The Vauxhall 20-60 is a four or five-seater saloon, limousine, tourer or coupé-cabriolet manufactured by Vauxhall of Luton. It was announced on 28 September 1927 with a six-cylinder engine and a four-speed gearbox. A cautious move downmarket. "The first time any six-cylinder Vauxhall has been sold under £1000!" "British & Vauxhall". The initial 2.7-litre engine was enlarged to 3-litres after twelve months.
Priced to be at the lower end of the luxury market with six cylinders, four speeds and five brakes, the better endowed 20-60 replaced the 4-cylinder Vauxhall 14-40. Though the new engine's capacity or swept volume was enlarged just 465cc the vagaries of the RAC or tax formula moved its tax rating from 14HP to 20HP. This tax increase was a significant impost for owners. Its design was completed before General Motors took control in late 1925 making the car "in construction and plan British".
The 20-60 – it was given a 3.3-litre engine in October 1930 and renamed 80, later Silent Eighty – remained in production until the introduction of Vauxhall's first true General Motors large-car design, the Vauxhall Big Six, announced and displayed in October 1933 but not delivered until August 1934 long after the GM-designed medium-sized Cadet released in October 1930.
This gap in Vauxhall's programme may reflect the sales-failure of their very expensive 25-70 sleeve-valve car.
General Motors had taken control of Vauxhall 16 November 1925.
The iron engine block is cast in one unit with the crankcase. It has been given a crankshaft with nine bearings which makes the strongest contribution to the engine's smooth running, even at high speed. The overhead valves have been given double springs and the cup-and-ball joints on the rockers are fed with oil forced up to the rocker shaft. The cast-iron cylinder head may be removed without disturbing valve settings. The valve mechanism has an easily removable light aluminium cover. The crankcase has a breather on the oil filling cap. Drive to the three-bearing camshaft and the built in generator is provided by chain. Spark timing is controlled automatically. The distributor is positioned at the back of the engine.
Inlet and exhaust manifolds are on the right hand side of the block. the inlet manifold's two branch mixing chamber has a vee-shaped piece inside which is heated by exhaust gases. An air-cleaner is provided. Petrol is supplied from a 14-gallon tank at the rear of the car through an Autovac tank on the dashboard. Further engine details are provided in the panel to the right.
Engine clutch and gearbox are assembled as one unit and mounted at three points.
Designer Charles Evelyn King.
The single plate dry clutch has a central external spring and roller spigot bearing. The gears are changed by a central lever working in an invisible gate. There is a brake lever just to the left of the gear lever operating a band transmission brake mounted directly behind the gearbox. The band may be adjusted by a threaded rod. Drive is taken by an open propellor shaft coupled by triple Hardy disc joints to the half-floating spiral-bevel driven rear axle which has a banjo case.
The suspension is by half-elliptical springs in front and behind, those at the back being underhung. The front springs are flat-set, held out-of-centre and shackled forward. Dampers are fitted front and back. The four-wheel brakes are cable operated. Steering is by Marles cam and roller.
The motoring correspondent of The Times reported that he liked the car though he thought the suspension could be improved, the springs at the back were too harsh with just two persons in the car. Otherwise he considered the car pleasing, the engine well balanced and it made no noise, the controls were light and simple and functioned correctly. He considered the four wheel brakes to be some of the best he had experienced, particularly as they are without servo-assistance.
The saloon body, he said, seats five in comfort having two adjustable seats in front, four doors and four winding windows. The instruments have concealed lighting and are neatly grouped on the dash. The battery is kept under the front floor boards in front of the passenger's seat and tools are in a box on the running board. There is a good sized luggage grid at the back. The spare wheel and its tyre are mounted forward of the driver's door.
The engine bore has been increased from 73mm to 75mm adding 465cc to the swept area and it is now a 2.9 litre engine. The combustion head, intake manifold, camshaft and silencer are redesigned. Pistons are now aluminium and the crankshaft bearings have been enlarged to meet the greater power output. The steering has been modified.
Vauxhall now produced just the one model. The luxurious 25-70 sleeve-valve six and the 30-98 had been dropped from production.
