c1926 Morris Cowley 'Bullnose' Roadster (Project)
|Engine||In-line 4-cylinder, 1548cc|
Morris began selling the Cowley alongside the smaller two-seater Oxford from April 1915; sharing the same distinctive ‘Bullnose’ radiator shell, the Cowley was built on a wider, longer wheelbase frame and used a more powerful 1495cc side-valve four-cylinder engine supplied by the Continental Motor Manufacturing Co. of Detroit. In fact, the Cowley utilised a large number of components sourced from the United States, including the gearbox and clutch, both front and back axles (the latter’s helical gearing a first for a British car) and the steering gear. The chassis featured semi-elliptic leaf springs up front and three quarter elliptic springs at the rear, the central position of the gear lever and handbrake dictated by the American drivetrain. The Cowley was the first Morris car equipped with electric lighting as standard, employing a Lucas 6-volt system with five lamps. When the supply of Continental’s Red Seal engines ended Morris redesigned the Cowley in 1919 to accept Hotchkiss engines built under licence by the British branch of the French company, a design closely based on the American unit. Rated at 11.9hp under the RAC system, these motors displaced 1548cc and initially used Zenith carburettors and a Thomson-Bennett G4 magneto, then switched to SUs in 1922 and finally various Smiths carburettors from 1923 until production ceased in 1926. Although built in relatively small numbers before the First World War, post-Armistice production stepped up considerably and the Cowley became one of the most successful mass produced British cars of the day, with an estimated 150,000 built between 1919 and 1926. The Cowley and its sister Oxford models were also exported to Australia in large numbers and many were bodied by local coachbuilders; they remain an affordable and popular entry into the vintage car scene, with a thriving club scene and plenty of support from specialists here and abroad.