Britain’s first sports car was ready by 1910
It’s hard to claim the title of the world’s first dedicated sports car, because while Wilhelm Maybach and Paul Daimler came up with the 60-hp Mercedes Simplex as early as in 1903, other startup car companies got really busy afterwards. The year 1910 saw the introduction of both the Austro-Daimler 27/80 designed by Ferdinand Porsche, and the 25-hp Vauxhall penned by Laurence Pomeroy for the Prince Henry Tour motor race. The 1230-mile German challenge turned out to be the Daimler’s race, and Vauxhall’s sports car soon got more competition in the likes of Bugatti’s Type 13 and Hispano-Suiza’s 1912 Alfonso XIII.
However, what’s certain is that Vauxhall refers to the 1910 C-10 3.0-liter Prince Henry cars as the first British sports cars, of which only nine survive today. First with 20, and then 25 horsepower on tap, these models could reach 100 mph in single-seat configuration, helping Vauxhall to sell up to 300 standard cars a year by 1912.
Numbers grew even higher once the Vauxhall D-Type became the standard staff car of the British Army. The brand’s second sports car, the 1913 E-Type, was also bound to become a success, although only after the dust of the first World War had settled.
Regardless of its ambitions, Vauxhall was bought by General Motors in 1925, and the last British-designed Vauxhall became 1972’s FE Series Victor. Following that, the Luton factory switched to making rebadged Opels only, continuing to this day under PSA.
However, that move wouldn’t put an end to Vauxhall’s motorsport efforts, as detailed in this promotional video produced some twenty years ago. Hot rally Chevettes, anybody?