HOW THE T-TYPE MOVED VAUXHALL INTO THE MAINSTREAM
While the T-type wasn’t the car that introduced Vauxhall to the mass market – that honour would go to the 1931 Cadet – it did mark an important step in the move away from the manufacturer’s previously upmarket clientele.
The catalyst was General Motors’ 1925 buyout of Vauxhall. GM quickly moved to replace loss-making models such as the 25/70 with more affordable offerings. The first model launched under the American conglomerate’s watch – although still engineered and designed in Britain – was 1938’s R-type, promoted at the time as being the first Vauxhall six-cylinder model available for under £1000. With production of both the 25/70 and the 30/98 being phased out under GM’s management, the R-type was briefly Vauxhall’s only model.
In 1929 the car’s 2.7-litre straight-six was upped to a 2.9-litre unit, given a taller radiator and wider wings as part of the update for the T-type. It was also fitted with a mechanical fuel pump in place of the R-type’s Autovac system and hydraulic dampers to offer a smoother ride.
Vauxhall offered the T-type in a variety of body styles, including as a saloon and a fiveseater tourer, but where demand for a particular bodystyle was limited, the manufacturer would often send the chassis out to one of its preferred coachbuilders to build. The Golfer’s Coupé was the work of London-based outfit Grosvenor, but other T-type-based offerings included Holbrook’s work on the Policeman’s Saloon, which offered 37
inches of headroom in order to accommodate the constabulary’s helmets.
The T-type evolved again in 1930 into the 3.3-litre Eighty model, which had strengthened transmission to cope with the increase in torque. The the following year the Silent Eighty went on sale – an upgraded model with a quieter third gear.
By then work was already well underway in introducing a more affordable range of Vauxhalls designed under GM’s instruction, starting with the smaller Cadet. The Eighty was replaced in 1933 with the first GM-designed large Vauxhall, the Big Six, which incorporated more streamlined styling inspired by the General’s US offerings, a smaller 2.4-litre engine and a simpler interior that was considerably cheaper to make.