HOW THE T-TYPE MOVED VAUX­HALL INTO THE MAIN­STREAM

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Driven -

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.

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