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Vauxhall Hurlingham Roadster 20/60: From the castle museum to the terraced garage

Markus Nikot
Vauxhall Hurlingham Roadster 20/60
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D he entered the hobby for old sheet metal about a youngtimer called the Triumph TR7. It was joined by a TR3, a Super Seven from the pre-war era of Triumph-Werke and a roadster from the same company, built in 1938. The trend towards pre-war vehicles was not to be refused the offer of a typical vintage representative of the Bolid class from 1929. Today it embodies the height of the passion for pre-war cars - a Vauxhall Hurlingham Roadster 20/60.

1927 End of production of the Prince Henry car

As a manufacturer of exceptional, high-performance sports cars, the Vauxhall brand has long since disappeared from consciousness. In the twenties, Vauxhall advertised 'The Car Superexcellent' confidently and without exaggeration. Vauxhall vehicles were on par with manufacturers such as Mercedes-Benz, Alfa Romeo and Delage. The actual rise of the brand began with the progressive construction of a three-liter four-cylinder by the young designer Laurence H. Pomeroy. With this engine one of the most famous British sports cars of the twenties, the 30 /98HP Type E 'Prince Henry' car was created. So named after his victory in the great German Prince Heinrich ride in 1910 - also a swipe in the direction of the German auto industry. Success in long-distance trials, record-breaking cars and Grand Prix participations strengthened the brand's sporty image.

A Vauxhall in England was the first choice for the clientele of wealthy gentlemen drivers. Sustainable technical improvements made it possible to increase the output of the Vauxhall 30/98 in the OE version up to 120 hp. Vauxhall was never able to produce high volumes. In the long term, this led to the takeover by the US company General Motors in 1925. The decline in sales brought about the end of production of the Prince Henry car in 1927 and thus the most important representative of the original Vauxhall brand. The large-volume four-cylinder, which was not loved by American management, was replaced by a six-cylinder in 1928. The origin of this unit with the designation R-Type 20/60 HP is easy to see - a representative of the American Big Six engine construction. During this time of upheaval, the production of the 20/60 Hurlingham Roadster based on the later, more powerful T-series.

Not a best seller despite lightweight construction

The aluminum body, driven by oneWooden frame, is a sign of the fine craftsmanship of British coachbuilders of the time. Only the fenders and the bonnet were made from sheet steel. The name of the three-seater came from a sports club on the Hurlingham Grounds near London that was popular in the 1920s. With the typical rear of the boat and the second windshield for the passenger in the rear jump seat, the roadster was a thoroughly attractive offer for sports cars. Even so, the Vauxhall Hurlingham Roadster 20/60 never matched the success of the Prince Henry. The spoiled buyers could not be won over to this car even with a comparably good driving performance of 120 km /h. After only a few copies had been built, the Vauxhall Hurlingham Roadster 20/60 disappeared from the Vauxhall sales brochures in 1931.

Participation in the Historical Monte Carlo Rally

Surplus bodies were shipped to Holden in Australia and, with minor modifications, mounted on Chevrolet chassis. In the further course of the 1930s, Vauxhall focused on the smaller car segment - in 1930 with the 17 HP Cadet and the A-Type Light-Six from 1933. The 10 HP type from 1938 was the first British mass-produced vehicle with a self-supporting body construction .

Even if the Vauxhall Hurlingham Roadster 20/60 was not particularly successful at the time of its production, it is a real eye-catcher in today's use. The bright yellow paintwork contributes significantly to the unusual appearance. In the seventies, on behalf of Prince Kraft zu Hohenlohe-Langenburg, the original red-brown color was injected into the current yellow. The prince used the car in 1974 in the Historic Monte Carlo Rally. The princely entourage then consisted of three vehicles. Prince Ludwig moved the Vauxhall Hurlingham Roadster 20/60 from Baden to Monte Carlo. After this mission, the roadster was only occasionally used by the Prince of Hohenlohe for trips and even for pageants.

For more than 30 years, the Vauxhall Hurlingham Roadster 20/60 was used as a stand in the Langenburg Castle Automobile Museum. After this relatively long period of time for a car and after some effort for resuscitation, there is a lot to report from everyday life with such a pre-war car. The almost stereotypical comparison with a post bus, which is repeatedly ironically hired by passers-by, is always amusing. Even a stick-on post horn is offered.

As a driver you have a feeling in the cramped cockpit of the Vauxhall Hurlingham Roadster 20/60 that comes very close to that of a 'high on the yellow car' type driver. The high seating position wants to be climbed over wide, projecting running boards. Acrobatically, the driver has to manage the threading of the legs between the steering column, which protrudes far into the interior, and the pedals. Once this hurdle has been overcome, offersthe manageable instrument panel of the Vauxhall Hurlingham Roadster 20/60 no particular secrets. Speedometer, oil pressure, fuel gauge, water temperature gauge, timer, that's it. An unusually economical instrumentation for such a vehicle.

Long stroke engine with torque from 300 rpm.

The lack of a rev counter is immediately apparent. But what should it also serve? At a maximum speed of 4,000 rpm, the power of the long-stroke six-cylinder is sufficient to accelerate the Vauxhall Hurlingham Roadster 20/60 from the idle speed of around 300 tours without holes. Once the fourth gear is engaged, the engine's pulling power is sufficient to move the car without unnecessary shifting. The top speed of the Vauxhall Hurlingham Roadster 20/60 is at least 120 km /h. However, the acceleration process from a standing start takes some time.

Once the 1.8-ton Vauxhall Hurlingham Roadster 20/60 is in motion, the way it moves is impressive. The throbbing background noise of the 2.9-liter engine, coming from the depths, supports the feeling of seemingly plowing through traffic. The designers at General Motors send their regards. The starting process of the Vauxhall Hurlingham Roadster 20/60 is easy for a 1930s automobile. Switch on the ignition current, move the ignition to the start position using the lever on the steering wheel, pull the choke and one step on the starter button located in the footwell is all it takes to start the low-compression engine immediately.

