Reborn 30/98

Ever since Owen Wyn Owen was courageous enough to retrieve “Babs” from its Pendine grave, a few other cars have been similarly rescued. Now, from Australia, comes another such report. It concerns the 30/98 Vauxhall 0E297 which, as I write this, is about to undertake a tough rally, over the Australia alps, where heavy snow has been lying, from Sydney and on to Victoria to join the VSCC-of-A on its Victorian Anniversary Rally in South Australia, in the hands of its owner, Linton Morris, KC.

This is all the more creditable because in February 1936 the Vauxhall was forced off the road by an approaching car and fell into Australia’s Blue Lake at Mount Cambia, where it lay submerged in 250 feet of water for about 14 months. It wasn’t until March 1937 that the salvage operation took place. Since then the car has been fully restored to its original form with touring bodywork, to immaculate standards; its present owner was invited to take it back to the scene of its accidental drowning, where the City Elders held a civic reception on September 16, for the 30/98 and its driver.

This 30/98 has a distinguished history. It was purchased by Mr J H Dutton, who was then living at Half Moon Street, London, W1, from the well-known premises of the late Jack Bartlett at Pembridge Villas, for £145, in 1933. John Hansborough-Dutton then took the Vauxhall out to Australia and ran it there in such events as the Sellick’s Beach races. It was also used for ordinary roadwork, as it had been England while Mr Dutton had been at Oxford. As purchased, the red Velox 30/98 had cycle-type mudguards and abbreviated running-boards. (Mr Linton Morris would very much like to discover whether this Vauxhall had any competition history in England before Mr Dutton acquired it.)

For competition work in Australia the back of the Velox body was cut down so that a pointed tail could be fitted behind the front seats, and a full-length undershield and an outside exhaust system were used. The engine was given a bunched exhaust manifold, a “hotter” camshaft and raised compression-ratio. The wheels were rebuilt to take 6.00 x 20 tyres. This was a late 30/98 with the balanced crankshaft and the later hydraulic front brakes. In February 1935 Dutton took the first Australian LSR, the Vauxhall being officially timed by the AAA to have covered the two-way mile at Sellick’s Beach at 92.51 mph — actually a National Class C record.

After it had been retrieved from the lake, where Dutton remade acquaintance with the car he had been forced off the road in, the 30/98 had a number of different owners and was given a two-seater slab-tank body. Mr Linton Morris acquired it in 1993, since when it has been restored using the original body panels where possible, to Velox specification. In the photograph it is numbered 0E121 but it has since had the correct NSW number 0E297.