1921 Vauxhall 30 - 98

- Mann Egerton four-seater tourer bodywork

- Long-term ownership by 30-98 specialist Arthur Archer

- Eligible for the Flying Scotsman and 1000 Mile Trial


It is often felt that the 30-98 was one of the finest British sporting cars of the vintage period. Although Bentley enjoyed a more mainstream reputation largely due to their victories at Le Mans, the 30-98 was an altogether more impressive machine than the 3 litre.

Prior to the General Motors takeover in 1925, Vauxhall was a grandee manufacturer of prestige motor cars, and the origins of the 30-98 can be traced back to the ‘competition special’ that the factory built in 1913 for Joe Higginson. Such was that car’s success in hillclimbing – then an influential and well-publicised form of motor racing – that a very small production run followed, but only 13 cars were completed before war intervened.

Those earliest pre-war 30-98s cost £900 for the chassis alone, which was almost as much as Rolls-Royce charged for a Silver Ghost. Vauxhall had already built up a proud sporting heritage, though, and in stripped form the 30-98 was said to be good for 100mph.

The model reappeared in 1919, although celebrated engineer Laurence Pomeroy left Vauxhall that year and the car’s ongoing development was left to Clarence King. Initially offered in E-type form with a 90bhp, monobloc, 4525cc, sidevalve engine developed from the unit that had been used in the fabled ‘Prince Henry’ model, it was updated into the OE-type in 1923 via the use of a 112bhp, 4225cc, overhead-valve engine with detachable cylinder head.

With its handsome Mann Egerton coachwork, strong performance and rorty exhaust note, this Vauxhall 30-98 built in 1921, chassis number E312 was fitted with engine number E420 and registered BJ 7138, but little is known of its very early history.

In the mid-1930s, however, Arthur Archer’s father bought garage premises in Great Dunmow, Essex, and in the corner was this 30-98. Allegedly the car had been left there by a customer who still owed the business £7 10s.

A photograph in the history file shows a young Archer – who would become a renowned 30-98 specialist – posing in the then-complete Vauxhall during the 1940s. It was subsequently dismantled and its body was fitted to chassis number OE250, which was also owned by Archer at that time. An entry in the 1973 30-98 Register records that E312 was ‘dismantled awaiting rebuild… generally original.’

Archer retained the 30-98 until 1991, when it was acquired by the previous owner as a rolling chassis and subsequently restored. The original body had been reunited with the car during the mid-1980s. The rebuild was completed in time for Broughton to take part in the 30-98 Register’s Vauxhall Centenary Rally in 2003.

Finished in blue and black with a red interior, this Vauxhall 30-98 remains in superb condition. The present owner acquired the car in 2015 and during his ownership has undertaken further engine and gearbox work resulting in a far more sporting to drive than you might expect from a four-seater tourer with the earlier sidevalve engine. Ensconced in the beautiful deep burgundy leather the steering is sharp, the gearchange smooth with plenty of tourque on hand, it delivers an eye-opening turn of speed and cruises happily on fast roads, to the accompaniment of a pleasingly gruff exhaust note, and stops smartly via the hand-operated lever working on rear drums.

A really impressive Vintage tourer and entrant to such rallies as the 1000 mile trial and Flying Scotsman.

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