• Lovely example of influential vintage Vauxhall
• Full synchromesh gearbox
• Glorious patina
• Complete and sympathetically overhauled
Introduced at the Olympia London Motor Show in 1933, the Vauxhall ‘Light Six’, or ASY, was Vauxhall’s new compact six-light, six-cylinder saloon for the mid-1930s.
Known as the Vauxhall 12/6, standing for 12hp and six cylinders, the spacious saloon was one of the first Vauxhalls to take its styling influences from the Chevrolet models of the era, following General Motors’ takeover of Vauxhall in 1927.
It was a handsome car powered by a compact, high-torque 1,530cc straight six engine and a four-speed all-syncromesh gearbox, which was quite an innovation for its day, as indeed was its advanced 12-volt electrical system.
It also introduced Vauxhall’s patented ‘No Draught’ Ventilation, with four sliding side windows, and the amusingly-named Vauxhall Pedo-Matic foot-operated starter system.
This example has the ‘Deluxe’ body, which means it has an opening windscreen and sliding sunroof, along with a few other really charming art deco accoutrements.
This example is one of the earliest known surviving 12/6s and was first registered in 1933. It has had five previous owners and was discovered abandoned in a private garage in 1969 by two members of the pre-war Vauxhall Owners Club, who rescued it.
In 1970, it was passed on to a gentleman called Les Brannon in Gosport, Hants, who restored it over a period of four years and used it as his daily transport before passing it on to a third owner in 1980.
The third owner, Mr Newlove, used it for classic car events and rallies and owned it until 1993, during which period it was fitted with a replacement 14hp engine, hence why it has a 1,781cc and not a 1,530cc unit.
The vendor acquired the car earlier this year as a non-runner and has invested some time in getting it back into full working order. Prior to that, it had been unused since 2013, shortly after the most recent previous owner acquired it.
The vendor is a motor mechanic and a classic car specialist, who has sympathetically recommissioned the Vauxhall, ensuring it is in full working order and is well-presented.
Accompanying the Vauxhall is a folder containing some fascinating artefacts, including two handwritten letters from a previous owner corroborating its history and a pair of World War Two tax discs that were found inside the car during its previous recommissioning.
There are also a selection of old MOT certificates, along with a photocopy of the old V5 document showing the two previous keepers from when the car was first recommissioned in the 1970s, plus some more recent tax discs showing that the car remained in the Fareham and Gosport area until at least 1993.
As an older restoration, the Vauxhall isn’t perfect, but it still looks fabulous and the seller has been really careful to preserve its condition as best as possible rather than over-present it.
It’s brimming with charm and looks really smart without being overdone. The chrome, trim and painted wire wheels are all in very good order, while there are some truly beautiful touches such as the V12/6 badge on the offside rear wing and the flying insignia bonnet mascot.
The car also wears subtle orange indicator lamps, retro-fitted by a previous keeper as a useful concession to road safety. All of the glass is in good order, including the opening windscreen, while the sliding sunroof is equally in good condition.
Inside is where you’ll find much of this car’s charm. Although the plan under GM ownership was to move Vauxhall away from its premium market position and make it more competitive against the likes of Ford and Austin (i.e., cheaper), the 12/6 still held on to much of the charm and quality that defined the Luton-made cars as a cut above. As a result, the interior is full leather and is beautifully finished, with art deco dials and hand-varnished wooden trim.
It’s the details that really stand out, though. The roll-up rear blind, the rope grab handles in the rear and the overhead luggage nets are all delightful details that evoke another era. It’s a lovely thing, a real pleasure to sit in, smell and feel. Try saying that about a modern car!
Starting the 12/6 is a doddle compared to many vintage cars – simply switch on the electrical circuit with the key, pull the choke (retro-clothes peg retaining device is included) and operate the starter by pressing the accelerator pedal with your foot (hence Pedo-Matic) and it chugs into life before settling to a steady idle.
As pre-war cars go, it’s pretty advanced. The gearbox is all-synchromesh and a pleasure to use, the brakes feel like they actually do something and it’s a pretty straightforward car to drive. The vendor reports that now it’s running properly, it’s in very good working order and is terrific fun to drive.
Not all vintage cars were created equal and the Vauxhall 12/6 proves that point, with a level of driveability that surpasses its contemporaries and a super-smooth six-cylinder powertrain and slick full-synchro transmission.
But that is just part of this car’s charm. Where it really shines is in its immeasurable character, with a glorious patina to its tobacco brown interior and its smart but not over-restored exterior. You could, if you wanted to, use it as the basis for a full concours restoration, but in many ways that would be sacrilege. It’s such a lovely, original and charming car that it deserves to continue being preserved and enjoyed exactly as it is.
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