Proving Vauxhall’s current marketing slogan, British Brand since 1903, runs more than skindeep, two of the company’s oldest vehicles – one of which was built in the year Vauxhall was founded as a car manufacturer – recently took to the road for the annual Bonhams London to Brighton Veteran Car Run.
Acknowledged as the world’s second-oldest surviving Vauxhall, the 1903 5HP embarked on the Sixty-mile drive for the first time since 2015. Vauxhall’s Managing Director, Steve Norman, took the driving seat alongside recently retired Communications Director, Denis Chick. Registered BS8213, this particular 5HP is the forty-fifth vehicle built by Vauxhall. It’s a rare four-seat model, with passengers sitting over the engine in front of the driver.
Vauxhall Heritage purchased and restored the car two decades ago. Originally bought for £154 3s 3d by a Scottish shipbuilder, it features a water-cooled 983cc engine (sorry, no Z20LET here) powering the rear wheels through an epicyclic gearbox and chain drive. Top speed is 20mph and fuel consumption is around 38mpg, impressive figures for the time of manufacture, albeit not as astonishing as your mate’s VXD-badged Vectra C, which he swears blind can outrun a Veyron, even with the engine switched off.
The 5HP didn’t have to complete its southbound trek alone – it had the Heritage Centre’s 6HP model for company! Registered JNM 400 and featured in the Drive-My it was one of seventy cars produced in 1904 at Vauxhall’s original manufacturing facility in South London.
Vauxhall is the only surviving British car brand eligible to enter the Bonhams London to Brighton Veteran Car Run, a challenge open to cars built before 1905, the year Vauxhall’s base switched from London to Luton. The company has built more than fourteen million vehicles in its 115year history.