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25hp Prince Henry
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  Article Image gallery (9) C97 Specifications  
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Country of origin:Great Britain
Produced from:1913 - 1914
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:November 30, 2016
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Click here to download printer friendly versionVauxhall was among several major manufacturers to field a factory entry in the 1910 Prinz Heinrich Fahrt or Prince Henry Trial. This gruelling, multi-day event was organised by the Prussian prince and was considered the ultimate test of man and, more importantly, machine. The rules stipulated that only production-based, four-seater tourers could compete, so the results were a direct reflection of the quality of the cars available to customers. This made the short-lived event not only very prestigious but also crucial for the competing manufacturers.

Tasked with the development of the trial cars at Vauxhall was newly signed engineer Lawrence Pomeroy. The basis for the competition car was the 20hp Vauxhall road car, which Pomeroy had designed during the winter of 1907/08. The first 20hp trial car appeared later in 1908 and immediately won the 13-day RAC 2,000 mile trial, beating rivals like Rolls-Royce. A three car team was then entered in the Prince Henry Trial of 1910. They did well but could not match the pace of the Austro Daimler designed and driven by Ferdinand Porsche.

To bank on the success in the trials, Vauxhall decided to build road-going replicas of Pomeroy's four-seater racing cars. Simply referred to as the Prince Henry, the new high performance model featured the same three-litre four-cylinder used in competition. While similar to the earlier 20hp models, it featured further refinements to the engine's breathing. The cast-iron unit featured a laterally mounted camshaft that actuated the side-valves through push-rods. Equipped with a single Zenith carburettor, it produced 60 bhp at 2,800 rpm.

Mated to a four-speed gearbox, the four-cylinder engine was installed in a straightforward ladder frame. The rear wheels were driven through a live axle instead of the chain drive fitted on most high performance models. Like the trial cars, the Prince Henry production cars were fitted with four-seater tourer bodies. They were instantly recognisable by the V-shaped radiator designed to improve efficiency. A particularly round tail was also part of the Prince Henry's sporting appearance. The completed car tipped the scales at around 1,250 kg.

Vauxhall launched the Prince Henry at the 1911 Olympia Show in London where Austro Daimler's road-going replica of their 1910 winning car also broke cover. In 1912, the design of the Prince Henry was updated with the introduction of an enlarged four-litre, with a 25hp fiscal rating, and a lengthened wheelbase. Very expensive, the Prince Henry remained in production until the outbreak of World War I.

Considered by some as the first true production sports car, the Prince Henry was replaced by the further refined 30/98 from 1914 onwards. Very exclusive in its day, the Pomeroy designed Prince Henry Vauxhall is rarer still and much sought after today.

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  Article Image gallery (9) C97 Specifications