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Bullnose Morris Cowley car, 1925, 1925
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Object statement
Automobile, full size, 'Bullnose' Morris Cowley, Engine No. 137797, Type MC119, Car No. 19490, metal/rubber/glass, chassis made by Morris Motors Ltd, Cowley, Oxford, England, 1925, roadster body [made in Australia], c.1925
The chassis of this 'Bullnose' Morris Cowley was built in England in 1925 by Morris Motors Ltd, at Cowley, a town 5km SE of Oxford. It is believed the two-seater roadster body with a dickey seat at the rear was made in Australia. The car was produced in the same year that Morris had reached their peak as Britain's market leader. Bullnose Morris Cowleys were made between 1913 and 1926 and became the best selling cars in Britain during the 1920s. William Morris, the firm's founder, and his Bullnose Cowley achieved in Britain what Henry Ford's Model T's did for the United States. Both cars were a good basic design, manufactured with efficient production-line techniques, featured sound workmanship, were reliable, easy to drive, but above all were value for money.

The curious name 'Bullnose' derives from the earliest Morris Oxford production car of 1913 which featured a rounded radiator made in Coventry, England, by Doherty Motor Components. It was originally nick named 'bullet nose' because of its resemblance to a 0.303 bullet, and was later shortened to 'bullnose', probably because the radiator badge featured an ox, the symbol of the City of Oxford.

According to Georgano, Morris cars went on to become one of the most popular British cars throughout its 70-year history. For decades, William Morris' company, known the world over for their famous MG sports cars, built a range of light and inexpensive cars which put the British public on the road. Just after the First World War, Morris made the courageous decision to drastically cut the price of his cars, so much so that at first they were made at a loss. The gamble paid off and sales soared from 6,937 in 1922 to 54,151 in 1925, giving him 41 percent of all British car registrations and making Morris Motors Ltd the largest British car manufacturer at the time. It also made William Morris a very wealthy man enabling him to personally buy out many of his suppliers, including the Hotchkiss engine works of Coventry. Morris went on to acquire Wolseley, Riley and SU carburettors and his various companies were integrated into the Nuffield group which in 1952 merged with Austin to become British Motor Corporation.

William Morris established Morris (NSW) Pty Ltd in Australia in 1927 to coordinate sales of Morris cars in this country. Dick Cobden of York Motors, in William Street, set up as the State distributor of Morris cars in 1932. (They were later assembled in a Sydney factory, on the site of Victoria Park racecourse at Zetland, which opened in 1950.) This Bullnose Morris Cowley was donated to the Museum by York Motors in 1938.

Davis, Pedr, "The Australian Dictionary of Motoring", Pedr Davis Ltd, Sydney, 2001.

Georgano, N., "The Beaulieu Encyclopaedia of the Automobile", The Stationery Office, London, 2000.

Margaret Simpson,
Curator, Science & Industry
June, 2008
William Morris (1877-1963) (later Lord Nuffield) founded the famous Morris firm and began planing to build a light car which would sell at a low price in 1910. The prototype Morris Oxford was assembled with components from various British sources at his Morris Garages in Longwall Street, Oxford. In order to put it into production Morris purchased a much larger site, a former military training college and school at Cowley, later a southern suburb of Oxford. The first production Morris Oxford was a two-seater made in 1913 which sold in both Britain and the Continent. The next model, the Morris Cowley, introduced in 1915, was manufactured with US-made Continental engines from Detroit and gearboxes supplied by the Detroit Gear & Machine Co. The larger engine and chassis enabled a four-seater body to be made for the Cowley until 1919.

The name 'Cowley' was reserved for a basic 'no-frills' model with a three-lamp set, and the name 'Oxford' was revived for a de luxe version with leather upholstery, more instrumentation, a five-lamp set, dynamo and larger section tyres. Engines were supplied by the French firm of Hotchkiss et Cie, from their English factory in Coventry. Morris made drastic price reductions to his cars and sales figures soared. He ploughed this back into the business by buying out his suppliers, including Osberton Radiators and Hollick and Pratt, the coachbuilders, in 1922, as well as the Coventry branch of Hotchkiss et Cie in 1923 and SU the (Skinner's Union) carburettor company in 1926. In 1923 the Morris Oxford ceased to be a luxurious model of the Cowley and became a separate model with a larger engine.

To maintain the low production costs the Bullnose Cowley chassis changed very little during its production period, but to increase the car's appeal the range of body styles was increased. The post-War Cowley came in the original two-seater roadster, which was followed by a four-seater tourer and together these made up the bulk of sales. However, a sports model, 'Chummy', doctor's coupe, and two-door saloon were also added. By 1926 sales had slowed, the coal and general strikes in Britain were partly to blame, but the bullnose radiator was beginning to date and Morris then introduced a 'flatnose' style to replace it. The Bullnose Morris radiator design was used on some 168,000 vehicles before being replaced by the conventional flat one.

Jarman L.P., & R. I. Barraclough, The 'Bullnose' Morris Cowley, Profile Publications, No. 63, 1967.
In July 1938 the Museum contacted the Managing Director of York Motors Pty Ltd, E.C. Webb, at 101 York Street, Sydney, distributors of Morris cars and trucks, requesting that the firm consider donating an early model Bullnose Morris. Arthur Penfold, the Museum's Curator, considered that the Bullnose Morris from a technical viewpoint was as important as the Model T Ford. A car was subsequently found and York Motors presented this 1925 Morris Roadster to the Museum later that year. The car has a NSW registration label dated August 1938.

York Motors became a long established car-importing and distribution company and was founded by Dick Cobden who arrived from Brisbane in the 1920s. Cobden met William Morris in 1932 and set up as State distributor for Morris cars. He founded York Motors in November 1932 with Ben Natham, Maurice Shmith and Walter Hiscock. According to Pedr Davis in his "The Australian Dictionary of Motoring", within two years York Motors had the highest automobile sales in NSW. In 1934 Cobden introduced a 90-day warranty on vehicles over 100 pounds ($200) in price and a 24-hour service operation. Distribution of Chryslers, Plymouths, and MGs were added in 1935 and Jeep and Dennis fire engines after the Second World War. Business was so good that special ships were chartered just to bring out Morris cars to Sydney.

In 1989 the Museum undertook an assessment of the Morris Cowley. It was in poor condition and the engine was seized. The car was cleaned and conserved and the engine and gearbox were removed and cleaned. The engine was stripped to find the cause of the seizure (rust on the timing gears). The engine was them reassembled and greased and the old 440 x 19 tyres, which were flat and beyond saving, were replaced with new Firestone 450 x 19 tyres and tubes.

Davis, Pedr. "The Australian Dictionary of Motoring", Pedr Davis Ltd, Sydney, 2001.

 This text content licensed under CC BY-NC.

Description
Automobile, full size, 'Bullnose' Morris Cowley, Engine No. 137797, Type MC119, Car No. 19490, metal/rubber/glass, chassis made by Morris Motors Ltd, Cowley, Oxford, England, 1925, roadster body [made in Australia], c.1925

This car features a British-built Morris Cowley chassis fitted with a roadster body. The timber-framed 2-seater body was most probably made in Australia. It features a horizontally split windscreen at the front and a dickey or rumble seat at the rear. This is a separate passenger compartment which contains a folding seat for occasional use.

The engine is four-in-line using aluminium pistons on a three-bearing crankshaft. The front axle is an Elliott type with semi-elliptic springs. Steering is by worm and full spur wheel in a steel box mounted on the cylinder block. The car has a three-quarter floating rear axle with elliptic springs. Braking used four shoes per drum on the rear wheels. Damping is provided by Gabriel double-acting shock absorbers all round and the wheels are of the three-stud ten-spoke artillery type.

Specifications
Engine: Hotchkiss 4 cylinder
Capacity: 1548 cc
Bore and stroke: 69.5 mm x 102 mm (2.7 inches x 4 inches)
R.A.C. Rating: 11.9 hp
Maximum power: 26 bhp (19.4 kW) at 2,800 rpm
Ignition: Magneto with helical bevel drive
Valve gear: side vales in L-head, helical timing gears
Lubrication: plunger pump
Cooling: thermo syphon, fan assisted
Carburettor: SU
Gears: Three forward, one reverse
Clutch: twin-plate, cork-lined running in oil
Maximum speed: 55 mph. (89 kph)
Acceleration: 0 to 40 mph. (0-64 kph) in 30 seconds
Fuel consumption: 25/30 mpg
Wheelbase: 8ft 6 inches (2.6 m)
Track: 4 ft (1.2 m)
Made: 1925
B746
Production date
1925
Height
1460 mm
Width
1470 mm
Depth
3660 mm

 This text content licensed under CC BY-SA.
Subjects
+ Motor cars
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{{cite web |url=http://from.ph/214726 |title=Bullnose Morris Cowley car, 1925 |author=Powerhouse Museum |accessdate=31 October 2014 |publisher=Powerhouse Museum, Australia}}


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