Vauxhall Motors Limited was registered on 12 May 1914 as a reconstruction of the original Vauxhall Motors Limited of circa 1903. The purchase consideration was £161,248 of which £53,700 was for goodwill, payable as to £95,248 in cash and £66,000 in Shares. The Capital was then increased from £200,000 to £300,000 in April 1916, thence to £400,000 in November 1918 and to £600,000 in February 1920 when 200,000 Shares were offered to Shareholders at 23 shillings. 

Dividends paid were 1914: 6d per share; 1915-19: 10% less tax and 1920-21-22: nil!


There were 10% Short Term Notes authorised of £300,000 which were offered for subscription at par in October 1920 redeemable at 105% 1 October 1925 or earlier at the Company’s option on six months’ notice at the same premium. £194,010 had been issued. In addition, Mortgage Debentures for £200,000 had been issued to the bank as collateral security for the overdraft. In June 1923 the Capital was reduced to £300,000 by writing off 10s. per share

There were 2,700 Shareholders

The scheme for Capital reduction was passed and confirmed by the Shareholders on 12 April and 3 May 1923 respectively, confirmed by Order of the Court of 12 June 1923 and registered with the Registrar of Joint Stock Companies on 19 June 1923 which provided for the elimination of the Balance on the Profit and Loss Account of £249,777 10s 4d plus the cost of establishing the Canadian Branch [Russian already written off]: By 1925, Vauxhall Motors Limited had an H.Q. at 188 King Street, West, Toronto, Ontario but may have been established in 1921: Canadian Motorist August 1921 stated that R.S. Dyball, Vauxhall’s representative, had appointed A.B. Garrow, factory distributor for Canada with showrooms and headquarters “in Toronto”. It was stated that the company expected to build its cars for the “Sis-Atlantic” in Toronto, plus the writing off of £90,505 15s 3d from Investments making a total of £325,008 3s.  For this purpose was utilised the Reserve Fund of £25,000 and the Premium on Shares £27,011 16s 7d leaving an adverse balance of £299,996 6s 5d which had been met by a reduction of the Share Capital from £600,000 in £1 Shares to £300,000 in 10s Shares.

As at the end of December 1923 the Company had made a Profit on Trading of £105,459 9s 5d but the Overdraft was now £139,081 13s 6d. Shareholders had increased from 2.700 to “about 3,000” by 1924. The Canadian Branch though had a Current Account balance of £12,152 12 10d. There was still no Dividend though!


General Motors Corporation acquired Vauxhall Motors Limited arguably “on the rebound” after having failed to acquire the Austin company. The history behind this starts with James D. Mooney, President of the G.M. Export Company, Corporation Director and Vice-president who had headed an Export Company committee formed to acquire the Austin Motor Car Company Limited after the proposal to purchase Morris Motors in 1922 did not proceed. Sloan in his book[1] comments that the suggestion of acquiring Austins was first mooted in 1924; although JDM does not mention any negotiations with William Morris after 1922, it is assumed that they continued through 1923 until ending the following year by which time JDM had set up home in Chorley Wood, Buckinghamshire. JDM commissioned a survey on the British motor industry and the domestic market in 1924. The report pointed out that the tax on engine size [the “Horsepower Tax”] plus fees, insurance and garage charges placed the Chevrolet Superior at $112 disadvantage with an Austin.[2] In the spring of 1925, JDM inspected Austins’ plant in Longbridge, Birmingham. Then in July 1925 after presumably reporting back to Sloan in New York, he was appointed head of a committee including John J. Raskob and A.H. Swayne, to make a formal visit. In then meantime, the Hendon Plant of General Motors Limited was allegedly turned over to assembly of Chevrolets with locally produced commercial vehicle bodies in order to keep the plant busy.[3] In August, the committee unanimously recommended the purchase of Austins for the sum of £1,333,000, which the G.M. Board agreed to, though Sloan quotes $2,575,291 “as a kind of experiment in overseas manufacturing”, i.e. for a company producing 1,500 “class cars” per year. Alfred P. Sloan then publicly announced on 1 September [New York Times] that the Austin company had agreed to the take-over subject to shareholder approval, etc. Sloan again confirmed the financial arrangements in the New York Times 5 September 1924, but three directors of Austins disagreed with their colleagues, and on 11 September, G.M. withdrew its offer. Charles S. Mott must have been involved as he sailed from Southampton arriving 12 September 1924 in New York City with his children. This approach to take over Austin was seized upon by the British Press, as well as the American, and as JDM later stated in 1936, he was cast as an American “Romeo”, with the “lover” being Herbert Austin.[4] In The Motor magazine in October 1925 there was an article “THE BRITISH MOTOR INDUSTRY FOR THE BRITISH NATION”, which echoed the sentiments at the time.[5]

