1932 Lanchester 30bhp Straight-Eight – Classified of the Week

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By Chris Pollitt

Back in the early days of the automobile, it was a bit of a free for all in terms of design and application. If someone could think it up, and then someone could engineer it, a manufacturer would do it. It wasn’t about focus groups and market research. No, it was about having something new, something usually big and something the other car didn’t have. This is why we ended up with machines like this 1932 30hp Lanchester Straight-Eight. An unlikely rival to the likes of Rolls Royce. 

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Lanchester began life in the late 1800s, after being set up by three brothers, namely Frederick, George and Frank. Their vision for a Lanchester car was not one thought up in haste. In fact, Lanchester started making vehicles as early as 1885. The company’s initial offerings were simple, humble machines designed to merely mobilise people. As the sales started to increase, however, the three brothers made a considered push into the luxury arena. Lanchesters were impressively large, long and luxurious vehicles with coachbuilt bodies and engines built to run so smoothly they made other cars look like tractors. Indeed, by 1914, Lanchester was a name that had become a rival to the likes of Rolls Royce. However, the outbreak of World War 1 put car production on hold – as with all other automotive companies, the production function focused on helping the war effort. 

After the war, Lanchester once again went toe-to-toe with the big boys, offering various vehicles. The one we’re looking at here, the Lanchester Thirty, was the final car to be produced by Lanchester, and the last car to be designed by George Lanchester. Despite the company’s fine reputation, the economic crash of the time killed off the Lanchester brand and in 1931 it was sold to the BSA Group, ergo Daimler, under which it is still owned today. As of 2014, the Lanchester name is classified as ‘non trading’. 

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The Thirty was fitted with, as we alluded to at the start, a thundering great eight-cylinder engine. The style of cars at the time allowed for such a long engine. Despite its size, however, the Thirty did not, as the name might have you believe, deliver 30hp. That was the RAC horsepower rating. In reality, the Thirty had some 82bhp, which, despite having eight cylinders and a capacity for 4.4 litres, still isn’t a great deal. But that’s by today’s standards. Back then, it was plenty of grunt. 

The car here is actually a 1932 model, meaning it would have been completed by Daimler. It has had just four owners, one of which was a funeral home, so it’s probably not been raced or rallied! Interestingly, this Lanchester didn’t start life as the open-top tourer you see it as now. In fact, it was a limousine body when new, and was rebodied in 1965. 

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The current owner has owned the car since 1994, and rescued it from a thirty-year slumber. That means the car was converted to a tourer, but never used. A crying shame indeed. However, the current owner has fully recommissioned the Thirty and has had it in regular use since 1995. Lanchester rallies, vintage and pre-war events and more, this car has done it all. But now it’s time to pass this vintage machine on to a new owner. Could that be you?

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