Vauxhall through the Ages: The H-type Ten-Four

By: Mark Higgins, Unique Cars magazine

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Vauxhall H Type 104 Vauxhall H Type 104

The 1937 H-type Ten-Four was one of the world's most cutting edge pre-war vehicles, and boasted a number of firsts

In 1937, Vauxhall’s pre-war H-type ‘Ten-Four’ model turned the booming 10hp market segment on its head. When launched this pintsize Vauxhall with a 1203cc four-cylinder engine giving the Ten-Four a top speed of 60mph and a time of 18 seconds from 0-50mph capable of introduced a number of ‘first’ technologies to buyers.

Offered in both two and four door body styles the Ten-Four was the first British car built to utilise a unitary construction.  It was also the first mainstream British car to have synchromesh gears, meaning no more double-shuffling of the clutch pedal when going up or down through the gears.

The Ten-Four was also fitted with hydraulic brakes and independent front suspension, so it was quite a technical tour de force in its day.

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In fact, British automotive publication, The Motor was so impressed with the Ten-Four it claimed: ‘No exaggeration…the Vauxhall Ten is one of the most brilliant pieces of design that has been seen in Britain for ten years.’

The H’s technological advances – the result of a million-pound investment by Vauxhall - proved instantly popular with British drivers, and five months after its launch 10,000 models had been sold. The price for a country coming out of depression and soon to be heading into war again was a highly competitive £159, (A$315) making it very affordable and for many the default choice. 

By 1940, when production ceased due to the outbreak of WWII the little ‘H’ as it was fondly known as had found its way into more than 42,000 British households.


Vauxhall Through the Ages: Part I - Vauxhall's first car

Vauxhall Through the Ages: Part II - Britain's first racecar

Vauxhall Through the Ages: Part III - Britain's fastest car

Vauxhall Through the Ages: Part V - The Cresta

Vauxhall Through the Ages: Part VI - The XVR Concept

Vauxhall Through the Ages: Part VII - The Firenza HP DroopSnoot

Vauxhall Through the Ages: Part VIII - Vauxhall's first hot hatch

Vauxhall Through the Ages: Part IX - The world's fastest sedan

Vauxhall Through the Ages: Part X - The Australian finale


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