPE VELOX TOURER
REGISTRATION NO. NM 5557
CHASSIS NO. OE165
*Full matching numbers
*Known ownership history from new
*Present ownership since 1968
*Restored by Arthur Archer 1978-1988
GBP250,000 - 300,000
€270,000 - 330,000
This is a most handsome example of what is considered by many knowledgeable enthusiasts to be the finest British sporting car of the Vintage period. 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 which 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 fifteen 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 4.5-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 were 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. By the time the final batch of OE chassis had been completed in early 1927, there were few customers for the 30-98, the antiquity of the design telling against it when compared to the more refined competition from Bentley and Sunbeam. Total production of OEs numbered 312 cars. While some may argue that the E-Type was the last of the totally Pomeroy-designed cars, and is therefore for the purists, it is the OE that has become more sought after by enthusiasts over the years.
This exceptional matching-numbers Vauxhall 30-98 retains its original chassis, axles, steering box, engine, gearbox, and Velox tourer body. 'NM 5557' was first owned by coachbuilders E D Abbott Ltd and was registered to its late owner on 1st August 1968. The Vauxhall was purchased from Chiltern Cars and comes with their sales receipt for the sum of £295. This car's entry in Nic Portway's The 30-98 Vauxhall Centenary Index lists all its owners, the second of whom was Sir Ralph Millais, a descendent of Sir John Everett Millais, the celebrated artist and founder member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.
In 1978 the car was entrusted to Arthur Archer for a complete restoration which occupied the next ten years and cost £55,000 - a colossal sum at that time and not inconsiderable now. The interior was re-trimmed in correct Connolly leather by Barry Lummis in 1987 for £2,500, while new wheels and tyres were supplied by Richard Brothers in 2012 at a cost of £7,000. Maintenance and running notes for the period 2003-2019 are on file.
In 2013 'NM 5557' was displayed at Shelsley Walsh for the Vauxhall 30-98 Centenary celebrations, and in 2015 took part in the Gordon Bennett Rally in Ireland. The car comes with a nice history file containing the aforementioned purchase receipt; an old-style continuation logbook (1960); tax discs from the 1960s; expired MoTs; and a V5C Registration Certificate.
This is the finest and most correct Vauxhall 30-98 to come to the market in many years. When one considers the recent £1m-plus sales result for a Wensum-bodied car, this Velox tourer represents exceptional value.
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