1924 Vauxhall 30/98
Year of manufacture1924
Chassis numberOE 188
Engine numberOE 182
1924 Vauxhall 30-98 OE-Type Velox Tourer
Registration no. not UK registered
Chassis no. OE 188
Engine no. OE 182
This is a most handsome example of what is considered by many knowledgeable enthusiasts to be the finest British sporting car of the Vintage period. Vauxhall 30-98 adherents will maintain that while Bentley generated greater publicity - thanks largely to their victories at Le Mans - the Vauxhall company (which raced at both Grand Prix and Tourist Trophy level before the Great War) had produced a car which could run rings around 3-Litre Bentleys on cross-country journeys.
Only a handful of cars were sold before the outbreak of WWI interrupted production, and when manufacture resumed in 1919, the model was given the designation 'E-Type'. Manufacture of the E-type ceased in September 1922 after 287 cars had been constructed; there was then a slight hiatus before its successor, the overhead-valve 'OE', commenced delivery in early 1923. Despite a reduction in capacity to 4.2 litres, the power of the OHV motor went up to 110bhp-plus, although this increase made little difference to the car's performance.
The OE was not to gain front-wheel brakes until late 1923, when a cable system was introduced. This was operated, along with the transmission brake, by the foot pedal. Hydraulic actuation of the front-wheel and transmission brakes was adopted in 1926. By the time the final batch of OE chassis had been completed in early 1927, there were few customers for the 30-98, the antiquity of the design telling against it when compared to the more refined competition from Bentley and Sunbeam. Total production of OEs numbered 312 cars. While some may argue that the E-Type was the last of the totally Pomeroy-designed cars, and is therefore for the purists, it is the OE that has become more sought after by enthusiasts over the years.
While the early history of 'OE 188' is not fully documented, the deep cut-out in the body has provided Australian historians with a clue as to the car's early history. The cut-out and the shape of the wings suggest that this is the car originally owned by F A Parles, a chemist from Campsie, New South Wales. The owner of the local theatre, Parles was a well-known personality in Campsie, and his efforts with Vauxhall 30-98s made him famous among local Vauxhall protagonists.
Entered in local speed events, Parles' cars were piloted by notable local drivers including J J O'Rourke and 'Wizard Smith': the former a garage owner who also had some success racing Bugattis of the period. The Parles-entered Vauxhall (or possibly Vauxhalls) were recognised as serious competitors. Perhaps the most notable performance of a 'Parles' Vauxhall was at the Gerringong Beach speed trials on the 9th May 1925 where O'Rourke piloted the 30-98 to win the 12-mile event and set the fastest time of any car in the heats. Period photographs of the 'Parles Vauxhall' taken while competing on a trial show a deep cut-out in the coachwork on the driver's side, although this is not featured on the image of the Parles car at Gerringong Beach in May 1925. It is quite possible that Parles further modified 'OE 188' at a later date. Sadly this information has been lost in the mists of time. What is clear is that 'OE 188' is one of a handful of matching-numbers Vauxhall 30/98s around the world that has in-period competition history. 'OE 188' is featured in Nic Portway's definitive book on the marque: Vauxhall 30-98, the Finest of Sporting Cars (pages 112, 114, 115 and 224) which confirms that the car was delivered to Australia with engine number 'OE 182'.
In the early 1970s 'OE 188', was purchased by Gunnar Sundell, father of the preceding owner, together with around five other Vauxhalls, from New South Wales Vauxhall guru, Ron Grant. Initially four were sold and two were retained: an E-Type 30-98 and this car. 'OE 188' was in a very sorry state when acquired and had never been restored. A deal was struck between Gunnar Sundell and Russ Herbert: in return for a 'parts car' (now known as 'Black Bess') Russ Herbert agreed to restore 'OE 188' for Gunnar Sundell. The original mechanical parts of the car together with the wings, bulkhead, bonnet, radiator, etc were restored and a new Velox-style body constructed to replace the worn-out original. The original body from 'OE 188' was later fitted to 'Black Bess'.
The current vendor purchased the Vauxhall at Bonhams & Goodman's sale at Melbourne, Victoria in December 2007, since when it has been used extensively on non-competitive touring rallies, some of which have been entered on numerous occasions. These include the Alpes Retro in southern France; Rally Mont Joly around Mont Blanc in the Chamonix area of France; Transappenninica in Italy; Gstaad Rally in Switzerland; Alpenfahrt in Germany/Austria/Italy; and the FIVA rallies in Slovakia and Poland.
Registered in Germany, the car has been kept in a heated garage when not in use and has a current German TüV. Described by the private vendor as mechanically and cosmetically in good condition, 'OE 188' represents a wonderful opportunity to acquire a most handsome example of what is considered by many knowledgeable enthusiasts to be the finest British sporting car of the Vintage period.