Very old cars

My Grandfather retired early, and then got married, started a family, started building his house, and had a car made to his specification.

It was based on a 30.98 Vauxhall, but had his design of pistons, hemi-head with overhead cams, manifolds, brakes and suspension mods.  It had a dural body, and was a six seat convertible, or rather 4+2.  It could get close to a hundred as well.  I’ve just found an old scan of a photo he took of the car soon after delivery to his building site, probably 1924 judging by the size of my Uncle who was born in 1920.

He sold it when my Uncle was just about old enough to learn to drive, saying that the dural was about to turn to crystals and be useless in another couple of years. I doubt it still exists, I think the reg was XX6291.

There is no way I would be prepared to go that fast on those tyres on the kinds of roads of the time!

30.98 Vauxhall custom build - 1924

Ah “Nostalgia (ain’t wot it used to be)” - Sorry, couldn’t resist it.

You surprise me though - only mention of a hemi head came in the late fifties, when it was ‘The engine to have’ in the States. Favourite expression, if you could use it, was “I gotta hemi!”

On our council estate, the only car owner was the man next door (Ted) who was a coal merchant. He had a 1930’s Ford 8, AND a lorry, which appeared infrequently if he was late finishing his deliveries. - Most Coal merchants still had a horse and dray back then. We had daily deliveries (if requested) from the baker - who had a van, the milkman - a horse and dray, and once a week, in the summer, a horse drawn ice cream street delivery from Momma Capocci - genuine Italian ice cream! Can’t remember why we didn’t get coal from next door (probably too expensive), but the coal man came every so often, also with a lad, a horse and another dray. With the exception of the horse, everything was covered in coal dust. Shipstones - the local brewer, had a magnificent six horse cart used for beer deliveries, they were still running it several years ago, for shows mainly, but even that, like the brew, has long gone. (sigh of relief - it was lousy beer - - - -!)

My mother had three brothers, only one of whom could afford not only his own home, but a car as well. A Morgan four seater with a boat tail, twin JAP up front. We, as a family had two trips in it, as a favour I guess, Dad went to work either on the bus, or his push bike if the weather was kinder - it was then. So did I, once old to enough to go to work - 1949.

How time changes everything. Some will say for the better, but we had more fun then than kids do now, we played street football and cricket - both with a tennis ball, and as we got older, bike trips around the countryside. We weren’t tied to our mobiles and tablets, and we actually talked, laughed and joked together.
Yes - our parents managed on a shoe string, but we had wired radio (no TV) and each other for company on a cold winters night, snuggled round the coal fire and toasting bread on the swivel grille.

Would I turn the clock back? - NO - not really, but I feel sorry fr kids now, though they wouldn’t appreciate it anyway. Ignoring Macmillan, now we do have it so good, all that deprivation earlier has taught us to appreciate whatever we can afford now, where kids just hold their hand out and expect manna from the gods. “It grows on trees - dunnit?”

How time changes - I went through the estate years ago, and there were cars parked everywhere.

According to the records I have XX 6291 was issued by London CC in April 1925. The car was a 30-98 with Velox coachwork which was nominally a 4 seater body although three slim people could sit in the rear seats and it would be possible to fit 2 occasional seats in front of them. It was a fine sporting car with a 4250 cc ohv engine and in standard form would do 85 mph. It would have cost £1220.

The surviving factory records indicate that it left Vauxhalls in June 1925 so it is possible the Registration number was one of a block issued to the Vauxhall Gt Portland Street showrooms as there were other Vauxhalls registered at this time with XX registrations. XX 6291 does not appear on the DVLA database.

About 600 30-98 s were built and a large number survive with a good proportion being used today in VSCC events.

How do I know all this? Well one of my other cars is a 1914 Vauxhall so I have a keen interest in the marque. In rural Northamptonshire it is still possible to enjoy motoring in early cars.