History of the Vale Special
Designed by P.I.E.Pellow, later to become Lord Exmouth, the hand
built and made to measure Vale Special was in limited production between
1932 and 1935. Of distinctive and pleasing appearance the two seater
Vale was produced by enthusiasts for enthusiasts in Maida Vale, North London,
and incorporated many novel design features. One of Pellow's fellow
directors during 1934/5 was E.A.Halford who later went on to become the 'H'
Four seater Vales were offered by the factory and built in small numbers
throughout the production run with Triumph and Climax engines. Prod
uction finally ceased in the summer of 1935 with the despatch of a four seater
version to Jersey in the Channel Islands. The original price of
this interesting but now virtually unknown contribution to motoring history
was 197 pounds, 10 shillings (footpump extra for inflating seats!).
Four seater Vales were offered by the factory and built in small numbers throughout the production run with Triumph and Climax engines. Prod uction finally ceased in the summer of 1935 with the despatch of a four seater version to Jersey in the Channel Islands. The original price of this interesting but now virtually unknown contribution to motoring history was 197 pounds, 10 shillings (footpump extra for inflating seats!).
The chassis which is underslung beneath front and rear axles provides a very low build (scuttle height only 2ft. 9ins) and exceptional cornering abilities which were regularly demonstrated by the Company to prospective customers using the centrally positioned street lamps in a nearby side street as an unofficial slalom course!
The 832cc side valve engine, four speed gearbox and worm drive back axle are of Triumph manufacture while the Lockheed hydraulic brakes were considered quite advanced during a period when many competitors used cable operated brakes. Suspension utilises semi-elliptic springs all round. The front axle is of tabular design and since the chassis passes underneath it is not upswept at the ends but leads straight across to each stub axle. The heavily raked steering column leads to the steering box mounted on top of the front chassis member, just forward of the radiator cowl.
The bodywork consists of a light steel framework clad with heavy gauge aluminium panelling with cutaway doors for ease of access. A generous luggage space is provided behind the seat back and the vertically placed eleven gallon fuel tank is housed within the tail section with the spare wheel neatly recessed at the rear. Cycle type wings are fitted with those at the front turning with the wheel mirroring the contemporary Aston Martin International. Other features included quick release radiator and petrol filler caps, fold flat windscreen, Brooklands steering wheel and pneumatic upholstery.
The single seater was powered by an I.O.E. 4 cylinder 1496cc engine, specially built for the Vale Company by Coventry Climax, which produced some 100 bhp at 5700 rpm with the aid of belt driven Centric supercharger blowing at a pressure of seven and a half pounds. Transmission was via an E.N.V. crash gearbox and spiral level back axle.
For publicity purposes factory cars were entered for various Brooklands Time Trials during 1933 lapping consistently at over 70 mph, while one very enthusiastic owner entered and successfully conpleted the 1934 Monte Carlo Rally. Later cars were fitted with the more powerful 1100cc Coventry Climax engine as fitted to the contemporary Morgan whilst retaining the original Triumph gearbox and rear axle with more suitable ratios. The diff. unit itself could be quickly changed by withdrawing the half-shafts, disconnecting the prop shaft and undoing about six nuts on the casing.
A racing single seater Vale Special was ordered from the factory in 1935 by Ian Connell, a well known amateur driver of the time. This vehicle was raced extensively during the next two seasons competing at Brooklands, Donington, the Brighton Speed Trials and various speed hillclimb events etc.
As a previous owner of two Vale Specials (chassis nos. 311 and 315), I am in the process of updating the Vale Register that I had established some twenty eight years ago and would welcome any information regarding the current location of Vale Specials worldwide.
Photographs, articles and any other relevant material would be gratefully received and carefully returned with all postage paid.
Ian R.E. Howel - new e-mail address, July, 2003.
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