OverviewCalthorpe cars were made in Bordesley Green, Birmingham, England from 1904 to 1932.
The company started out making bicycles run by George W. Hands who, in 1904, made his first motor car, a 10 hp four cylinder model. They made some larger types but it was in the light car field that they specialised using proprietary White and Poppe engines. The cars were successfully raced in France in the Coupe de l'Auto series. A small car was announced in 1913 for the 1914 season with the 10 hp Minor, which proved to be a real large car in miniature, with a 3-speed gearbox and shaft drive.
After the war the large cars were dropped but the Minor re-appeared with a slightly larger engine of 1261 cc. Mr Matthews was in charge of production in 1920 and a target of making 50 cars a week was set. The cars continued to have excellent coachwork made by the Calthorpe subsidiary company of Mulliner (acquired in 1917) who had an adjacent factory. Sporting activity continued with Woolf Barnato, amongst others, racing at Brooklands. George Hands briefly left the company in 1922 to set up his own Hands make of cars in the Calthorpe motor cycle factory in Barn Street, Birmingham but returned in 1924. Whilst away he developed the six-cylinder overhead camshaft engine that was fitted for a short time to the 12/20. The Hands cars seem to have used Dorman engines.
The days of the high quality light car were coming to an end by the late 1920s and sales of the fairly expensive Calthorpe were declining. A receiver had to be appointed in 1924 but he kept production going for a while. A final fling with the 1925 15/45 six-cylinder 2-litre car was really too late and production of the cars had virtually ceased by 1928. About 5,000 cars were made in the post-war period; pre-war production is uncertain. A very few cars have survived.
There was also a range of Calthorpe Motor Cycles and these carried on being made after car production had ended.