IT took Selkirk veteran car enthusiast Alisdaire Lockhart 22 years of painstaking work to recreate the famous Prince Henry Vauxhall, writes Andrew Keddie.
But all that toil and attention to meticulous detail paid off in spades last week when Alisdaire fulfilled a lifelong ambition by driving his remarkable vehicle on a 620-mile journey through rural Sweden.
In so doing, he emulated the feat of Vauxhall’s legendary founding managing director Percy Kidner and celebrated in style the centenary of the model’s participation in the inaugural Great Swedish Winter Reliability Trial of 1912.
Back in April, we told the story of Alisdaire, who lives in the town’s Ettrick Terrace, as he prepared for his date with destiny.
Only 60 21-horsepower, three-litre Prince Henry models – widely acknowledged as the first British sports cars to exceed 100mph – were ever manufactured by Vauxhall and only a handful exist today.
In 1988, Alisdaire, at that time resident in Bedfordshire and a passionate afficionado of the famous UK motoring marque, set his sights of following in the tyre tracks of Kidner 100 years on.
Using original parts specially transported from Australia, he began the re-creation of the famous model, finally completing the task in Selkirk, where he relocated five years ago. And his dream of taking part in the commemorative centenary reliability trial in Sweden, organised by the Kungliga Automobil Klubb (KAK), has finally come true.
Having travelled with his prized vehicle on the ferry from Harwich, Alisdaire lined up for the first day of the trial at the Tjoloholm Rally, south of Gottenburg, on Sunday, May 20.
He told us: “The following morning, we drove along the southern route of the original event, through Jonkoping and Linkoping, arriving in Stockholm on the Tuesday for a reception at the KAK headquaters where the car was photographed with the original trophies for the event. Thereafter, the car was driven back to Gotheburg by the northern route for the return to the UK on Saturday, May 27.
“On the commemorative run, I was accompanied by Kay Mordza of the Svenska Vauxhall Register, who was a great help with all the arrangements in Sweden, and my co-driver Andrew Duerden of the Vauxhall Heritage Centre in Luton.
“In total, we covered 620 miles in 22 hours of driving time spread over four days. With the open roads and low volume of traffic in Sweden, it was easy to cruise at 55-60mph without any mechanical trouble, with fuel consumption of around 30 miles per gallon.
“To my immense pride and pleasure, my Prince Henry, now safely back in its garage in Selkirk, proved a nimble little runner and was great fun to drive with easy gear changes and a lively performance.
“It must have been very impressive in its heyday of just over 100 years ago.”