- 1929 HE 16/60 for sale
- Extremely rare survivor from sporting British marque
- 2.3-litre six-cylinder engine
- Fabric-bodied four-seater tourer
This rare 1929 long-wheelbase HE 16/60 is thought to be one of only three or four surviving six-cylinder cars built during the inter-war period by the Herbert Engineering company. HE cars had a sporting reputation and, in their day, were considered to be rivals for the Bentley 3 Litre.
Little is known of the early history of the HE that is now being offered for sale by the Classic Motor Hub. It is believed that it was originally fitted with a Crown saloon body, but it had been off the road for a number of years by the time it was acquired by Roy Taylor in 1969 – minus any sort of coachwork, but with all of its original major components intact.
Taylor then embarked on a long-term restoration, which continued through the 1970s but hadn’t quite been completed when the car was sold in 1983 to Edward Ashley. Seven years later, it passed to John Forge via well-known dealer Brian Classic. Forge subsequently had a two-seater body made, but shortly before the completed HE was due to have its first MoT test and return to the road, a flooded carburettor started a fire that destroyed the new body.
Paul Stileman then bought the damaged car from Forge. Stileman is a great marque enthusiast who has put considerable time and effort into locating the surviving cars and spare parts over the years. He completed the necessary mechanical work on the HE, and then fitted what he later described as an ‘emergency’ four-seater body solely in order to return the car to the road. Having done that, he sold the 16/60 to John Baldwin in May 2004, and the current tourer body was built after it passed to its next owner in 2010.
Now beautifully presented with its bare alloy bonnet and fabric coachwork, this HE offers strong performance thanks to its triple-carburettor 2.3-litre engine, which was rebuilt earlier this year. It also had a new sump fitted in 2019, while the body received new wings in 2013.
Offered for sale at The Classic Motor Hub with a huge file of correspondence and receipts, plus an original copy of the original Instruction Book and List of Spare Parts, it represents a highly capable alternative to the likes of Bentley, Lagonda and Vauxhall.
Herbert Engineering was based on Wolsley Road in Caversham, near Reading, and was named after its founder – Herbert Merton. After being awarded a government contract to repair aircraft engines during World War One, it started to build its own cars in 1919.
The first HE was the 13/20, which was designed by RJ Sully and featured a side-valve 1795cc four-cylinder engine. This was subsequently enlarged to 2120cc to create the 14/20 and then the 14/40, which was good for 65mph and was often seen competing in hillclimb events. A tuned version even claimed a number of speed records at Brooklands.
HEs were not cheap cars. Even the basic 14/20 – minus coachwork – cost £450 in 1922, when a complete Morris Cowley cost £255. They sold well, though, and HE’s engineering background meant that the company produced almost everything itself, including engines and gearboxes.
A new range of 1982cc four-cylinder models was offered from 1925, and a couple of years later HE introduced the six-cylinder 16/55. It was capable of 70mph thanks to its 2290cc engine, while the later 16/60 added triple carburettors and a redesigned cylinder head. A choice of two wheelbases was offered – 9ft 6in or 10ft 6in – and by this time HE was buying in chassis from Rubery Owen, plus axles from Moss. Company finances were becoming stretched and its final model was the little 12/35, before production came to an end in 1931.
HEs competed at Brooklands and Shelsley Walsh, and Land Speed Record holder George Eyston owned a supercharged model. Writing in The Automobile, Mike Worthington-Williams summed up the appeal of HE by saying that: ‘Fine workmanship, handsome appearance [and] above-average performance … all characterised this marque.’