At an Extraordinary General Meeting held on 30 October 1925, an Agreement dated 20 October 1925 and made between Vauxhall Motors Limited (1), General Motors Corporation (2) and Morgan Grenfell & Co. (3) was ratified and confirmed by the Shareholders. At the same time the Capital was increased to £600,00 by the creation of £300,000 new Ordinary Shares of £1 each and the existing 600,000 10s Shares were converted and consolidated into 300,000 Cumulative Preference Shares of £1 each. Under the scheme and the Agreement referred to, the existing Shareholders received for every two 10s Shares held, one 6% Cumulative Preference Share and 14s in cash. G.M.C. then subscribed to 300,000 new Ordinary Shares created and thereby held a controlling interest in the Company. The Capital then became:

300,000 6% Cumulative Preference Shares of £1 each = £300,000
300,000 Ordinary Shares of £1 each = £300,000

Preference Shares held priority in the event of any winding-up to repayment of Capital and arrears of fixed dividend but were not entitled to further participation in profits or surplus assets. Debenture Stock Authorised and Issued = £350,000 (7%). The 10% Short Term Notes for £194,010 existing at the date of the 31 December 1924 Balance Sheet were exchanged for an equal amount of 7% Debenture Stock with a cash premium of £5%. The balance of the new stock of £155,990 was offered for subscription at 95% in October 1925. Stock was repayable at £103 by a Cumulative Stinking Fund commencing in 1927 by drawings commencing in 1928 at £103% and purchase at or under £103%, the last drawing in 1952. This was secured by a Trust Deed dated 25 August 1925, Trustee Sir Arthur Whitney, K.B.E. In addition Mortgage Debentures for £200,000 had been issued to the bank to secure the overdraft [Lloyds Bank] which was £135,720 19 0 at 31 December 1924 though the Canadian Branch held £22,166 8s 8d.

There was still no dividend in 1924!

General Motors World, December 1925 shouted “Vauxhall Ratifies Agreement with General Motors: Corporation Declares Extra Large Dividend”! Alfred P. Sloan, Jnr., a Director of General Motors Limited, announced that negotiations which had been under way between Vauxhall Motors Limited of Luton, Bedfordshire, and G.M.C. were completed on 16 December through the approval of an EGM of the stockholders [Vauxhall’s shareholders ]held for the purpose. The Vauxhall Board was increased from four to seven, the additional three representing General Motors. J.D. Mooney, Vice-President of General Motors said that G.M.C. would not interfere in any way with the then-present Vauxhall management. Mooney was also a Director of General Motors Limited as well as Sloan.


There was still no dividend in 1925-6!


Debenture Stock Authorised and Issued was £350,000 (7%). The London Stock Exchange was quoting in March 1928 5/8 – ¾ on the 6% Cumulative Preference Shares. There was still no dividend in 1926!

However in 1927-28 G.M. Corporation took up a further 100,000 Ordinary Shares at a premium of £4 per Share with the premium being applied towards the cost of reorganisation and trading losses.

300,000 6% Cumulative Preference Shares of £1 each = £300,000
450,000 Ordinary Shares of £1 each = £450,000

Debenture Stock was still £350,000 (7%) of which £345,000 was outstanding.


There was still no dividend although Preference Dividend was paid to 31 July 1924. Outstanding on the Debenture Stock was £333,260.

The Profit on Trading was £3,846. Share premiums received [from G.M.C.] were £324,800 0s 0d

In March 1929 the Corporation made an offer to purchase the Preference Shares at 15s 6d each which was accepted by a big majority. That meant that G.M.C. acquired the £300,000 6% Cumulative Preference Shares


There was still no dividend.

The Trading Loss was £195,114 16s 9d.


In 1930, JDM was asked by Sloan to pick an Englishman to run Vauxhall, whose sales programmes had been subordinated to G.M. Limited in 1928. In addition, post-Wall Street Crash, the anti-American sentiments concerning Chevrolet cars and trucks assembled in Luton required measures to emphasise their “Britishness”. The 40-year old Charles John Bartlett was appointed Managing Director of Vauxhall Motors Limited in succession to Evans, because allegedly his capabilities had been noted during the investigations and financial planning that preceded the purchase of Vauxhalls in 1925. However, a story at the time was that Sloan asked JDM to pick an Englishman to run Vauxhall, and JDM suggested that they pick Bartlett, as “he’s about as English as they come”. Bartlett was born in 1889 to a modest family from Bibury, Gloucestershire. He received training in business methods from Bath Technical College specialising in accounting. During the First World War he gained the rank of sergeant having joined the Devonshire regiment. He was injured in Loos and later served in the Middle East and then joined G.M. Limited in 1919 as a clerk at £3 per week. In 1921 he joined General Motors Limited at Hendon as an accounting clerk. In August 1926, Bartlett was appointed Managing Director of Limited in succession to Riley, only to move across to Vauxhall in the same year.

