Vauxhall's 30-98 turns 100

2013-03-26 11:07

LUTON, England – The Vauxhall 30-98, Britain's first vehicle to reach 100mph (160km/h) in production form, marks its centenary in style in May 2013, when almost 50 surviving examples will attempt the Waddington Fell hillclimb.

In 2013, Vauxhall Motors’ own 1926 OE-Type Velox Tourer (OE268) will join around 50 other 30-98s in Lancashire to celebrate the model’s competition debut at Waddington Fell.


Described as "The car of grace that sets the pace", the 1913 30-98 was derived from Vauxhall’s C10 ‘Prince Henry’, acknowledged as the UK’s first real sports car, and was produced at a time when Vauxhall vied with Bentley in the prestige car market.

The model weighed 400kgs less than a Bentley 3.0, had a powerful engine and high axle ratio, and became renowned as a high-performance car that could swallow long distances with ease.

A precursor to the recently launched Cascada convertible, the 30-98 was developed in just 71 days and went on to spawn a production run of 600 cars over a 14 year period (with a break for World War 1).

Remarkably, around a third of these cars still survive.

Vauxhall had already been successful in hillclimbs, grands prix and endurance trials since the company was formed in 1903 (now celebrating its 110th anniversary) and is the UK’s oldest surviving car brand.

On its first outing at the Waddington Fell hill climb in Lancashire, the 30-98 set the fastest time of the day, proving to the car’s designer, Laurence Pomeroy and Vauxhall’s directors, Percy Kidner and Leslie Walton, that the car had a future.

Originally fitted with a 4525cc side-valve four cylinder engine, producing 120kW, the model was made in two basic types: E-type and OE-type, with the latter denoting the more powerful overhead valve cars producing 150kW and built between 1923 and 1927.


The OE-type became the first production car to exceed 160km/h, partly prompted by a letter to The Autocar’s editor from a Major L Ropner, complaining that he was unable to buy a road car that could cover a kilometre at more than 160km/h.

Vauxhall responded by producing a stunning two-seater 30-98 for him in polished aluminium. On March 28 1923, test driver Matt Park took the car to Brooklands and achieved a flying lap at 160km/h, before delivering the car to Ropner, who used it extensively for competition, continental touring and commuting to London from his home in Yorkshire.

The British motoring press fell in love with the OE-Type 30-98 and in 1923 The Autocar subjected one to an early road test, recording a maximum speed (with standard Velox body) of 132km/h – no mean feat at a time when most cars were struggling to top 80km/h.

The Autocar went on to say: "Few cars have such graceful lines yet at once suggest unlimited strength allied to speed and very, very few can take a corner stiffly with absolute certainty as this one can."

  • Freddie Jones - 2013-03-26 12:26

    And today, owned by General Motors, they are reduced to producing and selling re-badged Opel's.

  • Freek Van Niekerk - 2013-03-26 13:32

    They don't make them like that anymore!

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