1924 Vauxhall 14/4014/98 Sports Special
- Year of manufacture1924
- Car typeConvertible / Roadster
- Chassis numberLMM3774
- Engine number3774
- Reference numberFJ2221
- Interior colourRed
- Interior typeLeather
- Number of seats2
- Exterior colourGreen
- Fuel typePetrol
1924 Vauxhall “14/98” Sports Special
s/n LMM3774, Eng. no. 3774
Dark Green with Red Leather
The earliest examples of Edwardian era sporting cars appeared at a time when the automobile industry was booming, and individual wealth was increasing at historic rates. European royalty, Hollywood film stars, and the youthful progeny of industrial tycoons favored sports cars of this period for their performance and exciting character. For Vauxhall, one of the first British car companies as well as one of the oldest extant, the legendary Bedfordshire builders delivered handmade cars with world-class engineering, the latest in engine technology, and sporting coachwork during the years before 1925, at which time they were acquired by General Motors.
While many of the earliest Vauxhalls were expressions of wealth and opulence, often a trinket to adorn a manor or castle, many of their cars also proved durability in racing, trials, and hillclimbs. Today, while their manufacturing prowess and engineering excellence is admired in modern context, it is their premier early cars that truly embody the magic of the marque, imbued by the determination and principled ingenuity of their earliest founders and skilled craftsmen.
This beautifully constructed example perfectly articulates the exceptional philosophy of Vauxhall’s early days. Crafted under commission by premier Edwardian Era specialist and expert Grant Crowie of Up The Creek Workshop in Cambell’s Creek, Australia, this “14/98” Special was crafted using a 14/40 series chassis accompanied by carefully sourced original Vauxhall components, with the exception of a 1920s era Delage front axle and vacuum servo brakes, used for their added stopping capability. Linton Morris, an Australian Magistrate who specifically commissioned the construction of this Vauxhall for hill climbing, insisted the car have both torque and speed in addition to the Vauxhall durability for which they were known. The engine and transmission began as a 23/60 series unit but were thoughtfully upgraded to more formidable later series 30/98 specifications, utilizing the 4224cc detachable cylinder head design with overhead valves that distinguishes the definitive OE version of the 30/98. Utilizing the detachable cylinder head design with overhead valves allowed for the 4224cc engine (originally making 115 hp) to deliver low speed torque and high-speed output. The 14/4 rear axle uses a new high ratio crown gear and pinion with the rear suspension converted to semi-elliptical springs and an open drive shaft. The engine was further upgraded to include two period correct 2” bronze casting S.U. carburetors and a correct Watford F04 magneto. The build was completed in 2014 after exhaustive testing, fabrication, and exceptional attention to detail, authenticity, and unity of components. The finished car was tested and refined, delighting all who were fortunate to view the car in shows or events while in Australia.
In 2014, under previous ownership, the car was imported to California where it was further updated and improved in 2015 and 2017 by experts Bob Mosier (Mosier Restoration, Inc.) and Olle Eriksson (Eriksson Enterprises), both of whom logged extensive hours tuning and sorting the car as well as improving braking performance. Detailed invoices totaling over $11,000.00. Under current ownership, the car has been enjoyed over the past two years adding a rewarding 600 miles to the car, further confirming the mechanical prowess and durability. The current owner has received a VSCC card and has added wonderful period luggage to the rear of the car, a welcome feature, allowing for more storage space when participating in vintage events or tours.
Today, this magnificent and sporting Vauxhall presents with exceptional finishes and magnificent presence. Adorned with a delightful array of aircraft-inspired details including the riveted, louvered, and contoured aluminum hood, exposed mechanical details, exquisitely detailed castings, and painstakingly constructed brass hardware, lines and fittings, the result is a symphony of details for the eyes – each one captivating the viewer with authentic finishes and purposeful presence. The body panels are very well fit to the chassis and the paint on the rear portion of the car is glossy and smooth throughout. Every detail has been handled with mastery as witnessed by the beautifully fitted brown leather rear fender covers, which tastefully match the passenger side cowl apron. Throughout the car, Edwardian details are elegantly represented in handles, levers, polished castings, delicate engraving, and perfectly selected hardware. The delicately suspended front fenders float lightly above the wire wheels, tapering with a slight dihedral toward the cowl, again exemplifying how small details can contribute to the impressive visual impact, stance, and overall presence.
The interior of the car is finished with red leather covering the pleated seats, smooth side panels, and lining the interior of the cowl. Contrasted by black carpeting with red edging and a polished aluminum dashboard, the purposeful black enameled steering wheel sits proudly over an array of delightful instruments and switches, each one an artful combination of vintage calligraphy and machined castings. The L & M Rye coachbuilder badge is positioned on the dash in keeping with proper vintage construction. The car displays exceptional visual harmony in every respect: its interior and exterior design, details, and presentation all display wonderful unity, a testament to the craftsmanship and integrity of this uniquely constructed Vauxhall Special.
The engine compartment reveals the same level of attention to detail and vintage authenticity in fit, finish, and period correct hardware. Various components are gently polished or remain slightly buffed to underline the car’s vintage. The engine compartment, cowl, and revealed suspension components are all clearly in view and beautifully presented. There is no hiding even the smallest detail, and therefore the simplest of items are instead celebrated with exceptional fit, finish, and authenticity.
The car is not only beautifully constructed, it is a pleasure to drive. It starts easily but also reveals the marvelous theater associated with cars of this period: master electric power, magneto, fuel pump, spark advance/retard, choke, and hand throttle properly set, the car erupts to life with textured and authoritative character, with sounds familiar to anyone who has spent time with a 3 or 4.5 liter Bentley. The throttle response and carburetion are spot on, with the hand throttle allowing drivers to gently accommodate the engine as it warms up. The non-synchro gearbox has a wonderful mechanical feel, rewarding the skilled operator with usefully spaced ratios that leverage the remarkable torque and light weight. Driving this car is a swift and thrilling experience. Thanks to the hydraulic conversion, the effective brakes bring much more confidence to a car of this period. Although the steering is heavy at low speeds, it becomes precise and informative once underway, delivering an overall feel of quality and durability. An added touch is the Klaxon horn, which delivers an iconic sound at the push of a button, simultaneously warning and delighting passersby. Unlike many cars from this period, this Vauxhaull is well-resolved, trustworthy, and reflective of the high level of craftsmanship that went into the construction.
The underside of the car is well-finished, continuing the theme of detail-oriented execution. Copious notes detailing proper oiling and various lubrication requirements, engine specifications, starting instructions, diagrams for all instrumentation, notes and invoices for recent service, import documentation from Australia are included with the car, and the recently acquired VSCC card.
Great cars from this exceptional and exciting period are becoming more and more sought after in a world where the driving experience has become dulled down by digital interaction. With so many important cars of this era now residing in museums as immobilized sculpture, this is a great opportunity to acquire a very usable car, one that embodies the thrill of power and performance in a very capable package. This exciting Vauxhall Special delivers not only impressive construction coupled with a brilliantly engineered chassis, it offers the next owner a unique opportunity to experience spirited open air driving just as the pioneering innovators of Vauxhall originally intended nearly a century ago.