The Trading Loss was now £209,913 4s 5d, and liabilities to G.M.C. were now £256,244 5s 1d. There was still no dividend.


The Trading Loss was down to £4,079 16s 0d but G.M.C. were now owed £419,973 18s 3d with a Net Loss for Year of £88,536. There was no dividend paid on the Ordinary Shares again and there were arrears on the Preference Shares as from 1 October 1928.


The Profit on Trading was £310,360 6s 11d with a Net Profit for Year of £56,040. The amount owed to G.M.C. was £285,542 8s 10d. No dividends were paid yet again.


The Profit on Trading was £872,749 1s 5d. No dividends were paid yet again.

By 1927 Hartnett had been appointed General Manager at General Motors Nørdiska, SA in Stockholm Sweden, and then in 1929 asked presumably by Mooney to re-organise Vauxhall, joining the Product Study Group set up by Mooney. In 1930, Hartnett was placed in charge of all Exports of Vauxhall Motors with a brief from the parent company! General Motors World September 1930, referred to the Vauxhall Motors Limited announcement that there were new Vauxhall models launched in September, the VY and VX models. The specifications for export had been determined largely in a report by Laurence J. Hartnett after being sent on an extensive tour on behalf of G.M. Overseas Operations of South Africa, New Zealand and Australia which was made with a view to finding out the requirements of these overseas markets


The Profit on Trading was £1,371,481 10S 1D. The first dividend of 75% less tax was paid in 1934!


In February 1936, just as the Corporation were reorganising General Motors Limited, the Share Capital was increased by 550,000 Ordinary Shares of £1 each which were taken up by the Corporation at par. The Capital then became:

300,000 6% Cumulative Preference Shares of £1 each = £300,000
1,500,000 Ordinary Shares of £1 each = £1,500,000

Of the £350,000 Debenture Stock, £288,598 was outstanding.

Profit on Trading was £1,535,276 0s 4d with an Appropriation of a Final Dividend on Ordinary Shares at 50% = £387,500, and Carried Forward £602,418. In 1935, a dividend of 100% was paid on the Old Ordinary and 50% less tax on the New Ordinary Shares.


Profit on Trading was £1,759,281 12s 8d, with an Appropriation of a Final Dividend on Ordinary Shares at 45% = £343,125, and Carried Forward £818,456. In 1936, a dividend of 75% less tax was paid.


In December 1937 all Shares were converted into Stock:

300,000 6% Cumulative Preference Stock of £1 each = £300,000
1,500,000 Ordinary Stock = £1,500,000

Debenture Stock of £350,000 (7%) was now outstanding in the sum of £269,898.

The Profit on Trading was £1,909,759 17s 5d. Dividends paid were 30% less tax in 1937 and also a 50% scrip dividend.


Debenture Stock of £350,000 (7%) was now outstanding in the sum of £258,898. The Profit on Trading was £1,622,336 3s. 7d with an Appropriation of a dividend in 1938 of 20% = £217,500 and Carried Forward was £996,174 10s 7d.


Debenture Stock of £350,000 (7%) was now outstanding in the sum of £247,898. The Profit on Trading was £2,093.964 12s 3d with an Appropriation of a dividend in 1939 of 15% = £142,625 and Carried Forward was £1,283,235.


Debenture Stock of £350,000 (7%) was now outstanding in the sum of £235,898. The Profit on Trading after deduction of charges and provision for Depreciation, Plant arrangement, Income Tax and National Defence Contribution was £477,578 with an Appropriation of a dividend in 1939-40 of 15% = £112,500 and Carried Forward was £1,582,627.

[1] Alfred P. Sloan, Jr., Pp. 319-320, “My Years With General Motors”, Doubleday, N.Y., 1963

[2] HOLDEN, L.T. "A HISTORY OF VAUXHALL MOTORS TO 1950; INDUSTRY, DEVELOPMENT AND LOCAL IMPACT ON THE LUTON ECONOMY", 1983/4. HL-77547, Theses 1983 338.476292 HOL, Open University Thesis.

[3] Holden, ibid.

[4] “Address before the Banquet of the S.M.M.T.”, ibid.

[5] The Motor, 27 October 1925

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