TESTING A SECOND HANDER
A 30-98 VAUXHALL OF 1925
Whenever the past generation of sports cars comes up for discussion, there is certain to be someone present who has had pleasant memories of the old 30-98 Vauxhall, and many motorists to-day maintain that for effortless fast touring there has never since been made anything to touch them. It is four or five years now since we have had the opportunity of trying one, though as a passenger we have had some stirring rides up Shelsley and elsewhere, so we were naturally happy to renew our acquaintance with the marque at the invitation of Messrs. Sports Spares, of Chi’worth Street, Paddington, W.2.
Apart from its dealings in all types of sports cars, this firm has taken to the collection of Vauxhalls, and with an .ample stock of spares of all kinds is able to” vet ” the old cars and turn them out in their pristine condition at a reasonable price. They specialise naturally in the 0.h.v. models, which have front-wheel brakes, but the elder sidevalve cars, which can be bought for about £25 are useful in providing higher axle ratios for the later cars, either 3 to 1 with straight bevels or 3.3 with spiral bevels, and these and other features can readily be included according to the buyer’s requirements. The engines are all taken down and, if necessary, reconditioned before selling. Incidentally, it is found that these old cars Often cover the almost astronomical distance of 150,000 miles before .a rebore is required. The car We tested had been fitted with 21 by 5.25 inch tyres. Including this alteration, the price was £100.
The heart of London is never the best place to get an impression of an Open road sports-car, but the veteran Vauxhall moved off from its Paddington moorings quite. ‘smoothly, the clutch light and even in effect, and the steering high-geared but free. Gear changing at first presented some difficulty, a powerful Clutch stop making it difficult to estimate the gear change. Once it was discovered that a slight movement of the pedal was required to free it, all was well and we soon got the rhythm of the gears. Considering that the engine is a four-cylinder, of dimensions 98 by 140 mm., it was surprisingly flexible and the old car rumbled along at 25 m.p.h. with the revcounter showing under 1,000 r.p.m.
Brooklands was definitely in the hands of the breakers and it was not found possible to get space enough to get acceleration figures. The same applied to the roads on which we tried the car, the only figure taken being from 10 m.p.h. to 66 m.p.h., which was accomplished in the creditable time of 25 seconds. The speedometer was slow, owing to the change in axle-ratio, but it was checked by the rev-counter. The highest speed we achieved on the road was 83 m.p.h., though this could have been exceeded had traffic conditions permitted. At 3,000 r.p.m. the speeds on the gears are respectively 20, 30, 54 and 83 m.p.h. The charm of the rar, of course, lies in its easy cruising speed. Sweeping along at 65 or so, a mere 2,400 r.p.m., with a
This front view of the “30-98” shows the brake compensator in front of the radiator and the exceptionally long outside brakelever.
gintle rumble from the exhaust, the engine did not seem to be working at all, and yet there was no impression of its being over-geared, since it swept over the 1 in 12 gradient of the Guildford ByPass with scarcely increased effort. There was a slight period around 70 m.p.h., but nothing to worry about, and when road conditions allow, one feels perfectly safe in giving the car its head at speeds over 80 m.p.h.
The gear-box can be used to effect when required, and by using the clutchstop, instantaneous changes can be made between every gear. Driven in this way the old car fairly tucked in its tail and bounded off the mark, and we were able to surprise and deal successfully with the several owners of transatlantic models who showed reluctance in letting us pass.
The change is quite light and the only fault we had to find was that the lever was sometimes difficult to dislodge from the reverseslot. The pinions were obviously made before the days of constantmesh and silent thirds, but were free from backlash, and this applied equally to the whole transmission. The springing seemed quite up to the level of presentday sports cars, and one shock-absorber setting sufficed for town-work and all-out speed. The chassis feels rigid and :stable at all speeds though the car complete only weighs some 28 cwt. and the chassis and body were still free from rattles and squeaks. The upholstery was somewhat spartan, but a pair of pneumatic. cushions on the front seats would have overcome this at small expense. The driving position commands a nowadays unusual one of the two front wings, and the pedals give plenty of room for large feet in golf shoes
The only point in which the Vauxhall fell seriously behind the -sports car of today was in regard to the brakes. The foot pedal which operates brakes on the front wheels and the transmission had an almost negligible effect, while used in conjunction with the very long hand-lever which works the rear brakes, the stopping distance is still well over 100 feet from 40 m.p.h. Much of this, we fancy, was due to the linings being badly worn, and a new course of Ferodo throughout would improve the braking materially, even if it did not quite bring, it down to present-day standards.
Returning after dark from the day’s run, the head lamps were found quit efficient giving a beam sufficient for cruising at 55-60 m.p.h., while the engine responded readily to the starter-button even after the car had been standing in the cold for a couple of hours.
Letters, March 2011
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