The car has been given a taller narrower radiator (2 inches higher), the top of the radiator and the top of the scuttle are now almost level, and a more slender body with wider front wings. Larger nickel finished headlamps are mounted high on a nickel finish bar. There is a 25% increase in the engine's power output; improved acceleration and flexibility; improved brakes; a stronger chassis and better springs
The position of the handbrake and change-speed levers has been changed. A new shape of handbrake lever is now on the right side of the driver but allows entry through that doorway. The change-speed lever is now in the centre of the car and is of the flexible type working in an invisible gate. It has very short travel allowing three passengers in front.
10 October 1928
Princeton tourer 5-seater £495
Bedford saloon £520
Bedford enclosed limousine £545
Melton 2-seater £525
Velox fabric saloon £555
Grafton coupé cabriolet £630
Kimberley saloon £650
Kimberley enclosed limousine £675
Kimpton saloon £675
Engine: the crankshaft now has seven bearings with a larger surface area and the crank pins are now bored to reduce weight. A new higher level air cleaner is fitted. There is a mechanical fuel pump to draw petrol from the tank at the rear, powered by a drive taken from the camshaft. The engine is now mounted on rubber. The exhaust manifold is now in one piece and passes gases towards the back of the engine.
Chassis frame: strengthened
Suspension: longer rear springs and hydraulic dampers are now fitted
Propellor shaft: now has metal in place of fabric joints – required by higher shaft speeds
Lighting: twin-filament long-range head lamps are fitted and an automatic reversing light, lights are controlled from the centre of the steering wheel
Body: the front wings are now more streamlined
Hurlingham, a sports two-seater, not available as a chassis, has an engine with a higher compression ratio and a 4.18 : 1 back axle (standard 4.73 : 1).
The Eighty was announced for the opening of the 1930 Motor Show on 20 October 1930 – and probably overshadowed by their two-week-old new Cadet – with the display of two new models, the Richmond saloon and the Westminster 7-seater limousine. The new larger engine detailed below had several refinements.
The T-80 enlarged six-cylinder was now rated 23.8 hp for tax purposes. Bore had been increased by 5mm to 80mm and capacity was now 3,317 cc. Power was increased by 15 per cent and it was now 62 bhp at 3,000 rpm. Valves had been increased in diameter and the mechanism lightened. The camshaft was now driven by triple roller chain from the crankshaft. The dynamo had been switched to the left hand side and was now driven by an additional v-belt from the fan pulley. The four-point rubber suspension of the engine had been improved and to meet the higher compression the starter had been made stronger.
The full transmission line had also been strengthened. Small modifications have been made to the brakes.Richmond saloon £495 formerly £540, sliding roof £10 extra
Kingston Sportsman's Coupé £535 formerly £595
Grafton Coupé £575 formerly £660
Grosvenor 7-seater limousine £650 formerly £695 – formerly known as the Westminster
A Velox fabric saloon £495 was added to the catalogue in early 1931
Then a Westminster 7-seater Limousine £695 returned in addition to the Grosvenor
"The engine was exceptionally pleasing, quiet, well balanced at all speeds, flexible with fine acceleration . . . the lower gears might be quieter . . ." – reported The Times's motoring correspondent – "the four-wheel brakes were above reproach . . . The car travels smoothly, steering . . . steady yet very light."
On 14 October 1931 Vauxhall announced their Silent 80 with a quieter engine, constant mesh 3rd gear and quieter gearbox. Car bodies were now mounted on rubber blocks, and they were given a chromium-plated shell for the radiator, large hubs with chromium hubcaps and new body styles.
Vauxhall Silent Eighty with Silent Third gearRichmond saloon £485 formerly £515, sliding roof standard on all models
Kingston Coupé £495 formerly £541
Velox semi-panelled saloon £535
Kimberley saloon £595
Newmarket 7-passenger saloon £685
Grosvenor 7-seater limousine £695 sliding roof 310 extra
The previous correspondent from The Times, long an enthusiastic supporter of Vauxhall's 30-98 model, commented: "The saloon is not particularly fast . . . but it will do near 70 mph in top . . . lower gears are unusually free from hum and the quiet third is quiet". Otherwise he repeated his complimentary remarks of February 1931.