Vauxhall 1938 Coupe – Simon and Jannie Brown

Photos by Steve Cole.


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Background to Vauxhall

Alexander Wilson founded the company in London (Vauxhall) in 1857.  The company built pumps and marine engines, but commenced building cars in 1903.  Vauxhall was acquired by General Motors in 1925,

During 1934, Vauxhall’s venerable Light Six range was replaced by new and more modern DX (Twelve-Six) and DY (Fourteen-Six) ranges.

The DX introduced independent front suspension and synchromesh gearbox to go with the six cylinder engine, and proved very popular in 1935 with over 25000 units sold at a base price of £225.00 in the UK.

Holden produced cars Vauxhall cars in Australia rather than importing them because high protectionist duties were levied on imported cars.  The coupe version of the DX 14 was produced between 1937 (189 cars) and 1939 (10 cars) with 112 built in 1938 for a total of 311 built in Australia.  These are low build numbers indeed when compared to the sedan body type of the DX 14 with 6084 sedans produced over the same period.  Simon’s Vauxhall would therefore have been assembled quite late in 1938 going by its build number of 286.

Simon and Yannie’s Vauxhall DX 14 Coupe is a lovely car.  The coupe was built at the Holden plant in Woodville, Adelaide, South Australia in 1938, and the very shapely and pretty body is unique to Australia.  Given that some 75 years have elapsed since it was built, and only a limited number of coupe bodies were built in those days, the car must be considered extremely rare now.

The car was owned previously by Simon’s dad, Cec Brown, and was fully restored by Simon in 1992.  The standard of restoration is very high in keeping with Simon’s efforts on the Kharmann Ghia which is admired wherever it goes!  After some 15 years off the road, Simon completed necessary maintenance and returned the Vauxhall to club rego in 2009.

The car is of a striking design with shapely curves that are accentuated by the period running boards, and contemporary features such as the dicky seat and suicide doors.  Some of the features are unrecognisable at first glance to younger generations, such as the steps moulded into the left hand rear quarter to give passenger access to the dicky seat.  I don’t know what the State police would have to say about people riding in the dickie seat today – no airbags….  and Canberra’s winter weather would confine riding there to the hardiest of souls.

The magnificent red/black paint scheme is accentuated by a chrome flash on the fluted bonnet.  Originally chromed, the flute is extremely difficult to reproduce during restoration as the bonnet is easily warped by the heat.  Simon research options and decided to replicate the flash using chrome contact adhesive sheet, and the result is excellent.

The Vauxhall is powered by a 1781 cc six cylinder overhead valve engine and single downdraft carburettor, with a rated output of 14 HP.  A feature relatively advanced for its day was that the coupe was equipped with a 4 speed gearbox with synchromesh on 3rd and top.

Suspension at the front is knee action with leaf springs at the rear. Somewhat adventurous today however is the cable operated drum brakes all round.

As a leisurely weekend drive the Vauxhall must be a lot of fun though.  The dazzling red and black livery attracts attention wherever it goes, reminding us all of a time long past.  The coupe’s restoration is a credit to Simon and Yannie, and the STHARC club is very lucky to host such a rare vehicle.

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