William Morris's first car was called Oxford in recognition of his home city. It was announced in The Autocar magazine in October 1912 and production began in March 1913.
The Continental Cowley, shown to the press in April 1915, was a larger-engined (1,495 cc vs 1,018cc), longer, wider and better equipped version of the first Morris Oxford with the same "Bullnose" radiator.
It was targeted at export markets including the USA, from where a lot of its parts were sourced – after all, in the pioneering days of motoring, there weren’t that many suppliers to choose from.
The 1,495 cc, sidevalve, four-cylinder engine was made by Continental Motor Manufacturing Company of Detroit, and the clutch and three speed gearbox by Detroit Gear & Machine Co. The back axle, front axle and steering gear also came from the USA.
Electric lighting was standard, with six-volt Lucas lamps powered by a belt-driven dynamo fixed to the engine by its cylinder head studs – astonishing when you think how we take headlights for granted these days!
This is a really charming old thing. A car that is less than two years away from its centenary, but has survived in remarkable condition – undoubtedly restored, but still remarkably original.
THE HISTORY AND PAPERWORK
Current UK V5C
Only three previous recorded keepers
Old magazine articles
There isn’t much with the Morris in terms of paperwork, but the mere fact it has survived almost a hundred years means it has a story to tell.
The V5 shows just three previous keepers, though if this is genuine or not would depend on whether or not original buff logbook records were carried over. Even so, only three keepers since the 1960s is still pretty remarkable.
The vendor bought it in 2020 as a lockdown project, during which he fettled it mechanically and had the interior retrimmed. He’s had his fun but has decided he’d rather play with old bikes, so the Morris is up for sale.
Pop-up Dickie seat
Brass dials and instruments
One of the most charming features of the Morris is its dash, which is decorated with brass-rimmed instruments and a fuel gauge that’s a feature in itself – essentially a dip gauge that shows the approximate level of fuel in the tank by presenting it as a liquid.
The wooden details are beautiful and either well-preserved or well recreated, while the leather seats were retrimmed in 2020. There’s also a lovely pull-up Dickie seat in the rear, for an occasional extra two passengers.
The original (as far as the current owner was informed by the previous owner) tool kit is included. The klaxon horn has not been connected electrically, which is quite straight forward to do (images in the gallery).
Two-tone green over black
Wood and brass features
Finished in rich gloss green with black wings and running boards, the Bullnose is a charming thing to admire, its deep shine matched by finely polished brass details and varnished wooden storage boxes. It’s in fabulous order – there are one or two very minor marks and chips to the paint but nothing of any note and the wheels and tyres are all excellent.
1.5-litre sidevalve four
Starts and runs well
Previously specialist maintained
Master the starting procedure and the 1,495cc sidevalve engine fires up instantly, settling to an extremely smooth and quiet idle.
The vendor describes it as far less complex to drive than a lot of pre-war machinery and reports that it runs well with no known problems. He’s driven it a few times to shows and around local lanes and describe sit as a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
This is a lovely example of a pioneering car, presented in charming, lovely condition. It’s brimming with character and ready to show, as well as being the perfect period TV or film prop should you wish to earn a few pennies from it on the side.
Notice to bidders
Although every care is taken to ensure this listing is as factual and transparent as possible, all details within the listing are subject to the information provided to us by the seller. Car & Classic does not take responsibility for any information missing from the listing. Please ensure you are satisfied with the vehicle description and all information provided before placing a bid.
As is normal for most auctions, this vehicle is sold as seen, and therefore the Sale of Goods Act 1979 does not apply. All bids are legally binding once placed. Any winning bidder who withdraws from a sale, is subject to our bidders fee charge. Please see our FAQs and T&C's for further information. Viewings of vehicles are encouraged, but entirely at the seller's discretion.
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1925 ‘Bullnose’ Morris Cowley
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