Laurence Pomeroy was gifted engineer, but even his expertise was stretched by a request for a new competition car in March 1913. It was to be ready for the Shelsley Walsh hill climb, just 13 weeks away…
Pomeroy’s response was based on the existing ‘Prince Henry’ Vauxhall. A new, lightweight aluminium body and a modified 4.5-litre engine improved the car’s performance to the point where it sliced eight seconds from the Shelsley record. Despite its potential the car could not go into production – war intervened, during which Vauxhall built 2000 D-type tourers as army staff cars. In 1919 the new car, designated the E-type or ‘30/98’ was launched with a price tag of £1600, which put it firmly into the luxury bracket alongside such cars as the 3-litre Bentley. It was sold as ‘The Car of Grace that sets the Pace.’
It proved to be a successful competition car, despite lacking front-wheel brakes until 1926. By then the need for better braking was all the greater thanks to a more powerful engine with overhead valve operation, and up to 120bhp.
The American giant General Motors bought Vauxhall in 1925. The OE-type 30/98 soldiered on until 1927, but it was never directly replaced – and it was many years before Vauxhall would produce another car even remotely as exciting.