The 1926 Vauxhall Rowley Road Racing Special - NOW SOLD - more cars like this wanted for commission sale
What a car.
The extraordinary vision in 1977 by the late John Rowley - together with Julian Ghosh’s plan - was to build the fastest 30-98-engined road and race special
The car was approved for build by the hugely charismatic VSCC Secretary Peter Hull on 2nd February 1978 for this most attractive and appealing car
Lightweight in design, equipped with superior hydraulic brakes, and together with the engine from the well-tuned 30-98 engine borrowed from OE260 in ‘Blue Nick’ for the project – the car first appeared just 6 months later on 27th July 1978 at Fradley – the home of Curborough Speed Trials for testing
The car’s first event was on 6th August 1978 - in the rain, so nothing much was learnt. Over coming months the car was sorted out and just a year later one of the fastest Vauxhall 30-98 times was recorded on 12th August 1979, the day before the 1979 Fastnet Yacht Race disaster. Quite extraordinary, the event was marred by heavy rain – I was there in an Austin 7 – and the Rowley Road Race Special climbed in an astounding 50.57 seconds on the VSCC Short course in Julian Ghosh’s hands
Just a month earlier Julian recorded a respectable 1 minute 20 second lap on the old Club Silverstone circuit – the one with the scary 90 right at Woodcote Corner – VSCC members will recall with excitement or horror.
During 1981/2 Blue Nick’s engine was refitted to NX6110, and the chassis frame was shortened by 8” at the front, together with the radiator and bulkhead moved back to balance and improve the handling of the car.
Sadly John Rowley died in the Summer of 1982.
However, by 1984 The Rowley had a new engine OD784 and weighed in at just 17cwt 10lbs or 1913lbs some 327lbs less than an imperial ton. Impressive.
Prescott time was better still at 50.46 seconds and Silverstone about the same at 1 minute 21 seconds with a 2” updraught SU
A report of pulling 3400rpm (109mph) on the A303 on the way back from Wiscombe on 10th May 1987 is on record – and another note of 2800rpm was said to equal 90mph both based on 32mph / 1000rpm with the 2.7:1 CWP
The Rowley was indeed used as a road / race car, always driven to meetings as it would have been in period.
First registered DS 7502, this car changed first hands from the stewardship of Julian Ghosh to James Warne near Petworth Sussex in October 1988 and then in early 1989 to long term owner David Biggins of Dorking, Surrey, who has probably owned this car the longest, entering more events than anyone else in this car to date.
His first logged event on April 15th 1989 was in the Christies Patrick Lindsay Pre War Historic 10 lap scratch race, mixing it with 9 ERAs, the Dixon Riley, the Llewelyn Bentley 3/8, the Bequet Delage, the Brooke Riley, the 24 litre Bentley numerous Maserati and a Type 51 Bugatti ! David completed 8 laps and came 13th out of field of 30 - over half way up the field, with an amazingly fast best lap of 68.02 mph.
Virtually all his events are logged on file, too many to list here, but enough to state that over the years with David, this car has appeared at most popular UK circuits from Silverstone (including the Pomeroy Trophy Meeting, one time 25th of 66), Oulton Park, Cadwell Park, Mallory Park, Donington Park, as well as Hill Climbs including Loton Park, Wiscombe Park, Cornbury, Shelsley Walsh (44.53), Prescott (50.23), Brighton Speed Trials – and even the 1994 Herefordshire field Trial plus events over the channel in France at the Circuit des Ramparts at Angouleme. He usually managed somewhere better than half way up the field – sometimes in the top 5, and sometimes winning, including prestige VSCC Trophy races, scratch and handicap.
David Biggins eventually sold the Rowley in March 2004 to Geoffrey O’Connell of Fareham, Hampshire, and in August 2007 The Rowley went to Northern Ireland, just east of Belfast, to Gavin McIlveen, re-registered to this day GIG 8664. By November 2010 The Rowley moved to Belgium to a M Beeckman, whereupon not much is known or detailed on file.
Not so long ago The Rowley was registered to classic and vintage car dealer Tom Hardman who sold the car to our client in August 2015. Used for the road and in light competition, he has enjoyed The Rowley immensely – in fact it has taken at least 5 months for him to part with the car so that we can offer it today for sale. Continuing his interest in vintage Vauxhalls, his desire for a larger touring car has overtaken the need (not speed – the Rowley has speed) for the Rowley, in purchasing a 30-98 Velox to add to his collection
The construction basis consists of a fairly lightweight 14-40 chassis, able to use a much higher ratio rear axle, together with the power from a tuned 23-60 engine with new Mike Lemon block aiming for 30-98 power as the target. This has been proved as the hillclimb times match the very fastest 30-98s competing today