Every 800 kilometers, 22 points have to be lubricated

Thanks to the hand throttle lever also located on the steering column, the engine of the Vauxhall Hurlingham Roadster 20/60 runs with the aid of the ignition advance and Slowly take back the choke after a few minutes. A courageous step on the central lubrication pedal completes the start-up procedure. The Vauxhall Instruction Book advises that this should be done outside of your own garage if possible. Today, with a keener eye for the environment, it is advisable to carry out this activity in the garage at home and then to let the chassis drain for a while. The central lubrication oil clearly marks the area where the Vauxhall Hurlingham Roadster 20/60 stands. Otherwise, 22 additional lubrication points need to be supplied manually every 800 kilometers. It comes in handy that the mandatory oil change interval for the Vauxhall Hurlingham Roadster 20/60 is also 800 kilometers. 9.7 liters of 50 single grade oil are required in each case.

By the way, seating comfort should hardly be expected in the Vauxhall Hurlingham Roadster 20/60. The corresponding cushions lie directly on the thick wooden planks of the vehicle floor. In addition to these harsh conditions, the passenger has the individual mother-in-law seat atTo get on and off the gymnastics masterpiece - once inside, it is difficult to get out again. From today's perspective, the windshield of the Vauxhall Hurlingham Roadster 20/60 in front of the rear soloist's seat, which looks unusual from today's perspective, was practical and welcome weather protection back then, as the folding roof can only be erected over the front seats.

Imposing view of the bonnet

From the low position of the front passengers of the Vauxhall Hurlingham Roadster 20/60 there is an imposing view - through the split windshield of the long bonnet with the distinctive Vauxhall -Bead. That was a typical view that the audience at the time could expect from a racing car. You were used to looking through the steering wheel instead of over it. The towering radiator, which seems to defy all laws of aerodynamics, is crowned by a stylized heraldic figure. This replaced the filigree figure of a wyvern of the previous models. The aluminum figure of the Vauxhall Hurlingham Roadster 20/60 stood in the museum in the glass showcase for more than thirty years, at some point it must have gone down while dusting. A bent wing testifies to this.

Once the British bull is in motion, it can hardly be stopped.

A measured deceleration with the huge cable-operated drums can only be achieved with extreme care. Anticipatory driving and timely braking are therefore the most important rules of the Vauxhall Hurlingham Roadster 20/60 driver. The car does not have a handbrake as it is today. Due to its design, it is purely a parking brake that acts directly on the transmission. Due to its position next to the driver's right leg, it is hidden in the depths of the footwell so that it cannot be reached while driving. The handbrake on the Vauxhall Hurlingham Roadster 20/60 can only be operated with a determined grip through the steering wheel spokes. This option is therefore not available at all as an additional emergency braking option while driving.

Contortionist maintenance

Moving the Vauxhall Hurlingham Roadster 20/60 through today's traffic always means a mixture of driving pleasure and constant concentration on other road users. Physical effort is required. The unsynchronized transmission must be bravely shifted with intermediate clutches and double-declutching. If, despite all due care, it does crash, the Crash Box lives up to its name. The steering of the Vauxhall Hurlingham Roadster 20/60 is American indirect and surprisingly easy to use while driving. Parking, on the other hand, becomes a sweaty act due to the 20-inch wheels, like a truck without steering assistance. A vintage car with a high fun factor - but not exactly suitable for getting bread. Immediately after the change of ownershipthe Vauxhall Hurlingham Roadster 20/60 was freed from the worst damage to the vehicle by a classic car workshop. A new tank in particular proved to be inevitable. Due to the long service life, the old one had been eaten away by rust.

From today's perspective, exits involve a certain risk

The accelerator pedal of the Vauxhall Hurlingham Roadster 20/60 is located in the middle between the clutch and the brake. This is basically nothing special with a pre-war car. Only in this vehicle is the accelerator pedal installed just next to the steering column and half hidden under the large brake pedal. When braking, the right foot must be pulled out between the pedals. After much deliberation, the accelerator pedal was converted to the clutch-brake-accelerator arrangement that is common today. The intervention is easy to reverse. It remains to be said about the serviceability of a pre-war roadster. All maintenance and restoration work on the Vauxhall Hurlingham Roadster 20/60 is carried out by the owner in a standard garage. Due to the dimensions of the Vauxhall Hurlingham Roadster 20/60, the mobility of a contortionist is sometimes required. The high ground clearance is ideal for working under the Vauxhall Hurlingham Roadster 20/60; a jack is rarely required. It is the author's personal restoration goal to preserve the patina of his Vauxhall Hurlingham Roadster 20/60. Of course, the technology should not be forgotten and be in a fully functional condition.

The additional units installed because of the Monte use, such as the second windshield wiper, a windshield washer system, a lockable Mercedes fuel filler cap and strange but powerful headlights were returned to their original condition or removed. Various outings and rallies in the recent past have shown satisfactory driving performance and reliability. The only disturbing factor is the high water consumption of the Vauxhall Hurlingham Roadster 20/60, which would do justice to a steam-powered car. Due to the long idle time, the cooler network suffered badly and was leaking.

The high water consumption was combated by carrying a water canister, but this was not fully satisfactory in the long run. Therefore, the repair of the radiator network is due soon. At first glance, that seems unspectacular. Anyone who has already pulled the engine or transmission out of a vintage car in an unheated garage in winter can foresee the difficulties that can arise even when removing a radiator. But even when things get tight: A classic car fan cannot be stopped by such small obstacles. Then it's just a little less elbow room in the mini garage.


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