Vauxhall 30-98

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Description: Bonhams Fine Art Auctioneers & Valuers: auctioneers of art, pictures, collectables and motor cars

  • In his foreword to Nic Portway’s standard work, Vauxhall 30-98 – The Finest of Sporting Cars, Bill Boddy wrote, “For me, no car of the vintage period has the same appeal as a 30-98”, and many others with life-long involvement with vintage cars have eulogised similarly about Luton’s best kept secret. Indeed the early history of the V.S.C.C. founded in 1934, suggests that this club was formed almost exclusively for owners of 30-98’s!

Introduced initially as a 4 1/2 litre side-valve model, borrowing many features from the landmark, pre-Great War ‘Prince Henry’ model, the E-Type 30-98 was fairly described as a gentleman’s fast touring car but was quickly to make its mark in competition on the circuit and in that quintessentially 1920’s pastime of the speed hill climb. The derivation of the 30-98 nomenclature almost certainly comes from the 30bhp developed at 1,000rpm and a theoretical 98bhp at 3,000rpm. The outstanding performance of the 30-98 was not always matched by its braking capacity. The new OE model, available for 1923, had overhead valves and was powered by an engine of 4,224cc. The chassis was stronger and slightly longer and the popular Velox-style sporting four-seater coachwork offered enhanced passenger accommodation. This sporting model remained in production through to 1927. The 30-98 was truly robust and popular in the Colonies. In 1924 Messrs. J. Burton and W. Bradley drove a 30-98 Vauxhall across Australia in six and a half days, 41 hours less than any previously accomplished similar journey – a distance of 7,150 miles – just one of many record-breaking marathons, the publicity from which boosted sales in that country.

OE 275 left the Luton erecting shop in April 1926, and like so many Vauxhall 30-98s, was bound for Australia – in this case for the Victoria Police. It remained in Australia, passing in post war years through the hands of three long-term owners, until repatriated to England by the Ward Brothers about seven years ago. This car enjoys all the refinements of the later models, balanced crankshaft, higher radiator and modernised coachwork, and is smartly presented in black livery with pleated red upholstery. It retains the original front bench seat ordered by the Victoria Police. This rare ‘matching numbers’ 30-98 is equipped with the traditional Vauxhall ‘kidney box’ front brakes, while nickel-fittings throughout include CAV headlamps and CAV torpedo side lamps. OE 275 is furnished with twin side-mounted spare wheels, a common and necessary feature for export models to Australia where high mileage journeys were undertaken between major cities. The car sits on 21in. Firestone tyres and semi-elliptic leaf spring suspension, further cushioned by André Hartford shock absorbers. A wealth of information and photocopied articles from various magazines relating to the Vauxhall 30-98 comes with this car which is also offered with a Swansea V5 registration document.

For pure vintage sports car motoring the Vauxhall 30-98 has few equals and many a driver of the equally quintessentially vintage Bentley 4 ½ litre has fumbled feebly for third gear and more performance as the 30-98 driver tore past!



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