Reviews for Vauxhall Cars 1903 - 1918

“Nic Portway has followed up his memorable book on the 30/98 Vauxhalls, of which he is an owner, with a high-quality, two-volume set; Building the Power and Claiming the Rewards covers the history of these cars from 1903 to 1918. Both could almost be described as picture books with their wealth of wonderful illustrations, except that the accompanying text covers the history of Vauxhall in typical informative, interesting detail.

I have been reviewing motoring books for longer than I care to remember and have never been more impressed or delighted than I am with Portway's scholarly and wonderfully well-presented research, which is back up by a great many fine pictures of production and racing cars, plus advertising material over the years.”

Bill Boddy – Motor Sport

“For the follow-up to his first book - on 30-98s - Nic Portway focuses on the Veteran and Edwardian era of Luton's finest. The history is split into two volumes, Building the Power relates to the rise from early light cars to WWI staff cars, while Claiming the Rewards covers Vauxhall's early racing sorties including the Prince Henry Trials, Brooklands, the Coupe de L'Auto and Tourist Trophy. Designer Rupert Brown makes the most of the wealth of previously unpublished material resulting in one of the best-looking car books ever. Produced entirely in the UK, this labour of love is guaranteed to become a collectors item.”
Mick Walsh, Editor, Classic and Sportscar

“Of breathtaking scholarship in the level of its research and of superb production quality, this two-volume work on the early Vauxhalls is a worthy sequel to Nic's treatise on the Vauxhall 30-98, published in 1995. The first part is devoted to the production cars, including the move to Luton and Vauxhall's contribution to the war effort. Part two tells the story of the company's participation in competitive events from the reliability trials to Brooklands from 1908 - 1914. Forget the price; its a work of art of which only 850 will be produced. We will publish a full review later.”
Michael Bowler, Editor, The Automobile

“The author of this book is a long-standing Member of the Veteran Car Club who made his name with the publication of his earlier book, Vauxhall 30-98: the Finest of Sporting Cars. Appearing in 1995, the 30-98 book is still available from the same publisher as this new offering, and it is established as the exemplar top quality and in-depth study of a specific car model. The roots of the 30-98 were deeply placed in the Edwardian era, and it remains a 'fast touring car' that uplifts the human spirit in a manner all of its own. From a beginning in 1908, the precocious gift of Laurence Pomeroy transformed Vauxhall's good quality but unexceptional range of models into one that included leaders of their class.

A diligent quest over many years has led Nic Portway to amass a remarkable archive of documentation and period photographs of the types of Vauxhall from which the 30-98 evolved, the sporting 20hp and then the Prince Henry, and also of Vauxhall cars going right back to the firm's entry into motor car manufacture in 1903. Two volumes tell this story; first subtitled 'Building the Power' reviews the production cars up to and including the D-Type staff cars produced in substantial numbers during the Great War. Book 2, 'Claiming the Rewards', focuses the sporting Vauxhalls from 1908 by way of the Prince Henry cars to the handful of 30-98s made between 1913 and 1915, their achievements on the track and in trials, in Russia, Sweden, France; in what then were the British Colonies, and also much nearer home.

Although well-indexed and comprehensive, 'Vauxhall Cars 1903-1918' does not set out to be a work of reference, and detailing listings of specifications or competition appearances, and great technical detail all are absent, as are the minutiae of model changes and evolution. Its strength is in its exceptional treatment of its subject matter, for it is a remarkable virtuoso display of the arts of the book designer, printer and bookbinder. None of this would signify if the subject matter, the photographs, drawings and ephemera, failed to justify such treatment. Suffice to say that the illustrations are quite outstanding, and the substantial cost of the book should be viewed in terms of prolonged and deep pleasure to be derived from ownership.

The content is enhanced yet further by the discovery of the unexpected: photographs of the 6-cylinder 30hp car of 1905, and the 3891 cc v-12 engined 'K' type of 1915, each of them stillborn, and of Hancock's detailed advice to a keen owner in New Zealand with sketches of his cornering techniques, perhaps the first exposition of the four wheel drift. The factory interior photographs are marvellous social history, and the Great War section still conveys the horror some 90 years later. Surely no Veteran Car Club Member with a sense of history could fail to be thrilled by this book.”
Veteran Car Club's magazine - 'Veteran Car'

“Every now and then one comes across a non-fiction book that is far more than merely a bound repository of the information that is contained in its pages of text and illustrations. Such a special publication can be a thing of beauty , one to be cherished for the manner and quality of its presentation,; the binding, the paper, the layout and reproduction of the illustrations. A book of this type should not be judged by a utilitarian standard.

