Bullnose Morris Cowley car, 1925

Made 1925

The chassis of this ‘Bullnose’ Morris Cowley was built in England between 1925 and 1926 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, a...


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.

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)


1460 mm
1500 mm
3660 mm


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.

Cite this Object

Bullnose Morris Cowley car, 1925 2016, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 18 November 2017, <https://ma.as/214726>
{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/214726 |title=Bullnose Morris Cowley car, 1925 |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=18 November 2017 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}

This object record is currently incomplete. Other information may exist in a non-digital form. The Museum continues to update and add new research to collection records.

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