Picking which vehicle to start with from over 30 I photographed in this area was not easy, but this 1920’s Vauxhall was an obvious choice. Old Pete made a reference to the early Vauxhalls having a good reputation, and this survivor is a good example of that.
Unlike many cars, there wasn’t any identification as to exactly what model it was, so from what I have been able to find it is either a 1924-25 23-60 (the first number is RAC taxable horsepower, the second is actual power output) with a 110” wheelbase and 4-litre 4-cylinder overhead valve engine, with the cylinders and head cast as one, separate from the crankcase.
The other possibility is a 30-98 OE from 1924-27 which had a 4.2L engine with a detachable head, on a 118” chassis. The early date for both cars can be determined from the front brakes fitted. This is an interesting setup where a rod labelled A in the photo from Wikipedia above, pushes an arm to turn the central shaft (B) which pulls the cables to each drum from within the alloy housing (C). The central rod can move (inclination) so that the cables are equally tensioned – an important thing for control of the car by making sure the braking effort across the front wheels is even! The 30-98 was a highly impressive car for the day, but I am not the right person to do justice in telling its story.
Instead I will share the images of this amazing car – just look at this windscreen in what was clearly an unusual body. Each upper pane of the vee-shaped screen opens.
The interior betrays the mechanical attention that the car has received, while carefully preserving the original condition. Note the clean and shiny instruments, and also the parcel shelf for want of a better term – perhaps cup holder?!?
Here is the radiator badge for Vauxhall Motors Ltd, Luton England. Either side of the badge are the characteristic Vauxhall flutes and above is a temperature gauge. General Motors took over Vauxhall in November 1925.
The first car I photographed in the area behind the control tower was this 1920’s Crossley – different spelling to the US micro-car manufacturer, this one came from Manchester in England and only built cars from 1904 until 1938, then trucks, military vehicles and buses.
Here is the 6-cylinder engine, and have a close look at the large generator that further drives the distributor and cable tachometer via the little red belt.
The interior is full of interesting details, reflecting a restoration that appears to have been aimed at getting the car on the road rather than being concours-perfect. There is a wide range of instrumentation, a cup-holder and an interesting relief in the floor. Note the right-hand location of the gear lever in front of the hand brake and also the lack of a door on the driver’s side – typical of cars from this era.
The next car I shot was a magnificent Auburn which has an enormous hood, dramatic two-tone paintwork, swept-back windscreen, tightly cut roof and boat-tail. Note the extra windscreen for the Crossley’s rear seat passengers in the background.
Here is that boat tail. I can only imagine the time and resources lavished on this car, a lot of care has been taken on so many details. Just look at the work that went into the bumpers!
I think it is suffice to say that the interior matches the exterior. I wonder how many days were spent on the turned dashboard?
Next door was another boat-tail car, and an unusual one. This 1928 Austin 20 has a story too complex to relay briefly; an indication is that this car is in a cross-over period where it might have a 3.6L four or a 3.4L six-cylinder engine, the latter no doubt introduced to counter criticisms of the roughness of the four. This car looks like it has the base 120” chassis; longer 130” and 136” versions could be had too – this is no Austin 7!
Here is the rear of the car – I must confess I am not sure why you would hide the special bodywork with the spare tyres!
Next door is a later Austin 16 sedan, which looks like a 30’s car but was actually built from 1945-49 when getting something into production took a higher priority than being the most advanced. It has an ohv 2.2L 4-cyl and is 171” long, and looks to have decent interior space so long as you aren’t too tall. There are some interesting features that were connected to its use as a London Taxi, like a dual ratio steering box and an onboard hydraulic jacking system.
Then we have a Rugby with what I would term a ‘light delivery’ body, and a Ford Model A roadster utility. A lot of cars were cut-down into utes later in life, but the shape of the windscreen posts suggests to me that it was just as likely to have been delivered as a bare chassis from the cowl back, and had a ‘rough and ready’ (or shall we say cheaper) body fitted originally. Just a guess.
Note that the Ford’s body sides are one-piece. Looking back, my cut-off for ‘common’ vehicles was much higher in this area – the blue Austin A90 Atlantic didn’t make the cut, nor did the Citroen DS or Traction Avant beyond that.
Here is a different A90 from the lunchtime parade laps instead! With an MG TC behind.
I didn’t take a photo this time of this Citroen DS ute that I’ve seen a few times before, but couldn’t resist including it here! It is just spectacular.
Behind that was one of the nicest Peugeot 504s you are ever likely to see. It looks too good not to have been restored surely, but I was not sure. Note the quad headlights that were a feature of Australian 504s, after it was found the original trapezoidal lights were more easily broken and definitely more expensive to replace on unsealed roads – where a couple of my relatives’ 504s spent a fair bit of time.
The interior is similarly excellent, and do you think that the flawless plastic pieces are more likely to be well-kept originals or very well restored?
The rear seat shows some signs of its roughly 45 year age, which is why I’m thinking not restored given how flawless other parts of the car are.
Next we have a real treasure, a 1951-55 Vauxhall Vagabond tourer. This was unique to the Australian market as the UK had not done convertible versions of the Velox.
The interior is a modest jukebox. I think I read that it was the last non-sportscar to not have winding side windows, could this be true?
The rear quarter panels have a great moulded shape with a pointy tail light that is masked by the stretched boot (trunk). As one of the last convertibles in the market segment, keeping some practicality would have been key to its survival.
A 1911 Vauxhall “Prince Henry” C10.9 is something you don’t see often, anywhere. This car has an interesting history, having taken part in a military despatch race from Adelaide to Sydney in 1912. This race was between a team of cyclists, motorcyclists and what were called “carists”. It says something for the non-existent roads of the time that the cyclists won!
The Prince Henry name came from their participation in the Prinz-Heinrich-Fahrt or Prince Henry Tour, named after Prince Albert Wilhelm Heinrich of Prussia, which was a 1200 mile event in Germany. With its 60 hp 3-L engine the car has been described as the first sports car.
The next car is a 1951 Humber Super Snipe Mark II that has been rather heavily accessorised. Again a car ‘holding the fort’ in the immediate postwar era.
Another 504 – marking the 50th anniversary of the car’s launch. The bull bar here is representative of the car’s popularity in long-distance rallies (as in thousands of miles) where speed was not so much a factor as crew ability and the 504’s combination of ruggedness and comfort was very handy.
This next car is a bit of a unicorn, being a 1974 Volvo 164TE, which featured fuel injection and some special colours (gold, green or blue) and normally in Australia automatic transmission only. A few manual cars from the UK market snuck in somehow and this is one of them.
Here is the Volvo interior in all its ergonomic goodness. Ergonomic perhaps, but not for the eyeballs with a clash of square speedometer and round tachometer.
Skipping a hot rod takes us to this Studebaker Lark VIII convertible. Left hand drive shows it wasn’t sold here new, although Studebaker was unusual in still selling large-ish 2-door sedans in the 1960s. They sold quite a few to police for that reason.
And here is a slightly fuzzy top-down shot of it from the parade. This really shows the shortened aspect of the design. I can see the appeal of a compact American cruiser like this though, as many people would find it difficult to house a full-size car from the era.
More to come next week!
Further Reading from the Winton Historics: