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Lea-Francis was a motor manufacturing company that began life building bicycles.

Richard Henry Lea and Graham Ingoldsby Francis started the business in Coventry in 1895.

They branched out into car manufacture in 1903 and motor cycles in 1911. Lea-Francis built cars, under licence, for the Singer company. In 1919 they started to build their own cars from bought-in components.

From 1922 Lea-Francis had a tie up with Vulcan of Southport sharing manufacturing and dealers. Vulcan supplied bodies to Lea-Francis and in return got gearboxes and steering gear. The association finished in 1928 when Vulcan stopped making cars.

A sporting image began to appear from about 1925 leading to models such as the Hyper and the Ace of Spades. The Hyper (also called the S Type) was the first British supercharged production car with a 1.5 litre Meadows engine, and in 1928 a Lea-Francis Hyper won the Ulster TT, a 13.5 mile race on the roads of Northern Ireland in the hands of legendary race car driver, Kaye Don. The race was watched by a record 250,000 spectators, and the victory placed Lea-Francis firmly on the map.

The 12hp and the 14hp were introduced in 1937 and continued until the start of the war in 1939 when production ceased and the factory concentrated on manufacturing for the war effort.

Post-war car production commenced in 1946 with updated vehicles based on the pre-war designs. The 14hp Saloon and Sports were luxurious and sporty vehicles, and were popular, if expensive. Eventually, a more powerful 2 1/2 litre engine and improved chassis with independent front suspension and hydraulic brakes were introduced across the range.

The company had a chequered history with some notable motor cycles and cars but financial difficulties regularly arising. The Hillfields site was abandoned in 1937 when it was sold by the receiver and a new company, under a slightly different name moved to Much Park Street in Coventry. It survived there until 1963 when the company was finally wound up.

A total of almost 10,000 Lea-Francis vehicles were made until production ceased after the 1960 Lea-Francis Lynx failed to capture the buying public's attention. The motor vehicle manufacturing parts of the company passed into the hands of the Receiver in 1963 leaving Lea-Francis to continue with their engineering business.

The Lea-Francis name and the assets of the company were purchased by Barrie Price who continues to provide service and spares for the surviving cars, and has also built a number of "modern" Lea-Francis motor cars reviving the model name "Ace of Spades."

The Lea-Francis name may yet be seen again on the road as plans for a new Lea-Francis sports car are in the pipeline.

Lea-Francis car models

1928 Hyper

1929 11.9 P Type

1947 Estate

1949 14 Sports

1950 2.5 Litre

Model Name Engine Year Production
15 3500 cc 3 cylinder 1905–1906
13.9 2297 cc inline 4 1920
11.9 1944 cc inline 4 1920–1922
Nine (Type C) 1075 cc inline 4 1920-1922
10 and 12 (Types D to O) 1247 or 1496 cc inline 4 1923-1930 2350
12 (Types P to W) 1496 cc inline 4 1927-1935 1700
14/40 (Type T) 1696 cc inline 6 1927-1929 350
16 1990 cc inline 6 1928-1929 67
Hyper 1.5 Litre Supercharged (Type S) 1496 cc inline 4 1928-1931 185
2 Litre Ace of Spades 1991/2244 cc inline 6 1930-1936 67
12 and 13 1496/1629 cc inline 4 1938–1940 83
12 1496 cc inline 4 1946-1947 13
14 1767 cc inline 4 1946-1954 2133
14 estate 1767 cc inline 4 1946-1953 916
14 Sport 1767 cc inline 4 1947-1949 118
14/70 1767 cc inline 4 1948-1951 162
18 2496 cc inline 4 1949-1954 69
2.5 Litre 2496 cc inline 4 1949–1953 77
Lynx 2553 cc inline 6 1960 3
Ace of Spades Jaguar inline 6 1980-1990 6


Today the Lea-Francis Owners' Club has an ever growing membership of around 340 members who own around 420 vehicles. There are doubtless more Lea-Francis vehicles somewhere in the world, as the car was successfully exported in a number of markets.

  • Please list known examples below, with a photo if possible. (Each car can have its own page linked from here for a detailed history and more photos)

Template:PML Lea-Francis


External links

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