Coachwork by. Vauxhall Motors
Chassis No. OE 118
Body No. OE 118
Engine No. OE 117
Registration No. TU 831
+44 (0)1869 244 255
The unremarkable specification of the famous Vauxhall 30-98 is perhaps, in itself, exactly what makes this much-loved vintage sports car quite so remarkable. It would be difficult to argue that Vauxhall Motors should be credited with producing the world’s first sports cars, but what can more easily be argued is that, with the introduction of the 30-98 model, Vauxhall Motors created the “Finest of Sporting Cars.”
If the Vauxhall 30-98’s predecessor, The Prince Henry is widely accepted as the first British production sports car, the 30-98 is regarded as Britain’s first genuine 100mph production sports car. This accolade stands the surviving examples in good stead going forward and ensures their enduring popularity with sporting motorists of all generations for the future. In later overhead-valve (OE-Type) form they simply run rings around their more sophisticated contemporaries from Bentley and Sunbeam and on the open road often show a clean pair of heels to modern motor cars nearly 100 years their junior.
The big-engine lightweight formula is well understood these days and is often cited as the reason for the 30-98’s superb performance. Whilst this is a completely fair assessment one must also consider that, when introduced in 1913, the 30-98 was designed to cater for the emergence of a new and popular market for “Sports Cars” and that the 4½-Litre engine was not actually considered to be all that large. This “new” concept of a sports car was not based on the simple ideology of the earlier leviathan racing car where a bigger engine equalled a bigger performance, but on a wholly more modern concept of a lighter car, with a powerful, smaller capacity engine that could often better the monster sized motorcars on the open road by virtue of their better handling, better braking and better all-round performance. The 30-98 was a superb demonstration by Vauxhall of how to make a sports car, a fact borne out by the result achieved by Joseph Higginson at The Shelsley Walsh hill-climb in 1913, when, in the first ever 30-98 built, a car that he himself commissioned, he broke the hill record, a record that remained unbroken until 1922.
This splendid example of the “Finest of Sporting Cars,” Chassis No. OE 118, is one of the later and highly desired overhead-valve, low radiator, front wheel-braked models. It left the Vauxhall Motors erecting shop on the 27th May 1924 and was fitted with engine number OE 117, factory Velox type coachwork, both of which the chassis retains to this day. The completed car was supplied new to Sir William Proctor-Smith and originally registered FM 404. This would likely be a private registration number retained by Sir William Proctor-Smith as it re-appears in 1930 on a Bentley 4½-Litre Vanden Plas tourer that he bought new, chassis no. AD 3666.
It is not known exactly how long Proctor-Smith retained ownership of ‘OE 118’ but by 1933 it was owned by W.G.S. Wike and now registered TU 831. From Wike the car passed to N. Sharratt in 1935. Contained within The Vauxhall 30-98 Centenary Index, written and compiled by Nic Portway, is a rather fun photograph of ‘OE 118’ in Manchester before the second World War when Sharratt owned the car and had modified the Vauxhall by fitting a lavish external exhaust system from a supercharged Mercedes, Stephen Grebel headlights, long pointed wings and (inexplicably) the word “DIESEL” emblazoned on the radiator in large nickel or chrome letters! When researching the history of ‘OE 118’ Portway relayed that his late father-in-law, Ken Neve, remembered ‘OE 118’ in the form at VSCC events before The War. Sharratt kept the car until 1946 when it passed to P. Coates, who was well-known to Portway and the owner of a number of interesting cars and Vincent motorcycles. By 1957 ‘OE 118’ was with a J. Bacon and was in rather a poor state of repair.
In 1965 the Vauxhall was purchased by Dr. Robin Barnard, a collector of many fine vintage sports cars, who entrusted Arthur Archer with a comprehensive restoration, a process that was both costly and time consuming, but that rescued the car. Tragically, by the time the restoration was completed in the early 1990s, Dr. Barnard had started to lose his vision and was unable to drive. To this end the car was little used until it was purchased by the current owner in 1995.
The current owner, although a fan of the more sporting cars, is, by his own admission not a fast driver and has treated ‘OE 118’ with upmost care. The car has been driven regularly on tours, but without a huge mileage covered and has not been used for competition work as yet. The quality of the restoration by Arthur Archer is such that little work has been carried out by the current owner other than a fastidious program of general maintenance. The only major work he opted to carry out was to fit of a set of new connecting rods as Arthur Archer had crack-tested re-fitted the original connecting rods but these, being duraluminium, can suffer age fatigue and become brittle. This much-loved 30-98 sits particularly well on the original type beaded-edged wheels and tyres. It has the useful addition of indicators but is otherwise almost completely standard. Nic Portway has very kindly supplied the photographs from his archive of ‘OE 118’ taken during Sharratt’s ownership before the war and a copy of his highly coveted book, Vauxhall 30-98 The Finest of Sporting Cars, will be offered as part of the sale.
The current owner and his wife have not used the Vauxhall a great deal during the past few years and thus this wonderful Vauxhall 30-98 is offered for sale for the first time in 25 years. In superb condition throughout, ‘OE 118’ drives beautifully, and, if requested, as rapidly as one should expect from these thoroughbred sports cars. The Vauxhall 30-98 is undoubtedly a superb all-rounder and offers incredible performance, entry into a plethora of suitable events and, even in standard original form a quite astonishing ability to cover ground rapidly and embarrass modern traffic in the process. Attractive, eligible and ready to go, this “Finest of Sporting Cars” comes highly recommended.
Please note that viewings at this time are strictly by appointment only. We are able to arrange “facetime” calls and walk/talk you around the car. It is also possible for us to demonstrate the car in motion on the private test track at Bicester Heritage whilst, at the same time, respecting and adhering to the Government’s social distancing rules and guidelines in relation to Covid-19.