Vauxhall Problems

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Sir,

As a Vauxhall owner, I am writing to you in the hope that you may be able to shed some light on what is a mystery to me at present. I am at present restoring a 1928 R-type 20/60, and whilst I appreciate that they are rather small beer when compared to some of their predecessors, I believe that they are still worth preserving. However, I am enquiring if you could advise me who was responsible for the design of the 20/60? I have seen a letter to the Autocar (dated October cth 1928, and October 12th 1928, from Vauxhall Motors) stating that the design was in hand before the arrival of General Motors. Also, it has been suggested to me that C. E. King was responsible for the original design, and that he or his successor/s had to modify it to enable the -car to be sold in a different price range. Also, with Vauxhall Motors system of alphabetical model nomenclature, one would expect the R-type 20/60 design to he laid down before the S-type sleeve-valve, which, I believe, was shown at the 1926 (?) Motor Show. (1 wonder what possessed then, to become involved with a sleeve-valve motor at this stage?) Some of the design features of the 20 /60 are quite different from those of the models preceding it :

(1) I would think that the unit construction cast-iron cylinder block, the coil ignition and the pressed steel sump were added for reasons of economy.

(2) The alloy con-rods and cast iron pistons (1927-28 R-tvocs) were normal Vauxhall practice at the time, and, although I can understand the reasoning behind using an alloy con-rod to reduce reciprocating loads, it has always defeated me as to why they went and hung a east-iron piston on top of it!

(3) I believe that the LM 14/40s and the 30/98s gained counter-balanced crankshafts in about 1925 (23/60s?), yet the 20/60 shaft is devoid of balance weights. However, the designer has provided what appears to b.e a rigid crankcase extending below the centre line of the crankshaft, and into it has stuffed a surfeit of main bearings (nine in all!).

(4) The single-plate clutch is probably inherited from the 14/40, and the gearbox internal ratios are numerically equal to those of the LM 14/40.

(5) In the New Zealand publication “Beaded Wheels”, I have seen the statement that the rear axle is of Pontiac/Oakland origin. I can not verify this, hut this component does seem to be the Achilles heel of the car (mechanically speaking).

(6) The brakes differ in design and effectiveness from those which preceded them on other Vauxhalls. I can remember examining 3 whole year’s Autocar Road-tests (1928 or 1929), and only one car (an Alvis Alvista) equalled or bettered the 20/60’s braking figures.

(7) Wire wheels with knock-on hubs lost to Sankeys, I presume, in the economy drive. Incidentally, in Sydney there is a Rolls-Royce 25 h.p. coupe fitted with Sankey wheels, which have the Rolls-Royce centre-lock huh fitting; this is the only example of this wheel/ hub combination I’ve ever seen.

(8) The bodies: Ugh. These almost all lacked the grace and style of the earlier Vauxhalls. The Hurlingham Speedster was a Registered Design (by whom?) and one of these cars in Australia has a plate affixed to the bodywork stating the Registered Design Number.

Gladesville, Australia. PETER WARD

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