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.
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 26 bhp 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.
The Bullnose radiator was replaced by a more conventional flat radiator announced 11 September 1926 on new cars now with doors either side and a longer list of accessories supplied as standard. All steel bodies were coming 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.
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.
Four-door tourer 1926
4-door 6-light saloon 1930
Morris Cowley (1931)
Four-door six-light 11.9 hp saloon
first registered 16 May 1934
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.
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
No Morris Cowley Six image available
image displayed is a Morris Fifteen-Six Special coupé 1935
Announced 28 August 1933 the 1934 Cowley Six replaced the Morris Major keeping the same 1938 cc six cylinder, side valve engine but with a new lower chassis. Along with all other Morris cars the Cowley now has a syncromesh four-speed gearbox, dipping headlights, hydraulic shock absorbers, leather upholstery, hydraulic brakes, rear petrol tank, direction indicators, safety glass, battery master switches and automatic ignition. There was a matching smaller 12 hp 1378cc Morris Ten-Six.
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
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.
This new Morris Cowley was launched on 14 July 1954 as a smaller engined more simply furnished supplement to the Morris Oxford series II launched two months earlier. The engine, the 1.2 L (1200 cc) B-Series unit was a new design also used in the Austin A40 and Nash Metropolitan. Its power output was 42 bhp at 4,500 rpm.
The monocoque body shell was that of the four door Morris Oxford Series II, the Cowley also sharing its torsion beam front suspension and live rear axle but with smaller 8 in (203 mm) brake drums on early models. Some of the Oxford's exterior chrome has been removed to simplify the appearance and some has been replaced with stainless steel. Plastic-covered felt has been used in place of interior carpet. Quarter lights are fixed on the Cowley though the main windows wind down in the usual way. Steering was of the conventional rack and pinion type. 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.