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Lot 223: 1927 Crossley Tourer 20. 9

Spirit of Motoring, Coys (29 September 2005)

Crossley Motors Ltd was first registered on the 11th April 1906 as the vehicle manufacturing arm of Crossley Brothers. Originally based in the main factory in Great Malborough St. but in 1907 moving to nearby site in Napier Street, later changed to Crossley Street, Gorton, Manchester, England. The first car had actually been built in 1904 but clearly the parent company saw a future for these new machines and decided a separate company was required.1925 saw the first 6 cylinder overhead valve engined car, the 2.7 litre 18/50. This was a spacious, smooth running machine but at over 30 cwt rather heavy, so from 1927 it was offered with an engine bored out to 3.2 litre and known by its RAC horsepower rating as the 20.9. A fleet of seven 18/50's was used by the Duke and Duchess of York for the Royal Tour of New Zealand and a further 12 for that of Australia in 1927. These were a mix of touring cars and enclosed limousines, the ones to be used by the Duke (who later became King George VI) having red glasses in the side lights for identification purposes. The car used by the Duke to open Parliament in Australia is now in the Australian National collection but not on public display.The production of 18/50 and 20.9 models together was about 1500 and the 20.9, later known as the Super Six, was in theory available right up to the end of Crossley car production in 1937. Surviving 18/50's are rare with possibly no more than 8 left, the 20.9 is slightly more fortunate with 28 known.Today's car is a well known and important example of the 20.9, bodied as a tourer; having been exported from new to South Africa in 1927, it is believed to have driven the then Prince of Wales, later to become King Edward VIII, on his tour of that country in 1928. The car also has some competition history, having been successfully run in the 1956 Durban-Port Elizabeth Rally.The car returned to the United Kingdom in 1998, when a massive amount of restoration work was begun. The engine was bored out from 3181cc to 3250cc, the compression ratio was increased by fitting domed aluminium pistons, and a larger oil pump, crankshaft damper, balanced triple SU carbs and a new manifold were all installed. An SU fuel pump, pressurising the autovac and an ignition coil, fitted with the magneto acting as a distributor were also added as the car's mechanics were totally overhauled. All instruments including the clock work, and a new tachometer has been fitted, together with brake and indicator lights. The car has been completely retrimmed, and has only completed just 210 miles since its restoration. All in all this is probably the finest example currently offered today and one of only four surviving 20.9 short chassis tourers according to the Crossley register, described as being in immaculate/excellent condition all round by the vendor; hardly surprising given that approx 60,000 was spent on its restoration. Having more than a little in common with Britains two great marques, Rolls-Royce and Bentley, Crossley was one of only two companies to manufacture in Manchester, the other being Rolls-Royce, and was also very successful in manufacturing aero engines. In fact the marque was eventually incorporated into the Rolls-Royce group in 1988, purely as an engine builder. This car must be viewed as an excellent chance to acquire a fantastic early British tourer, both fast and luxurious, in first class order; a favourite with the Royal families of the day, without the hefty premium that its sister brands command.

Lot Details
Auction Spirit of Motoring
Coys, Westminster, London SW1
Lot Number223
Outcome NOT SOLD
Hammer Price-
Hammer Price (inc premium)-
Condition rating
Registration numberSV8481
Chassis number40473
Engine number
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors