Vauxhall Motors was founded in Vauxhall, London in 1857 under the name Alex Wilson and Company. They specialized in pumps and marine engines, and shortly after the company’s birth, changed their name to the less-ambiguous title of Alex Wilson Iron Works. In 1903, as an experimental trifle, the company constructed its first motor car–a 5-horsepower job with two forward gears and, unfortunately, no reverse gear. They began work to improve this design and soon emerged with a car suitable for public purchase. With the newfangled “horseless carriages” beginning to attract the attention and demand of buyers, Alex Wilson Iron Works picked up and moved to Luton where they were able to increase production, finally changing their name to Vauxhall Motors in 1907.
1925 brought about a bit of an upheaval for Vauxhall when, for $2.5 million, General Motors made Vauxhall an overseas subsidiary of their company. This event spurred a chain reaction that greatly affected Vauxhall’s design decisions. General Motors was being influenced by their competitor–the Ford Company–and that influence transferred across the pond to Vauxhall. What had until 1925 been a thoroughly British car was now distinctly American in flavour. When World War II began, Vauxhall put their car production on hold to build 5,600 Churchill Tanks.
The vehicle featured here is a Vauxhall Saloon (perhaps a Vauxhall 14/6 or a 25), most likely built right around the time World War II began–in 1937. The ads for Vauxhall vehicles from this era boasted the car’s ability to go from 0 to 80 in thirteen seconds and referred to the car as “an embarrassment of riches” and something “to meet world competition, ” which, given the company’s inadvertent imitation of the Ford design, was an accurate statement!