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A history to cherish

The Vauxhall 30-98, one of the greatest sports cars of the twentieth century and the first in the UK to top 100mph in production form, marks its centenary in style on 3 May 2013.

 

A precursor to today’s Cascada convertible, the Vauxhall 30-98 was developed in just 71 days. It went on to spawn a production run of 600 cars, of which, remarkably, around a third still survive today.

The racer with grace

Described as ‘the car of grace that sets the pace’, the 30-98 derived from Vauxhall’s C10 ‘Prince Henry’, commonly considered the UK’s first sports car.

 

At a time when car performance, durability and handling was demonstrated in competitions, the 30-98 achieved the fastest time of the day on its first outing at the Waddington Fell hill-climb in Lancashire.

 

Production started in earnest. Fitted with a 4,525cc side-valve four-cylinder engine, producing 90bhp, this Vauxhall was made in two basic types, E-type and the more powerful OE-type, built between 1923 and 1927.

Major Ropner’s challenge

The OE-type became the first production car in the UK to exceed 100mph. This was partly prompted by one Major L. Ropner who had appealed in public for a vehicle that could cover a mile at over 100mph.

Vauxhall produced a stunning two-seater 30-98 in polished aluminium. On 28 March 1923, test-driver Matt Park achieved a flying lap at 100.7mph, before delivering the car to Ropner.

 

The motoring press fell in love with the OE-Type 30-98 and, in 1923, a road-test for The Autocar recorded a speed of 82.57mph.

 

The Autocar magazine went on to say: ‘Few cars have such graceful lines yet suggest unlimited strength allied to speed… and very, very few can take a corner stiffly with absolute certainty as this one can.’