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Morris Cowley was a name given to various cars produced by Morris Motors Limited from 1915 to 1958.

Morris Cowley (1915)

Morris Cowley
Manufacturer Morris
Production 1915–1920
1400 approx made
Successor Morris Cowley (1919 model)
Class midsize car
Engine(s) 1495 cc Continental Type U

The original Cowley, introduced in 1915, was a cheaper version of the first Morris Oxford and featured the same "Bullnose" radiator. To reduce the price many components were brought in from United States suppliers which proved cheaper than their UK equivalents. The 1495 cc, side valve, four cylinder engine was by Continental and the three speed gearbox by Detroit. Supplies of these components was badly affected by World War I. The suspension used semi elliptic leaf springs at the front and three quarter elliptics at the rear.

The last example of the model, using up the original engine supply, was made in 1920.

Morris Cowley (1919)

Morris Cowley
[[File:Morris Cowley Bullnose 1926.jpg|frameless|upright=1.25|alt=]]
Manufacturer Morris
Production 1919–1926
150,000 made (including Oxford model) [1]
Engine(s) 1548 and 1802 cc side-valve Straight-4
Wheelbase 102 inches (2.59 m)[2]
108 inches (2.74 m) from 1925[2]

The updated Cowley for 1919 had an engine made by the British branch of the French Hotchkiss company, which was essentially a copy of the early Continental unit which was no longer being made. It was the basic model of the Morris two car range of the time with the Oxford, which used the same 1.5L 26bhp engine until 1923, having leather upholstery and upgraded lighting as the de-luxe version.

Morris acquired the British interests of Hotchkiss in 1923 and renamed them Morris engines branch.

Morris Cowley (1926)

Morris Cowley
Manufacturer Morris
Production 1926–1931
201,692 made.[3]
Body style(s) 2 and 4 seat tourer, coupé, 4-door saloon, folding head saloon (1930).
Engine(s) 1548 cc side-valve Straight-4
Wheelbase 102 inches (2560 mm)[2]
Length 150 inches (3810 mm)[2]
Width 58.5 inches (1486 mm)[2]

The Bullnose radiator was replaced by a flat version in 1926 in a new version of the car with all steel bodies becoming available. The engines remained the same, but the Cowley unlike the Oxford, retained braking on the rear wheels only as standard, although a front brake system was available at extra cost (featured car has this fitted). The chassis was new and the suspension was updated with semi elliptic leaf springs all round plus Smiths friction type scissor shock absorbers. The brakes are rod and spring operated with cams inside the drums to actuate. Interesting to note that the rear brake drums include two sets of shoes, one of which is connected directly to the handbrake.[1]

The chassis was further modified in 1931 to bring it in line with the Morris Major. Wire wheels became an option instead of the solid spoked artillery ones previously fitted.[3]

Morris Cowley (1932)

Morris Cowley or 12/4(1935)
Manufacturer Morris
Production 1932–1935
39,074 made.[3]
Body style(s) 2 seat tourer, coupé, 4-door saloon.
Engine(s) 1548 or 1802 cc side-valve Straight-4
Wheelbase 105 inches (2667 mm)[2]
Length 155 inches (3937 mm)[2]
Width 60.5 inches (1537 mm) [2]

The 1932 Cowley had a new chassis and Lockheed hydraulic brakes. the engine was the same Continental based unit but a larger 1802 cc version was available as a no cost option until 1933 on the home market. There were no more four seat tourers.[3]

A new engine, still of the same 1548 cc was introduced in 1933 along with a shorter chassis and only a saloon body available. From 1935 the car was called the Morris Twelve-Four.

Morris Cowley-Six

Morris Cowley Six or 15/6(1935)
[[File:Morris Fifteen-Six 2006cc April 1935.JPG|frameless|upright=1.25|alt=]]
Manufacturer Morris
Production 1934–1935
15,470 made.[3]
Body style(s) 4-door saloon, 2 door coupé.
Engine(s) 1938 cc side-valve Straight-6
Wheelbase 106 inches (2692mm)
Width 65.5 inches (1664 mm)

The 1934 Cowley replaced the Morris Major keeping the same 1938 cc six cylinder, side valve engine but with a new lower chassis.

