1905 Vauxhall description
This lovely three cylinder chain drive 7/9hp Vauxhall, registration number AR861 with chassis and engine number 3CM36, is one of only a few surviving examples of the small number originally made. It also one of the earliest cars made after Vauxhall opened their works in Luton so is an important piece of English motoring history.
My first impression was just how neat and uncluttered it looks when compared with many other early cars – the Vauxhall appears to be the work of a designer who not only wanted it to go well but also to look good and you can just make out the origins of the famous Vauxhall flutes in the top of its bonnet.
By way of history we have a copy of a Hertfordshire Council car registration list which records that AR861 was a two seater Vauxhall which was registered to Charles Lionel Schwind of Wheathampstead on 27th June 1905.
We also have a letter dated 2011 from car historian and researcher TCS Sargent who notes that in the 1960s the car was owned by Percy Crittall of Crowborough who acquired it from someone in Essex just after the war. There are also letters about it from Michael Worthington-Williams and a paper by early Vauxhall engineer Albert Adams describing how these cars were individually hand built. The file also contains an interesting collection of early magazine articles about Vauxhall.
At some stage in the past it had been partially dismantled and was sold as such at Christies ‘Sharpe Collection’ sale in June 2005 when it was lot number 228 - the price realised was £15,275 against their catalogue estimate of £5,000 to £10,000. The auction details are available on line and you can see in their picture that the car was largely complete apart from a front axle and front wheels which have since been replaced.
It has just been the subject of £29,000’s worth of mechanical work which is detailed in several invoices from old car experts Belcher Engineering of Diss in Norfolk. The bulk of the cost is made up of an engine rebuild plus having a new single cylinder block specially cast. Work was also done on the brakes, clutch, flywheel and carburettor along with other general maintenance activities.
The attractive two seat coachwork is in very sound condition and has a really nice paint finish.
As a result of all this attention the car not only looks good but it goes very well indeed and it handles very nicely with accurate rack and pinion steering, good brakes, a smooth clutch and a really sweet three speed and reverse gearbox - in fact it drives more like a good quality late Edwardian rather than an only just post-Brighton Run car.
As you can gather I have really been impressed by the charm and usability of this very rare Vauxhall so may I suggest that you come and see it for yourself but do be prepared to find that you want to own it!