Vauxhall Cars 1903 - 1918 is just such a book; an artefact which is on a plane that is light years above the norm. The two volumes cover differing aspects of the first 15 years of this firm; Volume 1 covers the evolution of the make through the different models offered , not all of which were successful, leading up to the 25hp 'D' type chassis, large numbers of which saw service in the First War, mainly as staff cars. Volume 2 focuses on the impact and successes in competition of the 'A' type design and its successors, the work of Laurence Pomeroy senior: The launch
of this model, advanced for the time, moved the middle-running Vauxhall company to the forefront
of British manufacturers of high performance quality cars.

As this book doubles as a work of reference, a chart giving the specifications of all the models produced , backed by manufacturers records, which do exist in part, would have been a valuable addition; likewise, a listing of the main competition successes in sprints and racing from those years might have been expected. The mystery remains as to the inspiration for the first 5hp Vauxhall light car of 1903: with coils springs at each corner, and American-fashion features such as a horizontal single cylinder engine with the crankshaft across the frame, and single chain drive, it had a very different layout from contemporary European cars.

The illustrations must be singled out for special commendation. Most of the highly detailed photographs are ones not previously seen, and are reproduced with great clarity and at large size: the faded sepia toning of the original paper, photographic or newspress, is faithfully reproduced. Event programmes, sales catalogues, ephemera, advertisements and engineering drawings combine to give a full picture of the factory conditions, the personalities involved, the competitive events, and indeed the social fabric of what vintage enthusiasts call the Edwardian period.

Each volume closes with a miscellany of old notebooks, odd sketches, clippings, wartime snapshots - old juvenile jigsaws, even. And each has an index.

Expensive - yes. Value for money - most
definitely so.”

John Warburton, Editor, The Bulletin of the Vintage Sports-Car Club

Reviews for Vauxhall 30-98:
The Finest of Sporting Cars

“Nic Portway has produced a stunning history of
the breed.”

Daily Telegraph

“...this coverage of the 30-98 Vauxhall not only fills a gap in motoring history but is a magnificently produced tribute to one of the most outstanding of all vintage motor-cars. This long awaited book is a truly wonderful effort.”
Bill Boddy, Motor Sport, January 1996

“Extensively and meticulously researched, beautifully written, attractively designed and handsomely illustrated... this handsome book is quite simply a must for any motoring fan.”
Classic and Sportscar

“...this outstanding book is quite simply a must for any motoring fan. It sets a new standard for motoring books. A strong book of the year contender.”
Mick Walsh, Classic Cars, November 95

“ of the finest art books on a motor car, as well as impeccably researched captions and text. A must for every serious enthusiast's library.”
Nick Ridley, Veteran Car, June 1996

“... a rccommended indulgence for those who appreciate proper cars, good writing and top quality book production.”
John Willis, The Automobile, February 1996

“I am amazed at the quality achieved for what, nowadays, would seem a very reasonable sum of money. I think the book will be a benchmark of achievable quality for motoring books for a long time to come.”
Michael Ware, The National Motor Museum, December 1995

“The book is a model of perfection.”
Classic Car Weekly, June 1996

“The book has been meticulously researched and the old photographs are a delight... Superb stuff. There is no other book of this calibre on the subject and although it is expensive, this work is comprehensive and brilliant.”
Classic Cars, November 1996,
Star rated by Classic cars from one to five. *****

“I bought this book in 1996 and have read it from cover to cover, loving its rich text and beautifully printed large photographs. I have re-read it many times since, and it never fails to impress. A superb definitive book - a must have for all Vintagents.”
Alistair Dray, New Zealand.
Amazon: Average customer rating *****

“...a magnificent production that is both essential reading for those lucky enough to own a 30-98 and of great interest to all motoring enthusiasts, even if they don't have Britain's finest sporting car in the garage.”
Tony Hutchings,
Brooklands Society Gazette. 2002