The car became the Fifteen-Six in 1935.[3]

Morris Cowley MCV (1950-1956)

Morris Cowley MCV
[[File:1952 Morris Cowley MCV Van|frameless|upright=1.25|alt=]]
Manufacturer Morris/BMC
Production 1950 - 1956
Successor Morris ½-ton Series III
Body style(s) 2-door van
2-door pick-up
2-door chassis-cab
Related Morris Oxford

In 1950 the Morris Cowley name was given to a range of commercial vehicles based on the Morris Oxford MO. The Cowley MCV was offered in van, pick-up and chassis-cab versions. The 10cwt MCV van was a replacement for the Morris Y-series van and had a capacity of 120 cu ft (3,400 L) or 138 cu ft (3,900 L) without the passenger seat.

1953 Morris Cowley MCV pick-up, pictured in Australia where it is known as a Morris Cowley Utility

1954 Morris Cowley

Morris Cowley
Manufacturer Morris/BMC
Production 1954–1959
Predecessor Morris 12
Successor Morris 1800
Class midsize car
Body style(s) 4-door saloon
Wheelbase 97 in (2,464 mm) [4]
Length 169 in (4,293 mm) [4]
Width 65 in (1,651 mm) [4]
Height 63 in (1,600 mm) [4]
Curb weight 2352 pounds
Fuel capacity 12 imp gal (55 L/14 US gal)[5]

The 1954 Morris Cowley was a four-cylinder midsize car produced from 1954 to 1959. It was essentially a budget version of the Morris Oxford with less chrome, no heater, fixed front quarter lights and a simplified dashboard.

Morris Cowley Series I

Morris Cowley Series I
[[File:Morris Cowley 1956|frameless|upright=1.25|alt=]]
Production 1954–1956[2]
17,413 produced
Engine(s) 1.2 L B-Series Straight-4 ohv
Related Morris Oxford Series II

The Series I Cowley was launched in 1954. The engine, the 1.2 L (1200 cc) B-Series unit came from the Austin A40. The body shell was based on the four door Morris Oxford Series II, sharing its torsion beam front suspension and live rear axle but with smaller 8 in (203 mm) brake drums on early models. Steering was of the conventional rack and pinion type.[6] The car had a top speed of just over 70 miles per hour (110 km/h).

The British Motor magazine tested a Cowley saloon in 1955 recording a top speed of 71.9 mph (115.7 km/h) and acceleration from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 31.5 seconds and a fuel consumption of 28.0 miles per imperial gallon (10.1 L/100 km/23.3 mpg-US). The test car cost £702 including taxes.[4]

Morris Cowley Series II

Morris Cowley Series II
Production 1956–1958
4623 produced
Engine(s) 1.5 L B-Series Straight-4
Related Morris Oxford Series III

The Series II was fitted with a larger 1.5 L (1489 cc) engine with styling based on the Morris Oxford Series III.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Baldwin, N. (1994). A-Z of cars of the 1920's. UK: Bay View Books. ISBN 1-870979-53-2. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 Culshaw; Horrobin (1974). Complete Catalogue of British Cars. London: Macmillan. ISBN 0-333-16689-2. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Sedgwick, M.; Gillies (1989). A-Z of cars of the 1930's. UK: Bay View Books. ISBN 1-870979-38-9. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 "The Morris Cowley", The Motor. February 2, 1955. 
  5. "Second Hand car guide supplement", Practical Motorist. 6 Nbr 68: between pages 768 & 769. date April 1960. 
  6. "When the worm turns...or the pinion rotates...", Practical Motorist. 7 (nbr 84): 1278–1279. August 1961. 
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